Austin barbecue icon Aaron Franklin famously said he would never open another Franklin Barbecue. But, he is opening another restaurant: Loro, Franklin’s highly anticipated collaboration with Uchi chef Tyson Cole, makes its Austin debut today.
Franklin and Cole, both previous winners of the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest, are combining forces for what they’re calling an “Asian smokehouse.” Franklin, naturally, is Loro’s pitmaster and will be responsible for all of the meat, including smoked brisket, smoked turkey, and char siu pork shoulder. Cole, meanwhile, will lend an Uchi perspective to the meat-focused menu, as evidenced by Asian-inspired dishes like rice bowls with Sichuan tofu and Malaysian chicken bo ssam.
The collaboration allows Franklin to “play with different types of meat and smoke” and gives Hai Hospitality, the restaurant group behind all four Uchi locations, plus Uchiba and Uchiko, the freedom to do a barbecue restaurant. “That whole world of being judged because we’re jumping into the barbecue category... I’m a lot less concerned, because Aaron’s our partner,” Cole told Eater earlier this year.
The space is meant to feel like a Texas dance hall, according to Eater Austin. Customers will order food and drinks at the bar, which takes up an entire wall of the spacious wood-accented dining room. Servers will bring the food out to tables, and a shaded patio and multi-level outdoor area offer even more seating. As with Franklin Barbecue, to-go orders, with a separate line and entrance, will eventually become a part of the operation.
“Loro’s goal is not to be a five-star restaurant,” Cole told to Eater Austin. “It’s not fine dining. What it is supposed to be is fun, familiar, delicious, craveable, somewhere you want to go once a week, but make it new, something sustainable.”
Longevity is another goal. “Restaurant success isn’t about being a flash in the pan, the best new place,” Cole said. “It’s about being open for 10 years.” If the pedigree of Loro’s two chefs is any indication, that goal is attainable: Uchi opened in Austin in 2003, and Franklin Barbecue is coming up on 10 years.
Loro will open for lunch and dinner starting today, but Eater Austin notes, Franklin’s famous smoked brisket, served here with nuoc mam, Thai gastrique, and chili oil, will only be available only at dinner.
Take a look inside Loro below:
• Loro [Official]
• Inside Loro, the Asian Smokehouse From Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole [EATX]
• Aaron Franklin and Tyson Cole’s Asian Smokehouse Sets Opening Date [EATX]
• Why Uchi Chef Tyson Cole Decided to Open an Asian Smokehouse [EATX]