Texas BBQ from NY

March 24, 2011

There are two ways to approach a meal at Hill Country Barbecue—you can get one meat, or you can get every meat. So when I stopped by the new, Gallery Place location of this Texas-style BBQ joint, I opted for the greasy, heart-clogging latter.

Since opening its first location in New York, the restaurant’s aim has been to recreate the down-home feel of an old-fashioned cookout. Hill Country cooks all of its meat sans-sauce, opting for dry rubs cooked over hickory. Traditional sides compliment the cuts, from corn bread to delicious green bean casserole.

For the ambivalent carnivore, the best bang for your buck is the Pitmaster. This $24 plate gets you lean brisket, pork spare rib, beef rib, chicken, and two sides. The spare rib is the standout—tender and smokey without being overpowering. The weakest is the beef rib, which is a bit tough and dry but nicely evened out by the BBQ sauce on the table. On the non-meat side of the dish, the macaroni and cheese is so cheesy and delicious that it rivals the meat for the most decadent item on the plate.

As for the décor—and this is from someone who’s never been closer to the Alamo than an episode of Friday Night Lights—it comes off a little Disneyland-Texas. It’s  too clean, and the neon beer lights are too bright. Still, the long communal tables and meat wrapped in butcher paper give Hill Country a casual, friendly vibe.

For the college crowd, Hill Country is a bit expensive. Aside from the combo platters, dishes are priced by the pound, and when you tack on sides, it’s not hard to go over 30 dollars for not that much food. The drink specials aren’t bad, with five dollar well drinks at twice-daily happy hours, but expect to pay two or three times that for a decent bourbon.

Still, if you’re a displaced Southerner hankering for home, or you’re just looking to expand your waistline while shortening your lifespan, you could do a whole lot worse than Hill Country Barbecue.

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