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A Texan visits Hill Country BBQ

Ordered the moist brisket (as opposed to the lean), sausage and the creamed yams.

Both sets of meat were very good as were the yams. Except for all of the fat on the brisket.
<img src="http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1355/5...">

Given that they charge you for the meat by the pound, I returned the fat to the counter, and had it cut from my bill. I understand that you're going to get more fat on the moist cut, but this was ridiculous. Make sure to check your meat before you walk away from the counter, and only pay what's edible.

They also offer crackers or white bread. Never been offered crackers before, but the white bread is pretty standard. There white bread was stale, so why offer it? Its those details that show this is not a Texan run operation. The meat is about as good as it gets in the city (much better than Blue Smoke - won't go back there, now that Hill Country is open in the same hood) and need another trip back to Dinosaur to compare - its been over a year. I am also a big Fette Sau (in Brooklyn) fan.

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  1. crackers are served at Kreutz Market. I was hoping that Hill Country BBQ would also not offer forks or sauce (another kreutz tradition)

    1. I made my first visit to Hill Country two nights ago as well. Other than a few minor quibbles (more on those below), overall, I'd have to say we're lucky to have this place in the heart of Manhattan. I'm a retired 5-star chef who knows from good 'Cue, and the quality of the Hill Country 'Cue is stellar & authentic, but caveat emptor...be prepared for some NYC-sized sticker-shock!

      I walked in the door close to 5:00 in the evening, took my meal ticket and ambled over to the meat counter...the array of pits is pretty impressive, particularly considering this is in Manhattan and no open fire pits are permitted on the floor.

      There seemed to be a scramble by the crew to get things set up for service...the guy ready to take my order apologized several times, said it would "be a few minutes." I had checked on the web before I left home to make sure they were open, being that it was Monday and all, and the posted hours are 11 a.m. to later at night, 7 days a week, so I figured I'd be fine. However, in only their second week of operation, they're only open for dinner, hence the scramble at five to get ready to serve.

      I ordered the Moist Brisket...they sell by weight, and I figured a quarter to half a pound would do it, asked them to let me see 1/4 of a pound to make sure. The server said this is about 2 slices, which I knew wouldn't do, so I asked for a half pound and moved to the next counter (which handles all the sides) to fetch some Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

      The Mac & Cheese was also excellent, but a four-ounce portion was pretty skimpy for $4.50. Also picked up a Mexican Coke, which tastes great, but it's a 10 oz. glass botlle for 3 bucks, much less of a serving than what I could have bought at a bodega on my way in for a buck-fifty and smuggled in via my backpack.

      They served up my brisket on a couple of pieces of brown butcher paper, with 2 or 3 slices of plain white bread and a few saltine crackers, which is fine and customary down South in many 'Cue places. However, as was posted above, the white bread was indeed stale. And I'm not talking a-bit-dried-out-stale, but so stale that when I tried to fold a small piece of it around a hunk of the melt-in-your-mouth-tasting moist brisket, it just crumbled to pieces in my fingers.

      NOTE TO EXECUTIVE CHEF: I know it's opening week in New York City, and you probably ordered more sliced white bread than you thought you needed, but a little quality control before each shift would prevent you from serving pieces of wood with your awesome BBQ! And if you do indeed find it that stale, please, pull it off the counters and use it for a batch of bread pudding to recoup some cost & waste, and replace it with FRESH stuff. New Yorkers do indeed notice these things, and not just those of us in the bidness, bruh...

      The music was also more than a bit loud for my taste...pretty raucous country music, which is fine, but when your dining room is mostly brick and wood, it's pretty damned loud. I actually did remark on this to one of the hostesses, and it got turned down before I got to my table.

      That all said, the brisket is one damned good piece of 'Cue, and at Texas 'Cue, not that easy to find up North, nor in NYC. Absolutely no complaints with the meat...perfectly cooked and seasoned, in no need of sauce whatsoever, as is the Texas style, and tender as could be. Used my fingers the whole way, since the bread was inedible, and was very satisfied. Didn't need a single shake of salt and pepper on it, and the sauce (which to me tasted too strongly of both Worcestershire and vinegar--not anything remotely like a vinegar-based North Carolina sauce) really detracted from the meat. Stay away from it.

