Foodie Review: Franklin BBQ (Austin, TX)

They call it a culinary religious experience in the heart of Texas. Since around 6am peopled lined up in the morning at Franklin BBQ to be amongst locals, tourists, and fascinated fans of BBQ.

They come for the best BBQ in Texas, or some say.

I got there around 8:30 and the line was already at the 2 hour mark at least according to a bearded man who boasted a belly providing testament he had quality checked many briscuits over the years.


There isn’t that much to do waiting in a long line. People talked for the most part. People brought their own coolers but for the most part everyone was chilled out. You can watch dozens of YouTube videos of this place, but the thing I found amazing was that people would wait so long for food in America. I asked people why and all they could say is “it’s good.”


The place serves around 2k lbs of briscuit daily and once it runs out, it’s gone until the next day. I think the limited supply factor and promise from the founder of the company that he would never expand or franchise gives the place a certain mystic. This is the same concept behind Black Friday sales. 


We arrived and sat down and I realized another factor. There is only one line where people order their cuts one by one. This makes it incredibly slow compared to anything. Chipotle could probably process a line 10x as fast, however there wouldn’t be the certain marathon feel of crossing the finish line. I mean, people spend on the upwards of 5 hours for their food, so some one on one time with the man cutting your meat is the least they do.


We sat down maybe 15 mins early as a person in our group did a big order instead of 5 seperate orders. It kind of comes out to family style but since we all order by the pound, it results in the same, in 1/5th of the time. The downside was the bearded belly manager eyed us 6 times and then actually asked where in line our food orderers were. It was kind of annoying, considering it was 105 degree Texas heat and the fact they purposefully have few tables to sit at.


It was the moment of truth. We got a bunch of briscuit and some ribs and some sausage. It came with bread and onions and pickles and we ordered potatoe salad.

What did we think? We all agreed the briscuit was awesome. The sauces they had on the table were great as well. The ribs were terrific too. When they smoke the meat, they truly seem to rely on salt and pepper. They made the baby back ribs at Chiles seem like chewy dog food that was nuked and lathered with sauce. 

As for the sausage, we were split. Some said it was ok, while me and my wife said it was pretty greasy, so much so that it was the only thing we didn’t finish. 

The briscuit and ribs were an A. The sausage was like a B- at most.

The line sucked. I would only do it once with that long of a wait. 

Now the black eye…The bathroom at Franklin BBQ is absolutely disgusting. It’s also right across the hall from the kitchen. Maybe they want to keep it in the same spot to keep the magic going, but at least tear down and remodel parts of it.

Foodie Review: Torchy’s (Austin, TX)


On South Congress Street in Austin, Texas you can partake in a variety of culinary delights. My meetup group decided to choose Torchy’s, a burrito/taco fast casual joint with the architecture of a Whataburger. 


At the door you can purchase a variety of swag. I particularly liked this version, but only if the signature sauce met the hype of image of hell in my mind. I mean, come on, the entire brand evoked hotness of food … supposedly. 


I ordered a grande burrito and a fountain drink. I almost ordered a glass bottle Coke just to fit in the local crowd. Austin is kind of like the Portland of the Midwest. Overall my bill was something like $10.


This is it, the grande burrito itself. I asked for the hottest sauce which they put on the side. The burrito reminded me a little of Freebirds, but the hot sauce was better. It was hot, but didn’t quite live up the hype of hell inside a tortilla. It was kind of like a branding over promise and under deliver, but it was tasty.

The folks I was with got the tacos and they said they enjoyed it. I looked around the table at the rest of the group and everything was chowd down so it had to be to everyone’s liking.

Foodie Rating: 8/10 Tortillas

Foodie Review: Moe’s Southwest Grill


I used to think Moes was a Chipotle ripoff. I had been a Chipotle loyalist since 1999 having gone to college in Colorado Springs. 

