Restaurant Review: Ray Ray's Hog Pit

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

If you've never seen me dance before - and it's quite a sight - you should have been here a couple of minutes ago. I was doing a crazy-happy, wacky-footed, celebratory tango because I'd just eaten something truly special, verging on genius.

What was it? Well, hold on to your spangled tap shoes because it was (oxymoron alert!) superior summertime cookout food made out of all-natural, organic, free-range, grassfed beef brisket carefully slow-roasted and gently smoked by our reigning barbecue artist operating under Ray Ray's Hog Pit.

OK,that last sentence was quite a mouthful, but so is Ray Ray's beauteous brisket. It's thinly sliced, really tender, oh-so-juicy (not greasy) and full-throttled beefy flavored meat. Counterintuitively, all that glorious flavor originates from cattle with far less saturated fat and cholesterol than the industry standard, grain (corn)-fed beef.

This means Ray Ray's spectacular Sunday feast is a much leaner, cleaner and greener dinner than your typical beef repast. (I could go into the gory details, but instead, you can hop on the internet - or better yet, read Michael Pollan.) But all that would be only a curious footnote if Ray Ray's brisket weren't terrific - which it absolutely is.

Ray Ray (aka the Pit Boss) procures this beef from a certified organic farmer raising Heritage cattle in Oklahoma, andhe handles it with the respect it richly deserves. Thus, after only being salted and peppered, it gets the expert low-and-slow treatment, is precisely sliced, and then lightly sprinkled with Ray Ray's special seasoning (paprika, onion powder, a bit of sugar - stuff like that).

Believe me, from the dark, chewier (not oversmoked) bark to the authenticating smoke ring, to the lean meat inside,this brisket is incredibly delicious as is. But Ray Ray provides a cherry-on-top, in the form of his homemade Dogfish Head Ale barbecue sauce. That delightfully brew-fueled stuff is a perfectly thickish concoction of tangy tomatobarbecue sauce with a brisk mustardy finish.

Adding yet extra interest - but by no means too much botanical burn - are chopped, fire-roasted jalapeno peppers. I defy anyone to eat this meat - with or without the sauce - and then proclaimthere's a better brisket (let alone a healthier one)served anywhere in our city.

Warning #1: This beef delicacy is available only on Sundays and only from the portable barbecue truck stationed in the convenience store parking lot at Pacemont and High.

Warning #2: Ray Ray told me he almost always sells out of his 100-pound grassfed allotment long before his day is through (he's open from noon to 8 p.m.). Therefore, I suggest you get there early next week because I'll be walking up there too, and I'll be bringing my wheelbarrow. By the way, I'll be wearing dancing shoes.

Ray Ray's Hog Pit

Pacemont & High streets, Clintonville

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