Franklin Barbecue

Here in Austin, the word “Franklin” means just one thing: the best—and possibly, the most famous—barbecue in town. Franklin Barbecue started as a food trailer in 2009 and moved to its current location on East 11th Street in 2011. The pit master and co-owner, Aaron Franklin, is now a celebrity around town.

The wait at Franklin is notoriously long. The place opens at 11 AM every day (except Monday), but folks start lining up long before that. An enterprising guy even rents camp chairs to those who are waiting in line. Back in 2014, President Obama caused quite a stir when he cut to the front of the line. He redeemed himself by paying for the couple behind him in line.

Like most Austin BBQ joints, Franklin is nothing special inside. You place your order, and an employee cuts and wraps up the meat. You can sit at tables inside or outside on the shaded porch, or take your order to go.

I heard Franklin mentioned on a recent Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (NPR) episode. The following question was posed to the show’s guest, Marin Alsop:

“Electric fences are excellent conductors, of course, but they’re not just for farm. Someone once seriously suggested using an electrified fence for which of these uses? A, surrounding a mixed martial arts fighters at the first UFC bout; B, keeping the political press from harassing senators; or C, managing the line – which gets quite extraordinary – at Franklin’s Barbecue (ph) in Austin, Texas?

Alsop guessed C, managing the line at Franklin’s Barbecue. NPR host Peter Sagal replied that the correct answer was A, and “the only reason I put it [C] in here was that they would hear it and send us some barbecue.” I don’t know if Peter Sagal got his free BBQ, but this exchange reminded me that Franklin’s pre-order service that would be a perfect treat for our upcoming visitor. I immediately checked Franklin’s website and found one (and only one) open time slot that would coincide with the visit.

Several weeks later, Bill and I picked up our five pounds of meat (the minimum pre-order amount) at their trailer behind the main restaurant. We chose an assortment of sausage, ribs, turkey, and brisket. Our order was accompanied by fresh bread, onions, pickles, and three kinds of barbeque sauces.

So, did Franklin live up to the hype? Oh, yes. We liked the sausage, ribs, and turkey, but the brisket was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Juicy, tender, perfectly-seasoned…just perfect. We would order mostly brisket, if we pre-order again—I mean, when we pre-order again.

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