Aaron Franlin opened Franklin BBQ in 2009 in Austin, Texas as a food truck on the side of interstate 35. After a favorable review about a month into opening, Franklin quickly started selling out on a daily basis. It became so popular that people started camping out to be the first to taste the famous brisket--now widely considered the best in the US. Late in 2010, they opened up their brick and mortar location on E 11th Street, where they remain today.
Franklin's popularity is legendary: they have sold out every day since they opened over seven years ago. Even the lines at Franklin are famous; we waited about three hours on a Saturday, which is pretty typical. We were so lucky to get to go to Franklin, as they were closed due to a fire for three months, but they just reopened about a week before our trip to Austin. The BBQ stars aligned for us!
Franklin has a simple menu of five meats, three sides, and pies. For the meats, they have brisket, pork ribs, pulled pork, turkey, and sausage. For the sides, they offer potato salad, slaw, and beans. You can order the meats in 1/4 pound increments and sides in single, pint, or quart sizes. This was our first time, so we got a sampler of everything. We ordered way too much food for two people, but that's how we live our lives. The two outstanding items are the brisket and sausage. Pro tip--make sure you get the brisket fatty. The other meats are good, but we ultimately felt we could have skipped them and loaded up on brisket and sausage. The sides are good, particularly the potato salad, but Franklin(ly), you could just skip them to focus on the meat--you wouldn't be missing out.
The brisket was legitimately the best brisket we've ever had. In central Texas they believe that BBQ, if done right, doesn't need sauce as the proper cooking will make it naturally moist, and Franklin lives up to this promise. The saltiness of the rub combined with the juicy, fatty, melt-in-your-mouth brisket hits you like a cowboy wrangling a steer. You'll need to lie down after, but it's totally worth it
Franklin offers bourbon banana, pecan, lemon chess, and key lime pie. We didn't order any, because, well, look at all of that meat for two people. Looking at some shots, though, I really wish we had gotten a bourbon banana to go!
Franklin offers high end soft drinks, sweet tea, and a wide selection of local Texas beers.
The place is basically a hole in the wall and is decorated to make you feel like you are in the back country of central Texas. Of the three hours we were there, we spent most of the time waiting in line outside. The staff make the wait as pleasant as possible, coming out and letting you know approximately how long the wait will be and what meats will be left when you get up to the front of the line. They even offer complimentary lawn chairs, and bring out the occasional meat snack to hold you over until you reach the front of the line. When you reach the front of the line after all that time, your excitement cannot be contained. Here, you will meet your new best friend, the meat man. Enjoy your one minute with him. It's a special moment.
Everyone at Franklin makes you feel like you are part of their extended family. From the lady who tells you what meats will be available when you get to the front, to the meat man, to the lady checking you out and the counter, to the random fat guy who says hi to you a lot and seems to be a big deal, everyone is there to make your experience special.
All of Frankie's exes live in Texas; Was Franklin named after Frankie?; We made a new friend in the Franklin line--shout out to Erik!; Brisket is the new black; Want to hear a sad story? We took our leftover meat back to our hotel, but ending up throwing it out later that night as we did not have fridge; Never underestimate the power of a good sausage