The odd thing is I started eating Moes during grad school, as there was one on campus. I ate there a ton mostly due to proximity and convenience, but to be honest, the food was pretty good too. I always remembered it for providing chips and salsa with the entre. 

I went to a Moe’s recently and I have to say it’s still pretty good. Some stuff has changed; like a queso upcharge combo and a “Moe’s Monday.”


I usually order a Homewrecker burrito. The taste is different than Chipotle. Compared to he fajita burrito I would take Chipotle over Moe’s, mostly because the food seems slightly more fresh. 

The one advantage of Moes to me is the salsa bar. I can pretty much make my burrito as hot as I want by adding salsa myself. 

The downside to Moes is the weird trash cans they use, making some places smell a little. Chipotle has a large bin to dump trash and place baskets. Moes has a tiny slot similar to burger joints. This makes it messy for patrons who always seem to miss when dumping bowls. 

Instead of having a worker (who also handles food orders) constantly wipe trash can rims, why not just have it like chipotle and just have the trash emptied more often. No smell. No missed food dumps. And people eating don’t have to watch the trash can cleaner also be the person handling food. I know some bean counter at Moe’s corporate made the decision because less plastic baskets are dumped in the trashcan (15 cents a basket if in 1000 piece bulk), but the entire experience and brand is destroyed with the mess and employees having to constantly clean it up. This was a Moe’s in Texas on 27 June.

On another note, I recently had Moes in the Las Vegas Airport on a trip, and it was also an awkward experience and example of brand killing. The homewrecker was the most expensive of what I’ve ever paid for one (understand airports upcharge a ton like amusement parks) but it didn’t come with chips (no salsa bar). They made patrons pay for chips seperately. I asked and said chips came with it and the employee acted like I had no idea what I was saying, like it is preposterous that chips came with it. I said “I think it’s even on the website.” She said, “that’s only company stores.” Good job killing the brand. Then I ate at the few tables next to the food line, where another customer didn’t come for the next 20 minutes. A manager of some sort arrived and lectured the two women on food portions for 10 minutes. I mean, customers are all turning their heads and listening to the managers virtues of making the burritos as small as possible. Overfill on rice but go easy on the meat. Geeze. They should train without customers there, because we all probably felt ripped off in that moment. This occurred 22 June.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure 16)


So I heard about this place in Vegas to get a good cut. With poker players from around the world coming to Vegas, some for 6-8 weeks at a time, many of them need a cut or two while they are here.

I was told to check out “High Rollers” which offers a premium cut with a premium experience. They cut anything but do seem to specialize in the old school styles like the undercut. 


Walking in, the first thing you notice is the decor. Martin, the owner says they had bought the shop back in Feb 2012. 

Since then, some celebrities of sorts have been patrons of the shop.

Bryce Harper used to come here for a buzz. (A signed jersey and bat are hung on the wall)

One of the first things the winner of the first WSOP Colossus did was get a haircut here. 


These dudes at pretty cool and chill. They take their time and the conversations are interesting. A chiropractor came in and chatted about his band and the local bar scene. They give some serious attention to each patron. At one point, the man on the right started playing guitar as he waited for his next appointment. 

My haircut lasted 50 minutes, which is 40 minutes longer than my usual places in San Antonio.

It was well worth it.

It was an appointment day ($30 per cut) and I was a walk in which they usually only take on the back half of the week ($20 per cut). On their website they list all the packages.

If I lived in Vegas I would consider becoming a patron full time. If you are in town, and need a trim, consider stopping in.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 15)


It happens every night in Vegas in every casino. Most of the time it is at the bar. Other times, they are called to people’s rooms (lower end surprise pricing). For the wealthy, everything is prearranged. 

It is fairly easy to spot. 

If you see a dressed up woman at a bar alone, constantly checking her phone and the bartender isn’t really trying to press them to chat as if they have seen them 100 times before, they are likely a hooker. 

If you see some nice looking younger women dressed to the nines, talking to an older, slightly pudgy man in a suit from India, China, or remarkably distinct nationality, between midnight and 3am in Las Vegas, they are a hooker.

