It is 10:45 am, and spurts of rainy wind have me shivering in my rubber flip flops. I am huddled under my blue and white umbrella, which is too flimsy to hold up to the gusts, and pops outward every ten minutes or so.
I am not alone. I stand in a queue of Austinites, all strangers to me, who share an obsession for wildly good barbecue. And that is why we are here, trembling in our britches and crossing our fingers that our position in line will land us at the counter before the brisket is sold out for the day.
The joint is called Franklin Barbecue, and they are a relative newcomer to the foodie nirvana known as Austin, Texas. They launched their eatery as many in this capitol city do — purveying their concoctions from a vintage metal trailer (two-toned white and turquoise, for the detail-thirsty). Their hours are clearly posted: Tuesday – Sunday, 11:00 AM until we sell out; Monday closed.
Eventually we emerge from our hoodie cocoons, turning to bits of small talk to pass the time. I hear murmurs of, “Where are you from?” and, “Is this your first time?” I am standing in line in front of two brothers, both showing the telltale girth of those who know a thing or two about food and drink in Austin. “Yeah, they sell out ever day.” The larger of the two announced. “They’re usually closed by two.”
The elder is a software engineer, working a lean enough schedule to take a three-hour lunch break. And the younger is a chef at a local indie theater that serves gastropub fare during the movie showings. They hammer me with an encyclopedia of Austin’s must-trys, from the classic (Torchy’s Tacos) to the indulgent (Gordough’s Donuts) to the downright esoteric (goat consommé at Taco More), along with a litany of brewhouses deserving my attention.
The two hours pass quickly, and the eager waitstaff take my order. A half pound of brisket, a half pound of turkey, a half pound of ribs, and two sausage links are filleted and wrapped in brown paper as peppery baked beans and crisp purple slaw are scooped into plastic containers.
I am sharing lunch with my wife, son, and our dear friends who are hosting us during our Austin layover. We divvy up the carnage and tuck in. I will spare the gooey host of adjectives and instead simply say that a visit to Franklin Barbecue needs a prominent spot on every foodie’s and traveler’s must-try list. The food is simply divine.
We are sampling much more than barbecue today. The dwellers of Austin pride themselves on the city’s quirky personality. Life here seems to revolve around good food, good times, and as little work as possible. Now, that is an ethos worth embracing. Where else could standing in line for a few pounds of meat become so much fun?
My family is traveling around the USA in a 10 foot Shasta Compact travel trailer from 1969. We are currently camped in Austin, TX and headed toward Dallas / Ft. Worth. Keep it right here for tales from the journey, and please also join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Nothing keeps us motivated more than the encouragement of hearing from our readers, so keep in touch by commenting below. Thanks!