Ray Ray’s Hog Pit – Columbus, OH

Name: Ray Ray’s Hog Pit (food truck)
Date: 10/2/20
Address: 424 W Town St, Columbus, OH 43215 (at Land Grant Brewing)
Order: Meatsweats (Smoked brisket, pulled pork, jerk chicken, dry rubbed ribs, Ray Ray’s hot link, with pickles and sauce) (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: So for the first time in almost exactly 5 years, all three Barbecue Bros were going to be in the same city with a chance to eat barbecue together. Now, due to COVID reasons and the need to have a drivable and centrally located city we ended up having our annual guy’s trip in the lovely climes of…Columbus, OH. Not ideal for barbecue, but a little research yielded a potentially promising prospect in Ray Ray’s Hog Pit BBQ. It kept popping up on “best of” lists, the website was well done, and the Franklinton location at Land Grant Brewing was extremely convenient to where we were staying for the weekend. 

Rudy: The euphoria of having the band back together, combined with the positive previews of Ray Ray’s would basically guarantee that we would have a great barbecue experience, right? Land Grant had a great set up with lots of outdoor seating, a stage for music (although not on the night we were there), and had Ray Ray’s attached. After looking at the menu online with all of the great pictures, we decided to get their Meatsweats box (sampler of most of the menu) and since we couldn’t decide which meats to get extra, we figured we would order more after trying them all.  This restraint proved to be a good idea.  To start with, the brisket was bland, had almost no taste of seasoning or smoke.

Speedy: The pulled pork was … not great. There was very little smoke on it, and it was dry. That said, the pork was far superior to the ribs. The ribs were dry, barely seasoned, and basically were pork jerky. 

Monk: I’m not sure if the overall quality of the barbecue had to do with the later hour we were at Land Grant Brewing eating Ray Ray’s, but yea, dry dry dry.

On the other hand, the jerk chicken was miraculously moist and flavorful. Not sure how this was so fresh while the other meats were dried out but it was passable.

Rudy: The two areas that I thought were decent were the sausage, which had cheese in it (even though that was not advertised) and some texture to it, so it did not seem completely generic. We also ordered the collard greens, which were very good and probably the best part of the meal. While the greens (and the pickled onions on the side) were very good, when that is your highlight, it is not a good thing.

Speedy: All three Barbecue Bbros get together about as often as we can see Haley’s Comet, so when we do, (begin sarcasm italics) we only eat the best

Monk: Hey there was that one time at Lexington Barbecue!

Speedy: In all seriousness, despite the 5 hog company (and decent beer!), the barbecue at Ray Ray’s Hog Pit was as bad as I’ve had in a long time. Ohio – am I right???

Ratings: 
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Ribs – 1 hog
Brisket – 1 hog
Chicken – 2 hog
Hot Link – 2.5 hog
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Ray Ray's Hog Pit Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Randy’s Restaurant – Lexington, NC

Name: Randy’s Restaurant
Address: 3129 US-64, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Chopped barbecue tray with hush puppies, red slaw
Pricing: $

Monk: Three barbecue restaurants in on this latest Lexington run, and this was the worst of the bunch. Randy’s Restaurant is on the side of highway 64 just off I-85 in eastern Lexington. While it it says on the sign above the restaurant “Lexington style BBQ” it really is more of a country style cooking diner. In theory, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have good barbecue.

…Except in the case of Randy’s, it actually does. The lukewarm chopped pork had a bad taste and no hint of real smoke. It did have a hint of something bitter and off in the after taste, and unfortunately I suspect that I may now know what liquid smoke tastes like in barbecue. This truly was one of the worst barbecue experiences I’ve had in recent memory, going back at least a couple of years.

Not much better can be said for the minced slaw or the hush puppies, which were almost certainly from frozen. I politely boxed up 90% of my food with the ready-made excuse that I was full in case the waitress inquired (she didn’t). I would promptly toss that box of leftovers as soon as I hit the parking lot.

I can’t speak to the other food on the menu, but avoid Randy’s Restaurant for barbecue. On the plus side and looking at the big picture, another barbecue restaurant down and I’m getting closer than ever to publishing my Lexington barbecue big board. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 2 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Sides – 1 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Smoke BBQ – Mount Pleasant, SC

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Name
: Smoke BBQ
Date: 5/26/17
Address: 713 Coleman Blvd, Mt Pleasant, SC 29464
Order: The Tommy B. Monster Sampler Platter (pork, pastrami brisket, “Charleston brisket”, chicken) plus “perfect rib” and a beer (link to menu)
Price: $35

Monk: I hadn’t planned to visit a fifth barbecue spot during our vacation week but when I saw how close Smoke BBQ was to our Airbnb in Mount Pleasant I couldn’t resist sneaking away one afternoon to check it out. Unfortunately it turns out I shouldn’t have wasted my time or money.

Since I was there I went for it and got the Tommy B. Monster Sampler platter which comes with 4 meats. I then added a “perfect rib” to round it all out. When my platter of meats was delivered each meat was sitting in a pool of grease and appeared to have been reheated. Fresh off the smoker these definitely were not. I won’t bother to go through each meat individually – but I will say that after a bite or two of each one I decided to move on, finding each to be as equally bad as the previous.

The “smoke style slaw” is their take on coleslaw and comes with green apples and candied pecans topped on red cabbage and carrots. I didn’t find it to be a successful barbecue side. The baked macaroni and cheese was the best food part of the meal and was the only real edible item for me.

There was very little that was redeeming about my meal from Smoke BBQ and I ended up tossing most of the takeout container in the trash once I got home. At least I got to enjoy a beer on their nice covered patio. So there’s that.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Brisket – 1 hog
Pastrami – 1 hog
Rib – 1 hog
Chicken – 1 hog
Sides – 1.5 hogs
Overall – 1 hog

Big JT’s BBQ – Gaffney, SC

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Name
: Big JT’s BBQ
Date: 5/9/15
Address: 1425 Wilcox Ave, Gaffney, SC 29341
Order: Pulled pork barbecue plate with hush puppies, barbecue slaw, and fries
Price: $13

So you guys know the whole thing with more legitimate barbecue editors stating that “they eat the bad barbecue so that you don’t have to”? Well, I never purposefully seek out the bad (who would?) but in the case of Big JT’s BBQ in Gaffney, SC, that was definitely the case for this barbecue blogger. I ate bad barbecue here and am here to tell you about it so you don’t.

In a former Sunoco gas station, Big JT’s is located right on I-85 in Gaffney not too far from the outlet mall (my reason for being in the area that Saturday). The roadside gas station barbecue ambiance works, but only if the barbecue is able to back it up…

Sadly, it does not. While the dining room in former gas station vaguely smells of smoke, the coarsely pulled pork is cold and dry. I’m guessing it was smoked on a previous day and reheated for us. Neither myself nor Mrs. Monk could muster up the energy to finish our portions of barbecue, even with some sauce (of the thick, KC Masterpiece variety) to help with the dryness.

The barbecue slaw was a case of “good job, good effort” in terms of emulating Lexington style but just was not cutting it. The hush puppies were a long weird shape and not all that great. The fries, though clearly frozen, were probably the best part of the meal.

Unfortunately, Big JT’s BBQ was so downright bad that I felt guilty about dragging my wife and daughter here for lunch. I will say that the lone server was nice enough and was very good with our two year old, its just a shame that the barbecue itself erased all feelings of goodwill I had for the restaurant.

Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2 hogs
Pork – 1 hog
Sides – 1.5 hogs
Overall – 1 hog
Big Jt's BBQ on Urbanspoon

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