You'd think that a Thursday at 11:30 am would be a good time to meet friends for lunch. Get in, get out, without getting too caught up in the lunch crowd. In essence, that's a good plan, unless you are going to Franklin BBQ for that lunch. This was the line when I arrived at 11:30 am.....
...snaking around the front of the building. (And I know, you can hardly tell from this picture how the line was, but TRUST ME, it was a line.) Fortunately, there's shade most of the way, until the last brutal 10 minutes as we waited to get the last 10 feet into the building. All told, it took a little over an hour from when we got in line to when we sat down with our plates.
Was it worth the wait? Yes. Though I'd say some meats were better than others. Upon arriving at 11:45, two other friends decided not to stick around, so it was just two of us, me and my trusty eating buddy, M. She had the bright idea that we each get a two-meat plate, and that way, we'd cover all four of the meats on the menu.
My plate had the brisket and the pork ribs, along with potato salad and beans.
Hers had pulled pork and sausage, with potato salad and cole slaw.
The ribs were incredible. The meat fell off the bone instantly, and was even easy to extract from the cartilage bits. They had a very thin crust on the outer portion, and a little bit of a pinkish smoke ring, after being smoked for 6 hours. A touch greasy, but full of porky goodness flavor.
The brisket was extremely good too. These are smoked on oak for 18 hours, and they do ask you if you want lean or fatty when you order (we went fatty!). Great char on the outside, but not as crispy as it could have been. What's the name for those crispy, burnt ends of brisket? When I had previously visited their now-defunct trailer about a year and a half ago, they gave me a bite of that crispy goodness. Franklin's brisket is considered by many some of the finest in the region.
The sausage was a nice medium grind, and had good snap to the casing, and a bit of black pepper flavor, but could have benefited from some jalapeno peppers.
The pulled pork was kind of lacking in flavor, sad to say. Very tender, but this particular pig didn't have a whole lot going on. Franklin makes 3 different BBQ sauces which are in glass bottles on the tables, and the pulled pork definitely needed something to help it along.
Of the sides, I think the cole slaw had the best flavor. The red cabbage was very crisp, with a light mayo-vinegar dressing. Clean and bright. The potato salad I thought needed a bit of salt; I looked around for some at the condiment area and didn't see any, so it's a good thing I carry a bit in my purse! The beans were fairly bland too; they may not be using any pork in them.
I will say, as we waited outside in line, a guy kept coming out, checking on people, asking if they needed water or other drink while they waited. And of course, he was gauging the line to know how much more food they could serve out. But it was a nice customer service touch on a hot day. This is the sign we faced as we approached the door...
...but customers were still arriving at 1:15 pm with the sign still up, and only having to wait about ten minutes. So you can get there early (apparently people start lining up at 10:30am) and wait, or get there later and chance it that Franklin will still have food. I would certainly go back, and have heard their smoked turkey is fantastic; they were out when we got to the counter, or else we would have gotten a small piece to try. However, I think I'd be inclined to get meat only, no sides. And a beer would be good.
Oh, and make note that they still haven't updated their website to reflect their brick and mortar location; it's 900 E. 11th Street. The web has their old, now defunct trailer address, but clearly, the lack of proper info isn't hurting their business any.