Long-time friends know that BBQ is not only a food group to me, but I consider the search for the best BBQ in the world one of my life’s works. To say I love BBQ is likely the largest understatement I’ve ever made.

I have spent the better part of fifty years searching for the absolute best of what I consider the Holy Trinity of meat – brisket, sausage & ribs.  Chicken, turkey or pulled pork are not to be mentioned in the same breath as these three.

I have traveled across Texas and the United States (Kansas City and North Carolina only wish theirs was as good) sampling BBQ in my search for meat perfection. Before today, my favorite for each of these meats was as follows:

  • Brisket – City Market – Luling, Texas
  • Ribs – City Market – Luling, Texas
  • Sausage – Black’s BBQ – Lockhart, Texas

Sure, the best atmosphere is The Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas but the food, while very good, was not even close to being the best.

So fast-forward to today and my trip to what is probably the most hyped BBQ joint in the world – Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.  So much has been written about the former trailer-based BBQ joint that I finally had to check it out.Franlkin Barbecue - Austin, Texas review

Here is the setup: You have to get there very early in the morning to wait in line for it to open. In a wonderful marketing move, they are open from 11:00am until Sold Out – which they do every day.  You sit in line for hours and feel grateful to get food before it is gone… brilliant!

We arrived at 8am and the line was already more than 100 people deep. Having planned ahead, we took our chairs, umbrellas (it was rainy) and water bottles and waited in line. For the bulk of the line, this was a time of playing music and drinking beer (yes starting at 8am.) It was an excellent opportunity to people watch and chat.

Franklin Barbecue lineWhen we first arrived a young lady came out taking a poll of what everyone would be ordering apparently so they could warn people ahead of time if they would run out before reaching their spot in line.  She was an expert at guessing what time we would reach the front of the line as we got to place our order within minutes of her estimation.  She told us we would be to the order counter around 1:30 pm! You have to really want to eat BBQ to wait 5 1/2 hours, but wait we did.

We ordered a TON of food (I love BBQ as leftover too.)  We are talking 2 pounds of brisket, 2 pounds of ribs and 2 links of sausage!

Franklin Barbecue - Austin, Texas review

Yes, we are talking about a boatload of meat and while all decent BBQ is expensive, our total came to $99.80 – yes, a hundred bucks!

So, what do I (a self-appointed BBQ master) think?  I have to say that the two of my all-time favorites have been surpassed!  Yes, Franklin Barbecue is now home to the best brisket and ribs in the world!  The new leaders:

  • Brisket – Franklin Barbecue – Austin, Texas
  • Ribs – Franklin Barbecue – Austin, Texas
  • Sausage – Black’s BBQ – Lockhart, Texas

Yes, this a must-do bucket list kind of stop for the BBQ connoisseurs and snobs of the world, but the real questions are, “Was it worth the wait?” and “Would I do it again?”

Yes, it was worth the wait – I couldn’t call myself a BBQ expert without having tried it and yes, it was amazing.  But, I am thinking that I don’t see myself waiting five and half hours again anytime soon for BBQ.  I could drive to Luling (1 hour) and get some amazing meats that are probably 95% as good as Franklin and certainly feel my time had been better spent.

If you haven’t experienced it, I recommend doing it once with friends.  Or better yet, bring your Yankee friends and show them what real Texas BBQ is all about.  You will all have a great time and a wonderful story you’ll enjoy retelling.  And if you find some place you think is better, please share with me – just expect that I will have already tried it and be okay if I don’t agree.

by Chris Doelle