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Aaron Franklin on Having the 'Best Barbecue in America'

Aaron Franklin and his new pit.
Aaron Franklin and his new pit.
Photo: Franklin Barbecue / Facebook

Lately, it seems that when your eyes behold a glossy magazine cover of a giant, shiny slab of brisket or a photo-spread of a towering pulled pork sandwich, it must be a product of Aaron Franklin's making. Just 14 short weeks after the opening of Franklin Barbecue's new brick-and-mortar location, Bon Appetit magazine pondered if they produced "the best BBQ in Texas, if not America." Franklin talked with Eater Austin about his newfound fame and where he eats when he has a rare date night.

How do you wrap your brain around having the "best barbecue in the nation?"
On one hand, first of all, I think it's really weird to say something is the best. And I don't think it's a literal kind of thing. On the other hand, it scares the shit out of me. I just got done welding on a new pit, and I can't finish fast enough. It's awesome, and it's everyone's fantasy, I guess, but it's also kind of scary because when you try to cook so much meat it's hard to keep the quality up. I don't want to piss anyone off; I want to be able to feed everybody, but it's really scary thinking about the possibility that we can't handle it. [All the same], it really is a dream come true.

With that said, are you planning on introducing anything new or extending hours, or maybe even serving dinner?
The plan is to stay open until about 9 or 10 o'clock at night. I just got off the phone with a couple of welders that are going to come look at the pit I started and see if they can finish it faster. As soon as we get that one done, we will start up another pit and eventually we will be able to have enough stuff, but we've only been in that building for about 14 weeks now. We're still really trying to get moved in. But eventually we'll be able to be open til 9 [p.m.] and have a whole back patio. People will be able to come in and drink beers and chill. That's the goal.

What do you think is your winning combination? What has made you so successful?
It's a little bit of everything. The food is good, and it's always been super-duper consistent. Our barbecue is one of the more consistent ones out there, and we're always nice to people. We're so excited that people come out to get our barbecue.

If you aren't eating at your restaurant, what and where are you eating?
We eat at Justine's a lot, and last night [Stacy and I] went to Uchi for our nine year anniversary; we went to Uchi for our first date. We also eat a ton of Mexican food, but at this point we grab and eat food so quickly. We haven't really sat down for dinner in a while.

What do you see on the horizon for the Austin culinary scene?
I think [the trend of opening] trailers is going out, for sure. Maybe more trailers moving into businesses, I guess? I would like to think the people starting trailers are really trying hard, not just jumping on a band wagon.

—Layne Lynch

· Franklin Barbecue [Official Site]
· All Franklin Barbecue Coverage on Eater [-EATX-]

Franklin Barbecue

900 East 11th Street, , TX 78702 (512) 653-1187 Visit Website