Marathon – The Gage Hotel is a must-see in Marathon and a few years ago, we checked it off The Texas Bucket List. During our visit we spent some time with J.P. Bryan, the man who made Marathon what it is today by rebuilding the old hotel.
“Well it’s as close to heaven as you can get and still be in Texas,” J.P. Bryan said.
For over 40 years, his passion for the town of Marathon has produced an amazing place full of stops on The Texas Bucket List. During our first meeting, he put a little seed into our head.
“The Wild Buffalo Bar,” J.P. said. “It’s a unique little bar. You have that feeling of intimacy and coziness. It’s just an attractive little place.”
We returned to check the famous bar off the list and get a meal at its restaurant, the 12 Gage.
“It’s very small, it’s iconic, it’s in some ways, I think, it’s somewhat legendary,” Carol Peterson said. “It certainly fits in that…into the Far West Texas mystique.”
Since 2003, Carol has been Mr. Bryan’s go to woman, and she keeps the wheels turning at this West Texas destination.
“I’ve really enjoyed the ride for a part of it with him,” Carol said. “It’s been most interesting.”
The White Buffalo Bar gets its name from a massive mount in the middle of the room that serves as the centerpiece of this small bar with a sizable reputation.
“We’ve had discussions a few times about expanding it, and we always come up with the same feeling,” Carol said. “It would take away from what it is. And yes, it is, it’s very iconic Texas bar.”
Since we’re at the local watering hole, a bartender named Falisha Villanueva set us up with two of the most sought-after spirits here. First up, the brush fire which starts with a spicy chili rimmed glass.
“It’s a good, spicy drink,” Falisha said.
Vodka, fresh squeezed lime juice, and orange liquor complete the mix that is shaken up with roasted jalapeños. This libation gets The Texas Bucket List seal of approval.
“You get that tingling sensation in your lips,” Falisha said. “It’ll be with you for a while.”
Next up, we tried the J.P. Margarita named after the man himself. We also had some dinner with Head Chef Joe Rodriguez.
“I’d say the hardest thing is sourcing products,” Joe said.
Apparently with two drinks, you get two meals. We got started with some game meat: Axis deer with a side of veggies.
“We’re gonna give it some grill marks and then finish it in the oven,” Joe said.
The deer gets finished off in the oven and another game meat gets added: Quail.
“It’s a cornbread-stuffed quail,” Joe said.
After a few minutes, we were game for some game.
“My expectation was totally surpassed,” Roger Tannery said.
If you’ve never had Texas quail, you’re missing out.
“It has just such a big reputation of great consistency,” Liz Rogers said.
The beautifully cooked axis deer was medium rare inside with the diamond grill marks all around it.
“We really have a great reputation for our food here,” Carol said.
It’s worth running a marathon for to say the least.
“A wonderful place to visit and a place you’d wanna come back to,” Judy Tannery said.
If you’re looking for food that is well worth a stop on the Texas Bucket List, come in to the 12 Gage Restaurant and White Buffalo Bar in Marathon, Texas.
“The staff is friendly, and the food is great and the place is beautiful,” Liz said. “It deserves its reputation.”