TEXAS STYLE BBQ SHOWDOWN: Franklin (Austin, TX) vs. Adamson (Toronto, ON)

Now, there’s no doot aboot it, Adamson Barbecue is my favourite BBQ joint in The Big Smoke. I’ve eaten every single kind of meat on the menu, and they’re all honky-tonk redonkadonk, son! I always used to say Adamson had the best beef brisket I’ve ever tried, but then I went down to Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and now I’m not so sure anymore. Their brisket is so outta bounds, people line up all around the block, bro!

So now, while the taste of sweet, sweet Texas brisket is still fresh in my memory, I had to hit up Adamson again so I could figure out which was the best BBQ joint I’ve ever been to in my lifetime. We’re looking at everything from the food, to the line, to the music on the stereo. So who’s got the most bodacious, beefalicious barbecue, bro? Let’s take a look at the tale of the tape!

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COMFORT FACTOR

Location: Adamson is sorta in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t live in South Leaside, and you don’t drive, it’s about a 30-minute bus ride from the closest subway station. Now, East 11th Street in Austin isn’t Sixth Street…but it is only five streets away.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Lineup: Adamson opens at 11. I got there just after 11, and waited in line for over an hour. Franklin also opens at 11. I got there just after 9, and waited in line for over five hours!

HUGE ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Music: When you go to Franklin, you get proper Texas BBQ music–five hours of fiddle-driven classic country from the greats like Willie, Merle and Johnny. Now, the thing I always hated about Adamson’s was that they used to play really loud rap music when you were there. But today, we were greeted by tunes like “Wild Horses,” “Man in Black” and other country music classics. Sounds like somebody finally got the memo!

THIS ONE IS NOW A DRAW.

Seating: The seating at Adamson is mostly wooden chairs and picnic tables. The only picnic tables you’ll find at Franklin are outside–their indoor seating is a little more comfortable.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

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FOOD

Beef brisket: Now, it turns out that Adamson actually uses the exact same brisket from the same cows as Franklin. As their pitmaster says, if they cook it right, it should be just as good as down south. And I gotta say, it’s really, really close. These were far and away the two best briskets I’ve ever had. Maybe the only way to truly compare them would be to eat them both at the exact same time. They’re both super-tender, juicy lucy, melt-in-your mouth… Of course, you gotta order it fatty. Fatty brisket was my nickname in high school, bro! So, whose brisket is better? I might just hafta give it to Franklin, by a nose. Cuz hey, I’m pretty sure anything tastes better after lining up five hours for it!

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Pulled pork: The pulled pork at Franklin tastes how you expect pulled pork to be. Tender, succulent, and goes great with BBQ sauce. But at Adamson, their pulled pork has a nice, peppery taste so you don’t even need no sauce, bro!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Sausage: At Franklin, it seems the sausage is sort of an afterthought. It’s like “Well, you’re all sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I guess I’ll get some sausage?” But at Adamson, you definitely want to add a jalapeno cheddar smokie to your order–even if you’re already getting a three-meat plate!

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

Drinks: Franklin serves local Texas craft beer, and they’ll even sell it to you when you’re waiting in line, as long as you remain on the property. Adamson only has a soda fountain…but to their credit, you can get Big Red from it.

ADVANTAGE: FRANKLIN

Dessert: Although I didn’t take it out of the package before taking that photo, the Lemon Chess pie at Franklin is pretty darn tasty. I’d say it’s fairly comparable to Adamson’s coconut cream pie, which you see above. But this one time at Adamson, I had this sweet potato pie that was shut-the-back-door bananas. So I gotta give the edge to Adamson.

ADVANTAGE: ADAMSON

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Now, even after all that deliberation, I’m not sure there’s a clear winner here. The fact is, both of these places are really, really good. If you only visit one BBQ joint in Toronto, it’s gotta be Adamson. There are a couple other places I’d recommend, but only if you’re down for dinner. (Adamson, not unlike most BBQ joints in Texas, only serves food until they sell out–which is usually before 3 pm.)

On the other hand, if you’re ever in Austin, you’ll have to get up really, really early to eat at Franklin. I was one of the last ones through, and I didn’t eat until 2:30. Plus, they were sold out of pork ribs, beef ribs and turkey already. Clearly, I needed to be there before 8. Now, Franklin is a total tailgate experience, like a culinary Heavy Metal Parking Lot in Flavourtown. I think it’s worth checking out at least once–just don’t be like the brosephs who got so wastey-faced that they were kicked out once they got to the front of the line and didn’t even get any brisket!!!!!!!

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This might be the best burger I ever ate at a country music concert

So, I’m at the ACC, to see my man The Chief, Eric Fuckin’ Church in concert, bro! Last summer, when he was supposed to play Kitchener, the gig got rained out, and I dived face first into a bacon cheeseburger. Looks like I’m about to do the same thing here…

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They call this the Maple Bacon Burger, and it’s got cheddar cheese, bacon and a maple aioli! As far as concession food goes, this is pretty decent. Burger is nice and thick, bacon is a little on the chewy side, nice crunch from the onions and tomatoes. Fries are super thin, and kinda taste like Swiss Chalet. Now that was a cold 17 dollars I never will get back, son…and that doesn’t even include the beer!

EATIN AUSTIN: I don’t always eat boneless wings, but when I do, I make sure they’re wrapped in bacon!

So, we’re hanging out at The Tavern, this funky neighbourhood bar that’s been down on the corner of 12th Street and Lamar for more than 100 years. When my righteous brosephs at The Thrillest said they had the best damn chicken wings in Texas, I knew I had to check this place out–but these ain’t yer grandpappy’s chicken wings, son!

