If there was one place I had to go to while in Austin, it would have to be Franklin Barbecue. I’ve been hearing about this place for a few years now, always seeing it on television and reading multiple articles about it.
Aaron Franklin made quite a name for himself in the barbecue world. Holder of a James Beard award for best chef in the Southwest, it all started when he opened a food trailer back in 2009. Soon after, his barbecued meats spread all over local media and became the focus of many bloggers. Many hail him as a BBQ genius. There’s no doubt that Franklin Barbecue is one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in America.
Of course I had to finally check it out. I’ll admit that this place was one of the reasons I wanted to visit Austin. I figured the day after I arrived would be the best time to go. I didn’t exactly anticipate being out so late the night before, but I still dragged myself out of bed at 6am Friday morning, something I rarely do while I’m on vacation.
In addition to the famous barbecue, the long line that forms until doors open is well-known as well. People start lining up very early. I made it there around 8am and the line wasn’t bad at all. There are chairs you can borrow while you wait. I happen to grab the very last one. Whew!
It was a fairly chilly morning. I came equipped with gloves, a hat, water, and a couple snacks. Some people go all out and come prepared with their own chairs, tables, breakfast, and coolers full of beer and liquor. The group in front of me were even making their own bloody marys. Whatever helps pass the time.
I should have brought some beer of my own. No worries though, friendly staff members make their way down the line selling a few local beers. Fantastic.
After a bit, the staff started to come around and ask what people were expecting to order. This place closes once they sell out of everything and this gives them an estimate of how fast the meat will run out. They will actually cut the line off and tell people towards the end of the line if they’re not going to make it. Seriously, get there early.
You’re free to go inside to use the bathrooms, buy more beer, and check out some Franklin Barbecue merchandise. I couldn’t resist, I bought a shirt.
By 10am, the line was down the parking lot.
At 11am exactly, we heard a few people cheering near the entrance – the doors have opened!
I have to say that the wait didn’t seem that bad, even with the chilly weather. I met some very nice people, locals who have been there before and fellow first-timers.
We figured it would be another hour by the time we reached the counter to order. As I waited in line, I couldn’t help staring at the fabulous spread of those sitting down already. We’re almost there.
It was about 12pm and I was next in line to order. They’re surprisingly accurate with their time estimates.
I was up and it was time to order. This was it! The crew behind the counter were working in perfect harmony chopping and cutting the meats, adding sides, and serving up drinks.
I ordered a half pound of brisket and ribs, a quarter pound of pulled pork and turkey, and a sausage link. I also added a small side of potato salad, coleslaw, and a miniature pecan pie. After all that waiting, I figured I had to try a little bit of everything! It all comes with pickles, onions, and Mrs. Baird’s white bread.
I grabbed a table near the counter and sat with the lovely people I chatted with in line. There were a few sauces on the table to use as you please. It was their Texas-style BBQ sauce, an espresso BBQ sauce, and a spicier sauce. All of them were tasty, but don’t go putting on all that sauce without trying the meats by themselves first.
The sausage was great. It was juicy and the casing had a nice snap to it.
The coleslaw and potato salad were good, but nothing special. Honestly, you come here for the meat and not the sides.
The pulled pork was moist and tender. I enjoyed using the bread to make a little sandwich with a few dashes of that espresso sauce.
I tried the turkey and it was nice and moist. Out of all the meats, it was my least favorite. I had to try it though. The ribs were tender and packed a bit of a kick. The seasoning seemed to be very heavy with the pepper, perhaps a bit too much for my taste.
Now I’m all about the beef brisket and that’s what Franklin Barbecue is famous for. They use a simple rub of salt and pepper and smoke it low and slow for up to 16 hours. I have to say the brisket was phenomenal! I always order mine “moist” so it’s sliced from the fattier part. It was extremely tender and just fell apart with the slightest touch of my fork. Amazing!
As great as everything was, there was no way I was going to finish all that food. There’s a huge roll of butcher paper and plastic bags near the register for all your leftovers. After your meal, you can see where all the magic happens in the smokehouse.
It was really cool to see the massive smokers. Stand back, it’s really, really hot!
It’s Gettin Hot in Here
I couldn’t forget about dessert. All the miniature pies come from the local bakery, Cake and Spoon.
The Texas pecan pie was wonderful! The crispy and flaky crust with that delicious sweet filling – yum.
I am so glad I finally made it to Franklin Barbecue! Now the big question – was it worth the wait? I would say for the experience and that fabulous brisket, yes! If you’ve never been and you have time to spare, check it out. If you’re really pressed for time, there are other reputable barbecue joints in town that you can try. Besides the solid barbecue, it was nice to meet new people while waiting and it was a pleasant experience overall. If you’re planning on placing a big order of at least 5lbs, you can actually pre-order, skip the line, and pick up your food…but that’s no fun! 😉
900 E 11th Street
Austin, TX 78702
– 11am until sold out
– Closed Mondays