It all started with THIS. Did you watch it? I implore that you watch it before you continue. Trust me, you’ll understand the motivation behind three grown men to travel 1,300 miles for a piece of BBQ.
I guess even before the VIDEO, there was God. During a fast with my church, I stumbled upon the aforementioned video of Aaron Franklin one lonesome, hungry night. I watched the first, then the related videos popped up. So I clicked, and clicked, and clicked, until there were no more videos. A Franklin BBQ video drought. Being a self-promoting Millennial, I did the next best thing and shared the video on my FB wall. My buddy Shuffles who was also fasting at the time was caught up in the glory. Then came Jared with his casual comment, “So when are we planning a Texas trip so we can eat some of this?”. The rest was history. And I kid you not, two months TO THE DAY, we were in line for Franklin BBQ. Quite poetic I must say. It’s one for the books.
So off to Austin we went. It is the most West-Coast friendly town in Texas, with it’s hybrid country-hipsters, repurposed artisan buildings/businesses/homes, SXSW, and live music. It’s a version of Portland. The version where PBRs are replaced with Lone Stars, jerky over granola, and coffee with…coffee. They say that at least 100 people move into Austin everyday like some hipster Promised Land. Another thing that makes Austin unique are their food trailers. They are definitely inspired by LA’s food trucks, but what they do in Austin is to park several trailers that are more permanent than trucks in these lots with picnic tables. In my short time there, I was able to break down Downtown Austin into four distinct locations: Sixth St., Dirty Sixth, Rainey St., and South Congress (SOCO).
SIXTH ST//DIRTY SIXTH
Sixth St. was our first destination being the most known area for people visiting. It’s literally a street of bars (some with rooftop patios, which Shuffles seemed to love) to cater to nearby UT students. When we were there early in the evening, it was pretty dead, but we walked through it again around 11P and what a difference a few hours makes. The streets were blocked off and there were just tons of people walking up and down, going from bar to bar. A lot of bachelorette parties going on too for some reason. Dirty Sixth is what one of our shuttle driver’s called the part of Sixth St. on the East side of town. We did walk down that way and I could see why it would be called that. A lot less crowded, less unique, and more dive-y. Still an okay place to hang out.
Jackalope – Go for the burgers, but don’t forget to admire the pictures of boobies that surround you (odd).
Easy Tiger – Pretty much everything I could want: beers, pretzels, cheese, jerky, cookies, ping pong, and a river. I would settle down right next to this place if I moved out here.
Tears of Joy – Hot sauce city, and the tears came flowing for Jared.
It’s a bit south of Sixth St. and it’s the young professional’s answer to the college-bound Sixth St. Apparently the City of Austin rezoned that whole area to be a part of the central business district to promote growth around their convention center. The rezoning included several neighborhoods. What you’re then left with is a neighborhood of homes that are all now unique bars, lounges, and beer gardens. It felt like a huge row of house parties and is one of the most unique things I have seen.
Banger’s Sausage House and Beer Garden – HUGE selection of beers on tap and a great menu of sausages. Did I mention they have poutine?
The Container Bar – I’ve always been intrigued by those homes made out of shipping containers. The container bar is exactly that. If my place by Easy Tiger doesn’t pan out, this would be my next choice of residence.
Congress St. is a main street in Austin that goes through the Austin Capitol Building. Once you get south past the Colorado River, it turns into SOCO and is a street of businesses that have been renovated into newer businesses. They do try to keep that retro feel. This was probably my favorite part of Austin. It has a good mix of bars, restaurants, stores, cafes, and dessert places. Would also recommend staying at the Hotel San Jose in that area. I did not, but it had the feel of an Ace Hotel, and like I said, it’s in an awesome part of Austin.
Gourdough’s – Donut trailer. Big donuts with massive amounts of various toppings at a reasonable price. I got the Carney, which is Apple Pie filling, cream cheese icing, caramel & dry roasted peanuts on top of donut. C’mon somebody.
Jo’s Coffee – Good coffee, but even more famous for their “I love you so much” graffiti on the side of their building. Supposedly a girlfriend of one of the owner’s put that there after a fight. Unfortunately, the current one there is a replica as the original was tagged over.
Amy’s Ice Creams – Get the Mexican Vanilla.
TOMS Roasting Co. – TOM converted a house into a store/cafe.
Finally, Franklin BBQ. Get in line by 9A. Bring a book, coffee, Bloody Marys. They’ll start coming through asking how much meat you plan on getting. This is so that they can give someone a heads up if they might not get food. Rent chairs for $5 from Chair Guy. They open at 11A (closed on Mondays). Don’t be deceived by how fast you start moving in line. You WILL eat at the estimated time they give you. I would recommend ordering everything a la carte by the pound rather than buying the plates or sandwiches. No time for sides anyway. Between the three of us, we decided to get 2 lbs of brisket, 2 lbs of ribs, and a link. Was it worth the 5 hour wait? Yes. It pretty much set my standards of BBQ. I mean, it has to. Aaron Franklin slow cooks these in a smoker for 8-10 hours. The brisket melts in your mouth and the ribs fall off the bone. Dat smoke ring doe.
Austin was great. Would come back. Did not get a group shot, but we all did take one of each other walking.