With its primordial char, sun-dappled marbling and tenderness bordering on the spiritual, Franklin Barbecue's brisket might have risen from the dawn of our courtship with smoke and fire. Fact is, Aaron Franklin's trailer has been around less than a year, opening in late December of 2009 just east of Interstate 35 next to a coffee-roasting business.
From Wednesday through Sunday, the line queues up at 11 a.m., each shuffling step bringing with it the danger that Franklin will run out of that brisket, the barely corporeal pork ribs or pulled pork as sweet as custard floss. Most everything's gone by 2 p.m., guided by one simple fact of life: ‘We make as much food as I can fit on the smoker.'
Trailers have come under tight scrutiny during the past year from restaurant owners, city regulators and roving snack vendors. But Franklin embodies all that's right and true about people who are compelled to cook by any means necessary. ‘I didn't have much money,' Franklin said. ‘In fact, I built every last detail of that place in my back yard. I built the trailer myself, I built the smoker, I built all the picnic tables. It took me about a year to build everything.'
He's also built a following. Not by following the farm-to-table ethic of Bryce Gilmore's Odd Duck trailer or satisfying exotic appetites the way Paul Qui and associates have done with East Side King, but by doing something Texans have done for generations — and doing it even better.
Franklin Barbecue. 3421 N. Interstate 35. 653-1187, www.franklinbarbecue.com .
Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect location for Franklin Barbecue. It is located on the east of Interstate 35.