My Latest Visit to Hill Country
Last Sunday I made my third visit to Hill Country, the Manhattan BBQ joint that's justifiably receiving national attention. Actually, you could say I made my third and fourth visits to Hill Country, because I hit it in two waves.
Around 3:30 the food was very good by most joints' standards, but just a shade below Hill Country's high standard. At 7:00 it was back up to their usual excellence. Avoiding turnovers is a key to success in football, but creating high turnover is a key to success in barbecue. On my earlier visit, the beef rib and brisket flat were by no means dry, but didn't have the same burst of juices and punch of flavor that they usually have. A few hours later, their counterparts coming out of the pits were back to perfection. During the dinner rush, the high volume allowed the product to turn over more quickly, making it super fresh.
Some Random Thoughts
- I've said before that Hill Country's brisket flat is the standard by which all other brisket flats must be judged, and I'm not backing off that statement. With the by-the-pound ordering, there's no reason you can't have at least a couple of slices with every meal.
- I need another taste or two to be sure, but I also still prefer Hill Country's brisket flat (the part of the brisket they call "lean") to their deckle (what they call "moist"). The moist is like butter, but their lean is still plenty moist, and it carries a lot more of the flavorful rub on the edges than the moist.
Some Changes Since My Last Visit
There's a cool new sign out front.
In the meat kitchen, the three smokers now bear the signatures of VIPs who've eaten at Hill Country: Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Tim and Nina Zagat, Jeffrey Steingarten, Al Roker, other BBQ joint owners and competitors, etc. The night I was there, Michael Strahan of the New York Giants added his signature.
tomorrow: more photos
my review of Hill Country
tips on how to order at Hill Country