Friday, November 19, 2010

Gage BBQ

311 N High St

San Saba, TX 76877


Open Tues-Sat 11-8, Sun 11-2

The drive through pecan country in Texas is one drive that you shouldn't miss. Well manicured forests of pecan trees are filled with green grass and happily grazing cows. Emerging from the shaded highway, I found myself driving through San Saba with no idea if they had a BBQ joint or not. Right in the middle of town along highway 16 sits Gage BBQ, so I pulled into the parking lot and immediately smelled smoke. Inside were a few families enjoying a late lunch as I waited for my to-go order of sliced brisket and ribs. I also picked up a package of spicy pecans on an impulse buy, but then I was in the pecan capital of the world.

Back outside on the trunk of the car, I unwrapped the foil package to reveal a few beautiful slices of beef and a couple of glazed ribs. The moist flavorful, smoky slices of brisket were near perfection. A ring of silky fat was left clinging to each slice along with a great crust and prominent smokering. I could have eaten a pound of this stuff on its own. Ribs were also plenty tender and moist, but I think they may have been wrapped early in the smoking process shielding them from the smoke. While missing some of the smokiness I prefer, the subtle but sweet glaze helped to provide a robust flavor to these otherwise nicely cooked ribs.

I headed back inside to meet this unknown pitmaster and learn his ways. I was struck dumb when David showed me his Southern Pride smoker in the back. Noticing my surprise, he explained that he uses a mixture of oak and hickory, and that he packs plenty of it in the fire box. No matter the cooking method, David knows how to put out some quality meat and I'll be back when I find myself anywhere near this joint. This was easily the best brisket I've had from a gas fired smoker.

Rating ****
Gage BBQ on Urbanspoon

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.