July 4, 2014

6 Steps to Make a 3 Hour Wait for BBQ Worth It

What "order everything looks like"
"You waited in line for 3.5 hours to get barbecue?!" Yes. "Was it worth it?" is obviously the most common follow up question to my tales of a recent trip to Austin, Texas. Yes it was, I reply, if you follow these six steps:

1. Get on a plane and go to Austin, Texas.
2. Stock up on non-food tailgating necessities (beer, water, sunblock, friends, etc.)
3. Arrive at Franklin Barbecue no later than 8:00 a.m.
4. Make new friends with other people in line.
5. Order everything on the menu once you get in.
6. Eat as much as you possibly can.

There you have it. Six simple steps to maximize your excursion to Franklin Barbecue. In truth, is anything really worth that wait? I don't know, but when you combine the best barbecue I've ever had, a friendly atmosphere and fun people in line, the result is a truly memorable food experience. It's like a Penn State tailgate for barbecue.

The Line.

A few words about waiting in line at Franklin Barbecue before we get to the massive of amounts of food consumed. Franklin Barbecue does not open until 11:00 a.m. and only sells what they make that day. That's why the line starts to form before 8. Get there early in order to guarantee you get food at all. (cont'd below)

While waiting, go around back to see the smokers. These old sheds are being replaced this summer. 
Secret shot inside the kitchen, though most work is done outside at the smokers.
A quick online search shows some people suggest arriving before 8:30 or 9, while others suggest closer to 8 on weekends. When you are already waiting three hours, what difference does another 30 minutes make? I’d arrive closer to 8. I was number 22 to arrive on a Friday and the line was easily 75 deep by 8:30.

Bring water, beer if you want, reading materials, etc. (they sell beer/water, too). There's a guy renting lawn chairs for $5 so you don't have to stand. The bathrooms are also open for use all morning. I snuck a picture of the kitchen while I was waiting in the bathroom line, before being told never to do that again (oops).

Most importantly, talk to people! They come from all over and you're there together for the same purpose: creating a memorable food experience. Never know what crazy stories will ensue over three hours.

The Food.

Franklin Barbecue's menu lists everything by the pound, but you can order less or more if you want. I went with 1 lb brisket, 1/2 lb each of ribs, sausage and pulled pork, plus the Tipsy Texan sandwich - a brisket/sausage sandwich and a 2013 Chowzter Award winner. I had a co-worker with me who is a light eater. So yes, that was an insane amount of food to order for basically one person but who knows when I'll ever get back.

The brisket and ribs were stunningly good, easily outshining the sausage and pulled pork. The smokey brisket was like nothing I've ever had and literally melted in my mouth, especially the fattier pieces. The ribs fell off the bone and the outside pepper ring was a real kicker. Trust me, the three kinds of barbecue sauces available are not needed.


The Tipsy Texan is a mountain of a sandwich so the fun challenge is to devour it without making a mess. The best strategy is to grab it with both hands, squeeze it together and just chomp away as quickly as you can. The sausage-on-brisket combo mixes well as the flavors are different enough to taste throughout. The coleslaw and pickles add a final touch that cuts through all the fat. Just a perfect sandwich that actually had me tipsy with a meat stupor by the end.

The Tipsy Texan

Bonus photos:

(left) Ribs. (center) part of the line outside Franklin Barbecue. (right) How to stuff a Tipsy Texan in your mouth.

Franklin Barbecue on Urbanspoon

No comments: