I came, I waited, I conquered: My Experience Waiting for Franklin BBQ

My boyfriend and I love Austin, so we always try to find an excuse to visit Austin — and all we do is eat, eat and eat. So it’s no surprise that we spent this past weekend eating our way through Austin. And we decided that we would do it – that we would embark on the whole ‘Franklin’ experience. Honestly, I’m impatient and am not the kind to wait more than an hour (more like 30 min.) for food, but somehow I convinced myself to wait five hours for BBQ — and I did it. I came. I waited. I conquered. It’s because I keep hearing locals and Yelp reviewers rave about the brisket and how no other place compares that I decided to devote half of my day to Franklin. Also, I haven’t heard a single person said that “it wasn’t worth it.” And I would be dishonoring my title as a ‘foodie’ if I never try such a famous and highly regarded restaurant. Overall, the experience can be broken down into three parts:

1. Before – The Arrival & Waiting Game

oh you know, just chilling and waiting 5 hours for BBQ - no big deal

oh you know, just chilling and waiting 5 hours for BBQ – no big deal

you think you're almost there, but you're not.

you think you’re almost there, but you’re not.

We got there on Sunday around 8:45 AM, laid down our tarp and we brought some snacks, books and music – we were prepared, but so was everyone else. If you don’t have a lawn chair, don’t fret — Franklin has lawn chairs you can borrow. However, do bring entertainment and snacks, but not too much cause you don’t want to ruin your appetite. We even befriended our neighbors behind us, which made the time fly by. Waiting is definitely part of the “experience” so make sure to make the most of it — entertain yourself, study, nap or befriend your neighbors.

Also, note that you can buy beer while waiting in line or you can bring your own, which I recommend. Furthermore, someone will go down the line and provide clear instructions on how Franklin works. There will also be another person who will ask you what you plan to order to make sure that there is enough. This is great, because this prevents you from waiting in line for hours only to be left starving and disappointed. They’ll also tell you when you’ll tentatively be eating – they are pros at this so believe them when they’ll say you’ll be eating 5 hours later.

2. During – The MOMENT(s)

So close yet so far

So close yet so far

That moment when you’re inside and waiting for your turn to order is quite exciting even though you’re still in line. However, once you see everyone eating trays of that brisket, sausage and pulled pork, you’ll begin to salivate and your heart will begin to race. Once you see that there’s only ONE guy cutting up the meat, you’ll wonder why the heck haven’t they hired one more person, but you’ll soon forget that thought when it’s your turn to order.

      fbbq food

The moment I took the first bite of that brisket was one of the most rewarding feelings ever — I have never waited so long for food. We got 1/2 lb fatty brisket and 1/2 lb lean brisket. The fatty brisket melts in your mouth like butter and falls off your fork easily and nicely. The lean brisket is tasty as well, but nothing as good as the fatty parts. There are several BBQ rubs you can choose for your meats. As weird as it may sound, the espresso rub went well with the brisket. The roasty notes paired well with the smokiness of the brisket. We also got the sausage and pulled pork, and all were as good as you expect it to be. The sausage – plump and smoky. The pulled pork – moist, but a little bland (but that’s what the sauces are for).

FBBQ food 2

3. After – The Food Coma

Of course, we were ambitious and ordered more than we can eat, but we were not going to wait 5 hours to order a small amount of food. The leftovers heated up in the microwave fine and made a great lunch the next day. Best. Leftovers. Ever. (besides Chipotle – lol). We had plans to drive straight back to Dallas right after, but did not make it more than 8 miles, because we were so tired. Consequently, we pulled into a neighborhood, found some shade, parked our car and napped with the windows down. So if you ever plan to embark on this adventure, just remember it’s a whole day kind of ordeal.

And you’re probably wondering was it worth it? Yes. But will I ever wait 5 hours again? No, probably not. With all that being said, it is definitely a fun experience and something worth doing once — and only once.

Favorite Fridays: Cheap Eats in Dallas

In my previous post, I mentioned how this past weekend I kept eating out, and because of that I really had to watch my budget. This led me to discovering some new and great cheap eats in the city, so for today’s ‘Favorite Friday’ post, I wanted to share with you my top 5 cheap eats in the city. Besides, who doesn’t love a cheap and delicious meal? These are the places that will give you the most bang for your buck!

1. eatZi’s

eatZi’s is your one-stop shop for everything delicious. Don’t be fool by its size, because you can find almost everything there –pasta, sandwiches, dips, chips, beer, wine, fruits, ice cream, among others. It is the perfect place to grab a quick meal for picnics, breakfast, lunch, dinner and/or dessert. I am pretty obsessed with this place, because everything you get here is great – you can’t go wrong. My favorite? The basil dip, fougasse bread, carrot cake, pasta and sandwiches. So yeah, pretty much everything. Be warned: you’ll walk out spending more than you anticipated — so it’s not that cheap per se, but it can be (if you have self-control).

