It’s Friday afternoon around 4:30 pm, and the evening commute is already starting to heat up. In a parking lot beside a low slung red brick building, a smoker with two huge chimneys sits in one corner and picnic tables are lined up end to end. But rather than cars pulling up in this lot, a line has formed outside its gate. It’s September in Portland, Oregon, but on this particularly warm summer day, with the sun starting to drop low in the sky, and a line forming for beer, you could almost convince yourself you were in Texas.
The line at Franklin Barbecue in Austin is legendary. You can expect to wait three hours or more in person, and even celebrity won’t get you a front of the line pass. President Obama may be the one exception. Luckily, if you’ve planned far enough in advance and you’re getting at least five pounds, you can pre-order for pickup. But for a West Coaster who doesn’t get to Austin all that often (it’s been three years!), snagging a ticket to the Franklin Barbecue and Friends dinner at Feast Portland was the answer to getting my fix. The morning tickets went on sale, I was silently praying this wouldn’t be the day our Internet connection went down.
Needless to say, all of it — the brisket, ribs, sausages and pulled pork, really ARE that good. And Aaron Franklin really seems like a nice, down-to-earth guy. Even heads down, slicing and serving, he chatted with each person as they came through the line getting their plates filled. On a Friday night at the end of summer, there really wasn’t anything more you could ask for than a plate of killer barbecue, a cold beer and a good chat. Well, maybe seconds.