Oh, the simplicity of barbecue. Maybe it’s the low-budget concept of throwing some meat on a grill and calling it dinner; maybe it’s that home-cooked, home-style, homespun thrill of biting into a piece of meat you could passionately write an ode to.
Whatever it is, at It’s in the Sauce, the friendly street-corner barbecue joint you’ve probably passed a billion times but may not have checked out, the love’s not just in the sauce — the taste of familial comfort hangs in the air around the place as the expectation of gifts hangs around hyperactive 5-year-olds at Christmas.
In its humble setting at the corner of Main and South Catalina streets, It’s in the Sauce is an eatery that’s easy to overlook, despite the mannequin-esque statue that stands out front like a beacon designed to signal wayward barbecue lovers.
Because the place offers only outdoor seating, it’s the perfect place to chow down on genuine home cookin’ on sunny days, or take the grub and run so you can pig out in your own home — the one place you’ll be guaranteed that no one will see the barbecue sauce all over your face.
I ordered the smoked chicken sandwich and a side of the homemade mother-in-law’s cole slaw. Though I was mightily tempted to try a slice of Auntie’s 7-Upper cake, I rightly decided that the sandwich and slaw were about as much as any human being could be expected to scarf down in one sitting.
Beautifully and messily composed of succulent chunks of chicken drenched in slightly sweet, wonderfully tangy sauce, the sandwich was hot and satisfying. There was nothing fancy about it, which, I think, is the point. I watched the girl through the window as she scooped up steaming handfuls of the stuff with a large ladle and slapped it on a roll that was soft on the outside and slightly grilled on the inside.
As a refreshing accompaniment, the slaw didn’t have the look or the taste of the overly processed and been-sitting-on-a-refrigerator-shelf-forever variety. It’s in the Sauce isn’t necessarily rewriting the rules of slaw with its homemade offering, but it doesn’t need to. Tried-and-true flavors seem to be what the restaurant does best — and with the kind of flare that makes you feel as though you really are eating at your mom’s house.
The fact that menu items are given familial assignments — such as Mom’s BBQ beans — doesn’t hurt, either. And if your mom can’t cater your big party, It’s in the Sauce, which also offers on-site cooking, could be a suitable replacement. Just don’t ask them to pay your bills or let you cry on them when you get dumped.
Diners can choose from tri-tip, chicken, pastrami or hot-link sandwiches, or choose meats — all either smoked over an open flame or cooked on a traditional barbecue pit brought all the way from Texas — by the pound, sans the enveloping bread. According to a nifty little bio in the restaurant’s menu, the genuine Texas barbecue sauce was handed down from generation to generation. It’s easy to see why they held on to it.
So if it’s quality, tried-and-true comfort you’re after, look no further. It’s in the Sauce.