Franklin Barbecue serves up tender smoked meats ... or at least before the meat sells out
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., May 28, 2010
Tue.-Sun., 11am-4pm (be in line by 9:30am)
Franklin Barbecue3421 N. I-35, 653-1187
Wednesday-Sunday, 11am-4pm (or until sold out)
Owner-chef Aaron Franklin started out as a backyard barbecue master, sliding from avocation to vocation when he set up his little barbecue kingdom on the corner of the east frontage road of I-35 and Concordia, a block south of 38½ Street. It's perched behind Owl Tree Roasting, with the kitchen/serving area situated in a vintage trailer, a large smoker set up in a shiny metal enclosure, and about a dozen picnic tables with umbrellas. Diners should pay attention to the "... or sold out" portion of the posted hours, since ribs tend to go quick. Last Saturday we were the last diners served, and we arrived at 1pm.
Franklin slow-smokes certified Angus brisket over oak, ($13 per pound, $7.75 per plate). It's fork-tender, with a thick smoke ring and a peppery crust; the best brisket I've had in recent memory. Pork ribs ($11/pound, $7.75/plate) are wonderful: perfectly tender, with a smoky, crusty exterior and succulent flesh. You'll be gnawing these gems for bits of overlooked meat. Pulled pork ($11/pound, $7.75/plate) is tender and meltingly porky. They serve it in a tub, so it's easy to add the sauce of your choice. The sausage ($9/pound, $7.75/plate) has a nice snap to the casing and has absorbed some smoke, but the texture is a little too fine for my tastes. All of the meats are available in sandwich form as well ($4.75-4.95).
Sides ($1.35/4.50/8.50) are unremarkable and could all use punching-up. You don't normally pick a barbecue joint for its sides though; the vegetables are just there to keep things regular. The sauce options include "sweet," "espresso" (pitch dark, with a hint of coffee), and "pork" (peppery, thin, vinegary). We recommend mixing the sweet and espresso, half and half.
We should all be glad that Franklin decided to listen to his barbecue muse. This is delicious 'cue, worthy of the wait and well worth the price of admission.