Franklin BBQ

Franklin BBQ
900 E 11th St
Austin, TX 78702
franklinbbq.com
A 5 hour wait to eat food deserves a long entry…
Every single “Best of BBQ” TV show or list inevitably includes Franklin BBQ as one of America’s top BBQ joints.  Enough cannot be said of its famed brisket, which is slowly smoked over 12-18 hours and the envy of many.  The line and long wait speaks volumes to its fame and popularity.  The place doesn’t open until 11am, but people start lining up at 7am or maybe even earlier.  You’re probably thinking WTF?!  WTF indeed!  You’d think Franklin was a Texas institution.  Smoking brisket and satisfying the BBQ needs of Texans for generations.  Helmed by a really fat, bearded, hard core traditionalist, occasionally ornery but overall loveable and huggable bear type of old man.  Nope, the man behind this operation since its inception in 2009 is a young hipster-looking Aaron Franklin, 37 years old.  His BMI is surely south of 30 right??
After some debate, Smooth Obturator and I decided we had to try Franklin BBQ because when else would we ever have this chance?  We skipped out on some pre wedding festivities just for this.  I guess you can see where our priorities laid.  Somehow, our debate concluded with me waking up at the crack of dawn to camp out while he chilled at the hotel.  Luckily, I had The Annoyer in tow who was my partner in crime for this food adventure.  I wasn’t super nazi about getting in line early.  I was shooting for 8am but arrived at 830am.  I didn’t think it was going to make a difference.  Uhh, another 10 minutes and I would have been SOL for brisket!

The next picture would probably be of the massively long line, but I’ll be honest.  The line really is not that long in a physical sense, like what you would expect for the newest attraction at an amusement park.  It’s probably 200+ deep?  That sounds like a lot, but when we arrived I was pleasantly surprised and didn’t think twice about our chances of passing through the gates of glorious brisket heaven.  After claiming my place in line, I sent The Annoyer to get some breakfast.  At about 9am, some burly looking man from the restaurant comes out to greet us and explain that he would be taking orders.  I was like “Whoa, wait, what?!”  By taking orders early, they would be able to estimate when they would sell out and when to cut the line off.  The end of the line turned out to be just 10-15 people behind me!  At that point, some people will leave but there were still a good number of folks who were willing to tough it out in hopes of getting just something or anything.  The funny and sad part is that, as the day rolls on people show up at 11am-12pm to stand in line, unaware that it was officially cut off long ago.  Eventually they get the low down and throw in the towel or just wait with the other hopefuls.

My butt was hurting from sitting on the concrete pavement after 30 minutes.  I texted The Annoyer to bring some scrubs for me to sit on.  He came back with breakfast tacos and two lawn chairs!  Totally unnecessary, but made the experience that much more bearable.  What was probably more important than the lawnchairs was a giant umbrella to shade from the unrelenting sun.  Seriously, with a lawnchair, umbrella, and enough battery life on your smartphone to last about 4-5 hours, the wait really  just breezes by.  Ok, maybe it’s not that breezy, especially in 90+ degree weather.  Making friends with the people around you is probably what made the time go by pretty fast.  You’ll find that few waiting in that ridiculous line is actually from Austin,  Coming here seems to be the thing to do for out-of-towners.  The DonBon says people who live in Austin know there is comparable BBQ elsewhere so don’t bother with the wait.

Once the restaurant opens, the line gets going.  It actually moved too fast at some point.  We’d park our lawnchairs only to find ourselves picking up and moving forward 5-10 minutes later.  By 1pm, we were inside!  The restaurant itself is quite small.  It would not be able to accommodate all the people waiting in line.  I noticed that a fair amount of people take the food to go, and sometimes in pretty large quantities.

It’s hard to appreciate but the picture shows the menu with the original pricing.  Brisket in 2011 was going for $11/pound.  It has almost doubled in 4 years!  Seriously Aaron Franklin must be rolling in the dough.

Not sure what the story is behind this guy but he’s cute.

 

After a 5 hour wait, we had food!  4 pounds of brisket, 4 sausages, and 2 pounds of pulled pork.  They just ran out of pork ribs before we got to the top of the line.  I was like “WAHHHHHHHHH” [insert cry face emoji].
Beef & Pork Sausage

Surprisingly this was one of the best sausages I had in a while.  I loved the snappy casing and the extremely juicy fatty meat.  The texture wasn’t dry or crumbly.  It was perfect.  Best sausage I’ve had at a BBQ place.  Better than Killen’s for sure.  I was disappointed to find out these are not made in house but rather outsourced and made to Franklin’s specifications.  Oh well, still delicious!

Pulled Pork

I’m gonna venture out there and say Carolina style pulled pork is more my thing.  I like the sweetness, but Texas style is more peppery and smokey.  It was still good, but this is not what you come to Franklin for.

Beef Brisket

I didn’t know this, but you can ask for different parts of the brisket, the lean end and the fatty end.  The Annoyer made sure to get all fatty brisket.  This is hands down the best brisket I have ever eaten.  Considering the only seasoning here is salt and pepper, Franklin manages to impart so much flavor in the smoking process.  I was in disbelief when I watched his video on how he prepared his brisket.  Whaaaaaa?  No secret spice mixture??  No secret sauce??  You will never taste a more tender, flavorful brisket. WOW!

Potato Salad

The sides here are pretty unexciting.  The potato salad is pretty standard.  On the tangier side.

Coleslaw

The coleslaw was also tangy and a refreshing crunch.  I appreciated that the slaw wasn’t overly mayo-y.  As you can see they are extremely generous with their sides, giving heaping portions in those half pint containers.

Baked Beans

The beans were also on the tangier side than what I’m used to.  I expect beans to sorta sweet.

White Bread

I don’t think I touched a single slice of this.

Franklin BBQ was an experience I will never forget.  How can you ever forget WAITING 5 HOURS for food??  Aside from the wait, the brisket really was something special.  Not sure what the exact science is behind smoking a brisket to impart such depth of flavor, while getting it so tender and juicy.  But Aaron Franklin has cracked the code.  The brisket is a masterpiece!  The sausage is my next favorite thing.  I was bummed I didn’t get to try the pork ribs or turkey breast.  The sides weren’t the best.  Killen’s certainly wins there.  They are very generous with the sides though.  On top of the food you see ordered, I bought 2 whole briskets to take home for my aunt and cousin.  They sell them fully cooked, smoked, and vacuum sealed.  Perfect for the out of towner wanting to bring back a bit of Austin in his/her suitcase.  You don’t have to wait in the long line for those either.  If you’re in Austin and love BBQ and/or brisket, be sure to check out Franklin but come prepared with an umbrella, lawnchair, breakfast, and plenty of battery on your smartphone.  For BBQ fans and diehard foodies (that’s me), it is worth the wait.  For everyone else, just temper your expectations or don’t come at all.

 

10 – You NEED to eat here (if you can wait 5 hours in line)
9 – Awesome!
8 – Very good
7 – Good
6 – OK
5 – Average
4 – Not bad
3 – Not good
2 – Terrible
1 – Do NOT eat here

 

 

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