Franklin Barbecue

Updated in 2014

One word and everyone knows what you are talking about. Franklin. Aaron Franklin got his start in barbecue when he worked at his family's restaurant in Bryan. He eventually moved to Austin and started working at John Mueller B-B-Q. When John left the barbecue scene briefly, Aaron bought his smoker and the rest was history. Around my 30th birthday, I went to try out it. I had heard about the place from a friend. I got there 20 minutes before they opened to wait in line. The line moved pretty fast. Aaron and his wife were operating out of a trailer at the time. I tried the brisket, ribs, and sausage that day. I thought it was really good especially the ribs. I thought the moist brisket was better than most places, but the lean brisket was really salty. The sides were okay. I really do not eat a whole lot of sides when I go to BBQ restaurants now. It is all about the meat. That's what she said. Shortly after that, they opened a brick and mortar location downtown. Amber and I went and ended up waiting in line for over an hour. I thought the brisket was the best thing I have ever put in my mouth. We were hooked at that moment. A couple of months later, Bon App├ętit announced Franklin as the best BBQ restaurant in America. Franklin was on top of the Texas Monthly Top 50 list for 2013.

Most professional critics go to the same place three times before they write a review. I have been to Franklin a half dozen times now since it first opened. This review has been in the works for a very long time. There has been only one time since the initial visit that the brisket was not amazing. Franklin's off day is still better than most barbecue places' good day. This last time I went, the wait was almost two hours. I do not know if I am getting old or what, but I was very impatient this time. My iPhone was low on battery after the first hour of me playing on it. I should have charged it the night before, but I always try to go two days on a single charge. In the second hour, I was just standing there with my thoughts. That is rough especially when you are standing in line by yourself. The restaurant opens at 11 am, but I got there at 10 am. I was hoping the line was short because it was a Thursday. Boy it was wrong. It was about 30 people deep when I got there.

When I finally got to the counter, I ordered two slices of moist brisket, two pork ribs, and a link of sausage. Aaron was behind the counter taking orders and slicing the meats. He is very personable and can carry a conversation with you for a while. He always thanks you for coming in. The prices on their plates have gone up since I had been there. Getting the two meat plate used to be the better deal. The times I ordered by the pound, I spent more than I needed and had too much food. This time I felt like I ordered the perfect amount of food. I had a little left over which I am sure Amber was happy about. The brisket was excellent. It is definitely the best brisket I have ever had. It has a nice bark, and the meat is so tender with a good smoke ring. Aaron uses certified angus beef. Using a higher quality cut goes a long ways and it shows. The fat renders better in a quality brisket. I sometimes dip the brisket in the espresso sauce. The espresso sauce is thick and velvety but yet so smooth. The ribs just fall apart which are also excellent. I know a good rib is supposed to have a little give on the bone, but who cares? If the meat falls off the bone, it is cooked right in my opinion. The sausage is very good as well. I do not think he makes his own sausage, but the casing does have a nice pop to it. I have had the pulled pork in the past which I have enjoyed. I think the pulled pork I smoke is a little bit better. I have also tried the turkey which is good, but turkey is not my thing. 

When it comes to barbecue of late, I avoid the sides. I have gotten sides in the past here because it came with the combo plates. The coleslaw is my favorite side here. It is not heavy on mayonnaise and taste fresh. Franklin has a sandwich called the Tipsy Texan. It has to best sandwich in the world. In between two buns are chopped beef, sliced sausage, and coleslaw. What a great combination! It is messy, but it is so f-ing good. The beans are not bad and have bits of brisket in it. I am not a fan of their potato salad. It is mustard based which I do not like.

Franklin is a must for anyone who likes barbecue. It is barbecue bliss. You think you know what good barbecue is and then when you eat at Franklin, your whole world changes. You then start to look for places that serves better barbecue. At this point, I have yet to find anything better. My search continues. If you have not tried Franklin, definitely try it. It is worth standing in line at least once. I would love to eat at Franklin more, but I just do not have enough time to stand in line. Someone want to save me a spot? Grade: A+

Until next time, happy smoking...

Address: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702
Phone: (512) 653-1187


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