Chef Chat, Part 2: Ray Busch of Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack

Maxine Davis and Ray Busch are co-owners of Ray's.
Maxine Davis and Ray Busch are co-owners of Ray's.
Photo by Mandy Oaklander

Yesterday, Ray Busch told us how he got his barbecue start by sampling food trucks outside of nightclubs. After setting up a truck of his own at his friend's car wash almost two decades ago, he opened a restaurant 100 feet from the same spot.

He's manning the venture with co-owner Maxine Davis. Davis's son, Herb Taylor II, is another fixture at Ray's. Taylor is a tackle for the Denver Broncos, and he's back in Houston until the NFL lockout is resolved. Taylor occasionally helps out at the cash register.

Herb Taylor II, tackle for the Denver Broncos, helps out at Ray's.
Herb Taylor II, tackle for the Denver Broncos, helps out at Ray's.
Photo by Mandy Oaklander

EOW: How do you describe the barbecue you make?

RB: I would say it's succulent. It's very tasty, has a very good smoke taste. Very juicy, tender, as far as the ribs go. A lot of people get their ribs tender but they don't have a very good taste to them. Ours has a very good taste. I think it's real down-home, old-fashioned barbecue cooking. You can really taste the smoke. It's not too heavy smoke where it's overpowering, but it's enough to get your tongue real wet and make you really want to come back.

EOW: That's the secret, the smoke?

RB: The secret is the seasoning, as well and letting it slow cook. There's a certain way that you have to do the seasoning on your meat. People just put it on and that's it. There's some other techniques that we use. I've been around a lot of other places and I've noticed that they don't do it. But the thing of it is, I was actually taught by a gentleman who's well known in the Third Ward. His name was River Falls. He taught me a lot of secrets, things that you have do to. Instead of going a fourth of a mile, you go beyond a mile. There are some secrets we do that have really been advantageous to us.

EOW: Can you tell me about the technique that you use and how it's different from other barbecue joints?

RB: Well, it's just a matter of how you put the seasoning on, as far as the stroke. It's by hand, so it's just a way - it's like a massage. You have different types of massages.

EOW: I didn't realize it was so intense.

Maxine Davis: It's a lot of work.

EOW: What can you tell me about the sauce?

RB: It's, uh...

MD: He's not gonna tell you about the sauce.

RB: That's one of the secrets that any barbecue guy will tell you, "Uh-uh." It's just a secret.

EOW: Okay, fine...Do you ever get sick of barbecue?

RB: Sick of eating it, or doing it?

EOW: Eating it.

RB: (sigh) Sometimes. Even moreso now, because it's on us daily. But I think, well I know, you get a lot of satisfaction -- we get a lot of compliments. It's what drives us. People say, "Man, we're glad you have the real barbecue." What they really mean is a lot of people take the shortcuts and they don't put in what it really takes. That's what we're trying to bring back to Houston.

Join us tomorrow for the main event: Ray's luscious, delectable barbecue and desserts done right.

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