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They call these the Amazing White Wings, and they’re pretty baller to the max! You’ve got boneless chicken, stuffed with jalapeños, wrapped in bacon, and tossed with wing sauce, dude! Then there’s carrots and celery sticks on the side, some crispy fried onions, and both ranch and blue cheese dressing, bro!

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The chicken is nice ‘n juicy, you’ve got a nice little kick from the hot peppers and the wing sauce, and then the bacon just wraps it all up in a nice little meat sweater. Who needs bones when you’ve got bacon, bro!!!??? (Man, I gotta put that on a t-shirt or something!)

EATIN AUSTIN: Cinco tacos por desayuno, hermano!

Now, there’s some debate over who first started eating tacos for breakfast, with both Austin and San Antonio laying claim to the title. But if you’re in Austin, and you want tacos for desayuno, then you gotta go to Tamale House East, bro!

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Now, I got there right at 8, but they didn’t open till 8:35, at which point a whole pile of people showed up behind me. I got three of the in-house specialties–migas & queso; egg, bacon, cheese and ranchera; potato, egg, bacon and cheese–and then built two culinary creations of yo mismo–a chorizo egg & cheese and a bacon egg & mushroom–cuz you gotta get some chorizo, bro!

It’s also worth noting that the prices on their menu online are off; instead of $1.25 a taco, you’re paying $3.25 for the house specialties–or $2.75 for a build-yer-own with three toppings. But hey, cinco tacos for $16.50 still ain’t a bad deal, though…

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So, we’re starting off with the migas and cheese, a Tex Mex breakfast staple. There’s definitely nothing wrong with crispy fried tortilla strips, eggs and cheese–and when you put ’em in a taco, it’s even better, bro!

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Next up is one of my Triple B creations, the chorizo, egg and cheese. I can now see why they don’t include chorizo in any of their specialties–they don’t give you very big chunks of it here, either. Probably my least favourite one.

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Now, these last three all had bacon, and if I’m every back in Austin, I would just do five with bacon, bro! Their bacon is cooked to perfection, finding the right balance between crispy and chewy. And the potatoes in this one were on point. 5/5

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This Triple B creation was a personal favourite–bacon, egg n mushroom, son! And the mushroom is what makes it–thick, juicy and they totally don’t taste like the come from a can! If I go back here, I’m adding mushrooms to everything!

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Aaaaaand that brings us to the last taco of the morning, the in-house specialty of bacon, egg, ranchera and cheese. I was scared this might be too spicy for me–but the sauce was definitely on the mild side. I normally like salsa on my taco, but it doesn’t work quite as well for breakfast, though. Still, if I ever feel like eating five tacos for breakfast again, then this is definitely the place to be!

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EATIN AUSTIN: An antelope, a rabbit and a pig meat up in a grinder…

Now, Toronto is no stranger to gourmet hot dogs. You’ve got Fancy Franks, Let’s Be Frank (RIP), Wvrst, and probably a couple more places serving up exotic sausages. But one that you won’t find roaming the wild plains of High Park is the jackalope. Pretty sure this here critter has never been spotted east of the Mississippi before, bro!

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Actually, this here hot dog is a mixture of rabbit, antelope and pork, giving it a rich, gamey texture like I’ve never had before. You’ve got equal parts sweet and heat from the cranberry compote and the Sriracha aioli, and then I paid 50 cents extra to put it in a flapjacket, just for the hell of it.

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Now, one thing I wanted to have while in Texas was real-deal Frito pie. I had some at this BBQ joint in Toronto, but I figure they probably fancied it up a bit. This one seemed more authentic, with a rich, spicy chilli and some melted cheese overtop a bed of crunchy Fritos. They call this a side dish, but it’s really more of a meal, dude!!!

EATIN AUSTIN: The early bird gets the brisket, bro!

Now, I knew the lineup at Franklin BBQ would be insane, so I showed up early at 9 am…the place doesn’t open until 11. But I got hit with one of the longest lines they’ve seen in a while–they were already lined up around the building by 7, son!

They actually told me I wouldn’t be getting in before 2pm, at which point they’d be all sold out of turkey, pork and ribs. And they gave a guy six people behind me a Last Man Standing sign–nobody after that was guaranteed any grub!

So, did I wait in line 5 hours for brisket? You know it, bro!

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The waiting was definitely the hardest part. At one point, they called an ambulance cuz one lady was too drunk to stand; another guy got kicked out when he got to the front of the line cuz he’d been shotgunning beers all day–sucks to be you, bro! While some people treated this five-hour odyssey as a tailgate party, I was here for one reason, and one reason only: Show me the brisket!!!!

Finally got to the front of the building around 1 pm. Another 45-50 minutes until I got inside, at which point the wait was another half hour or so, and they’d just sold out of ribs ‘n turkey, so I took what I could get. Was I disappointed, though? Hell no, bro!

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Now, this was probably the best beef brisket I’ve ever had. It was super, fall-apart tender, melt-in-yer-mouth goodness. Pulled pork was nice ‘n chewy, the sausages had a good snap to ’em, but there’s no doubt the brisket was the star of the show, bro! I was kinda running on fumes at this point, but I still put away about two pounds of food–one pound of brisket alone–and you KNOW I still had room for dessert!

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They call this Lemon Chess pie. I dunno why, but it’s pretty tasty. Kinda like a meringue, but without the squishy texture. Oh, and I washed it all down with a Big Red, which is sorta like the Lone Star Beer of sodas…in the best way possible. Didn’t get outta there till just before 3, and I was maybe gonna go to a museum or check out the Capitol, but I didn’t end up doing any of that, cuz I spent the whole day at Franklin’s. At least I got this bitchin’ trucker hat to show for it, though!!!!

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