Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Franklin Barbecue vs. Snow's BBQ

It was early on a Saturday morning and I was on my way from Dallas to have breakfast at Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Back in 2008 it was named the best BBQ in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazine, based primarily on the quality of their brisket. I've eaten this brisket plenty of times in the past, but just how would it measure up to my current favorite, Franklin Barbecue in Austin? The only way to know would be to try them side-by-side. I purchased some extra brisket to go from Snow's and made my way to Austin.

Franklin Above, Snow's Below

Snow's was at an admitted disadvantage here. Not only it have to travel the seventy-five minute drive, but also had to sit wrapped in my front seat through the two hour line at Franklin. Now three hours old, I unwrapped it for a visual inspection next to the fresh Franklin brisket. The Snow's brisket was noticeably drier, but that was all because it was sliced three hours prior. The colors of the two briskets were vastly different. Where Franklin's beef had a crust of coal black and a faint smokering, the Snow's brisket had a thick pink smokering with a reddish crust flecked with black pepper.

Snow's BBQ Brisket

The texture of the Franklin beef was so tender it nearly melted in the mouth. Snow's wasn't what I'd call tough, but it had some pleasing chew to it. Not helping was the portion of the point included in each slice had been cut with the grain making it stringy. Franklin separates the flat from the point and slices the two muscles separately. Both meats had perfectly rendered intramuscular fat, but the crackle of the crust in the Franklin brisket was much more well defined.

Franklin Barbecue Brisket

The flavor differences were stunning. I had just eaten the Snow's brisket a few hours earlier, but I noticed so many more of the flavor intricacies after eating them together. Snow's dominant seasoning is salt where Franklin is black pepper. Franklin's brisket has a great smokiness from post oak as did Snow's, but the Snow's brisket had a sweetness like I'm used to getting at Cooper's where they use coals for the cooking. While it's tough to declare a winner, and unfair given the timely advantages that the Franklin brisket got, I still prefer Franklin by a hair. My dining mate that day gave it a push and my friend who I delivered a pound of each to preferred Snow's. So goes the very unscientific method of comparing smoked meats, and the real winner is me because I got to eat both briskets on the same day.

- BBQ Snob


hedrives said...

Best part is we have these two great places, plus Louie Mueller's, to choose from. Nice job.

Doug Zedler said...

I've never understood why so many joints slice the point with the grain. To me, it seems slicing against the grain is meat carving 101.

Mike said...

You now have to do the same taste test, but pick up Franklin and then drive to Snow's. That would also cut 2 hours out of the equation since no brisket would be sitting in the car while waiting in line.

BBQ Snob said...

Mike - Believe me, I considered it, but the logistics just aren't there. With Franklin's late opening hour of 11:00, even if I got right in the door I still wouldn't get to Snow's until about 12:30 and they'd likely be sold out.

Mike said...

A coordinated effort! Let me know when you want to go to Snow's, I'll go to Franklin, and we'll meet in the middle. :)

Chris said...

Ah, but Mike was right. You call Snow's and place your order in advance. By far the easiest way to get their brisket. Get your Franklin's and then pick up your Snow's. Of course a combined effort is just as good.

Don O. said...

Don't forget, Franklin and Snows will be serving at the Texas Monthly Q fest at the end of October. I doubt either will cook on site, but at least this opportunity will be easily available to others who are there! I am looking forward to it!

Vincent B said...

Buy a whole wrapped brisket from both..take them home and have them both that afternoon sliced however you like...you can compare top and bottom. Of course, you will have to invite a few friends, but I think that is simply an advantage.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.