2. VertsKebap

When I was in Berlin, all I ate was street food, in particular doner kebaps. They are cheap, delicious and healthy — encompassing the 3 most important traits in a meal. So consequently, I became addicted and obsessed with them. And I mean obsessed, as in I couldn’t stop thinking about them until I finally found VertsKebap (a year and half later). After months (more like 14 months) of endlessly searching on Google and Yelp for places that sell doner kebaps (no, not gyros and sure, they’re similar — I was just very particular about getting doner kebaps), I finally found the answers to my prayers: VertsKebap. So you can imagine my excitement when I made plans to travel to Austin, the birth city of VertsKebap. And yes, these doner kebaps taste pretty darn close to the ones I had in Berlin. However, at that time VertsKebap was only in Austin..and it’s only recently that they opened one up in Addison (which is probably the most exciting thing ever!). Also, the owners are from Germany so this is as close as i’ll get to those highly addictive doner kebaps. And one last thing: do NOT get the fries; they are soggy and disappointing.

faces of excitement

3. Mr. Max

I already wrote my review for Mr. Max a few weeks ago, so I won’t go into much detail here. So to sum it up: Mr. Max is a cute, quaint Japanese gastropub that serves tapas-style dishes for cheap!

4. Aloha Hawaiian BBQ

Aloha Hawaiian BBQ is one of the new restaurants I discovered this past weekend — and I am in love! It’s a hole-in-the-wall type of fast-casual restaurant located on Lemmon. There’s also one in El Paso so it’s not a true hole-in-the-wall, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. I got the BBQ combo platter with the spam musabi — everything was fresh, flavorful and tasty. The BBQ meats actually reminded me of KBBQ. As much as I hate to admit this, I love Spam, and it was my first time trying spam musabi so that was pretty exciting. Although “Hawaiian,” there are definitely Japanese, Korean and Filipino influences in some of their dishes.

aloha bbq

5. Tacos La Banqueta

Just like Aloha Hawaiian BBQ, Tacos La Banqueta is a hole-in-the-wall type of Mexican restaurant with several locations in Dallas. The tacos here are super cheap (around $1.25). Come here if you want to enjoy tacos that are not like Taco Bell. They come with corn tortilla, a little bit of onion and cilantro and that’s it. Simple, fresh and tasty.

tacos la banqueta

A Taste of Chicago’s Deep Dish Pizza

Over this past weekend, I ate out for almost every single meal and discovered some great cheap eats around the area — so it was pretty hard for me to pick one to write about. However, considering that I LOVE pizza, and it was my first time trying a true ‘Chicago-style’ deep dish pizza, I have to share it with you.

On our way to Ikea, my boyfriend and I decided to eat lunch at Taste of Chicago in Addison, a pizzeria that also has salads, wings, pastas, thin crust pizzas — but is famous (at least on Yelp it is) for their deep dish pizzas. The setup is casual and reminds me of a Pizza Hut restaurant, minus the salad the bar.

That crust....Being the noob that we were, my boyfriend and I did not call ahead — and no, it’s not because it’s super busy, but because their deep dish pizza takes 40 MIN to bake. That’s a long waiting period, especially when you are suffering from hunger pains. So learn from our mistake and order before you arrive. Yes, we could have ordered appetizers, but knowing how filling the pizza is, we decided it was better not to.

However, when that 4-inch deep pie full of cheesy deliciousness arrives at your table, it is the best thing ever. You get to customize your toppings so we got sausage, pepperoni and onions — and it was AMAZING. The crust is crispy and the cheese is gooey. The marinara sauce is nicely sweet as well. The pizza is layered with your choice of toppings, mozzarella cheese and marinara sauce. It’s definitely one of those dishes where you need a bib, fork and knife. Although I’ve never had deep dish pizza from its motherland, I can confidently say that Chicago’s deep dish pizza will not disappoint. Given how massive it is, expect to have leftovers (which taste just as good as if they’re freshly baked) and to be in a food coma immediately after consumption. Also please note, that my pictures don’t do the pizza justice.

A 4-inch deep, 5-pound pie full of cheese, regrets and amazingness

Favorite Fridays: Healthy Recipes

So not only do I love to eat, but I also love to cook and try new recipes. Thanks to Pinterest — finding new, fun recipes is super easy. And for today’s post, I want to feature 5 of my favorite healthy recipes, since eating healthy is all the rage these days. I’m also working on my food photography skills so most of these recipes, but perhaps in the future that will change!

1. Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad from Damn Delicious

I love this recipe, because it’s super easy and delicious. I like to eat this with some croissant or over a bed of spring salad mix topped with roasted pecans, reduced balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil (see picture below). I also like to poach my chicken breast (find instructions here) since it’s healthier, and then I like to keep the stock leftover for other recipes (such as the chicken noodle soup found below).

chicken salad sald

2. Parmesan Baked Chicken Nuggets from Gimme Some Oven

This is a fun, easy and delicious way to make chicken nuggets – so much better (and healthier) than the frozen ones!

3. Chicken Noodle Soup from Budget Byte

I change this recipe up a bit by poaching the chicken for about 14 minutes (same instructions from the chicken salad recipe) then using leftover chicken broth. Sometimes this broth not might be enough, so I add store-bought chicken broth in increments then taste and adjust it to my liking.

