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Sep 3, 2013 01:56 PM

Damn the luck - only time for one BBQ spot. Which one?!

My wife and I are travelling through the area and we're trying to figure out what BBQ spot is going to be lucky enough to get our hard-earned money. We're coming from one BBQ Mecca (Kansas City) and visiting yours ... so, we want to make sure we get your best shot.

Salt Lick?

Being from KC, I understand that BBQ is possibly the most subjective, divisive subject one can ask a group of people. We've got 5 or 6 places in KC that can make a legitimate claim on the #1 spot, and I know how had it would be to pick one (let alone recommend just one).

But time constraints are limiting us to one, so here's my question:

If you had to pick one spot that is the most consistent, most representative of Texas BBQ, which one would it be?

Thanks in advance for all your opinions on this!!!!

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  1. e) none of the above

    You need to hit Franklin, LA BBQ or John Mueller...

    1 Reply
    1. re: SlickTheCat

      Franklin, if you really have the time.

    2. Franklin is an uncomfortable crapshoot. If you have a lot of BBQ experience go to LA BBQ or Mueller Meat Co. If you aren't up for outdoor dinning and like good sides and beer go to Stiles Switch. Of the Lockhart three go to Smitty's. Only one worth. I'd also add to go early since most of these places don't have new product coming out throughout the day. You come late you are getting stuff cooked maybe 12 hours ago.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Rptrane

        How anyone could call Franklin, the most consistent quality BBQ I've ever experienced, a "crapshoot" is completely beyond me. Everything about the place is outrageously certain; here are six things that you're assured to experience if you go to Franklin in the next week or two:

        1. You will need to get there around 7 AM if you want to eat around 11:15 AM. This number keeps inching earlier and earlier.

        2. It will deliver insanely great brisket. Only a few places can do better, and then, only sometimes. Franklin's average is meaningfully higher than any other place I've ever been to.

        3. It will be a giant pain in the arse.

        4. Aaron will probably be there; in fact, he'll probably slice your brisket himself. I've been there more than a dozen times, and only once was he not there, and only 2-3 times did he not work behind the counter.

        5. It will be absurdly expensive, especially given the emotional costs already paid for having waited so long.

        6. It will nearly ruin you on many other barbecue spots that you've long visited. You'll begin to notice that their best efforts are as good as what you had at Franklin, but that your old faves are annoyingly erratic in the quality of their finished product. It'll start to eat at you... It used to be so easy to justify a trip to Lockhart, Luling, Llano; now, just get up early and get in line and your assured an experience as-good-or-better, and without the ding from the rising price of gas.

        1. re: tom in austin

          Gas prices are flat, so unless you want to stand in line for four hours in the heat, drive to Luling and Lockhart. I like City Market in Luling first, then Smitty's. I've only been to Bryant's in KC, and both of these places destroy it in my prejudiced opinion. The burnt ends at Bryant's seemed leftover, the fries good, but the brisket was barely average, and I can't get past that electric slicer. No fries down here, by the way. Having said all this, Franklin's is probably the best, and I've never been there. City Market is always consistent, Smitty's more hit and miss.

          1. re: James Cristinian

            James ... I'm so, so sorry your only taste of KC BBQ was Arthur Bryant's burnt ends. I could name 10 better places to get burnt ends with 15 miles of there. That's a shame.

          2. re: tom in austin

            Crapshoot was in reference to whether or not you are actually going to get food. Someone on a short timetable probably doesn't have 5 hours to wait in 107 degree weather for brisket. I don't find their brisket worth the trouble frankly. There's brisket about as good and I can walk in with my money and walk out with it. No BS lines.

            1. re: Rptrane

              I was there last week and I'm not going to hurry back. If you read Mike Sutter's blog Fed Man Walking, I'm not the only one who's spotted trouble at Franklin's. The meat last week was unflavorful, dry and grey; no smoke ring to speak of. I've been to Franklin's numerous times. I have no idea what's going on there, but the meat is nothing like it used to be. Not even close.

              I'd go to La Bbq.

          3. re: Rptrane

            As far as Lockhart places, Smitty's is currently the bottom of the heap. It's a great experience, but the food quality has really fallen off since they lost their pit master earlier this year. Do a google search and you can read about the whole thing, maybe starting with Texas Monthly's blog about why they dropped Smitty's from their top 50 list.
            I agree that their is no need to leave Austin, but of the big 3 in Lockhart, my pick would be Black's.

          4. I agree with all the suggestions for Franklins. I used to live in Lockhart and never ever found a wow BBQ dinner. Never. I also got pricing shock last time I went to Kreuz's about a year ago.

            Been to the Salt Lick for about 4 wedding rehearsal dinners and never knew why they were so great except for the venue itself. It was just okay Q and sides.

            For the time you would spend driving to Lockhart or Luling you could be having fun in the line at Franklins. Read the cool trip report here called Labor Day Report and see the nice things they had to say about Franklin's. Good luck and welcome to Austin.

            1. I too love Franklin but I usually lack some combination of the luxury and patience to wait in that well deserved 3-4 hr line. Aaron's brisket is supreme, and I side with Tom, damn consistent. I have been to Franklin's dozens of times from his early days running the trailer and evolution to brick and mortar. Hell, Aaron served me my first smoked Texas brisket when he was cutting his teeth on Manor under John's tutelage.

              So it is with all due respect that I find myself very pleased with the short lines at close seconds of in town BBQ experiences at La BBQ (the beef rib, brisket, sausage, turkey, free cold ass lone star from a keg as you wait / eat), John Mueller's (beef rib, brisket), with a close third to Stiles Switch's beef rib. Yes, Franklin's can measurably best these offerings according to most, but these three well compete with the old standards in Lockhart. That said, the ambiance of Black's and especially the massive brick smoker and fire going at Smitty's is part of the great experiences they can offer. If you go to Black's, their moist brisket "can" be amazing if you get there early. Smitty's can be good too, but I prefer their prime rib.

              1. Franklin is the most consistent. I've had better at black's but on average franklin is superior. I agree that blacks is the place to go in lockhart. I've only had La BBQ a few times but its been really good both times.