Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas – let’s talk about it!
TL;DR – Brisket is exceptional, sausages are excellent, everything else is in the ‘good’ category. Weekdays during the off-season are the time to go. We arrived Wednesday at 9:30 in January and were eating by 11:30am. If you’re going on the weekend, I’d plan to be in line by 8am. If it’s the spring or summer, I’d arrive even earlier. I’ve heard people showing up as early as 6am. Bring a chair, bring a beverage, bring your social personality (people in line like to chat with one another). If you can go off-season during the week, waiting 2 hours is worth it.
I’ve been in Austin 8 years and have never had Franklin BBQ. Sound familiar? I bet there are a bunch of you out there in the same boat. So you know what? No better day like today – let’s go to Franklin BBQ!
We went on a Wednesday at 9:30am, an hour and a half before opening. I’d say there were about 25 people in line. Basically no one. I think it’s safe to say if you visit on a week day (they’re closed Mondays!) then an hour to an a hour and a half before opening should be good. I’m sure the weekend is a different story. If I were coming on the weekend, I’d probably arrive no later than 8am. We also went in January… I’m guessing peak season (spring and summer, when the tourists are hopping) is a different story. I’ve heard of people arriving as early as 6am. So, take that all that anecdotal info, think about the time of year/day of the week, and do your best to plan accordingly!
Whenever you do arrive, they have a small parking lot (at 9:30 on a Wednesday we actually snagged a spot). Otherwise, the neighborhood has plenty of street parking around.
Franklin BBQ employees come through the line and take your meat order (I assume it’s to help the line move quickly once it’s opening time). So make sure you have an idea of what you’d like to order before arriving.
They have chairs available if you want, or you can bring your own. We brought two chairs, a book, and some drinks! Sure, it’s 10am in the morning, but hey, when I’m Rome! People in line also chat with one another. It’s a pretty social event! Interesting observation – there were quite a few single men waiting in line. Not one single woman. Not many women in general. Not quite sure what to make of that.
Side note, but something that was on my mind before visiting – If you get here super early on the weekend and are waiting hours, don’t worry! You can use the restroom inside the restaurant before opening.
10 minutes before opening, someone will come out and tell you to pick up your chairs, make your last minute runs to your car, and get ready to move! They also tell you to beware of line cutters… we didn’t experience anything nefarious, but I guess it happens! Again, that Wednesday morning crew isn’t so bad.
- Pound of brisket
- Two ribs
- 1 Regular sausage
- 1 Cheese jalapeño sausage
- 1/4 lb Pulled pork
- 1/4 lb Turkey
- Potato salad
- Bourbon Banana Pie
Here’s how I’ll rank the food: Brisket was exceptional. Best brisket in Austin? Definitely possible and I see how people could say that. The sausages were excellent, don’t skip them! The ribs, pulled pork, and turkey were good. Good like, it’s BBQ and BBQ is good, you know?
The potato salad was tasty, but it’s pretty mustard heavy (which is a negative for me, but might be a positive for you if you like mustard). The only sides were potato salad, coleslaw, or pinto beans. I know you wait at Franklin BBQ for the meat, but I would have liked some Mac and cheese or green beans. The pie was excellent! Highly recommend getting one.
If you’re able to go in the off season on a weekday, waiting 2 hours is worth it. If you have an interest in the experience (like me, being able to write and photograph it), or really love BBQ and want to SAY you’ve been to Franklin BBQ and be a part of the hype, I’d say 3 hours is probably acceptable. Over that… nah.