4. Creamy Tomato Basil Soup from Joyful Healthy Eats

For this recipe, I had to add a little bit of heavy cream to achieve the creaminess flavor I liked. However, this might be different for you — but, overall, a delicious and easy recipe to make.

tomato basil soup

5. Carrot Sticks from Healy Eats Real

Ever find yourself with leftover carrots in the fridge, and you don’t know what to do it with? Happens to me all the time. I always feel so guilty for throwing away food, so I’ve been pretty good about finding recipes to help me eat all my veggies before they go bad — and these carrots sticks are a great one! You can even use zucchini instead of carrots, and add other seasonings like cayenne red pepper, paprika, etc.

Mr Max: A True Hidden Gem

Mr. Max is a quaint Japanese restaurant that’s deceivingly tucked away in a grungy shopping center in Irving, TX. Located right behind a donut shop and right next to a sketchy hair salon, Mr Max matches the low-key attitude of the plaza with its plain sign and exterior. However, as you walk into the restaurant, you’ll be greeted by friendly workers from the host stand to the kitchen.

Mr. Max is set up to resemble an izakaya (an informal, casual Japanese restaurant), and  there are only two seating options: bar seats or Japanese-style floor seats (a fun option for larger parties). The Japanese floor tables and quaintness of the restaurant gives Mr. Max a comforting and homey feeling.

If you read Yelp reviews, many claim Mr. Max as an “authentic” Japanese restaurant, and I couldn’t agree more. Even though I haven’t been to Japan nor have any credentials to claim Mr. Max’s authenticity, I can tell by the menu selection, the prices, the ambience, the service and the quality of the food that Mr. Max is a restaurant aimed to stay true to its Japanese roots. Additionally, Mr. Max (who recently passed away) is claimed by many as a lovely man who was passionate and putted a lot of love into his food. After his death, the restaurant closed down temporarily, but is now being operated by a Japanese restaurant group. The new Mr. Max made changes to the menu, but supposedly kept some of the original menu items. Although I’ve never been to the original Mr. Max, I was still pleasantly surprised by the new Mr. Max — and will be definitely coming back again.

The menu offers a variety of Japanese dishes that are not commonly found at sushi or teppenyaki restaurants. Mr. Max reminds me of a Japanese tapas style restaurant. There are a lot of small dishes to choose from as well as sashimi, ramen and udon noodles. Overall, great menu selection with so many delicious options to choose from! However, my boyfriend and I decided on a half-order of the tonkatsu ramen, karasge (Japanese fried chicken), homemade curry and grilled squid.

half an order of tonkatsu ramen

half an order of tonkatsu ramen

karasge with a side of mayo

karasge with a side of mayo

grilled squid

grilled squid

  • Tonkatsu Ramen – The half bowl is perfect for someone like me — big appetite, small stomach. The ramen was delicious — the broth was flavorful and the noodles had a nice bite to it.
  • Karasge – Crispy and tender. Mainly dark meat so it got a little too greasy for me.
  • Homemade curry – Like the name suggests, it tastes homemade as in it’s simple yet delicious. The curry tastes like a green curry with ground beef, garnished with some kind or relish and served with rice.
  • Grilled squid – For about $5 you get a whole entire grilled squid that is fresh and delicious — you can’t beat that.

The best part is that all of this only costed my bf and I $24 (without tip)! In addition to the good food, the service was great. Everyone was attentive and kept checking-in and refilling our waters.

Additionally,  our dinner from the moment we entered and left was only 35 minutes long — and we were taking our time! This is evident of their fast and wonderful service. Tip: If you want to order a few of their smaller dishes, I would suggest order a couple first and the rest later; all of the food comes out fast and all at once.

Rodeo Goat Comes to Dallas

Rodeo Goat opened up in Dallas a few weeks ago, and I haven’t had the chance to check it out until this past weekend. If you do come here during peak times (i.e. weekends), expect to park across the street and/or wait in line for 30+ minutes. In addition to waiting 30 minutes for our seats, my bf and I had to wait a pretty long time for our food, which was frustrating (#hangerpains). I feel as if Rodeo Goat’s kitchen & staff are unable to accommodate their capacity. However, they do have a nice, open seating area, including an outside patio. Given that we spent 80 percent of our time waiting, we probably won’t come back during peak hours, and I advise you to do the same. There are endless burger options in the area *cough* hopdoddy *cough*.

However, let’s move on to the food. I got The Mike Rawlings Burger and the surprise fries. The Mike Rawlings Burger was slightly overcooked, but pretty good. My favorite part is obviously the candied bacon. The surprise fries is LOADED with brisket (albeit it’s more like ground beef) cheese and jalapeños. These fries are HUGE — enough to feed eight people and enough to give you a heart attack. I thought the fries are OK. There’s just too much going on in one dish. Additionally, the heavy toppings made the fries soggy.

heart attack on a platter

heart attack on a platter

Rodeo Goat Burger

THE Mike Rawlings Burger

Overall, Rodeo Goat is moderately priced, and has a great, fun selection of burgers, drinks (both cocktails and draft beer) and appetizers.