      I did get into a conversation with one of the managers, who came by the table, nice as pie, and later with Big Lou, right-hand to the pit master (both of whom are from New York, curiously), and Big Lou generously gave me a sample of the Kreutz' Jalapeno & Cheese Hot Links, which are out of this world. Muchas gracias, amigo.

      As I said, be prepared for some sticker shock--I wound up eating .70 of Moist Brisket, almost 3/4 of a pound, for 12.25, and in retrospect, I could easily have polished off a pound and a half myself, or added some ribs and some hot links to my order, and at 17.50 a pound for the brisket, that's not a cheap meal. Add in the smallish-but-excellent Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese at 4.50 for 4 oz., and 10 oz. of "imported" Mexican Coke for 3 clams, and I totaled out at 21.40 plus tax, and left a $5 tip (which, as also indicated by a previous poster, is basically for minimal table service and cheerful hospitality--a hostess and a busboy both greeted me, and the latter offered me water and cleared my tray when I was finished), and it was $26.40 for a quick taste at the new joint.

      Now, call me a damned dumb-ass Yankee if you want to (and I'm NOT, having lived and cooked in the Deep South for 16 years), but I know one thing, and that's that the oil-field workers and blue-collar guys who roll into Kreutz and Smitty's and Black's and places around Larchmont after work every day ain't payin' almost 30 clams for their 'Cue fix (well, at least not until you add a few cold ones to the bill).

      Yeah, I realize Hill Country is paying some hefty rent for a Manhattan commerical space, so I'm not sayin', but I'm just sayiin'...and really, the only reason the sticker shock bothers me is that I love to eat, and I love great 'Cue, and to be totally honest, if the prices were more realistic ($17.50 a lb.???), I'd be more apt to spend more, meaning I'd probably get a tray full of brisket, a few ribs, a couple hot links, and some BBQ Beans with Burnt Ends, some Sweet Potatoes and some Collards to go with that great Mac & Cheese. I'm just sayin'...the quality of the Hill Country meat would be building sales if the price was such that folks could put more in their mouths, you feel me?

      Still, other than the sticker shock, my quibbles are very minor and nothing out of the ordinary for a brand-new place in it's first week of serving the public. All things considered, THE 'CUE IS THE THING, and on that count, Hill Country is a smashing success. All else can be worked out in time...

      Enjoy!

      30 Replies
      1. re: funkjester

        Too much fat on the moist meat (it would be trimmed for me at a real place), expensive, and stale bread were my 3 complaints. BUT this NYC, so I understand premium pricing, and not caring about something cheap and free like bread (then why have it?)
        The burn on the meat was so great. Will probably go back for a group outing with some fellow Texans, but not make it a regular stop.

        1. re: funkjester

          What do you usually pay at other 'cue joints around the city?

          If my memory serves correctly, I'll go to Blue Smoke and spend about $35-40 a head (with some leftovers) for shared sides, some appetizers, BBQ, and dessert.

          Of course, Hill Country may not be paying the same in rent, staff, etc. and has a totally different vibe with the butcher paper and all, but $26-27 total sounds like a good deal to me.

          1. re: kathryn

            I've stopped going to BlueSmoke, last few times, the food was disappointing. I like Fette Sau in Brooklyn - 2 people can eat for $30 and I like Dinosaur - forgotten how much that is.

            1. re: josefr

              blue smoke and fette sau were both about $30/per person for us recently, and the smoke joint was about $22/pp with less alcohol and fewer sides. i certainly never thought it would shake down like that, with blue smoke winning the good value award out of the 3.

            2. re: kathryn

              Well, Blue Smoke is yet another overblown NYC interpretation of what's the "real thing" as far as 'Cue goes, so they're not an adequate representation of authentic 'Cue prices.

