Franklin Barbecue: Three Hours From Now, You Could Be In Brisket Heaven
3421 N. I-35, Austin
Hours: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday (or until sold out)
All the food trailers on South Congress Avenue in Austin are awesome and delicious and all, but they've become super touristy. We love the food, but there's something too squeaky-clean about the shiny Airstreams right across the street from the ridiculously expensive vintage clothing shops of SoCo. Made us want to walk right into Parts & Labour and buy a "Stop Dallasing Austin" shirt. They're taking the trailer out of the trailer park. And we kinda like the trailer park. That being said, the rest of the trailer cuisine scene in Austin has become a beautiful thing of which we Dallas folk are obviously jealous. And with the opening of Franklin Barbecue, things have only gotten better.
We headed down to Austin on a quest to try out Franklin Barbecue, knowing that their hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. When we rolled in at 3 p.m. on Thursday (at this point, any Austinites reading this are already laughing in our amateur faces), crickets were chirping and there wasn't a brisket-serving soul around. What the dong? Then we saw it: a little handwritten sign that ruined our afternoon, "Sorry, we're sold out." Franklin's stays open only until it sells out of the food smoked for the day (Snow's style), and we clearly had no idea how popular this place has already become.
Arrive early for Franklin Barbecue's brisket. Bring a cooler.
The next morning, we did not repeat our mistake. We decided to show up at 10:30 a.m. "That's a good thirty minutes before they open and it's a Friday, so the regular working-man will be way too busy to crowd the line." "Yeah. Plus, it's raining, so that'll keep some people away, too, right?" We were 8th in line when we showed up. And it was pouring down rain. People in front of us were wearing rain gear.
At about 10:45 a.m., Aaron Franklin dragged opened the chicken wire gate and said, "C'mon in, you guys -- stand under the tent out of this rain." We waited in the parking lot under the tent and in about five minutes, the rain stopped. Seriously: The closer we got to being served brisket, the sunnier the world got.
We drooled over the menu for the next 10 minutes, finally deciding on the brisket plate (your choice of fatty or lean. Pick fatty!!!) and the Tipsy Texan: a sandwich made with chopped beef AND sausage (Whaaaaaaaa? mind blows up) and then topped with pickles, onions and cole slaw. While they took our order, we were given a chunk of brisket to wolf down, and holy crapstick, was it delicious.
Sausage AND chopped beef? Who is this mad genius?
The Austin Chronicle says, "Aaron Franklin started out as a backyard master and slid right into professionalism when he set up his trailer." We says Franklin Barbecue makes such delicious brisket, we uncontrollably dry-humped the trailer. Because we did.
The smoky brisket was double-complete-rainbow-all-the-way-across-the-sky good. There are sauces on the table for you to douse the meat in, but you're a complete asshole if you even think about saucing this stuff up. Bring a cooler, because they sell the brisket for $13 a pound and you're gonna want some leftovers for the ride home.
How was The Tipsy Texan? Freaking amazing. We're convinced that the idea to pair these perfect meats on one sandwich could only have come to Aaron Franklin's mind straight from Texas Jesus' lips (Texas Jesus is our favorite Jesus, as he is also the inventor of chaps, the battery-powered personal fan and Lone Star Beer). Did we mention it's a pile of two meals worth of food for only $4.95? Win.
Franklin Barbecue's truck: Who needs a slick Airstream?
That day, Franklin Barbecue was sold out of food by 12:30 p.m., which according to the other patrons at our picnic table is "a regular thing." So, if you're coming, fill up that gas tank and get your face here as early as humanly possible.