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Austin Monthly Critic Finds Sparkless Tacos at Downtown Tex-Mex Restaurant Chispas

Texas Monthly barbecue critic discovered something better than brisket at Franklin Barbecue

Tacos from Chispas
Tacos from Chispas
Erin Russell is associate editor of Eater Austin, a native Austinite, and a big fan of carbs.

Austin Monthly critic Jolène Bouchon reviewed San Antonio chef Jason Dady’s downtown Mexican restaurant Chispas, and though she found bright spots on the menu she was mostly disappointed.

Bouchon described the menu as “focused on tacos, particularly of the chef-ier variety.” However, she thought several options “lacked balance,” such as a “hedonistic” duck confit taco topped with bacon and jalapeño. There were better options with the more traditional offerings like the “melt in your mouth” carne guisada and Baja pescado. Though she liked the salsas, she found the chips were “prohibitively thick and borderline stale.”

Bouchon seemed to favor the variety of vegetarian options:

There’s a tofu al pastor, a hearty butternut squash with agrodolce, and an excellent wild mushroom version, the cremini and shiitake mixture made meaty with a turn in smoky menudo-chile spices.

Overall, Bouchon called Chispas “a milquetoast hedge versus a passion play,” unable to find anything “authentically Dady” on the menu from the James Beard-nominated chef.

Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn wrote a love letter to Franklin Barbecue’s smoked beef short ribs, calling them “the best thing” at the restaurant.

Vaughn noted the ribs are pricey, with the 4.8-pound rack of three ribs coming to $144. He praised the cut, calling it “tender” and “as rich as fatty brisket.” He noted the ribs are:

ready to burst into a rush of salt and smoke with the first bit of pressure from your teeth. After a few bites I dipped some beef into the hot sauce I’d pooled onto the butcher paper. Just a hint of heat and some tanginess made the beef even better. It was glorious.

Franklin Barbecue

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


214 West 4th Street, , TX 78701 (512) 551-2554 Visit Website