              I'm not saying that Hill Country should be charging the same in the middle of Manhattan as a local Mom n Pop BBQ shack in Texas, Carolina, or Memphis, and that folks up here should expect to stroll in and plunk down a 10 spot for a huge platter (and I can remember a place in North Carolina where I easily got a pound of pulled pork, cole slaw, & potato salad for about 7 clams, bun .50 extra), but slapping down almost 30 bucks for a few slices of meat or 3 or 4 ribs and a two or three bites of ONE side dish, and an undersized Coke to wash it down is more than a little like price-gouging, Manhattan real-estate rentals be damned.

              I would think most average 'Cue folks from Texas or down South would be outraged to pay that kind of cheddar for 'Cue in New York. But that's just me.

              1. re: funkjester

                True but some of us New Yorkers who don't get out to those places really desperate for good 'cue. I mean, look at the lines and prices at Big Apple BBQ!

                I guess Hill Country is charging what they think the market will bear and Blue Smoke is the closest BBQ restaurant (geographically, at least).

                (And flights to central TX are kind of expensive lately, yeah?)

                1. re: kathryn

                  Last I checked, rent for commercial spaces in this neighborhood started at $50 per square foot and went up as high as $150. Bet you don't get prices like that in most other cities.

                  1. re: kathryn

                    It's great to have food I love and grew up with sprouting up in NYC. Anything is better than Dallas BBQ (gross!).
                    I'll be eating Saltlick on July 4th on my trip back home. $14 family style all you can eat meat. Now that's a deal.

                    1. re: josefr

                      Careful on your Salt Lick hopes. My family, which has eaten there for over 15 years, has had two recent bad experiences in the quality of food. I would hate for you to get your craving only to be disappointed. Maybe you could get to Lockhart? If not, I hope you have better luck than we did.

                      1. re: Honey Bee

                        Yeah, Salt Lick is for tourists. The property is great, it's scenic, and the sides and cobbler are top notch but the meat is average at best on a good day. I live 2 miles from the place and I'll drive 25 miles the opposite direction to Lockhart to get good BBQ.

              2. re: funkjester

                Just NYC prices, that's all - compare the $17.50/lb brisket to the price of a pound of pastrami at Katz's.

                1. re: Striver

                  thanks for the very detailed and informative review!

                  1. re: Striver

                    Except the pastrami at Katz's blows the doors off the brisket at any of the new bbq joints. I ate at RUB the other night and won't ever go back, same with Dinosaur... if I want to over pay for mediocre food my choices are pretty wide in this city. I have not tried Hill Country, probably eventaually will, but I'm giving this new Manhattan food fad a wide berth. Besides, nobody - and I mean nobody - cooks baby back ribs better than I can.

                  2. re: funkjester

                    Well, Kreuz Market is in Lockhart (although I'm sure folks in Larchmont and elsewhere in Westchester would love their own similar barbecue place). I don't remember exactly what the prices per pound were last time I ate at Kreuz, but they weren't that much lower than the prices here (I know their prime rib was about $20/lb). The big difference is they don't serve sides, which are very expensive at Hill Country ($8.50 for a medium-sized container of macaroni and cheese), and a beer at Kreuz doesn't cost $6.

                    But why on earth complain that their sauce is "not anything remotely like a vinegar-based North Carolina sauce"? It's not trying to be a Carolina-style place, they don't serve Carolina-style barbecue, so why would they have a North Carolina-style sauce? The Worcestershire and vinegar blend is pretty common in barbecue places in Central Texas that have their own sauce (although I much prefer the Salt Lick's thinner, tarter sauce).. But they do have bottles of Texas Pete hot sauce on every table, just like Kreuz, which is the perfect sauce for that kind of meat. (And the lack of just plain hot sauce is my biggest complaint about Fette Sau, whose house sauces are dreadful--one sweet and ketchupy, the other burnt and bitter).

                    Here's a question: if people think that there is too much fat in the moist brisket, why not just order the lean brisket?

                    Has anyone tried the pork chops there? The ones at Kreuz are fantastic, but I didn't have room to try them tonight.

