Franklin Barbecue – Austin, TX (RE-REVIEW)

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Name
: Franklin Barbecue
Date: 7/21/17
Address: 900 E 11th, Austin, TX
Order: 2 pounds brisket, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound ribs, 1 pound sausage (link to menu)
Price: $120-ish

Speedy: Less than 24 hours after my excellent visit to La Barbecue, I was ready to get back at it, this time to the legendary Franklin Barbecue. Rudy dropped me off at 6 AM to get in line and went to take care of some things at work, re-joining me about 8. Getting there that early, I expected to be first in line, but in reality, there were three groups and about 12 people in front of me. Fortunately, I was still there in plenty of time to be shaded for my entire wait, which was hugely clutch. I spent most of the time sitting in a tailgate chair and sipping Lone Stars, so all-in-all, it was a pretty good morning.

Rudy: The shade part was the best by far. I don’t know how the people in the 2nd half of the line made it, I guess just more Lone Stars.  

Speedy: Around 9:00, someone came around to ask what we were ordering, in order to get a good idea when food was going to run out. You weren’t bound by the order, but it was a good way to understand how far the food would go.

Around 10:30 am, I went inside to hit the bathroom (which they opened up around 9:30), and I saw the Godfather himself – Aaron Franklin. I was a little bummed he didn’t recognize me as a Barbecue Bro (AARON – ARE YOU EVEN READING??), but it was pretty cool he was there.

Rudy: I’ll chalk it up to him just being intimidated by your presence. I am sure he scampered to the back to make sure everything was up to snuff. In all seriousness, I think it is great that they open the building early to people that need to use the bathroom or want to purchase drinks or merchandise. I feel like many places would keep the doors closed until they open for food. That was a nice touch.

Speedy: Eventually, the restaurant opened, and Rudy and I were to the front of the line pretty quickly. Like at La Barbecue, we were given a bit of brisket to much on, and it was every bit as good as the previous day, only this time I was expecting it. No matter – we placed our order, got our meat, and found a table to sit at and dig in.

I’ll start with the brisket since that’s what it’s known for and my God, it is incredible. The peppery bark was perfect, the meat was tender and flavorful, and it was simply divine. The previous day I had claimed I had eaten the best brisket I’d ever tasted, but this was every bit its equal. Just absolutely phenomenal.

Rudy: I agree, if barbecue places in Texas are judged primarily on brisket, you have to hit it out of the park to be listed as the best, and Franklin’s did. The bark was amazing, but the flavors ran all the way through the meat, so no matter what bite you got, it was great. We got moist brisket, and the fat was perfectly rendered as opposed to many other places where you end up with a huge glob of fat with drier meat around it.

Speedy: Rudy had been raving about the ribs, so they were what I tried next. I’ve eaten lots of awesome ribs in my day, but these ribs stacked right up there with the best of them. They were perfectly cooked – giving a clean bite every time. The flavor was amazing – with just the right amount of rub that had a touch of sweetness. The ribs were glazed, so neither wet nor dry, which worked perfectly. These may not have been the best ribs I’ve ever had, but I’d say they’re in the top 5. Overall, you’d be remiss to skip out on these at Franklin.

Rudy: Top 5?!?! I need to eat some of the places you’ve been eating! I love them because of the flavor, the fact that they are tender and moist without being wet ribs. They are my favorite by far.

Speedy: The pork was also a great showing. Tender and a little vinegary, it was everything you’d expect from a good pulled pork. In a normal setting, I’d write more to rave about the pork, but it was a distant third in this offering. Not to say it wasn’t very good, but brisket and ribs were the co-headliners.

The sausage was good – considerably better than La Barbecue, but I wouldn’t order it again. Stomach room at Franklin is too precious to waste on just an above average meat. At many barbecue places this would be the top offering, but at Franklin, the brisket and ribs rose to the top.

