Food trucks and bars: Ray Ray's Hog Pit at Ace of Cups
The Truck: Ray Ray's Hog Pit
Hours: 12-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday, or until it's gone!
Photography's loss is our carnivore community's gain. Though he's assembled a great crew now, this makes-me-moan-like-Homer-Simpson sizzler of seductively oak-and-hickory-smoked, low-and-slow artisanal barbecue retains the vision of one no-nonsense man - James Ray Anderson. Trained in the German culinary arts and with a degree in commercial photography (that work made him "sleepy"), Anderson thoroughly embraces the jack-of-all-trades demands of high-level, DIY food trucking (cooking, carpentry, mechanical, business branding). Myriad fans embrace his killer cuisine. From succulent pork and beef to awesome sauces and meaty sides, it's all terrific. Lately, I'm partial to the sweet/salty/zesty-barked ribs ($10 per half-slab) with tangy smoky beans and zingy greens (two sides for $3). Protip: Rotating specials (check Facebook) like Sunday's grass fed brisket (!) and the must-have, intense burnt ends merit destination dining trips.
The Bar: Ace of Cups
2619 N. High St., Campus
Kismet - Ace needed food, Ray Ray's needed room - brought the Hog Pit to AoC's huge fenced-in patio, where lounging 'Q-rippers sip high-test brews with delicious Pit-fixings. But this one-of-a-kind bar is far more than a squatting spot, and 16 world-class taps ranging from Staropramen to Barley's Blood Thirst Wheat to Rodenbach Grand Cru (!). Plus, they've got infused vodkas, Ransom gin, Bulleit 10 and refreshing, scratch-made sour mix-enhanced cocktails. Owned (by Scrawl's Marcy Mays), operated and frequented by lifetime rock 'n' roll connoisseurs (Fu Manchu recently played the night after Iceage), it's an airy, two-floored, rarefied punk-leaning live music venue with playful, mostly homemade, gothic accents and uncramped and uncommon-for-its-genre creature comforts. Protip: Try a Whiskey Daisy or Sunday special Aztec Licorice.