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'I don't eat that stuff': Texas' barbecue king shocks readers

Emma and Travis Heim bringing BBQ to Magnolia Ave

From food truck to Magnolia Avenue, Emma and Travis Heim talk about their popular BBQ venture.
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From food truck to Magnolia Avenue, Emma and Travis Heim talk about their popular BBQ venture.

The news from Austin shook the Texas barbecue world to — well, to the bone.

In an adoring Esquire magazine profile of new-age Texas barbecue king Aaron Franklin, Franklin coughs up the truth: “I don't eat that stuff.”

Franklin, in his 10th year as the owner of truck-turned-landmark-restaurant Franklin Barbecue in Austin, said he loves to cook but doesn't eat barbecue at all.

“I'm just surrounded,” he said: “It's really heavy, fatty, salty food.”

It was like hearing that Nolan Ryan sleeps at baseball games, or that Chip and Joanna Gaines in Waco really live in an RV.

Fort Worth pit master Travis Heim, who followed the same trailer-to-treasure success path at Heim Barbecue, stuck up for Franklin.

FoodNews Franklin3.jpg
Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue. Wyatt McSpadden Ten Speed Press

“When you cook a few thousand pounds of brisket every week like we do, I guess you can get tired of it,” Heim replied by email.

“I usually taste at least a bite daily to make sure that everything is up to our standards, but I definitely am not eating a big plate of brisket every day. I have more trouble staying away from my wife's potato salad and pinto beans.”

Franklin's comment launched a flaming frenzy on Facebook, where Austin American-Statesman writer David Thomas took umbrage that the James Beard Award-winning pit master talked more in Esquire about liking North Carolina pork.

“Does Franklin need to stuff himself with brisket until he's as fat as I am? Of course not,” Thomas wrote.

“Does the King of Texas Barbecue need to choose his words carefully? Yeah, probably.”

Thomas praised legacy restaurants such as Martin's Place in Bryan, in its 94th year and one of the oldest barbecue joints in Texas still in the same family. (The original Riscky's on Azle Avenue and Bailey's Bar-B-Q in downtown Fort Worth are also among the state's oldest.)

Martin's is “the most Texas place that ever existed,” Thomas wrote: “Old-men-and-dominoes Texas. Handwritten-specials-tacked-to-the-wall Texas. Chopped-beef-and-a-Lone-Star Texas.”

Lest anyone think Thomas is the anti-Franklin, he added that Franklin comes off great in Esquire and that “just about everybody” calls his barbecue the best ever.

DeeAnna Krier of Baker's Ribs in Weatherford said she understands how Franklin might be “fatigued” with barbecue, but still.

“Brian and I eat our brisket most everyday,” she wrote in an online message.

“Brisket is in our blood. … Anytime we have a party at our house, we have to have brisket or else the guests will get so angry. Even if it's Mexican food, it's brisket.”

Franklin stayed out of the argument on social media, but you can order his ebook “Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto” or visit his new Asian smokehouse in Austin, Loro. It's a team effort with chef Tyson Cole of Uchi.

Check out the Texas BBQ from the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival's Pitmasters Picnic event April 8, 2018, at Heart of the Ranch in Clearfork.

Beach Street breakfasts at Lucita's

Lucita's Mexican Cocina is new off South Beach Street, but it's from family members from the old Los Jarritos there.

If you want platters, breakfasts and enchiladas, everything at Lucita's tastes handmade. It seems like it came out of a real cocina, not out of some freezer truck.

The tiny restaurant near foodie grocer fave Town Talk Foods has some street-food favorites: tacos and tortas with steak asado, carnitas or chicken.

Lucita's Mexican Cocina is a homespun restaurant off South Beach Street. Bud Kennedy

There's also breakfast featuring menudo, chilaquiles, pork rinds, quesadillas or big platters.

Be careful: It's a little place and can get overrun easily.

Lucita's is a homey little interior-Mexico restaurant, more for soft corn tacos and tortas then for Tex-Mex or enchiladas.

It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner weekdays and Saturdays, closing at midafternoon Sundays; 3912 E. First St., 817-720-5505,

Changes coming at El Taquito

The new owner of old favorite El Taquito is adding beer and wine to the little White Settlement burrito shop.

El Taquito has been known for breakfast burritos since it opened 25 years ago near Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. New owner Nestor Saldivar has kept the burritos and will expand the menu and hours.

Watch for changes at 8705 Clifford St., White Settlement, 817-246-9930.

Bud Kennedy, 817-390-7538; @EatsBeat
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