By Matthew RudyBarbecue and golf are a lot alike. Traditionalists are never going to be converted, and progressives think the old ways are out of touch. If Franklin Barbecue in Austin had some leathery senior citizens working the pits in a sooty, third-generation storefront, the brisket that comes out of those pits would be called the greatest in the world by universal proclamation.
The combination of otherworldly brisket, restricted hours and intense media attention makes Franklin the toughest seat in barbecue. The doors open at 11 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and stay open only until that day's barbecue is gone. There are no reservations, and practically speaking, if you aren't in line by 10 a.m., you won't get any food.
The ultimate question is, of course, was it worth it? If you're into barbecue, it's the new mecca, and something you have to do at least once. The brisket is something special -- a standout in a place with 15 world-class barbecue places with 30 square miles. Of course, you could drive the 25 miles to Lockhart, Texas, and walk into the three other joints that made Texas Monthly's Top 50 (Smitty's, Kreuz Market and Black's), order a different cut of meat at each, pay your check and drive back to San Antonio in the time it took you to wait in line.
But you wouldn't be able to tell people you tailgated in a three-hour meat line.