Becoming Texan: Trying Franklin BBQ

 “If one hypothetical Russian lady who loves Texas very much decided she wants to be as Texan as possible, what would she have to do?” I asked me readers and, boy, did they come back to me with some creative answers! From horseback riding to dancing two step to getting a gun and beyond! I made a comprehensive list and set out to do everything I possible can!

franklin BBQ worth the wait

Challenge #1: Trying Franklin BBQ

This is the first post in my series “Becoming Texan” and the first challenge I completed – trying Franklin BBQ! If you are not from Texas, I should probably mention that eating BBQ in this joint is indeed a challenge. You don’t just walk into Franklin and order half a pound of brisket. You get up at 6.00 in the morning, arrive to the restaurant 4 hours before its opening and patiently wait.

What You Should Know about Franklin BBQ

Now before you say: “4 hours? What the hell! I would never!” here are a few facts you should know about Franklin BBQ and why it’s so famous.

  • Franklin BBQ was voted #1 BBQ joint in Texas by Texas Monthly and Best BBQ Joint in USA by Bon Appetit.
  • Anthony Bourdain stayed in line and proclaimed this BBQ “truly worth waiting for”
  • The only two people known to have skipped the line are Barack Obama who generously bought BBQ for people behind him and Gordon Ramsay who revealed this secret on Jimmy Kimmel and paid so many compliment to the restaurant that you kinda feel like letting this one slide.
  • Rumor has it, Kanye West tried to jump the line but was denied service.
  • Lastly, if you think arriving to a restaurant by 7 am is early, think of Aaron Franklin, the man behind the legendary BBQ joint, who comes to work at 3.30 am.

Franklin BBQ Austin

How It All Started

Aaron Franklin opened a food trailer back in 2009 in a vacant lot behind his friend’s coffee roastery. His following grew so fast that in less than a year it could be compared to some of the oldest BBQ joints in Texas. He quickly outgrew his trailer and moved to a permanent location in East Austin. The lines, not surprisingly, followed.

The restaurant is open from 11 am until sold out which usually happens around lunch time. If you come here by noon, you are too late. Sometimes the sign “Sold Out” goes up before the restaurant even opens indicating there are so many people in line, by the time you reach the front there will be no meat.

The Secret

In an interview to Bon Appetit magazine Aaron Franklin revealed some of his secrets,

“First of all, he uses Meyer Angus beef, which is humanely raised in Montana without hormones or antibiotics. The fires in his pits are started using only post oak wood and butcher paper drenched in the tallow that covered the previous day’s brisket.

Franklin swears he uses only salt and pepper to season it [brisket] … he promises it’s all about time and the temperature of the pits. Whereas most places smoke brisket for seven hours at a blazing 500°, Franklin cooks his for about 18 hours at 250° to 270°. It goes into the pits around 9:00 a.m. and won’t come off until about 3:00 a.m. the next day.”

My Experience

6.00 AM

Rough awakening after sleeping for only 3 hours. I had an article deadline the day before and stayed up to finish writing.

7 AM

Packing lawn chairs, blankets, books, a thermos with coffee, and bananas.

7.30 AM

Arriving to Franklin BBQ only to find about 20 people already waiting in line. Nevertheless, we are technically in the start of the line which is heartwarming. 

coffee neat Franklin BBQ

Arranging a little home away from home for the next 4 hours. Getting comfy in the chairs with legs wrapped in blankets, because the temperature is in low 40-s. 

prepared for long line at Franklin BBQ

7.30 – 10.30 AM

Having many cups of coffee, reading 100 pages of a book, chatting with people around who are as crazy as I am to camp out for hours in order to get a slice of brisket. 

staying in line Franklin

The line goes along the wall of the building.

tips visit Franklin BBQ

10.30 AM

An employee of Franklin BBQ comes out to welcome everybody and make a count of meats people are planning to order. The line goes all the way to the parking lot.

Franklin BBQ line

11.00 AM

The doors open and we finally get inside.

must eat Austin

11.10 AM

Meeting Aaron Franklin himself makes me feel like I‘ve just talked to a rock star!

with Aaron Franklin

11.20 AM

Getting lean brisket, fatty brisket, sausage, ribs, 3 sides and a pie, because we didn’t stay in line four hours for nothing! Taking a dozen pictures, a video and a story for Instagram, because I am a freaking food blogger and can’t eat right away even if I stayed in line four hours. Especially if I stayed in line four hours!

fatty brisket at Franklin BBQ Austin TX

11.30 AM

Eating the juiciest fattiest brisket in the whole world and not regretting for a second the decision to come here!

must eat Franklin BBQ Austin TX

11.50 AM

Go home and sleep.

Watch me complete my first challenge!

Tips for Surviving Franklin BBQ Experience

  • Get in line early and be the first to get inside when the restaurant opens. The later you come, the fewer meat options you will have to choose from. You don’t want to stay in line for 2-3 hours only to realize they ran out of brisket.
  • Come prepared. Bring lawn chairs, blankets if the weather is cold, food enough for 3-4 hours, water and coffee. Although, there’s a coffee right around the corner from Franklin, so you can get it there too.
  • Waiting in line is part of the whole experience. Accept it and make the best of your time there. Read a book, bring a laptop and work or get to know people around you who may be from Austin, from other states or even from other countries!
  • Better yet bring friends and use the time in the line to catch up, have some beers and play cards.
  • When you finally get inside, order everything! I am serious. It’s very likely that you won’t come here again for months, even if you live in Austin. So take advantage and try everything, you can always pack the leftovers and take them home.
  • Franklin’s signature meat is fatty brisket, ask for burned ends!
  • Get a pie for dessert. I’ve tried banana bourbon and it was delicious!

First challenge is officially completed! I am one step closer to becoming Texan! Next up is learning to dance Texan two step! Good luck to me!

If you have suggestions what else I should do to become a true Texan, comment below and I will do it!

Franklin BBQwebsite

Address: 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX

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franklin bbq austin tx what you should know before visit

Yulia is a Russian food and travel blogger who found home first in Sri Lanka for 3 years, then in Brazil for a year and is currently based in Austin, Texas. She is the kind of person who starts a research of the new country by googling “what to eat in…” instead of “what to visit in…” Yulia is a self-proclaimed “food nerd” who will spend hours reading on the origins of pecan pie before trying it and who doesn’t consider waiting in line of 50 people to get a cronut a waste of time. She finds it hard to keep her delicious findings to herself and that is the reason why this blog exists.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Kate Storm says:

    I usually visit Austin at least a couple of times a year, and that photo looks so good that I *might* be willing to wait in line for 4 hours for it. Yum!

    1. I promise, you won’t regret it! And the wait is not too painful if you come with friends or at least bring a chair and a book 🙂

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