                    1. re: BackyardChef

                      I went to Hill Country BBQ on Wed. evening and I was really surprised at how good it was. I had read all the positive reviews here, but I was still skeptical. Everyohe in our group LOVED it. The food is fantastic. They were out of the moist brisket and the beef ribs, but the pork spare ribs, lean brisket, prime rib and the jalapeno cheese sausage were all amazing. The sides were great, too. Corn Pudding, Mac and Cheese, Sweet Potatoes, Corn Bread..yum! For dessert, I had the banana pudding (delicious) and my mom had the pecan tart (also, yummy). I highly recommend this place. The staff was super friendly and helpful. The service was great. We sat downstairs and ate at a long table while we listened to the live band. Really a fun evening. Definitely go try this out. I wish we had one in L.A. We have some good BBQ, but this is really the best I have ever had.

                      1. re: pje

                        Isn't the lean trimmed sometime during the smoke? Making for drier meat? I want the fat there until its fully smoked, but not when its dropped on my plate. Make sense?

                        1. re: josefr

                          It's a matter of what part of the brisket the meat comes from, not how they are trimmed. The lean meat comes from the Flat and the moist meat comes from the Deckle.

                        2. re: pje

                          well, I certainly wasn't "complaining" that Hill Country's sauce is not a Carolina-style 'Cue sauce, as it's a Texas 'Cue place, which normally doesn't require a sauce, if made right. Was just pointing out that a) don't expect that type of sauce to be there, since most folks up here equate Carolina 'Cue as their main point of reference, and b) if you really indeed feel you "need" sauce, theirs ain't too good. As a chef myself, it tasted way out of balance, and IMO, is best avoided.

                          1. re: pje

                            Brisket at Kreuz Market is $9.90/lb. Plus, you're in the Hill Country.

                            Barbeque made in New York?

                            Get a rope.

                            1. re: pje

                              Ah...Had the pork chop and 2 slices of lean brisket at Kreuz about a week ago. Cost about $10 as I recall. Best pork chop ever. The little ribbon of fat atop the brisket dissolved the moment it touched my tongue and sent waves of sweet smoke upon my palate. If I lived in NYC and could patronize a place that was similar to Kreuz, I'd pay just about any price for the experience. It's probably not someplace you'd dine at everyday. Besides, the quality and labor involved in making good Q is worth the price of admission.

                            2. re: funkjester

                              I made it there last night, and I'm with you on both counts. I was knocked out by how good it was, and a little bowled over by the price as well. First things first: I had brisket, beef ribs and pork ribs, and all were so good I was amazed I was eating them in NYC. I've eaten at every barbecue place in the city, and would say this is flat out the best. (Of course I'm partial to Texas hill country style, and Kreuz in particular.)

                              But yes, it cost a lot. I had a decent amount, but nothing off the wall, and with one side and two Budweisers paid almost $40 (which doesn't include a tip, given the self-service setup). Comparing it to what you'd pay in rural Texas is kind of pointless, but even by NYC standards, that's pretty high. And $4.50 for, say, a small order of coleslaw is a bit much. It was good enough that without question I'm going back, but I wish it was a little more gentle on the wallet.

                              1. re: Chris E

                                josefr, have you tried the memphis ribs at daisy may? curious to know what you think about those ribs along with any of their other menu items.

                                1. re: nativeNYer

                                  It's been a year since I've been to daisy may's, and while I remember enjoying the 3 times I've been - yes the pork ribs are great - its been a year.

                                  Headed to Salt Lick next week. Like any regional food, funny that the reference point for Texas BBQ is Kreuz Market. As a child growing up in Texas, BBQ meant red-lined brisket on a bun with pickles (and gasp) tomato based (tangy) sauce from Demeris in Houston.

                                  Great to see a BBQ scene in NYC, for when I need my fix, but like all NYC regional food interpretations, you'll have those that will say 'this is the best interpretation' or those who say 'its not the real thing.' As long as your belly is stuffed, and you didn't get ripped off, I don't care to split hairs.

                                  1. re: josefr

                                    That's "central Texas BBQ" right, to associate it with the great joints in Lockhart, yes? I'm not sure what would be considered "Texas but not Central TX" BBQ...

                                    1. re: josefr

                                      "Headed to Salt Lick next week. Like any regional food, funny that the reference point for Texas BBQ is Kreuz Market."

                                      don't take it to heart that we all agree KREUZ is the central tx reference -- mine is CITY MARKET nearby in luling, not the lockhart joints. i like my 'cue at 8am too - lol!

