On a trip to Austin, Texas I decided to try Franklin Barbecue.
Established in 2009, Franklin Barbecue is famous for its brisket and other barbecue offerings.
I thought the food, especially the brisket, was deserving of its stellar reputation and long lines.
Franklin Barbecue is famous for its long lines. However, due to the pandemic, the dining room wasn't open when I visited in October 2021, so I ordered my food online instead.
Franklin Barbecue was established in 2009 and has been an Austin staple for barbecue ever since. It's also gained a reputation worldwide for its barbecue, largely thanks to the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain who visited the spot in 2012 for an episode of "No Reservations," waited in line for over an hour, and called the brisket "earth-shatteringly good."
In 2015, Franklin Barbecue owner Aaron Franklin was also awarded a prestigious James Beard Foundation Award for best chef in the Southwest. He is the first chef specializing in barbecue to earn the distinction.
I've heard plenty of stories about people waiting in line for hours to try Franklin Barbecue, and menu items like its famous brisket usually sell out quickly. To ensure that I would be able to try everything I wanted to, I placed my curbside pick-up order two days in advance on its website.
The only hang-up with ordering online was that I needed to order at least 3 pounds of meat. In total, I spent $135.50 on my order, including taxes and a 15% tip. My order ended up being way too much food for one person to eat in one sitting.
However, if you were feeding a large group of people, I thought the process was super convenient and fairly priced. I was able to eat my food over the span of multiple days, so it didn't go to waste.
When I arrived at my pick-up time, I was directed towards an employee in a white tent near the restaurant.
After telling them my name and order number, they told me it would be about 15 minutes before my order was ready, and to go and wait in their designated waiting area at an assigned station.
I was on foot, but if you arrive in a car, they'll bring it right out to you when it's ready.
I was the only one waiting for food in the pick-up area.
I already knew this was probably a much less stressful process than waiting in line for hours hoping to get a plate. Even though I ended up spending a lot of money on my food, since I needed to order so much meat to meet the minimum, I was appreciative of the fact that I didn't need to wait in line for hours.
I texted the number on a sign with my name and order number.
Within about 10 minutes, an employee brought out my food and checked to make sure I had everything. Franklin Barbecue doesn't give you plates, but I was able to snag a set of plastic silverware and napkins. The meat comes already cut up to make for easier serving.
After acquiring my haul of barbecue, I realized I hadn't thought about where I would eat it.
There are a couple of park benches close by to the restaurant, but I decided to head back to my hotel to be able to spread it all out and get the full experience.
Franklin Barbecue's dining room is officially open again, as of November 23, just in time for those wanting to get their barbecue fix on Thanksgiving.
I wanted to try as many menu items as possible, but I settled on a few of the restaurant's most popular offerings.
I ordered a pound of brisket, 2 pounds of pulled pork, a sausage link, potato salad, coleslaw, and a drink. The meat came neatly wrapped in paper — I could see the oils and juices from the meat soaking through it before I even opened the bag.
I started by unwrapping Franklin's brisket — I could immediately see why it's famous.
The outside of the brisket had a beautiful, smoked crust on it, while the meat inside was dripping in juices and incredibly moist without being overly fatty. The portion was huge, but I wasn't complaining.
One pound of sliced brisket, which usually sells out really quickly, came to $36. I thought this was a fair price for the amount of food I received.
I also ordered a large serving of pulled pork.
The pulled pork also had a nice char. It was by far the most enticing pulled pork I had ever seen. It looked real — I don't know how else to describe it. Pulled pork I've had in the past could be stringy and not fatty enough, but this was on another level of juiciness and looked like it had just come out of the smoker.
Two pounds of pulled pork cost $56 when I ordered it.
I also ordered a sausage link.
The sausage link cost $4.40.
I'm a huge fan of potato salad, so I knew I needed to try the one from Franklin Barbecue.
It was a rich, yellow color and smelled strongly of dill, mustard, and eggs. A pint of potato salad from Franklin Barbecue cost me $6.60.
The coleslaw was also appealing.
It looked light and homemade and like it had already been seasoned with salt and pepper. A pint of coleslaw also cost me $6.60.
My meal also came with two complimentary loaves of bread.
You can eat it on the side, or use it to make a barbecue sandwich.
Sliced pickles and onions also came complimentary in a small plastic tub.
I thought that Franklin Barbecue definitely provided everything I would need to have a true Texas barbecue feast.
My meal came with three different kinds of barbecue sauce. I loved all of them, though I preferred the darkest, thickest one.
It was perfectly sweet and tangy, and it paired perfectly with the meat without masking any of its flavors. I also liked the other sauces, especially the one that tasted more strongly of vinegar.
However, I thought that you would definitely need more than just the provided barbecue sauce if you were feeding a large party.
After assembling my plate, I was more than ready to dig in.
The smell of the smoked meats was almost overwhelming.
I started off by trying the brisket, which was perfectly marbled and super moist.
The brisket didn't even require a knife — it was so moist and tender that it practically fell apart with just my fork. I really enjoyed the flavor of the meat. The crust added a delicious textural element that contrasted nicely with the tender meat.
The brisket paired perfectly with barbecue sauce.
However, the meat was so moist that it definitely didn't require it. The flavor itself was smoky with a touch of sweetness from the barbecue sauce.
It was by far the best brisket I have ever eaten, from the perfectly tender texture to the delicious flavor. I could definitely see why people travel far and wide – and wait in line for hours — just to try Franklin Barbecue's brisket.
I also tried the sausage link, which had the perfect snap to it.
The sausage was flavorful without being too spicy, and I really enjoyed the texture. The casing had a perfect "snap" to it — the mark of a really good sausage — and paired perfectly with any of the three barbecue sauces I received.
I decided to make a pulled-pork sandwich using the bread and other fixings.
I topped my pulled-pork sandwich with pickles, onions, and a layer of barbecue sauce.
I really enjoyed the pulled pork on its own and as part of a sandwich.
The bread was perfectly light, fluffy, and not too dry. The pulled pork itself was tender, super flavorful, and practically melted in my mouth. It was definitely the best pulled pork I've ever eaten, despite spending four years living in the South.
However, I didn't enjoy the pulled pork quite as much as the brisket. If I had to choose one, I would definitely opt for the brisket.
The potato salad was unlike any other I've ever had.
It tasted strongly of mustard, dill, and eggs. When I make potato salad, I usually don't add eggs to it, though I learned this is the standard recipe for many Texas-style potato salads. I thought the salad was rich and creamy, although I would have liked an element of crunch from celery or red onion.
The tangy and fresh coleslaw perfectly balanced out my meat-heavy meal.
The coleslaw was crunchy and light. The dressing didn't overpower it, which I can sometimes find with coleslaw.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed by my first experience eating from Franklin Barbecue. Now I understand what all the hype is about.
Everything I tried was amazing, from the perfectly tender and flavorful brisket to the creamy potato salad.
The next time I'm in Austin, I'll definitely be back at Franklin Barbecue to have the best barbecue I've ever eaten again — although next time, I'll definitely bring friends along to share it with.
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