If there is one thing Texans agree on it is that the best BBQ comes from Texas and Franklin's BBQ is considered by many to be the best of Texas.
SOLD OUT! This is the sign that you'll see if you don't get up early to wait in line at Franklin Barbecue. It is a common sight to see several hundred people waiting in line hours before the doors open at 11AM. Franklin Barbecue first started out as a small food truck with one BBQ pit in 2009 that was hidden behind a coffee shop. The overwhelming demand for Aaron Franklin's tender and moist brisket led to the the opening of their brick and mortar location in East Austin in 2011.
Everyone must wait in the line at Franklin Barebcue, but exceptions were made for just two people. The first was President Obama when he visited Franklin's on July 10, 2014 and he also paid for the order of the people he skipped in front of to make up for breaking the rules. The second was Chef Gordon Ramsey, who didn't eat at all on his 16 hour flight to Austin as he didn't want to spoil his appetite. One person who tried to skip the line unsuccessfully was Kanye West who was politely reminded by the staff about the house rules.
Want to eat at Franklin Barbecue but don't want to wait for hours in line? Come after the lunch rush, usually around 1:45PM, for "Last Man Standing" as the wait is usually around 30 minutes. They will probably be out of their delicious turkey, and sometimes even the sliced brisket is sold out, but their chopped brisket and sausage is almost always available and the portions tend to be a little bigger too! I recommend the Tipsy Texan, which is a sandwich with chopped brisket and sausage piled high and topped with coleslaw and pickles. For $8 it's the best deal on the menu!
Aaron Franklin's legendary technique for seasoning and smoking brisket has put Franklin Barbecue at the top of nearly every list as the best BBQ in the world. The question on everyone's mind is, "How did he get there?" This is a good tale, so you might want to sit for a moment.
It began for Aaron when his parent's purchased a BBQ restaurant in Bryan, Texas. His parents thought of it as a business to put food on the table but for the bright-eyed teenager he fell in love with everything about the restaurant. It became his dream to open up his own place. But the reality of running a restaurant became difficult for Aaron's parents and they closed after three years.
A few years after that closing the fantasy of having his own restaurant consumed Aaron. One day he stumbled across Louie Mueller BBQ in Taylor and after tasting a sample of brisket that brought a tear to his eye he knew his fantasy needed to become reality. He moved to Austin and applied to every BBQ joint in town until he was finally hired by John Mueller who was running a BBQ joint near the UT campus. Aaron was hooked and loved working there until...
Let's take a step back for a moment to explain some backstory. John Mueller is from the same family as Louie Mueller BBQ and he had the knowledge and talent to become the best in Texas, but not the passion. He left the family business and swore he would never work with meat again but life eventually lead him back to what he knew and he opened his own BBQ spot in Austin. It started off slow but soon it took off and he was becoming known as the new rising star of Texas BBQ but he never felt he was as good as his father and his personal demons led him to ruin. He was eventually known as the "BBQ nazi" and after alienating both customers and staff he left the failing business he started. Now let's get back to Aaron...
After John's departure from the restaurant Aaron saw the writing on the wall and left fearing there would be no more paychecks. He began researching recipes and searched the internet and libraries for everything related to cooking brisket. Using a small smoker he experimented briskets he cooked in his backyard. He couldn't get the results he wanted without having the right BBQ pit and building one in Austin was very cost-prohibitive. That all changed when his phone rang one day from the owners of the building where John Mueller's now closed restaurant was and asked him if he wanted to buy the old fire pit. Aaron scraped together as much money as he could from working odd jobs and paid $1000 for it.
The next two weeks became a non-stop project for Aaron to get that pit into working order. He even taught himself to weld so he could transform the pit into the the exact specifications he wanted. Once he had it properly seasoned, like you would an cast iron skillet, it was time to test it on his friends during his backyard BBQs. He soon knew it was time to start his own place.
In December 2009 he opened up Franklin Barbecue behind a friend's coffee house with that rebuilt BBQ pit and a small trailer. His friends were his first customers and once they tried it and they told their friends and they told their friends it was spring and the city of Austin could not get enough of his BBQ. As the success of his restaurant grew so did Aaron's passion for perfecting his craft and his efforts paid off. By 2011 he saved enough to open up the brick and mortar Franklin Barbecue in East Austin in the same building it is in today and the rest is history!