There are barbecue joints all over Oklahoma, and the same is true in Norman, but Ray’s Smokehouse BBQ brings a good ol’ home-cooking edge.
Former University of Oklahoma football player Darrol Ray opened the restaurant a little more than three years ago, and it’s been cooking up quite a reputation since.
“We’re pretty mom and pop,” said Kendall Ray, Darrol’s daughter. “We’re not a chain concept. Everyone who works here has been here a while. We have a real family atmosphere.”
So I decided to check this spot out, two times for that matter. On my first visit, I brought a friend along for dinner.
At Ray’s, food is ordered at the front, and then brought to you when it’s ready. There are a number of options to choose from, including meat combos and sandwiches.
went with the three-meat combo ($12.99), which comes with two sides and
toast. I chose ribs, hot links and brisket with fried okra and Southern
potato salad. The ribs were delicious and cooked to perfection, making
it easy to pull the meat from the bone. The sliced brisket also tasted
great, and could easily be cut to pieces with a plastic fork. The hot
links were nothing out of the ordinary: spicy, juicy and delicious. I
topped all of my choices with the hot barbecue sauce, which took the
flavor to the next level. These tasty meats were accompanied beautifully
by the crispy and flavorful okra and the fresh and well-seasoned potato
guest went with the Ray’s the Roof sandwich ($6.99), which Kendall Ray
classified as their most popular dish. The sandwich combines pulled pork
with a hot link, and is accompanied by one side. The pork was soft and juicy, and it
melded well with the spicy hot link. Add some of Ray’s hot barbecue
sauce and you’ve got quite a concoction. My friend also chose fried okra
as his side. We both left satisfied and full.
my second visit, I went for lunch. Wanting to try a wide array of meats
and sides, I again went with the three-meat combo ($12.99). This time I
chose smoked pork sausage, pulled pork and a quarter chicken with
homemade macaroni and cheese and fries. The pulled pork was still soft
and juicy. The sausage was succulent and cooked to perfection.
chicken was my least favorite, as I think it could’ve used some more
flavor, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I again topped everything with the
delicious hot barbecue sauce. The mac and cheese was a bit different
than the usual, as it seemed to have a mix of melted cheeses rather than
a creamy cheese sauce.
offers other meats, such as turkey and bologna. In addition, the eatery
has plenty more sides to choose from, such as collard greens, corn
cobbettes, coleslaw or a fruit medley.
This spot is exactly what the Rays were going for: a cozy
family restaurant. Random trinkets adorn the walls, which is pretty
standard for such a place. The tables are well-spaced in the
decent-sized establishment, and the lighting is far from overbearing.
The service was quick; the staff, more than polite.
It’s a good place for a comfortable and satisfying meal, whether you’re alone or with family or friends.
Gazette’s restaurant review policy is to highlight the positive
aspects, and include constructive criticism regarding food, ambience or
service when appropriate.
Photos by Mark Hancock