Rudy: The pork was a pleasant surprise for me because I had not had it before. What I’ve had other places is usually a peppery pulled pork (which this included) but the difference here was the slight taste of vinegar that you don’t get with most other Texas pulled pork. That gave it a distinct flavor compared to the other meats and also made it closer to NC pulled pork, which was a welcome bit of home for me. As far as the sausage, I agree, it was good but I could have done without it in lieu of more of the other 3 meats.

Speedy: The question that came up often after the trip was whether Franklin Barbecue was worth the 5 hour wait. It’s not something I’d do every weekend, but I think it was absolutely worth it. Overall, the wait was a rather enjoyable experience, and if I wasn’t already obsessed with barbecue, I’d call the meat life-changing. I can’t wait for my next trip to Franklin’s!

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 5 hogs
Franklin Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Friday Find: Aaron Franklin interview on the Eater Upsell Podcast

Why Franklin will never open a second barbecue restaurant:

“There aren’t enough cows,” Franklin says. It takes 53 cows per day to keep up with current operations, and these are a special kind of cow. “I even struggle now to get enough [brisket],” he adds. The market is so small that when fast-food chain Arby’s hopped on the brisket trend, it drove up the cost of brisket for Franklin by $2. “We don’t use commodity brisket at all,” he explains. “But once the commodity supply runs out, then people start trying to upgrade, and that’s where we got into trouble.”

Additionally, this podcast was the first I had heard about the way that Franklin is branching out – and that’s in the custom-built barbecue pits for the backyard barbecue enthusiast. He has hired 2 fulltime welders in Austin (and may be hiring up to 2 more as of the time this podcast was recorded) who are helping to fabricate the pits made of high quality steel and weighing in the range of about 600 pounds. Right now you can sign up for the newsletter at franklinbbqpits.com and they will go on sale next Spring/Summer.

Read more on the conversation and podcast here

Linkdown: 8/16/17

– Way to go, Ace Biscuit & Barbecue: owner Brian Ashworth kicks Nazis out of his restaurant in Charlottesville

Jamie Foxx made a stop at Stamey’s last week while in town for a Global Entrepreneurs convention at the Greensboro Coliseum across the street

– Carrboro’s got a new upscale yuppie-que joint called CrossTies Barbecue, which is housed in a vintage refurbished railroad car

– As we North Carolinians have known for centuries, barbecue needs acid not sugar

– Tasting Table: American Barbecue Is the Next Big International Food Trend

– Aaron Franklin has no plans to ever open a second location; there just aren’t enough cows

It takes 53 cows per day to keep up with current operations, and these are a special kind of cow. “I even struggle now to get enough [brisket],” he adds. The market is so small that when fast-food chain Arby’s hopped on the brisket trend, it drove up the cost of brisket for Franklin by $2. “We don’t use commodity brisket at all,” he explains. “But once the commodity supply runs out, then people start trying to upgrade, and that’s where we got into trouble.”

– Eater Nashville has a preview of Pat Martin’s new fast food burger and barbecue restaurant, Hugh Baby’s BBQ and Burger Shop opening in late August

– Marie takes over for Grant on their visit to some old favorite joints in Athens, GA

– The “metro Greenville, NC” area (LOL) get’s a shoutout in SI’s Andy Staples and his “America’s Best College Town Meals” column; there are also a few other barbecue spots highlighted for other college towns

If you want to really do it right, spoon some of that pork between two pieces of cornbread. The bread lives somewhere between loaf and cake, and a bite that mixes that bread, that pork and those delectable cracklins is about as close to heaven as we can get here on Earth.

Linkdown: 7/19/17

– From Joe Haynes, the author who brought us Virginia Barbecue, comes Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition out in October:

– Grant finds some decent cue but some great fries at Love That BBQ in Knoxville

– Elliott Moss’s favorite spots for hash in his home state of SC

– The supposed golden age of Texas barbecue means “waiting is the price you pay for transcendence”

– In search of great barbecue at last weekend’s Windy City Smokeout

– Aaron Franklin with tips to improve your backyard smoker in Esquire

– Stubb’s (the restaurant) will be changing names after settling a lawsuit with Stubb’s (the sauce)

– From the G&G archives

Linkdown: 5/17/17

Happy belated National Barbecue Day!

