Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Austin >
Nov 16, 2011 06:53 PM

Line at Franklin BBQ

I haven't been to the Franklin brick and mortar but happened to drive by today. About how long is the wait from the door? Saw about 5 people in line outside the door - how long until they get food?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. must have been 9 am with only five in line. expect an hour or longer wait no matter how you slice it (fully intended). doors open at 11 a.m. unless it's changed recently. it's been a while since I've had the extra 90 minutes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: slowcoooked

      It's gotten better during the week. Especially near the end of the month.

      I went on the last Tuesday last month and there were only about 30 people in line when they opened at 11am. (I got there around 10:20am and was 6th in line)

      Weekends, on the other hand, are still an oddessy. I recommend 9:30am, a book and a folding chair.

    2. Most overrated place in the country. Total hipster tourist trap. The food is just okay and definitely not worth a soul sucking line. People act like there aren't other famous BBQ places in the area. Totally ridiculous. I'll get flamed for this but I don't find it that much better than Rudy's.

      17 Replies
      1. re: Rptrane

        What did you get when you went there?

        1. re: Rptrane

          Ah, the truth at LAST! I hold a similar sentiment toward the entire food truck phenomenon...

          1. re: Oyster Boy

            I would have to ask the same question.....What did you get while you were there?

            1. re: Oyster Boy

              Wait... are you saying that all food trucks are not much better than Rudy's? My head hurts.

              1. re: tom in austin

                I find Franklin's food not much better than Rudy's. I've had good food at a few trucks. I had brisket, sausage and potato salad. It was all okay but nothing that matches the frothing at the mouth this place has received.

                1. re: Rptrane

                  Did you go for lean or fatty brisket? Or both?

                  1. re: Rptrane

                    Well, I dunno what to say, bro. Maybe you caught them on a bad day. However, to say their brisket is on par with Rudy's is quite a stretch.

                    Don't get me wrong, I like Rudy's. They are consistant of nothing else. (And the cream corn is heavenly) However, EVERYONE I know who has tried both Franklin and Rudy's brisket would say there is no comparison.

                    However, if you think Franklin is "meh"......then that's what it is to you. Personally, I've never seen the big deal with Hut's. I think their burgers are good, but not nearly as spectacular is thousands of other Austinites think they are.

                    Honestly though, if you consider the accolades they have racked up after being in business for less than 2 years, you have to admit there is something going on there. After all, if Franklin brisket was actual no better than Rudy's, people wouldn't be wasting their weekend standing at line at Franklin.

                    1. re: Lucky_Skunk

                      I think that often places that get this kinda buzz creates a positive mob mentality. I liken it to Pinkberry in LA, people were lining up for it and it tastes awful. In the time it takes to stand in a line for Franklin I could drive to Taylor, Lockhart or Coopers and have great BBQ. I find Hut's burger's overcooked. One of the best burgers in Austin is the burger at Congress. Mighty Fine's burger is also very consistent.

                      1. re: Rptrane

                        Your opinion of Franklin is your opinion. But I suspect it's clouded more by the hoopla and the long wait times than the actual product. Because the product is far superior to Rudy's.

                        1. re: heyzeus212

                          I honestly don't think that the food is that good. If it was worth the wait I'd wait. I stand in long lines at Louie Mueller but I think the food is worth it. The have a James Beard award on the wall so if I wanted to slam a place due to it's rep that place would be a prime target. Instead I think Louie gives one of the most unique BBQ experiences I've ever had. (I should note I don't love their brisket because they serve it lean but everything else there is awesome.) I love Louie and Smitty's enough to drive 30 minutes to get there, but I probably wouldn't drive 1.5 hours. If I was in the neighborhood and wanted some brisket I'd absolutely go to Franklin's, but I would not go out of my way or stand in line for an hour to eat there. In my opinion it's simply not that good. I think some Austin people are taken in by the rustic ambiance of some places instead of focusing on the actual food. Rudy's might be too civilized for some people to feel like they are getting good BBQ, but I disagree. But like I said I don't have it out for the guy, I'm just not a fan. I respect the opinion of people who like it I just don't see it.

                          1. re: Rptrane

                            "I think some Austin people are taken in by the rustic ambiance of some places instead of focusing on the actual food."

                            Honestly, that is just ignorant.

                            This place opened as a food trailer in 2009, and took off from the get-go. There are literally dozens of reviews about how good Franklin is, thousands of fans, they sell out everyday (most days within hours) and you believe people are focusing on the ambiance and not really tasting the food?

