The ebony-hued bark on the fatty brisket is heavy with pepper and beyond caramelized. The glossy pork ribs are a thing of beauty. The sweet, pink pulled pork could star in a holiday picnic. As for the homemade sides—classic potato salad, slaw, and pinto beans—tradition rules. Same with desserts (individual pies such as pecan and key lime), baked by a local purveyor. After twelve years in business, Franklin Barbecue still has the magic, thanks to fanatical smoke master Aaron Franklin, who doesn’t really cook much anymore but supervises all smoking operations. The charismatic native Texan made his mark on the Austin scene in 2009, achieving rock-star status and inspiring young, urban would-be pitmasters statewide. So popular was his little joint that three-hour waits in line were routine. In 2013 and 2017, it captured the number one and number two spots, respectively, on our Top 50 list. But even as the Franklin phenomenon continued unabated—he wrote two cookbooks, won a James Beard Award, and helped start an Austin food and music festival—the newcomers were busy introducing novel dishes, drawing inspiration from far afield, and becoming agents of change themselves. Franklin’s drop into the bottom half of our top ten isn’t a sign that the beloved establishment has diminished—no one does the traditional barbecue lineup better. But it is a sign that the new wave is reshaping the scene in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few short years ago.
Method: Post oak; offset smoker
Pitmaster: Jordan Jackson, 39; Megan Nesland, 38; Matthew Van Orden, 46
Pro-tip: Because of the pandemic, the dining room has been closed, though it’s due to reopen soon. For now, preorder online (days or even weeks ahead is recommended), drive up at your designated time, check in, and park. The wait is thirty minutes max.
The best barbecue joint in Texas is only four years old. This is an unusual development, but one that will surprise no one familiar with Franklin Barbecue, which, since opening in 2009, in a trailer off Interstate 35, has built …
The music was blaring, and my regard for the speed limit was waning. I’d just finished a hearty breakfast of brisket and brisket at Snow’s in Lexington, and I was racing time to get a spot in line at Franklin …
Just before the Texas Monthly Barbecue Festival, I met up with John Morthland at Franklin Barbecue to talk barbecue and get some breakfast. I knew I’d be stuffing myself silly in an hour or so, but I can’t rightly pass a chance to …
Just before the Gettin’ Sauced event, I stopped in again at Franklin Barbecue to try the ribs and pulled pork. I knew the brisket was stellar from previous visits (I stole a bite or two from the Patron Saint on this trip …
It’s been a while since I’ve found an honest “sugar cookie” on my brisket, but as I waited for my order to be filled, owner and pitmaster Aaron Franklin handed me a preview morsel from the fatty end of the …