                                      1. re: josefr

                                        i appreciate the feedback from a true texan, and you've made several good points. i've only been to dallas twice and can't say i knew much about good food back then. i did have ribs when i visited but i was too young to remember.

                                        imo, daisy may's memphis ribs (dabbled in their bbq sauce) blow away the ribs at dinosaur, rub and blue smoke. i CRAVE them. but this is definitely not the consensus on this site from those who know ribs.

                                        i will try hill country soon. i hope they can resolve the bread issue. thanks again.

                                  2. re: funkjester

                                    $30 for a meal you really enjoyed is pretty good for Manhattan

                                      1. re: loratliff

                                        it took me 6 years to get to your post.
                                        There should be a law against ancient threads.

                                        1. re: foodwhisperer

                                          Actually, fw, it took you less than 8 hours to get to laura's post, but no matter. as with imdb, there is no statute of limitations here -and, better yet, no spoilers!
                                          (me, i'm just looking for a new place to go tonight.)

                                  3. I went for the first time last night and was highly impressed. The BBQ is head and shoulders above anything we've ever had in NYC, the space and atmosphere are just right, it was extremely convenient (we had no wait for anything), and (gasp) the prices are good.

                                    The beef shoulder was very good, intense beefy flavor, moist, and the right amount of smoke. The moist brisket (I love how the opposite of lean is "moist") was an absolute knockout. I've never been to the real Hill Country in Texas, but this was the best brisket I've every had, way beyond what I've tried from Salt Lick and Southside Market at the BABBP. Wow was it good. The girlfriend had the chicken which was fantastic as well, I don't think it's too be overlooked. The pork ribs were the weakest bbq offering we tried (to be expected at a Texas Q joint) but they are still the best ribs I've had in the city. I've had much better outside NYC, but these were still moist and smokey. They lacked in tenderness and they were a little salty for my taste. Can't wait to get into the beef ribs and sausage on the next trip.

                                    I was not thrilled with the sides we had. The campfire beans were a bust by my account. Too thick and too smokey. The potato salad was decent but not great. The potatoes were slightly too firm (better than too mushy), the dressing needed a little more tang, and I don't care for much onion or other textural components in my potato salad. Still, good potato salad is very hard to find and this was better than most. I would order it again. Oh, our bread was stale too :-(

                                    Here's where I really disagree with the sentiment on this board: I don't think Hill Country is a bad value at all. That is, by NYC standards. There's no point in comparing prices with a BBQ joint in the South). The sides can be slightly pricey, but I think it depends on what you're talking about. I don't perceive $4.50 to be a bad price for the small container of beans with burnt ends or mac 'n cheese. But for the same size container of cole slaw, the price ($3.95) is not right. The meat, however, is quite a fair deal. The critical factor is that you can order precisely the amount you want. There is no paying $15.00 for a plate of food that is 30% more than you need. No combo plates that are not in the proportions you would choose. If you want exactly four slices of brisket, that is what you get. Want only one sausage, that's all you have to buy. Not only do you not have to pay for what you can't eat, but there is added value in getting to sample any and all of the choices in precisely the proportions you want, and added value in being able to place a conservative initial order with nothing standing in your way of tacking on a second or third round. I can see that if you have a huge appetite these sorts of value propositions diminish in their worth, but, for the majority of diners, it makes a major difference. And, I think most would agree that table service at this sort of place is not only unnecessary, but obstructive. I'm happier to help myself and further pleased to save the extra 20%.

                                    I am so thrilled that Hill Country has arrived. Finally, BBQ that I am truly excited about that I can get without the hassle of long waits or a long trip and that is reasonably priced. I will visit often.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: zEli173

                                      Prices are a matter of perspective. If you are used to getting this food much cheaper in texas, it will be expensive to you. If you are used to eating at Jean Georges, then it will seem cheap.

                                      I, for one, welcome our new BBQ overlords :).

                                      1. re: tpigeon

                                        That's such a crock- I lived in Austin for 7 years and have paid good money for barbecue at Cooper's, Kreuz', Ironworks, Meuller's, Blacks, Luling City Market.