If you see a man in their 60s with a cute blonde in her 20s, holding hands in Vegas, come on, that isn’t her grand daddy.

In my 8 days here, I’ve only been approached once. Last year I was approached once, almost to the point getting intercepted after taking an alternate path to avoid them. 

Last night, I was playing poker at a certain place and we all watched the negotiation commence from afar. The girl in white was aggressive as a leopard. We don’t know the pricing she was quoting him but he was toiling with the idea. It isn’t too often this man from Indian descent was probably away from his wife long enough to get a quickie and blame it on gambling losses. 

He walked away.

Then the woman in white turned and said something again, presumably a counter offer.

He returned to negotiations. 

We don’t know what the exact terms were. We think they were working in pairs and offering a three some at a cost of at least a thousand each due to their looks. 

Mr.Indian businessman toiled with it for 10 minutes, then finally decided to walk away.

Then the poker room peanut gallery shouted and yelled that he should have taken the deal, shocking the man thinking he was incognito. 

He shook his finger at us, when really, he should take a long look in the mirror.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 14)


Vegas is a city where dreams go to die. 

In the old days, when the Mob ran the Vegas, there was a saying that if you went broke, the casino would ensure you would get home by buying you a bus ticket. 

When the corporations and suits took over Vegas, things changed. Nobody gives a shit about the homeless and those that lose everything, not even the city. 

This is sad. 

In a city that millions are wagered, and some high rollers bet as much as $100k on a hand, just outside, literally on the bridge between the opulent Palazzo and the Wynn, there was one homeless woman begging for money, and another who evidently had turned in for the night and decided to sleep on the there. 

Go down the escalator and enter the Wynn promenade and you can buy Rolex and Loius Vuitton and Chanel, and just outside people are destitute. 

Back when I used to live in Vegas, I saw all sorts of stuff. I lived behind the strip for 3 months as I was trying to close on my house. 

There is a huge homeless problem surrounding the strip with people suffering all kinds of addictions and bad turns in life. 

In fact, they estimate 2000 people actually live in the storm drain tunnels beneath Las Vegas. 

I know, because I have seen it. When people lost their homes in the housing collapse, some people even moved their entire furniture sets inside. They sleep at night and come out in the day and roam the strip. You’ll see them scavenging casinos looking for dropped money or tickets. They hand out those club tickets and ask for a donation. 

Some efforts are made by charities to get folks on their feet, but many don’t break the cycle. 

And sadly, many are vets. 

Here is one story I have, from my first week in Vegas in 2008. I was at chipotle next to Harrahs and a homeless man with torn up clothing, bloodshot eyes, was hogging the corner table just outside. He watched as a woman was done with her burrito bowl and she tossed it in the garbage. 

The homeless/drugged man then walked inside and reached in and grabbed the remainder of her bowl from the trash. He took it outside and mumbled to himself and ten started eating it with his fingers as tourists walked by. 

The next time you are in Vegas take a look, the homeless are not as invisible as you may think.

Travel Blog (Vegas Adventure Part 13)


I went to a Gelato Bar after my Korean meal, I figured what the hell, why not stop in.


It was a pretty average looking Gelato Bar. They said everything was made fresh each day, however, I highly doubt this fact as a reasonable business model. 

The prices were what you would get at cold stone or something. What I thought was interesting was the add ons, like boba and mango jellies on top. 

I paid $8.05 for my 2 scoops of strawberry and orange in a waffle cone. 


It was tasty, but to be honest, too much considering I just ate a full meal. I got down to the waffle cone part, but couldn’t finish it. 

The environment is decent and what you expect from a post-bar-hopping night. There was a fussball table and board games to play. As I was leaving, there was a group of 4 people dressed nicely. The two women in the group were excited and taste tested half the flavored. The two men paid. 

If that goes on all nights, that is a pretty good business at $8 a pop.