One giant question loomed over our Central Texas 5-Star Anniversary BBQ Tour. Could Franklin Barbecue, aka: the little trailer that could in Austin, beat out Snow's BBQ in Lexington for the title of "Best Brisket in Texas?"
We had 12 posse members meet up for lunch at Franklins. The joint opens at 11am but they were sold out by 12:30pm, not an unusual occurrence. We had called ahead anonymously a few days earlier to pre-order a brisket, a couple of racks of ribs and some sausage. The posse arrived at 1pm and dug in, sitting at the picnic tables next to Franklin's blue trailer and two large smokers. The debate was fast and furious as pitmaster and owner Aaron Franklin joined us later to talk all things BBQ.
Here are some of the comments from posse members:
Marshall Cooper, the Texas BBQ Posse's pitmaster: "The brisket at Franklin BBQ certainly defines what the best brisket is. The rub was just right with salt and a little black pepper. The fatty brisket was melt in your mouth tender, with the right amount of salt enhancing the smoke flavor. The flat cut of brisket was exceptional as well, perfectly tender with the perfect black crust imparting the flavor of the salt and pepper rub perfectly enhancing the smoked flavor. The ambiance was bar none with the turquoise concession trailer & seating located just next to the two gigantic wood burning pits that put off a real good sweet aroma of cooking bbq and burning oak wood."
Bruce Tomaso: "I’m telling friends they should visit Franklin as soon as they can. The trailer experience will never be duplicated in a restaurant; and the brisket might not be, either."
Jim Rossman: "This was my first Central Texas trip. I found exactly what I was looking for — a few places to return to again and again. Talking to Aaron Franklin changed the way I think about barbecue. His dedication to his craft is as amazing as his meats. I'm already trying to think of excuses to get back down to Franklin's in Austin or Snow's in Lexington."
Libby Jacobson: "The fact that people regularly wait 45 minutes to eat BBQ at a picnic table in the back of a parking lot makes a loud statement that the good ol' boys of BBQ are being challenged to a duel, and they may not be the last ones standing..."
We took a vote among posse members after breakfast at Snow's on Saturday morning, while memories of Franklin's were still fresh on our taste buds. On a straight vote, Franklin's took the title in an amazingly close race.
I wasn't so quick to make the call. These are undoubtably two of the best briskets in the world. Can't we be thankful for that and call it a draw? I'm thinking maybe next week, what about breakfast sitting among the smokers at Snow's followed by lunch at one of Aaron Franklin's picnic tables. That's what we call BBQ heaven......
Franklin Barbecue, 3421 N. I-35, Austin, TX 78722, (512) 653-1187. Open Wed. - Sun. 11am-4pm or when the meat runs out.
(Photos by Chris Wilkins)