Name: Franklin Barbecue
Location: 90 E. 11th Street, Austin TX
Order: Pound brisket, half pound ribs, half pound sausage
Rudy: Franklin Barbecue is a relatively new place that started out of a food trailer in 2009 and has skyrocketed in popularity, fame, and recognition since. Aaron Franklin, the owner, is one of the judges on TLC’s “BBQ Pitmasters”, has been featured in countless publications across the country, and has won numerous awards including Grand Champion in the 2012 Meatopia in NYC.
Knowing all of this, I was extremely excited about going to go eat this wonderful and much hyped barbecue. I had heard that there were typically long lines and one needed to show up early in order to make sure you got there before the food sold out. Having a pretty open Saturday, I decided it was the perfect opportunity, especially considering it was raining (which i figured would keep some of the crowd away).
I arrived at 10:30 (the place opened at 11:00) and found out that I was not the only one with this idea, not even close. An employee was making his way down the line taking approximate orders to determine when they thought the food might run out. They told a guy 3 people behind me that he was the last person they were guaranteeing food for.
Another employee told us that it would be a 2 hour wait (he was mistaken) and not knowing when I would have another opportunity to spend a day waiting for barbecue, I decided to wait… and wait… and wait. Did I mention it was raining? 2 hours later, I wasn’t even near the door. 3 hours after arriving, I was finally at the counter.
3 hours of standing in line smelling smoke will make a person crazy, so I went a bit overboard and ordered brisket, ribs, and sausage. The first thing I tried were the ribs. Normally I am not a fan of ribs because I tend to find them tough or not very meaty. Franklin’s ribs were the best I have ever had, no competition. The meat fell off the bone and had tremendous flavor. Adding any sauce would have just gotten in the way. They were so perfect, I don’t know that I want to order ribs from anywhere else because they will never live up.
Next was the brisket. After one bite I completely understood where all the praise had come from. I thought the bark had such complex flavors that I figured their rub had to be some secret recipe. Turns out its just salt and pepper, but the fact that they use a real smoker with wood, I think that helps to add depth that you don’t find at other places.
The sausage was very good, but it paled compared to the brisket and ribs. I know it was good, but the others were great.
So this is where I struggle with reviewing Franklin. The barbecue was great, absolutely the best I’ve ever had. But it was a 3 hour wait. It might have been great, but no barbecue is 3 hour wait good. I’m pretty sure I would take an above average place with a 15 minute wait well over Franklin with a 3 hour wait. This past week I went by there at noon on a weekday hoping to get another run at it. It was an hour and a half wait. You couldn’t even do it in a lunch hour. Which means, as great as it is, I’m not even sure I will ever eat there again. The only way I would do it is if I had a group of friends and we got there really early, tailgated, and made a day of it.
Monk: All I can add is that I am incredibly jealous that you went, and you best believe that next time I am in Austin we are tailgating and making a day of Franklin Barbecue.