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Mix-and-Match Grill

[whitespace] Uncle Ray
Christopher Gardner

Rib Tickler: Baby back ribs are among the multinational offerings at Uncle Ray's.

Uncle Ray visits U.S., Persia and Mexico

By Andrew X. Pham

IT'S HARD NOT TO HAVE A SOFT SPOT for mom-and-pop diners like Uncle Ray's BBQ simply because they are so quirky. On paper, Uncle Ray's looks rather odd, but in practice this family business is well on its way to securing a neighborhood niche. Take the menu, for instance. It has a little of a lot: American grill fare, Persian kebabs and Mexican burritos. In addition, there are burgers, yakitori chile colorado and barbecue chicken. With plenty of choices, it is little wonder the diner does a brisk takeout business. The decor is somewhat jazzy, almost clubby in ambiance: modern gray tones contrasting with festive lighting and one entire wall of mirrors. Service is attentive and cafe-friendly.

The open kitchen stacks up some decent baby back ribs ($9.95 halfrack, $15.95 full rack) and a flavorful eight-ounce New York steak ($12.95) marinated in lemon juice, both skillfully grilled to order. The ribs, slathered with a nice peppery-sweet sauce, prove to be moist and meaty, on a par with most diners. Coupled with sides of salad, rolls, and French fries, baked beans or corn on the cob, these grill choices make full meals. Also, the dozen buffalo wings are a steal at $4.50.

The real bargains at Uncle Ray's, however, peek out from the Persian portion of the menu. Our favorite, the joojeh kabob ($8.95), skewers a chunky foot-long spear of saffron-tinged chicken cutlets, pliant and juicy, enough meat to satiate anyone. The accompanying mound of saffron-teased basmati rice is as palatable as it is fragrant. Grilled tomatoes and onion quarters make tasty garnishes. The kabob koobideh ($7.95), spiced ground beef shaped and grilled on a bamboo skewer, is another a big hit. Beer and wine selections are better than the average diner's. Dessert isn't the typical apple pie, but rather chocolate mousse and tortes from local bakeries.

A little off the beaten track, and offering a little of everything, Uncle Ray's BBQ is a welcome site that dishes up good food at fair prices.

Uncle Ray's BBQ is located at 1452 Pollard Road in Los Gatos, 408/866-2393.

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From the May 14-20, 1998 issue of Metro.

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