Franklin BBQ – 900 E 11th Street, Austin, TX
I knew what I was getting into. It’s on the short list of places to eat that have a twitter feed to monitor the line (@franklinbbqline). It’s a 4+ hour wait for BBQ (If you’re lucky and get there at the right time, you’re probably looking at 2-3 hours on the front end, or maybe less for the scraps on the back end. There’s clearly the “buzz” factor that adds to the wait. But in the end, the food delivers. Does it deliver enough to justify the wait? That’s up to you decide, but here’s my take – this is the best BBQ I’ve had. Hands down, top to bottom – the best brisket, the best pork ribs, the best pulled pork, the best smoked turkey, and the best hot link. The cole slaw was alright, as were the beans. I’m not a BBQ expert, particularly when it comes to Texas BBQ, but I’ve had a decent share of good BBQ over the years.
My first taste of Franklin’s started around 3 hours into the wait, when they passed out bites of hot links with bread. That’s when it all began feeling real, and the anticipation really started to begin. A crisp casing surrounding a peppery sausage with a smoky finish.
After that wait (got in line around 9, served just before 1;30) this is what we ended up with – 2 lbs, brisket, 2 lbs pork ribs (the 2nd to last order), the last 1/3 lb of pulled pork, a 1/2 lb of smoked turkey, and a few hot links. 4+ hours of waiting, and we just got served in time to try everything on the menu.
The brisket here is everything you would want – perfectly tender, nice smoke ring, great bark, and the smoky flavor that lingers in your mouth. not too salty, and seasoned enough to complement the meat, but still allowing the natural flavor of the beef to come through.
The pork ribs are a bit firmer. Didn’t seem quite as meaty as the St. Louis cut I’m used to but definitely not the overly tender Baby backs either. A perfect mix of both. Tender and fall off the bone, with a nice meaty bite to it. The rub seems a simple black pepper rub, just enough to add some a bit of flavor that complements the natural flavor of the pork and the smoke perfectly.
Like I mentioned earlier, we got the last scraps of pulled pork, but even then, it was soft, moist, if not a bit too moist. Lacked a bit of smokiness but mixed perfectly with the hot sauce. The turkey is highly underrated and in more prominent supply, so if you go and arrive late, don’t feel baad about getting the turkey – it’s a stellar option. Tasted brined as the meat itself had a nice salty flavor to it, and the turkey itself has a nice smokiness to it.
I wish that I could go back to Franklin’s but have to wait the wait again – 4 hours seems excessive and it’s against my general principle to wait for anything that long. I’m glad I did it, but I’d be hard pressed to do it again. Although maybe on a nice day, a comfy chair and a good book, some good company, maybe it’d be worth it again…
The final chapter of the Austin trip to come….