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The only thing that makes bright nail polish pop more is the delicious fried corn on the cob at Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Steamed, grilled or popped, corn has always been synonymous with summer. From a buttery bag of popcorn at a summer blockbuster to a full-on corn on the cob seasoned with spices, it is one side that seems to go with everything. Corn is harvested in the warmer months, with its peak availability in Texas being May through August. With its bright yellow color and sweet, juicy bite it is a star ingredient of the season for kids and adults alike.

In a Starring Role at: Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack

When eaten on the cob, corn can make a light and low-calorie snack. Add salt and pepper, maybe some melted butter and you start to make things interesting. Dunk the entire cob in batter and deep fry it to perfection and you've entered the danger zone—the danger zone of deliciousness. At Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack, pit-master Ray dares to take corn on the cob as a side and catapult it into a star dish which compliments the pork ribs and beef brisket the joint is so famously known for.

An out-of-the-box addition to the sides menu, the fried corn on the cob is a popular choice at Ray's for many reasons. The portions are small enough for you to enjoy one with a meal (or two, because it's just that good), and it's not so extreme as to overshadow the reason you're dining at Ray's in the first place: the barbecue. From chicken to beef and pork sausage, ribs to brisket, the meat plates at Ray's are grease on your shirt good. With a bottle of homemade barbecue sauce at each table, the staff encourages you to "get messy," and trust me, you will.

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The mixed meat plate at Ray's: ribs, pork and beef sausage and brisket.

Image: Megha Tejpal

Ray's has found much success at its location on Old Spanish Trail, with lines often extending out the door for lunch and dinner. In addition to the unique way of serving corn on the cob, the mashed-up potato salad and coleslaw with raisins make Ray's mouthwatering sides just as much of an attraction as the barbecue. In fact, I dined with both a protein-loving pal and a vegetarian and heard no complaints of leaving hungry after the meal.

Located near the UH and TSU campuses, Ray's is a hit with college students and local neighborhood folks. But this family-run business welcomes diners from all over Houston, even recently hosting Mayor Annise Parker for a taste of their famous barbecue. As a self-proclaimed fiend of fried things, I will no doubt be back for the fried corn on the cob—a simple side with star quality.

Ray's Real Pit BBQ Shack, 4529 Old Spanish Trail, 713-748-4227, raysbbqshack.com

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