Thoughts, Info and Photos

Hill Country Barbecue & Market

30 West 26th Street

(between Broadway and 6th Avenue)

New York, NY 10010

(212) 255-4544

www.hillcountryny.com

 

category: New York BBQ, Manhattan BBQ

 

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(09/19/07)

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.

 

  • If you're going to be dining downstairs, don't try to get beverages upstairs. My beer bottle nearly slid off my plastic tray when I was descending the staircase. There's a bar downstairs and you can even get beverages delivered to your table.

 

  • Hill Country gets slammed for high prices, but at $9 per pound, their beef ribs are less than $4 per bone. I'll take that any day.

 

  • I'm not sure whether it's a blessing or downright unfair that the two best barbecue joints in the cityHill Country and RUBare less than five blocks from each other.

 

 

Some Changes Since My Last Visit

 

  • There's a cool new sign out front.

 

  • An outdoor patio offers additional seating, a spot for smokers and a nice glimpse of the Manhattan foot traffic.

 

  • The downstairs seating area now has a large screen projection TV for weekend football (college games on Saturdays, NFL on Sundays and Monday nights).

 

  • The "Pitmaster's Special" sign begind the holding pits announced smoked chicken wings for $6.50 per plate. This will be an ongoing thing for football snacks on weekends.

 

  • Cornbread was cut into squares, not wedges. Looks like they're using a pan, not a skillet. I hope this is temporary.

 

  • Desserts are now available at a separate dessert counter, making the sides line shorter and smoother.

 

  • 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

 

Home

 

my review of Hill Country

 

tips on how to order at Hill Country

 

The new sign over the entrance on West 26th.

 

 

A nice outdoor patio.

 

 

Big screen football.

 

 

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Beef rib, pork rib.

 

 

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Kreuz sausage, moist brisket (top), lean brisket (right).

 

 

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Beef rib and lean brisket at the bar. The flash from my camera made the brisket look whiter than it really was.

 

 

Big football star, little BBQ star.

 

 

Michael Strahan of the NY Giants signs one of the smokers.

 

 

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A tray of chickens heads to the holding pits.

 

 

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A look inside the holding pits.

 

 

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Checking the temps.

 

 

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Ribs.

 

 

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Ribs.

 

 

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And more ribs.

 

 

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