New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells visits Franklin Barbecue for a starred review

Brisket piled on the scale at Franklin Barbecue. (Laura Skelding AMERICAN-STATESMAN)

Esteemed New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells stepped out of the Big Apple last summer to visit restaurants around the country for starred reviews, a first for the Times

His first visit took him to Cassia in Santa Monica, California, for his latest, he visited Austin’s own Franklin Barbecue. The long and short of it, he liked it quite a bit. He gave the restaurant two stars, which translates to “very good” in New York Times restaurant criticism parlance, the same score he gave Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue in the East Village in 2013.  He begins his review of James Beard award-winner Aaron Franklin and wife Stacey Franklin’s restaurant talking about the famed and very long line before moving onto some backstory and then descriptions of the food.

An example:

One of Mr. Franklin’s apostasies from old-school central Texas barbecue technique is wrapping meat midway through smoking to keep it from drying out. All his products are noticeably juicy; the turkey is helped by a quick dip in a pan of butter and juices. He swaddles brisket in butcher paper, which lets some steam out. Other meats are sealed inside aluminum foil. I wondered if this was the reason the marbling inside the brisket was more appetizing than the fat on the pork ribs and pulled pork, which could be a little wet and squishy.

Wells says he doubts he’d trade Franklin’s brisket for anyone. Is the experience worth the wait? Wells responds, “The answer, like many things in life, depends on what else you could be doing with your time.”

Read the complete review here.

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