The day that I flew to Austin, I was coming from Los Angeles in the most convoluted way possible. I started on Sunset Blvd., where I was staying, then drove up to Topanga Canyon, where I left my car with Craig’s aunt and uncle, then took a car service to the Long Beach airport which was about an hour and a half away. By the time the plane touched down in Austin, I was so hungry and tired I could barely move. But I made my way to a cab which took me to the Doubletree Hotel (my first hotel there) which was nowhere near anything that I heard was worth eating. So then I took a cab to South Congress, specifically to Torchy’s Tacos which many of you recommended on Twitter. It sounded perfect.
Some restaurants have a mythology surrounding them. Franklin BBQ, in Austin, Texas, is one such restaurant.
“You have to get there early,” people will say. “They line up starting at 9 o’clock and don’t open their doors until 11.” “It’s because Aaron Franklin carves all the meat by hand and takes his time doing it.” “They’ll ask how much meat you want before you go in so they can figure out when to start turning people away.” “It’s a one hour wait.” “It’s a two hour wait.” “It’s the best BBQ you’ll ever have in your life.” “You’ll want to kill yourself after you eat it because there’ll be nothing left to live for.”
I was glued to the TV, yesterday, watching hurricane Sandy updates from my Austin hotel room (note to CNN producers: that was cruel how you kept that guy submerged in water during 100 MPH winds) while harassing Craig and Lolita (my cat) over the phone to make sure they were ok. They were, though via Twitter I knew many others weren’t. My instinct was to stay put, to suffer in solidarity, by way of Facebook updates and Instagram photos. At some point, though, I got hungry and wandered out of my hotel.
There are a few things you need to know about my trip to Austin, Texas. First, the purpose of my trip was to support Craig’s film at SXSW, so while a typical trip to a new city would involve obsessive visits to any and every eating establishment, this trip I was pretty restrained and also a bit hobbled because I didn’t have a car. Craig’s film team had a van that would drive us to screenings and interviews and other film events, but to get anywhere food-related cost about $25 by cab because our hotel (a dilapidated Day’s Inn that we fled to after the house we rented had fleas) was way out in the boonies. Add to that the fact that my camera overheated and died (I used Craig’s camera instead), this was quite the challenging trip. And yet still, somehow, I ate really well.