Eureka experiences are not uncommon in barbecue. Usually they have something to do with the food.
My most recent BBQ “a-ha,” though, had nothing to do with great brisket or ribs and everything to do with time. Waiting time.
Living in Austin, I just discovered, it’s actually faster to eat at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington than Franklin Barbecue in Austin, even though it involves a 100-mile roundtrip drive.
My home is about three miles from Franklin and 50 miles from Snow’s, which is only open on Saturdays.
On a recent Saturday, my son, Gunnar, and I left the house at 7 a.m. and got to Snow’s a few minutes before it opened a 8 a.m. About 70 people were in line ahead of us.
We got our food at about 9:40 and were back home in Austin at 11:20. Total time: Four hours and 20 minutes.
Two Saturdays earlier, I left the house at 8 a.m. to get in line at Franklin by 8:15. The joint opens at 11. We ate at about 12:40 p.m. and — had we not gone to la Barbecue immediately afterward — I would have been back home shortly after 1. Total time: Five hours or so.
The barbecue at both Snow’s and Franklin, of course, is terrific. Last year, Texas Monthly named Snow’s #1, displacing former #1 Franklin.
Don’t know why it never occurred to me before that Snow’s could be a faster Saturday alternative than Franklin for Austin residents. Maybe because in the past we’ve always made Snow’s part of a tour with several stops, eliminating a direct comparison.
Even in a light rain, the drive to Lexington is pleasant, much of it on Highway 290. You pass the Southside Market & Barbecue in Elgin. The town also seems to have a thriving food truck culture. There was a line at the taco truck when we passed at 7:30 a.m. and another line when we passed on our return at 10:50.
At Snow’s BBQ, we were joined by Bryan Gooding and John Dorsa, Raoul and Veronica Gagne, their and my grandkids Ella and Jake Gagne, Dan and Katie Maguire and Mark and Barb Riffle. Bryan, an original Posse member and great cook himself, was visiting from Lopez Island, Washington, where he retired.
Jake and Ella, making their first Posse tour, loved the turkey. Jake, though, did spit out his bite of the jalapeno sausage. From across the table, I saw his surprise as he started to chew, but my reflexes weren’t fast enough to get a shot with my iPhone.
Dan and Katie, who recently moved to Austin from Florida, were with me a couple weeks earlier at Franklin. They thought the brisket was better at Snow’s and the pork ribs better at Franklin.
“But the experience could not be any more Texas BBQ,” Dan said.
And, for first-timers to Snow’s BBQ, that’s often another Eureka moment.