If you come to one conclusion from my recap of Hot Doug’s, it’s that Isabel and I don’t mind waiting in line for the promise of great food. And of course, when it comes to Texan cuisine, great food and great BBQ are one in the same.
Coming from Toronto, the notion of proper, southern BBQ is foreign. BBQ around here tends to be hot dogs, steak and burgers (or chicken wings, if Isabel and I invite you over). But of course, anyone with tastebuds and internet access knows that ain’t the case in Texas. So while in Austin, it was natural for us to sink our teeth into the best BBQ we could find. And since the internet is full of people who know more about that sort of thing than I do, it was easy to to get pointed in the right direction. Because if you’re looking for BBQ in Central Texas, all signs point to Franklin.
Of course we knew about the lines. But from what we’d heard, the multi-hour queue is a worthy price of admission for what plenty of experts call, “the finest barbecue in the land.” So we arrived shortly after 9am on an unassuming Thursday morning. Some two hours before the restaurant opens its doors and staked our place in line. Little did we know, it would be close to 4 and a half hours before we’d come face-to-face with the famous pitman.
Here’s where I say the most unbelievable-but-true thing I possibly could: the wait wasn’t that bad. Yes it was long, but we happily used that time to make friends with the fine folks around us who shared the belief that greatness (some might say, “perfection”) is worth waiting for. Maybe we lucked out, but our linemates were all very friendly, offering a place to sit (on their cooler) and drinks (beer from said cooler). And as the line snaked closer and closer to the unassuming shack of a building you couldn’t help but feel that the waiting is part of the appeal. BBQ is slow food, after all.
So what did we eat and how was it? We ordered everything that came out of the smoker (aside from the turkey, which sold out before we got the chance to probably not order it). So this meant brisket, ribs, sausage and a handful of pulled pork given to us gratis. The brisket is probably what gets most people excited, and it was undoubtedly delicious. The Central Texas-style of BBQ means that the rub is simple: salt and pepper. Which means that the end product is really all about the meat. And the smoke. And the skill of the pitman. A common credo around these parts is that great BBQ doesn’t even need a sauce. And this was true for everything we tasted. But that’s not to say that Franklin doesn’t have a dynamite BBQ sauce. Spiked with espresso, it’s much more complicated and delicious than the typically one-note sauces I’m used to.
On the whole, the Franklin experience was worth it. It was the best BBQ I’ve ever had, and would happily stand in line for it again if given the chance.