– Jim Shahin steps back and looks ahead to the future of barbecue not just in NC but in other barbecue capitals across the country

One weekend last October, some of the nation’s top young pitmasters gathered on a pig farm just outside Durham, N.C., to participate in an event called the N.C. Barbecue Revival.

On undulating farmland, the cooks, veiled in wood smoke, tended their creations while Duroc and Berkshire pigs trundled freely in the surrounding woods. Without setting out to, these pitmasters — they’re all in their 30s and opened their places in just the past few years — were making a statement: that the next generation of barbecue has arrived.

– Aaron Franklin in Bloomberg (huh?): Eight Things You’re Doing Wrong When You Go Out for Barbecue

– The story of how Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que came to be

– Grant continues his Memphis barbecue trip at Pollard’s Bar-B-Q and ended up digging the side of barbecue spaghetti

– Kosher barbecue festivals are starting to pop up in cities in the south like Memphis, Atlanta, and Charlotte

– Tickets are now available for a Lenny Boy Brewing and Midwood Smokehouse beer and barbecue dinner

Join Lenny Boy Brewing’s Owner and Founder, Townes Mozer, and Midwood Smokehouse Pitmasters in a three course beer pairing event. Sip on Lenny Boy’s famouse Citraphilia IPA, Burndown Brown English Style Brown Ale, and a small batch suprise created special for this evening while enjoying a three course slow smoked menu coming soon.

– How a small town north of Fort Worth, TX became a barbecue destination

– Daniel Vaughn screencapped the barbecue scenes from Master of None season 2

– Cheerwine’s 100th birthday celebration is this Saturday in Salisbury and includes a barbecue competition; more details here:

Linkdown: 12/21/16

– Daniel Vaughn on “big city barbecue” (don’t call it “craft barbecue”)

The foundation of big city barbecue is a focus on premium quality meats, such as prime grade beef from boutique brands like Creekstone and 44 Farms. There’s a reverence toward slices of fatty brisket served without sauce. A big city meat cutter might cringe at the idea of chopping their beautiful briskets, looking down on the staple of Texas barbecue that is the chopped beef sandwich. The ribs and pulled pork (and trust me, there will be pulled pork) will likely be identified by breeds like Duroc or Berkshire. Its hard to make a decent profit, even when charging $20 per pound for that prime—or in some cases Akaushi (also known as Texas Wagyu)—brisket, so the menus are diversified with cheaper items like pork shoulder and turkey breast. You won’t find big city barbecue joint that’s a single meat specialist.

– A Pakistani website has the NC Historic Barbecue Trail on its list of best trips for foodies around the world

– A review of D.G. Martin’s book released earlier this year, North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries

– Includes brisket from Franklin Barbecue at #1

– Grant and Marie give Hillbilly Willy’s Bar-B-Que in Chattanooga another try, a place that uses Memphis-style dry rub on their ribs

– Mighty Quinn’s opens its latest outpost in…Manilla, Philippines?

– BBQ Hub has a list of whole hog barbecue restaurants across the southeast and even in Brooklyn

– The more you know

Friday Find: The Meat Show Finds the Best Barbecue in Austin That Isn’t Franklin Barbecue

Everyone’s heard of Franklin: the Austin barbecue favorite open only for lunch is known for great brisket and extremely long lines. But on a quick trip through Austin, killing 3–4 hours waiting for a meal is often out of the question. Enter: this episode of The Meat Show, wherein host and professional carnivore Nick Solares offers 3 totally worthy alternatives to Franklin, from the history-rich to the flavorful young guns.

Friday Find: CBS This Morning visits Franklin Barbecue

Yet another behind the scenes look at Franklin Barbecue:

“Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” shows what Aaron Franklin has perfected since smoking beef brisket for friends in his back yard. Franklin says all good Texans barbecue, but he is special: a James Beard Award winner with eager customers who wait for hours at his restaurant. Vinita Nair takes a behind-the-scenes look at Franklin Barbeque in Austin, Texas.