“This is most definitely the earliest I have ever been up for barbecue.” – Me, this morning. Truth be told, it wasn’t really that early but seemed far earlier considering my late night out last night. It also would not have been so early had one of my fellow adventures not had to drop of her son at band practice. Regardless, I was thankful for the ride. We were in route to the world renowned Franklin Barbecue, which is open from 11 a.m. until they run out. Getting there early not only ensures you will be fed but it grants you a coveted place in the shade. We arrived at 8:30 and found ourselves safely secure beneath the building’s carport. There were 18 people in front of us. The guy right ahead of us had arrived at 8; recently concluding a time of service to our country, he had driven with his dad from San Diego on their way to New York. Franklin was their only mapped-out stop. Now that is barbecue enthusiasm!
Having brought lawn chairs and a cooler of beer & water, we were ready for the wait. I had also brought along a book and laptop but opted to visit with others instead. Many in line had their own refreshments, books, and chairs as well. The Chair Guy was set up across the street renting chairs with complimentary shade umbrella’s for $5 for all those who came without. By 9:30, the line ran past the length of the building and across the parking lot.
The people watching and conversations seemed to shorten the wait. They almost make up for the fact that you are overwhelmed by the smell of the smoking meats. Additionally, even though Franklin doesn’t open until 11, the bathrooms were open and a couple young ladies walked up & down the line selling beverages. Local brew gets this place bonus points.
At 11:00 SHARP, the gates are open and all the children flood into the chocolate factory. Wait, wrong dream come true. The door does open at exactly eleven though and the first 30 are allowed to file inside. It took us another 30 – 40 minutes to reach the front of the line. Here you give your order; ours included brisket, sausage, ribs and pulled pork. The cutter gives you samples to occupy your mouth while you watch him slices away. (most likely to keep you from drooling all over the restaurant) He even threw in some turkey, the one meat we weren’t ordering. Our plate looked like this:
BEST BRISKET EVER!!! There I have said it, the meat seriously lives up to the hype. We enjoyed both the fatty and lean portions. The fatty was so easy to eat we were almost drinking it. Each slice had a beautiful bark, smoke rings and other ideal coloration. I found the turkey to have a good balance of moist and smokey, The rib meat fell easily off the bone, as it should and was a wonderful combination of flavors. The sausage and pulled pork were good as well, but my eyes, stomach and mind kept wanting more brisket.
I tried each meat on its own and then with each of the three available sauces. The brisket went best with an Espresso BBQ Sauce while I preferred the Texas Style sauce for the other meats. Franklin doesn’t need me to advertise but their sauces are now available at H.E.B.
“Worth the wait!!” was my post on Instagram. I recommend embracing the wait – make a morning of it, enjoy some relaxing time with friends and some of the best brisket ever. If you don’t have that time, get a friend to bring you some home like I did for my roommates. Finally, in a whisper, if you go on in the middle of the week you can get away with arriving around 12:30. When we were leaving the end of the line was where we started and they had plenty of meat still to go. They do a pretty good job calculating the day’s needs so that no one has to read the “Sorry Sold Out” sign. If you do have the time, don’t chance it and be disappointed, chose your own destiny and make it an experience.