A popular Houston barbecue joint is making some big changes this summer. Third Ward favorite Ray’s Real Pit BBQ Shack announced on Instagram that it’s signed a lease to move to a new, larger location.
Pitmaster Herb Taylor tells CultureMap that the new location is about a mile closer to 288 on Old Spanish Trail. At 3,500 square feet, it represents a dramatic expansion compared to the current location that owner co-owner Ray Busch started six years ago in a small space adjacent to a gas station.
Timelines on projects like this are always uncertain, but Taylor hopes to be open by Labor Day. That’s good news for the restaurant’s fans, who come to Ray’s for both East Texas-style brisket and ribs as well as Southern classics like fried catfish, gumbo, and hushpuppies.
Some of the additional space will be allocated to the kitchen, which means that Ray’s will be able to expand on its signature sides. The smoked, six-cheese mac and cheese that the restaurant served along some of Houston's top barbecue joints at CultureMap’s Big Texas Party will find a permanent place on the menu, Taylor promises. Even more importantly, the barbecue will get a major upgrade, too.
“We’re going to go back to how I used to cook originally,” Taylor says. “We’ll have all wood-burning pits. Those should be finished by mid-July. That will be on the outside of the building. We’re going back to the basics to how Ray’s started before we opened this restaurant.”
The new pits will also allow Ray’s to expand its barbecue menu and make specials like pork belly more regular fixtures on the menu.
“We’re definitely excited,” Taylor says. “We can’t wait to get out of this location. It’s been a time coming."