                                        Meat is expensive. Deal with it. The fatty pastrami at Essex on Coney in Brooklyn is 27 dollars a pound. Not even in midtown. Ribs cost a restaurant at least 8 bucks a rack. All you people who think that they can get a plate of southern Barbecue for dirt cheap are probably eating dirt. Call me from Dreamland if you're paying less than 22-25 a rack.

                                        I'm not talking about places like Interstate in Memphis where the food is disgusting (barbecue spaghetti?). Or places that chop a whole pig into smitherines. I'm talking about smoked pieces of meat served on a piece of butcher paper.

                                        1. re: rootytootyfreshnfrooty

                                          ok you guys convinced me, i am a big texas 'cue fan and stayed away, but now i'm at least tepidly looking forward to HC.

                                          btw beef ribs are $17.90/lb at KREUZ and $8.50/per 1/2 slab at IRONWORKS.

                                        2. re: tpigeon

                                          Please. I'm used to living in New York City where a good deal on a studio apartment is $2000/month, a burger with fries costs $10 and a Budweiser costs $5. It is expensive to live here and it is expensive to do business here. It has nothing to do with eating four star food and everything to do with how inappropriate it is to compare the price of a restaurant in NYC to one in Lockhart, TX

                                          If someone is fortunate enough to be in Texas BBQ country on a regular basis then more power to him for eating great BBQ, for little money, whenever he pleases. But for 99% of us, it is not an option to drop into Kreuz's next week for BBQ at half the price. Funny how I never hear anyone complain about how much more expensive the Thai food in NYC is than the Thai food in Bangkok.

                                          1. re: zEli173

                                            well, I don't think it's "inappropriate" to compare prices in Lockhart to New York. You can see for yourself that at $9.90/lb. vs. $17.50/lb., the same food is almost twice the price, and the cost of doing business, especially for this type of operation, is doubtless less than that much by comparison.

                                            You're also missing the point. Yes, the market will bear the price, or not. But what really will spell long-term success for Hill Country is if the same market will support those prices through return and repeat business. Yeah, for most New Yorkers, a meal ticket close to 30 bucks isn't too much money, but how many patrons will go back a second and third time (or become die-hard regulars, as folks are in Lockhart) when they pause to examine how much value they are getting for the money?

                                            It's like this: you'll go once for the novelty, and yes, you'll be impressed by the quality of the food. It's pretty awesome. But will you keep going back and plunking down the same 30 or 40 bucks for what is a meager portion of food, or will you go elsewhere for better value at the same price?

                                            No, I certainly don't expect to pay $9.90/lb. in mid-Manhattan for 'Cue, but I'd like to be able to walk in to Hill Country 3 or 4 times a month, eat a pound or two of meat, a couple of sides (and 4 oz. of Mac & Cheese and/or Yams and/or BBQ beans ain't worth it...just enough of a taste to tease me, but not enough to satisfy me) and a $3 Coke or two or two or three beers, and not have to spend 60 bucks at a place with not much else in terms of amenities.

                                            That said, I'll still continue to go, and encourage others to go based on the QUALITY of the Hill Country 'Cue. That's without question.

                                            I'll say it right now: if Hill Country goes down after a year or so, it will be because the market WON'T support their prices in a way that will build sales and generate repeat business and a loyal following such as places in Lockhart have. Regular folks who eat at those places all the time support those types of restaurants, and in NYC, when you've lost the novelty and the "wow" factor, you're just another pricey place in a city full of pricey restaurants. Just because there is a much higher demographic in New York, does NOT automatically equate rabid support of an upscaled product. Such an assumption has killed many a restaurant's business model in this city. Quality, value and service all need to be in balance, and if you can't keep them coming in after you've lured them with a great first taste and/or experience, you're dead in the water, and that would be a shame, considering how good the damned 'Cue is at Hill Country.

                                            You heard it here first...

                                            1. re: funkjester

                                              I"d be willing to bet a dinner at Hill Country that Hill Country will be open 1 year from your posting. If I'm wrong I'll treat you to a barbecue dinner at another of Manhattan's barbecue restaurant.