                          2. re: heyzeus212

                            I might agree with the author about ones opinion being ones opinion, however I will say that the only thing cosistant about Rudy's is the fact that they keep raising their prices and their quality remains dismal. That said, I find that the older I get, the less willing I am to wait in line for things I can get elswhere without the wait.

                          3. re: Rptrane

                            I've been going to Franklin since it was a trailer and caught it when there was no line. There *was* no ambience, no tourists to be trapped, and no mob mentality. Just simply some of the best prepared meats I'd ever had. I still haven't tried Snow's in Lexington (one day), but have been frequenting Louie Muellers, Lockhart, and Cooper's countless times for over a decade and Franklin stands up to or exceeds any of them. Rudy's? I agree it's consistent and convenient, the BBQ is inoffensive and palatable, but you're just talking about an entirely different league of pitbossery.

                              1. re: amysuehere

                                I couldn't have said it better myself....Franklin's is incredibly consistent.....

                  2. re: Rptrane

                    Well, I will cut you some slack but their brisket is out of this world good and I am not even sure I like BBQ. What gets me is how no one comments on how terribly salty the brisket is.

                    1. re: Rptrane

                      Agreed. I'll take my brisket and fajita meat from a place in lockhart no one ever mentions, yet always has a line of just regular folk. And for $20 you can feed your family for a weekend. Its nice that Austin has some hyped up place for people to feel like they are having the best BBQ. No shame but I ain't standing in line for more then 6 minutes for above average brisket. When I just want to grab some brisket, Ruby's (not rudys) or whole foods at 6th, do just fine. I tried Franklins when it was in the trailer on I35. meh.

                    2. Did anyone answer the original question?

                      The cutting block is on the opposite corner from the door, so if the line extends outside, there are probably 30 or so folks already waiting inside along the back and side walls. Depending on what they order, expect to wait another 20-30 minutes or more.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: brentwood

                        I went to the b&m once. I was about 10 people deep (not even down the first part of the ramp all the way) I waited 20 minutes and not one person made it through the front door. I finally left, very sad...very disappointed.

                      2. Been wanting to give this place a try since moving back, but I don't have time to stand in line all day.

                        Question for you all in case any have observed it- in a recent Texas Monthly article reference was made to people being paid to hold a place in line for someone who would come and switch out right before the open.

                        Anyone seeing this happen? Do people pull it off? I would gladly give someone $40 to wait in line for me and then let me show up right before opening time- and get them some free food too. But I don't want to bother if others in line are going to make a scene about it.

                        25 Replies
                        1. re: elpaninaro

                          Honestly it's okay barbecue but all the craziness is coming from people not accostomed to central TX bbq. There are better places you can walk into.

                          1. re: Rptrane

                            "....coming from people not accostomed to central TX bbq."

                            Patronizing is so cute.

                            Please.....Keep going to Rudy's. One less person in line.

                            1. re: Rptrane

                              What are the better places, Rptrane? I'd like to try them out.

                              1. re: tom in austin

                                Rptrane, srsly, let me know. Dying to walk into better places.

                                1. re: tom in austin

                                  Go to Louie Mueller, go to Smitty's. Franklin's s decent but nothing jaw dropping or earth shattering and definitely nothing worth standing in line for when I can walk into Stiles Switch get a killer beef rib and a good side and do so in 10 minutes. This running out of meat thing is insanity and not a game I care to play.

                                  1. re: Rptrane

                                    Finally a voice of reason! You're not the only one avoiding that bandwagon!

                                    1. re: Rptrane

                                      I don't pretend to be a bbq expert by any means. For what it's worth, I did a bbq tour last summer and I found Smitty's sorely lacking. If anything, I thought it was the Lockhart places that suffered from hype. I got the brisket and pork ribs at Smitty's. I struggled tearing the brisket apart with fingers and the ribs were chewy.

                                      I did a whole post on all 15 places I hit that week. Here's the Lockhart and Luling section:

                                      Franklin's on the other hand, I found the ribs and the brisket moist, tender, properly cooked and a delight to eat. I also drove down to Muellers and had their bbq too. Out of all the places I hit, the Lockhart Kreutz and Smitty's were probably the most disappointing given their reputations.

                                      1. re: Jase

                                        Finally a voice of reason! You're not the only one jumping on that bandwagon!

                                        1. re: Jase

                                          This is a random question, but did you specifically request brisket at Smitty's and Kreuz's? The reason why I ask is because Kreuz's and Smitty's are two of a handful of places that I know that cook shoulder clod and are known for that, not their brisket. Personally, I have found that I vastly prefer Smitty's to Kreuz's.

                                          1. re: Homero

                                            Yes, I did specifically ask for brisket and if given a choice, the moist or fatty. I never ordered the lean if there was a choice.

