Cheyenne is from Los Angeles. His flight got into Austin at around 5am this morning. Did he go to his hotel to check in? No. He came here, to Franklin BBQ, to get in line.
Franklin BBQ opens at 11am, but getting in line early is necessary. Cheyenne was not the first one here. Those lucky souls arrived at 4:45am. We arrived at 7. Our mistake.
Franklin BBQ, in Austin, TX, makes what is considered the best brisket in the world, and for good reason. The line is a mixture of locals and pilgrims, foodies like me who have made the journey from all over the country and world. In front of me in line are students from Florida State; behind are a couple from Houston who left before 5 this morning to get here.
Most are well-prepared: they bring water, chairs, and umbrellas to provide shade. It is, after all, over 90 degrees by 9am. Some have snacks and beer. All have hunger for brisket.
By 9am, an employee comes around to ask us what we plan to order. She tells us that due to the orders ahead of us, ribs are probably not in the cards today. We order a couple pounds of brisket and some sausages. We won’t be held to this, but it will give her an idea of when in the line food will run out. It has run out ever day of Franklin’s existence.
At 11am, the doors open, and the line slowly begins to move. People walk out with leftover meat and huge smiles. “Was it worth it?” they are asked. “Absolutely,” is the reply.
We get inside at around 12:30pm, and to the counter at 1. A sample of brisket awaits us. The morsel is juicy, the outside perfectly charred. A smile creeps over our faces, and we place our order, which is plated on brown paper. Taking it to a table, we eat. With gusto.
A fifteen minute meal after six hours in line. Insane, some would say. No, I say, not close to insane. It was perfect.