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The 50 Best BBQ Joints . . . in the World!

Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company

Fredericksburg

Rating: 4.25
Opened: 2003
Pitmasters: Daniel Martin, age 40, and Glenn Wilke, age 60
Method: Mesquite; indirect-heat pit
Pro tip: Frank, who was an infant when his parents opened the restaurant, is not so cranky anymore.

As popular as this Hill Country hamlet is among the day-tripping set, Fredericksburg has historically suffered from a surprising dearth of top-rate barbecue. No more. Just a mile and a half south of the knickknack and potpourri emporiums of bustling Main Street stands Cranky Frank’s Barbeque Company. Once inside the brightly colored building, make your way to the counter where, guided by the menu above and whoever is manning the cutting board, you can place your order for toothsome and juicy “marbled” brisket (lean, meaning not quite as marbled, is also an option, of course), perfectly crusted pork ribs, and snappy and black-peppery sausage. There’s tender and moist pork shoulder too. And chicken. And beer (or “bier,” as they market it to the tourists back on the busy hauptstrasse). If you choose to go the plate route, the pinto beans, potato salad, green beans, whole-kernel corn, coleslaw, and chocolate pudding are help-yourself and all-you-can-eat. Grab a seat at one of the indoor tables or dig in alfresco at one of the picnic tables, covered in cheerful red-and-white-checked tablecloths. The heavy, tangy, ketchup-based sauce is very good. Use it if you must, but do so sparingly.

1679 U.S. 87 S., 830-997-2353. Open Tue–Sun 11–3 or till meat runs out). Closed first Sun of the month. crankyfranksbbq.com

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  • Michael

    Cranky Frank’s brisket is, by a considerable margin, the best in the area. Their moist meat is just that, with the fat perfectly rendered. Sausage has great flavor and that characteristic Hill Country snap. The two sauces? Just fair, in my opinion, BUT…with meat this good sauce is simply not necessary (or even desirable). As for the sides, the cole slaw, potato salad, and beans are all good, but certainly not outstanding. However, the corn is, in my opinion, a disaster. It’s clearly straight out of an institutional can, and looks and tastes as if it has been sitting for many hours. This was not a one time thing. That corn always looks this way. I find it very unappetizing.

    The restaurant itself has very limited seating. It is the classic definition of a hole in the wall. Go there for the superb meats, stick to the good sides, and you will be very happy. A final warning…all of the locals know about Cranky Frank’s, and they can sell out quickly. You are rolling the dice if you arrive after 1pm. Enjoy!