                                            1. re: Jase

                                              I'll have to go and do a taste test. I have never had their brisket. I always get the clod and sausage. I do know that both Kreuz's and Smitty's smoke their meat at a higher temperature (> 400 degrees) because that's how they cook their shoulder clods, which are chuck as opposed to brisket and weigh upwards of 40 lbs. My guess is that any brisket cooked that way is gonna be dry, but I have always been pretty happy with the clod at Smitty's.

                                  2. re: Rptrane

                                    Cool- I think more than anything I want to just try it, but as a native Texan going back many generations I think too much is made of BBQ in terms of the attention it gets in the media and with phenomena like Franklin's. The buzz has me interested, but I am not expecting to find greatness here.

                                    Maybe I will find greatness, but after watching so much press about "where to go for BBQ" over the years, I am pretty confident Franklin's current popularity in and of itself is not much of an indicator.

                                    The best BBQ I have ever had in Texas is in Midland and at a place about an hour west of Houston. Both are generally unknown- still around and wonderfully consistent in the 20+ years I have been going- and have no interest in becoming famous. And sorry but no I will not name them here. And on average, I find the various pork BBQ joints in Georgia more interesting than the beef places here in Texas.

                                    Beef is pretty simple I think- it is all about the quality of the meat. No amount of genius over the pit can compensate for using low grade meat- and in this economy, plus with the rising prices for beef, it is a fact that good beef BBQ is harder to find than it was a few years ago.

                                    The two places I noted above are not just tops on beef quality, but also on sides. Finding at least decent BBQ in Texas is not that hard- finding someone who pays attention to the sides is much, much harder.

                                    And so I don't tend to get too excited about the "next great thing in BBQ" since on a pure numbers game I am not likely to be impressed. But I do like to try and see when someone new comes along- though not if a 1-2 hour wait taking up my personal time is involved.

                                    1. re: elpaninaro


                                      "And on average, I find the various pork BBQ joints in Georgia more interesting than the beef places here in Texas."

                                      As a Georgian I don't want to step on ya'lls debate about Texas barbeque. I would just like to say that in these parts beef BBQ pretty much uniformly sucks. I know this only because my wife orders it sometimes.

                                      That said, those Texas places give me a craving because it sure looks good on the magical tv box. Especially the sausage.

                                      1. re: kengk

                                        Agreed. I am just saying that at their respective bests, I prefer your pork to our beef- and this is coming from someone who loves beef!

                                      2. re: elpaninaro

                                        elpaninaro, I lived in Midland for a while and have visited often after leaving. I'm really curious which BBQ place you're talking about.

                                      3. re: Rptrane

                                        I'm a Barbecue Slut-Snob and I've never been to Franklin's. I know if I *were* to go, I'd find that it really isn't any better than several others places (or what I can smoke at home), I would post about it here, and would get chastised for it. People would be all over me taking jabs from all different directions.

                                        That is exactly what happens on all the others forums where Franklin's is mentioned. So why wait the two hours just to get beat up when I can get in/out of JMuellers in 15 minutes?

                                        1. re: sqwertz

                                          Or you'd find out it really is that good.

                                          But whatever, feel free to assume what you want.

                                          1. re: sqwertz

                                            Sqwertz, you'd find that in my posting history, I have never done what you just described. I'm not a fanboy and have been extremely critical of Franklin's (possibly manufactured) scarcity. I'm annoyed by their inability to scale, and I have to deploy non-conventional methods to acquire the food on a workday. Obnoxious, no doubt.

                                            However: consistency is what Franklin does. Aaron is a scientist and the product is ridiculously reliable. I've had better at Snow's, but the average for Franklin is higher. For brisket, peak score in Texas (and the world) goes to Snow's, highest average score goes to Franklin. I eat at JMueller's every couple weeks, definitely an office favorite, and their brisket is wildly erratic by comparison. I've had transcendent brisket there as well as dry, tough brisket; this experience is much more in line with your normal adventures to Black's, Smitty's, Kruez, Cooper's, City Market, etc. We live in a golden age now, where JMueller, Stiles Switch, and Franklin have almost completely eliminated my need for frequent trips to Lockhart, Luling, Lexington, and Llano. (Hey, those all start with L's. Wha?!)

                                            Lastly, it is inherently fallacious to assert that some critiques are valid and others invalid purely based on their direction. "You're going after a golden calf, expect the zealots to rush you!" is a valid concern, but it is balanced by the glut of people who are annoyed by the Franklin purchasing experience and the perceived "hipness" of the joint. Call it a wash and address this from the only perspective that matters: how does it taste?

