Every so often you come learn of a hidden gem that’s been hiding in plain sight. Lucky for me (and you*) that gem happens to be a food cart less than 3 miles from my apartment. With a feature in Food & Wine Magazine and what seems to be a cult following, it was a no-brainer that I’d have to visit post haste.
Franklin Barbecue, named after its mastermind Aaron Franklin, is a small blue-and-white trailer firmly planted right next to a highway access road. It’s certainly not a place you’d accidentally drive by, adding to its hidden gem status. Thanks to my trusty GPS I was able navigate the maze (read: left, right, right) and roll up to Franklin BBQ with Hazel at my side.
Well, the first time I tried to check it out, they were all sold-out and closed. They are open from 11am til sold out, so I thought going directly after work should be fine to grab a bite. Oh how wrong I was. At 5:35pm they were not only sold out, but they had been sold out for four hours! Not to be disappointed again, I tried to outsmart the system and visited again on a Saturday at 11:45am, just 45 minutes after they opened. Well, the line was 25 people deep**. Twenty minutes later someone came out of the trailer to put up the Sold Out sign and let everyone in line there would be enough for us, but not much.
True to form, by the time I got to the front of the line, 45 minutes later mind you, they were already out of 90% of the menu. Since they were out of pulled pork, I “settled” on the chopped beef sandwich and a pound of brisket to go. Let’s be clear, there was no “settling” when it comes to this sandwich. The meat was oh so moist and tender, with those amazing edge pieces that really concentrate the flavor. The bun was soft and fell apart in the perfect way as the sauce soaked in.
As I powered through this epic sandwich I caught a glimpse of the menu and did a double-take on the Tipsy Texan. For
better or worse, they were out of sausage by the time I ordered. The Tipsy Texan is the chopped beef sandwich that I was tackling, with sausage chopped into it. Wow. Anyway, while digging into the sandwich, Hazel found someone’s lost brisket on the ground. I hesitated for a moment and put down the thought of eating it myself, so I took it from her and broke it up and let her enjoy all of the wonderful smoked meaty goodness.
As for the brisket I took to go, it was straight up amazing. Ev got back to town later in the day so we restrained ourselves and we reheated the meat for dinner the next night. I tried to eat it as slowly as possible to make it last forever. Coupled with their special espresso BBQ sauce, it’s just an amazing flavor combination in your mouth.
To recap, less than 2 hours after opening they were sold out. All this after they recently installed a new smoker to double their capacity. The meat is phenomenal and worth waking up early and waiting in line, which feels like eternity while taking in all the smells as people walk by with their food. I just might have to agree with what others have said, that this very well might be the best barbecue in Austin, which is saying a lot. I can’t wait to give it another visit to try their other masterpieces.
*well, not really lucky for you
**I later learned the line started 30 minutes before they opened
|3421 N. I-35
Austin, TX 78722
And now for a bonus picture story starring Hazel: