New York Times critic Pete Wells decided that little-know Austin spot Franklin Barbecue is actually worth the visit, awarding the restaurant two stars. And yes, he did wait in that famous line for smoked meats from Aaron Franklin, the James Beard Award winner, pitmaster, cookbook author, and one of the city’s favorite pitmasters.
For the reviewer, Franklin’s briskets are well worth the wait. He describes the meat in great detail:
Look at it, the way it shades from nut-brown at the inside to cherry-jam around the border to black at the crust, stained by carbon and stubbled with coarse pepper. Smell it while the steam is still carrying the smell of burning post oak. Taste it, the way it combines the fat-bathed richness of fresh beef with the tight focus of meat cured by salt and smoke.
Wells tries out other meats, from the not-yet-housemade sausages (which Franklin has said is still in the works), turkey, sides, and Cake & Spoon’s pies, impressed with the Franklin-only bourbon and banana pie. He also said he would have rather spent his time in the long line at Franklin Barbecue on a drive to Louie Mueller Barbecue out in Taylor, Texas for beef ribs.
La Barbecue was also part of Well’s Austin barbecue trip, but he missed out on basically the entire menu by the time he got to the front of the line.
This isn’t the first time the critic has ventured outside of New York: Los Angeles (Cassia and his controversial review of Roy Choi's fast casual LocoL) and Washington, DC (Filipino restaurant Bad Saint).
Eater critic Bill Addison includes Franklin Barbecue in the National 38 since its inception in 2015, and it has a steady place on Eater Austin’s map of essential city restaurants.
- A MacGyver of Slow-Cooked Meats at Franklin Barbecue [New York Times]
- The National 38 [E]
- All Coverage of Franklin Barbecue [EATX]