                                            1. re: tom in austin

                                              couldn't agree more. the 4 or 5 times I've had franklin's the brisket has always been very good (especially if you like your brisket on the salty side). I've had better brisket before in lockhart. in fact had dinner at blacks last night that was very nice... however sometimes in lockhart I get bad brisket. I'm pretty damn sure if i wait in line for franklin I'm gonna get some nice brisket.

                                              now the ribs at franklin's I can't fault. much tastier then I've had at any bbq joint and also very consistent. Like people say, making consistent bbq is easier when you're open 3 hours a day...

                                              1. re: tom in austin

                                                I can appreciate your post, and I know of your history without looking :-) (but not specifically in regards to Franklins). Being a home BBQ'er myself, I suspect Franklin's probably has a reliable, consistent source of meat that makes a consistent end product. I know that I can cook two briskets or pork butts from the same HEB, side by side under the exact same conditions and one will be so-so (or worse) and the other will be awesome. One may also take an hour longer than the other while being of equal weight and thickness.

                                                And FWIW, I only visit BBQ places maybe once every 3-4 months. I prefer to do it myself and save the $$$. But I do appreciate not having to cook it myself every so often.

                                                1. re: sqwertz

                                                  I'm with you. I love making brisket, carnitas, or whole beef tenderloin for a throng of hungry greeks, and I feel that the best I've ever done is better than I've had at Franklin, but my average is far below. Considering the challenges inherent, I'm pretty impressed by what they do.

                                              2. re: sqwertz

                                                Yeah - I hate it when people just jump to conclusions.....

                                          2. i think rudys is sub par and havent tried franklins yet but my favorites so far are louie mueller.belomont social club and ceals bbq store.We are getting franklins tp cater my sons graduation party so i will write back after and plan to try jmueller very soon and snows.I didnt care for coopers but i do like blacks in lockhart.smittys is not bad and i also had good brisket at stiles switch.All i know is ewery bbq expert and magazine seems to love franklins but i will reserve judgment until i try it.Huts is ok but not the best burger in austin.. I will only say ppl will only wait on line iof the food is real good and after awhile it it sucks ppl wont come .

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: nytexan

                                              nytexan and elpaninaro let us know what you think on a willing day of waiting early in line for some fatty crusty end brisket and pork ribs at Franklins. You'll be just as old after waiting in that line as you would be no matter what else you did that day, so who cares? take a book, a friend, a smartphone. not great excuses. check that out. report back. Hit John Mueller's and Stiles Switch's Beef Ribs, for shorter lines, report back.

                                              1. re: slowcoooked

                                                Don't get me wrong, I want to try it. I am just saying that with the work I do taking a 3 hour lunch is not possible. That is why I was asking about paying someone to hold a place in line and if anyone is aware of people pulling it off. Such a thing was mentioned in the Texas Monthly article, but I have no way of knowing if that is a bit of hype or an accepted practice. Given how uptight people can be in this town about anything they see as pretentious- regardless of whether it is truly practical- I am not sure if this works.

                                                1. re: elpaninaro

                                                  I think is a place to find line-waiters. I don't think most people in line would mind unless the line waiter turns into six different people with individual orders

                                                  1. re: chrisdds98

                                                    Many thanks! And yes- agree with your second comment. I would be looking for as many line waiters as there would be people in the group who would take their place.

                                                    1. re: elpaninaro

                                                      I'd gladly announce on this board my Franklin trips and spot two folks first come first serve that couldn't wait - and would not take money for it. If people in line got uptight about helping two folks I'd have to politely tell them to pi$$ off. On her days off my wife spots me often.

                                                      1. re: slowcoooked

                                                        I'd probably get pissed if you were one person in line and then 10 minutes to order 4 other people, or even 2 other people show up for your party.

                                                        I judge how much time I have to spend standing in any line by how many people are in line. Grocery store, fast food restaurant, theater, etc... And if the line suddenly triples due to everybody inviting last minute friends into the line after I've been standing in line for 1.5 hours and I'm getting FARTHER away from ordering and moving backwards in line then yep, I have a right to be pissed.

                                                        Call me crazy, but I believe in acting respectfully. Cutting in line does not get any respect from me, and I suspect at Franklin's it's rampant.

                                                  2. re: elpaninaro

                                                    Of course it can be pulled off. Why don't I just call you 15 minutes before it's time for me to order, you tell me what you want, I order it, you just get there in time to pay, you take the food, I take the $40, and who's gonna try and beat us up for that? I went through the line just like any other person.

                                                    Heck, I'm more open to standing in line for the $40 than I would for the brisket (which I've never even tried!) How does Friday sound? :-) I would, too!