Eater’s National restaurant critic Bill Addison has a tasty but almost impossible job. He travels the country dining out at hundreds of restaurants each year in dozens of American cities. His goal? Find the 38 restaurants that are the most “Essential” in the country. So, what does essential mean? In Addison’s words, they answer the following questions: “Which places become indispensable to their neighborhoods, and eventually to their towns and whole regions? Which ones spur trends, or set standards for hospitality, or illuminate a cuisine in fresh and captivating ways? Which restaurants, ultimately, become vital to how we understand ourselves, and others, at the table?”
This year, the list saw a host of new names, along with some returning members and, most notably for Austin, five “Icons” that have made the list in each of its five years of existence. One of those five is Aaron and Stacy Franklin’s Franklin Barbecue.
Here’s what Addison wrote about it:
“Things Americans willingly wait in line for: rides in Disney theme parks, Black Friday sales, the latest iPhone, Aaron Franklin’s sublime array of smoked meats. I’d argue the latter leads to the greatest rewards. Texas barbecue functions as a ferocious, intensely observed sport unto itself; who crafts the most rapturous beef rib or the snappiest sausages fuel constant debate. What isn’t disputed is how Franklin raised the discourse around barbecue when he and his wife, Stacy, stoked the first pit at their barbecue trailer in 2009. (The business moved to its current midcentury modern digs in 2011.) His brisket alone altered my brain chemistry, and did the same for a lot of other souls, forever changing our expectations of that Lone Star staple. A spread of brisket, ribs, pulled pork, potato salad, and pinto beans still merits the wait, which every omnivore should brave once in their lives.”
In addition to Franklin Barbecue, the list included the following Texas restaurants: 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio and Himalaya and Xochi in Houston. Read the complete list here.
2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: Top 50 Restaurants in Austin
2018 Austin360 Dining Guide: Best BBQ in Austin