|Tom Micklethwait, moving meat. © Ryan Schierling|
Thanks to the telegraph, the telegram, the radio, the telephone, the television, the barbecue televangelists, the godless liberal media and the internet, there are no secrets anymore. Luling, Llano, Lexington, Lockhart? Austin. AUSTIN. This town is loaded with the new-guarde when it comes to the old-style, and we're wearing the biggest, baddest buckle in the barbecue belt.
Julie and I drive up East 11th, passing a queue easily in the hundreds already at Franklin Barbecue. It's 9:30 in the morning… today, Sunday, and that's a regular thing. A week after a Franklin spread graced a gloriously glossy cover of Texas Monthly's issue with "The 50 Best BBQ Joints
in Texas in the World!" I drive around the north side of the building, just to see where the line ends, and it's halfway around the block. I smile, because Aaron and Stacy are some of the nicest folks we've met in Austin, they deserve every bit of success, and also probably a good nap. We have a previous engagement with a man and some meat, so we continue up the street.
If you come to the fork in the road at East 11th and Rosewood, take a left. You will pass East End Wines, Raymond Tatum's Three Little Pigs trailer, the RS Food Mart, and if you're not careful, you'll also pass Micklethwait Craft Meats. On the right side of the street, tucked into a bit of a dip in the landscape, is a pale yellow trailer with a smoker next to it. Follow your nose.
At 10 a.m., an hour before opening, William is putting hot sauce on the picnic tables and there's not another soul to be seen. A thin slip of fragrant smoke exits the screen-enclosed pit, the air is thick and warm, and for a moment, it feels like we're primordially privy to something that no one else knows about – the next best, next big thing. We were here two weeks ago for the first time, and I couldn't believe it had taken us so long to visit.
|Tom Micklethwait. © Ryan Schierling|
I know, it's all already been said, and there are plenty that already know about Tom Micklethwait. A few days ago, Texas Monthly issued an online nod to the honorable mentions from their aforementioned barbecue feature. "The most creative sausages in the state may be coming out of the Micklethwait Craft Meats trailer in Austin with versions like keilbasa and a lamb sausage with thyme and tangerine zest." Duck and cherry? Beef and jalapeño? I want a sausage flight, with a sampler of everything Micklethwait can stuff into a casing. Food scribes Mike Sutter and Mick Vann got there early on, as did RL Reeves, Jr. The trailer has been open for six months and the joint's already on serious barbecue aficionado lists as a "must eat."
But today, right now, we're the only ones here. I'm sure the long lines will begin, and continue, and become a regular thing. Micklethwait will be added to the canons of Texas barbecue, and we'll all remember the good ol' days, when the brisket, sausages and sides were plentiful and six picnic tables were enough for patrons to hunker down on.
|Brisket, pork ribs, chicken, pork belly andouille sausage. Cole slaw, potato salad, cucumber salad, jalapeño cheese grits. © Ryan Schierling|