Hope. A shade of a glimmer of hope. That was all I could hold on to. With lines taking up to 3 hours to get in the door, and with potentially nothing to show for it, when would I get another chance to enjoy Franklin Barbecue? With its meteoric rise to national fame, locals and visitors alike became all too aware of the hidden gem now located on
dangerous up-and-coming E 11th Street. Great for Franklin, bad for Mike. Or is it?
Thanks to an insider tip, I set out to exploit a loophole. A perfect storm where the line was short and food is still available. So with this knowledge (and a prudent contingency plan), a froworker and I headed over to Franklin Barbecue to test our luck. We met Ev there who was already in line and the situation looked promising. I should point out, “promising” means they hadn’t already locked the door with a Sold Out sign. Within minutes we were standing under the menu hoping that they’d still have everything and planning that they’d be out of everything. On this day the BBQ gods were happy and we had our choice of anything but the ribs.
Recently I was asked where my favorite restaurant in Austin is in the context of “Where would you get your last meal”. I couldn’t think of anything that could outshine the chopped beef sandwich, and so Franklin Barbecue got the nod. They assemble your feast as you order, which only builds the anticipation (and salivation) while you do everything in your power to resist leaping over the counter to grab everything in reach.
Finally after you don’t think you can take it anymore, the food is simply given to you: no pomp; no circumstance; not even a modest trumpet fanfare. No matter. Franklin’s humble mentality of “it’s just lunch, so calm frak down” is just one more attempt to lower expectations of the unsuspecting neophyte who has already started to doubt if waiting 2 hours in line was worth any amount of barbecue. Ha HA! I wasn’t fooled and hurriedly (but safely) carried my special sandwich over to an open table.
As for the sandwich, it’s a demonstration that perfect doesn’t mean fancy. Before the first bite, as you’re still trying to wrap your mind (and hands) around this monster, you accept the fact that there’s no pretty way to get through this. The bun is barely enough to hold things together, but it puts forth a valiant effort. With each bite it disintegrates a little more until you’re left with a hand full of beef, bread, and toppings. The meat is the true star, shining bright and elevating everything under the bun. I can’t put it into words out wonderfully satisfying each bite can be. There’s some kind of magic going on, and magic is the only explanation I have for such a sandwich.
A big thanks to Hill Country Pierogi for their insider information that led to an epic lunch for all involved. Although our plan worked to perfection, it’s not something to take advantage of. For one, the human body wasn’t meant to undergo the Franklin experience too often. Second, it’s a matter of sharing the wealth. Don’t be greedy. But if you ever get your hands on a Franklin Barbecue chopped beef sandwich, never ever let it go.