3421 N. I-35
Austin, TX 78722
After reading up on Franklin BBQ on several of the BBQ blogs that I follow (Man Up Texas BBQ, Full Custom Gospel BBQ, and Urban Spoon) I felt that I needed to give it a try. It’s been a Talk of the Town topic on Urban Spoon for a while now. Some of the Eats BBQ crew had it on their wish list, and it was only about 10 minutes from our offices in downtown Austin. So we Mike, Chris, Justin, and Ray (me) loaded up and ventured over.
When we arrived around 11:45am there was already around a 15 person deep line. That’s a really good sign in my book. It took us around 15-20 minutes to get through the queue. Not too fast, but not too slow either. They’ve done the best that they can to provide shade and fans with misters to keep people cool. Of course there’s a gap between the awning and the ordering area, but the line sort of just broke apart there to keep everyone in the shade.
Franklin BBQ has a pretty tight little setup. They serve the food out of a convert travel trailer, the smoker is on a trailer behind that with a roof and is screened in. They use the old empty filling station next to it for their bathrooms. One of the more memorable signage’s I’ve seen is the The Franklin BBQ logo, it has a very vintage unique look to it. They even have an iron version of it on the smoker trailer. The picnic tables either have an awning or umbrella over them to provide as much shade as possible. They also have mister fans going, but it’s still all outside.
So on to the food. We decided to pool our money and just order a tasting of everything that they had. Here’s the order:
1 lb Moist Brisket
1/2 lb Lean Brisket
1/2 lb Pulled Pork
8 Pork Ribs
side of potato salad
side of beans
side of coleslaw
1 Key Lime Tart
1 Lemon Chess Tart
1 Pecan Tart
For 4 people it ended up $62. Not bad at $15.50 a piece, but not exactly cheap either.
Photos by Ray Pierce - click on the images to go to the Flickr set
I started off with the pork ribs. They were difficult to get on to my butcher paper because they were so tender. The meat was separating from the bone just picking it up. There was a light rub on the them that was black pepper based but had a saltiness about it. It wasn’t overly peppery as some other place do, but it was just the right amount. There was a great flavor with just the meat alone, but it was even better with the vinegary bbq sauce that they had. They were some of the best ribs that I’ve had in a long while.
Next I delved into
heaven the brisket. I know that the words that I write here won’t do it justice, but I’ll try. Aaron Franklin served us, and he was quite generous with his cuts. There was about an inch of fat on the top of the brisket and due to that he gave us a little more than what we had ordered. That fat translated into one of the most moist and tender piece of brisket that I’ve ever had. There was a great flavored, nice and thick peppery bark on the outside of the brisket. It was one of those things that you know that he’s worked on for years to get it just right. The flavor by itself was tremendous. But then you add the dark bbq sauce (think coffee and molasses infused bbq sauce) that they have to it, and it just makes it that much better. I believe that it was smoked over oak, which gave it a bit of a different flavor than your typical mesquite.
The pulled pork was beyond tender. It was served more in the manner of how chopped brisket would be. It was really finely separated into small strands of meat. It had a definite salty flavor to it, but once you added a little bit of sauce it countered it quite well. It would make a great sandwich, but we didn’t eat it as such. To me this was probably the weakest of the meats that we had, and it was still outstanding.
The intention was to get some sausage as well, but we apparently were overwhelmed by the little tasting tidbits they were handing out at the window and forgot to order it. We’ll try it next time.
As for the sides, they were fairly forgettable. The beans had a good flavor, but they are beans. They are what they are. The potato salad was overly mustard flavored, not bad, but forgettable. The coleslaw was more or less just red cabbage with little flavor to it. If you are coming here for the sides, your priorities are all wrong anyway. Stick to the meat.
As a treat to finish off the meal we had one of each of the tarts that they had from Cake and Spoon. We tried Key Lime, Lemon chess, and Texas Pecan tarts. One of the great things about them is that they are all homemade crusts. The Key Lime tart and graham cracker crust we delish and my favorite of the day. The Lemon Chess tart was a close second. The pecan was good, but the other two out shown it. Their website doesn’t list those tarts on their website, so they may be special for Franklin BBQ.
All in all this set a new level for the bar. We’ve went on several hour plus trips to get BBQ that wasn’t as good as Franklin’s. It was probably the best BBQ that I’ve had, but I’ve only been here once. Consistency is part of the game as well so when I go back I’m just hoping that I don’t have to go back on my words. If you are in Austin area, try this place out. You won’t be disappointed.