Thursday, June 20, 2013

Franklin Barbecue

Me reading a book in a lawn chair as I await the opening of Franklin Barbecue
On my final day in Austin, I had one more stop to make.  A colleague and I decided that we were going to brave the lines and go on a pilgrimage to the Mecca of Smoke Meats, also known as Franklin Barbecue.  Texas Monthly recently listed it as the #1 Barbecue Joint in Texas.  Bon Appetit Magazine claims that Franklin Barbecue is the #1 Barbecue Joint in America.   Franklin Barbecue has also been featured on the Travel Channel's No Reservations, The New York Times, and Southern Living.  
We were happy that we were number 5 and 6 in line behind these stylish and classy gentlemen
I had heard rumors of four hour waits for Franklin Barbecue and my colleague suggested we get there as close to 8 a.m. as possible. We arrived at 8:15 and were the 5th and 6th people in line.  We sat our lawn chairs down and prepared to sit and read for the next 2 hours and 45 minutes.  By 10 a.m., the line was over 250 people deep and stretched far beyond the parking lot.  I finished the latest David Baldacci book a few minutes before the 11 a.m. opening and I was ready to eat some barbecue.  Right before we entered the restaurant, we had a Johnny Come Lately offer us $100 to buy him a barbecue sandwich so he didn't have to stand in line.  We declined his offer from an ethical standpoint, but I can't say that we were not tempted by his offer.
By 10 a.m., the line stretched through the entire parking lot
While ordering, they give customers samples of burnt ends.  One bite of the burnt end was all it took for me to realize that this brisket was going to be a real treat.  I ordered the two meat plate with brisket and ribs, but I added a sausage link.  For sides, I  ordered the beans and cole slaw.  Since I waited almost three hours to order, I went ahead and got two pounds of brisket and two pounds of turkey to go.
Aaron Franklin himself greeting the first customer of the day
The brisket was absolutely the best I had ever had.  It was smoky with an excellent bark and was very moist.  The ribs were good and had a sweet flavor to the rub.  The sausage was not very remarkable in comparison to the brisket, but was still pretty good.  I also snuck into to my to-go order and pulled out some of the turkey to try.  Much like the brisket, it was the best smoked turkey I have ever had.  It was perfectly smoked, moist, and had a nice pepper rub on the outside.  Even the beans and cole slaw were fantastic.  I am not usually a fan of cole slaw, but I would eat this cole slaw any day.  To finish off the meal, I tried the bourbon banana pie.  It had a graham cracker crust with a flavorful banana pudding filling.
Brisket, ribs, and sausage with beans and cole slaw.

Bourbon Banana Pie
After sampling the goods, I can now see how this place earned the reputation that it has.  Aaron Franklin truly is the Meat Whisperer. Would I wait in line for almost three hours again with the knowledge that there is extremely high quality barbecue down the road at John Mueller Meat Co. and Freedmen's Bar?  Probably not.  Would I let you wait in line for me at Franklin Barbecue and buy 10 pounds of meat for me?  Absolutely!

Next time, I will call early enough in advance to take advantage of the pre-order opportunity that Aaron Franklin offers.  If you order five pounds or more, you can skip the lines and go get your food at 10:30.  Unfortunately, they limit their number of pre-orders per day and our calling two weeks ahead of time was not early enough.  Apparently these pre-orders get booked a month in advance or more.  If you get the opportunity and have the time, I recommend trying this place.

Franklin Barbecue
900 East 11th St.
Austin, TX
Livin the Good Life Rating = 5
Franklin Barbecue on Urbanspoon