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Franklins vs Saltlick: can only do one...can't choose on my own

Am visiting my brother in Austin next weekend and have been told by everyone I've ever met that I have to HAVE to drive out to Driftwood for the original Salt Lick BBQ. We've had the airport Saltlick, which was miles ahead of anything out here on the east coast, so I can only imagine the magnitude of bliss at the Real Deal.

However - when I asked my brother if I could borrow his car to drive out there he said, why? Go to Franklins...its right around the corner. But you'll have to get in line early and wait.

So I started reading up on Franklins and its pretty highly regarded in its own right! We only have time (and stomach space) for one proper BBQ meal, so please help me make this decision:

Salt Lick? Or Franklins??

Help! And thanks.

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  1. This falls under the category of no-brainer. Franklin.

    1. If you want a fun, somewhat touristy experience, head out to Driftwood.

      If you want the absolute best BBQ in Austin (and certainly a contender statewide), it's Franklins hands-down.

      4 Replies
      1. re: jwynne2000

        Franklin's 'cue is some of the best in the state, and you'll wait an hour or so for it unless you arrive at ten thirty a.m. Salt Lick is good, and I agree with jwynne2000, it's a nice experience with a good scenic drive. i think their pork ribs are usually spot on, and brisket flavorful, but no comparison to franklin.

        1. re: slowcoooked

          If you do go to Salt Lick, focus on "burnt ends" brisket, baby back ribs, and smoked turkey. Avoid the sausage and the chicken. Don't get the "all you can eat" option. Their normal ribs are spare ribs - the baby backs are special order. You'll have a much better experience by strategically ordering. Their sides are actually better than Franklin's, Their normal coleslaw is really good (no mayo at all). Their potato side is very good. Beans are simply just beans - unremarkable. There are two special sides - scalloped potatoes and grean bean casserole that are definitely worth ordering.

          If you stick to this program, you'll have a good meal at Salt Lick. But you have to stick to it and pay for the special orders - Baby backs, burnt ends brisket, smoked turkey, coleslaw, potatoes, green beans, special potatoes. It's hard to pass up that sausage craving, but you will be wasting precious stomach-space. Their cobblers are fantastic.

          Personally, I'd go to Franklin's on any normal day because I live here, the brisket is heavenly, and they have an espresso bbq sauce. However, if Ihave people coming in from out of town, I'd take then to Salt Lick and force my will upon them during the ordering process.

          1. re: rudeboy

            Can you get baby back ribs at the Salt Lick on days other than Sunday? I thought they only had them then (same with the scalloped potatoes and green beans).

            1. re: m3lissa

              Oh, I'm not sure. I was there on a sunday. All items wer printed on a permanent menu - a special menu. Maybe they just whip it out on Sunday?

      2. Salt Lick has the better atmosphere but foodwise, Franklins is quite a bit better, especially the brisket.

        1. I think it comes down to whether you want to bbq for brunch or dinner.

          1. Salt Lick has better atmosphere, (far) better sauce, and better sides. For meat itself, Franklin's is better. All things considered, I'd pick Salt Lick (I'm a sauce guy), but meat purists would probably enjoy Franklin's.

            1. One meal? Franklins. The Salt LIck is a journey. Fun but not the best Q. I do like The Salt Lick. Try the turkey. Bring a cooler, wine on site. Spend an evening. Cheers

              1. Ok! So the update: we ended up at the Salt Lick out in Driftwood. I know, I know...its not of the same caliber as Franklins...but we wanted the "experience." That is to say, we wanted to get in the car and "leave town" for our BBQ. :)

                Drove out - tour buses and loads of people everywhere. Were seated right away on the outside patio and based on the words of wisdom from rudeboy, ordered strategically. Or, well, tried.

                Apparently baby back ribs are only served on Sundays, and we were there on a Friday. Able to overcome this tragedy, we bravely forged ahead and ordered smoked turkey, spare ribs, and the brisket burnt ends. Got the cole slaw on the side, pickles, and jalapenos. Brought out own cold beer and they obligingly gave us a pail with ice to keep it cold.

                The burnt ends were delightful - even better with the housemade BBQ sauce on the table. The smoked turkey was divine - perfectly cooked, incredibly flavorful. My hubby, who is not - per se - a raging fan of smoked turkey, was blown away. The ribs were fine - we enjoyed them, I probably won't remember them. They didn't have the scalloped potatoes either, but the cole slaw was light without the mayo, and pleasantly topped with sesame seeds. Unexpected, but it worked.

                Somehow we found/made room for peach cobbler which was outstanding. We took half a tin home for dinner with family that night. Perfect served with their vanilla ice cream.

                On the way to dinner, we drove by Franklins...we'll save it for next time. Appreciate all the recommendations - Salt Lick was definitely a fun, somewhat touristy experience as was mentioned time & time again, but delivered solid BBQ too.

                2 Replies
                1. re: nycreba

                  for the amount of meat they move they are pretty damn consistent. I'm sure they were only making enough to be open for a couple of hours, they could be competitive with Franklins. But in terms of running a bbq RESTAURANT that is open to the public and has food when you want to go eat- like say for dinner-- I think we are lucky to have something like Salt Lick.

                  1. re: nycreba

                    Wow - I'm glad that I helped in some way. I'm not the biggest smoked turkey fan myself, but it is a mainstay for me now at Salt Lick. Glad you had a good time.....

                  2. Franklin's.

                    Don't bother with Salt Lick. Its primary purpose is keep the foreigners out of Lockhart.