Last weekend, we celebrated Travis’ birthday! When deciding where to go, the birthday boy had two requirements: lots of meat and lots of friends. So with 14 of his nearest and dearest, we headed over to West Campus to Freedmen’s and feasted on some of the best BBQ we’ve ever had!
There are numerous unique things about Freedmen’s that set it apart, but lets start with the actual establishment. Freedmen’s is housed in the historic Franzetti building built in 1869 by George Franklin, a freed slave. The building quickly became the epicenter of Wheatville, also known as Austin’s “freed man” community. After housing various buisnesses and residents throughout the years, it’s now “a cocktail lounge, beer garden and smokehouse…named in honor of those that molded a tradition of community and commerce in this very spot so many years ago.” Super cool history!
Next, let’s talk about Freedmen’s drink list. When you walk in the front door, you enter the building’s cocktail lounge, that definitely has an old school, mixology centric vibe. It’s not often you can go to a BBQ joint and order a French 75 or Aviation drink, or even a decent glass of Cabernet for that matter. In fact, outside of Freedmen’s, while there’s plenty of beer flowing, I don’t know of any BBQ places that have craft cocktails, so this was a big plus for us and other non-beer drinkers in the crew.
Whisky lovers will love the huge selection, and if you do like beer, you’re also in luck, as there is robust and thoughtful list available to all, and you can enjoy a fun vibe among the picnic tables in the beer garden.
Our party was sat up the steep staircase on the second floor.
While there are several options to do your own thing individually, which is what a lot of the crew did, Joey, Steven, Travis and I ordered family style and shared the Brisket (mix of fatty and lean), Ribs, and a special of the night: Al Pastor Sausage.
Now, I’ve always liked BBQ, but admittedly, I’d never really got the fuss around some of the more famous places in and around Austin – to me, all the meats tasted good, but I honestly couldn’t tell you which was better and why. Until, that is, I tried Freedmen’s Brisket. Now I still don’t know how, but I do know that this meat is unique – it’s so juicy, and the salty seasoning on the outside really brings out an incredible flavor. I have never had better, not even at my Dad’s house (sorry Big R).
The Al Pastor sausage was CRAZY. We all loved it so much, and my only regret was that we didn’t order a larger portion. Hopefully they’ll have it again another time!
The table had various sides, Pit Chili (Frito Pie), Baked Beans and Horseradish Potato Salad. But since Trav and I limit carbs, we opted for a big pint of the Grilled Cabbage Slaw. Like the Brisket, this is the best slaw I’ve ever had. It’s vinegar based, versus mayo, so it’s lighter and more refreshing that traditional coleslaw, and the cilantro gives it a nice finish. TRY IT.
Now, y’all know I like my dessert, so I took it upon myself to order the Smoked Banana Pudding. It was pretty tasty.
So, if you’re looking for a delicious, Austin BBQ experience with a side of good cocktails, but would like to avoid a long line or a long drive, definitely check out Freedmen’s. You’ll love it!
Peep Travis’s post here, and check out this week’s podcast for more of our thoughts, plus a peek into our weekly lives!
See you next time!