                                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                                well, I really don't want to make that bet, because I don't want to see Hill Country go down. But I'm just sayin', if they do, don't be suprised if it happens b/c of the reasons I've outlined.

                                                Besides, there is no other 'Cue restaurant in Manhattan worth collecting a bet at...lol.

                                                Let's just hope that they stick around for a long time, and maybe adjust the prices accordingly as they start to generate sufficient volume. That would make everyone's stomachs very happy.

                                                1. re: funkjester

                                                  I'm just so happy that this city finally has real barbecue. I remember when Pearson's was the only game in town, actually there may have been a shack somewhere else in Queens that was only accessible by car, but I digress.

                                                  The prices are high but not outrageous. In a city where personal pizzas can be priced at nearly $15 and cocktails are reaching $20 at some bars, I think Hill Country will be here for quite a while.

                                              2. re: funkjester

                                                "if Hill Country goes down after a year or so, it will be because the market WON'T support their prices in a way that will build sales and generate repeat business and a loyal following such as places in Lockhart have"

                                                So far, all the newcomers to manhattan BBQ have demonstrated staying power with comparable prices, and in a few cases somewhat bad location (Dino & Daisy), so I'm not sure your theory holds much water. Hill Country's imediate buzz regarding food quality will sustain them for at least a year then we will see what happens. I just don't see how a place serving this quality of food at a reasonable price (for manhattan and it's surrounding neighborhood) will not survive, especially concidering the current state of BBQ enthusiasm around here.

                                        3. The sides are not only a waste of money but a waste of belly space. Barbecue joints are about the meat, and on that count Hill Country delivers. They need to work on the bread issues (kind of hard to make a sausage wrap with crumbly, dry bread) and their prices on cheese, pickles, peppers and onions are a bit high (considering those are usually free) but I find the meat prices reasonable for New York City. It's a lot cheaper than a ticket to Austin and for the same amount I'd pay for a platter at RUB or Blue Smoke, I got exactly what I wanted (lots of meat) without having to suffer through two mediocre side dishes. Also, it's the only place in town that has Big Red and Blue Bell, and for a Texan that's a very special thing. Now if they could just get Shiner Bock...

                                          1. If I were to get 2-4 sides, which would be recommended???? Oh, and no beans (allergy). Although I might go soon, I am thinking about waiting for them to open for lunch and somehow hoping that they will be cheaper for lunch than dinner but that is doubtful.

                                            1. Went for the second time last. Had three slices of moist brisket (a little more than half a pound) and one regular sausage. So freaking good. I am euphoric about Hill Country.

                                              One of my brisket slices was right off the end so it was all bark. I wouldn't want that for every slice, but for just one it was awesome. That was the first time I've had a Kruez sausage and it lived up to the hype. Way better than Salt Lick or Southside.

                                              Skipped on the sides this time but I did get a taste of the mac and cheese which I licked a lot. I wouldn't hesitate to order it in the future.

                                              There hasn't been enough mention of how good the staff is. They are all really nice to the customers.

                                              Bread was not stale this time.

                                              Can't wait to go back. Still haven't tried the beef ribs.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: zEli173

                                                Went there last night. The pork ribs, even though they were well cooked, were mediocre in flavor. My side was just okay (the sweet potatoes). I did get the cheese and jalapeno sausage and thought it was very good, I would go back for one of those. But is it me or is the whole place too much of a gimmick? I felt like I was in Epcot or something. Plus, I feel that it's a little overpriced.

                                                1. re: clashfan

                                                  Beef is the main attraction. I don't suggest forming an opinion based primarily on the pork ribs.

                                              2. Went last night and in my Texan opinion would state that the beef here is a winner. Had 2 slices of the moist brisket, Half inch cut of the prime rib and one regular sausage. Brisket was great and I welcome the fat heh just ate it with a lil texas pete. I got the last pieces of the moist and friends had to get the lean they said theres was a bit dry. Prime rib was out of this world juicy, tender, cooked perfectly and would come back just for that steak. No sauce needed and enjoyed the complete beef smokiness. The regular sausage i didnt care for much reminded me of a slim jim. But i tried a friends jalepeno and cheese sausage and that was way better. My friend also got pork ribs he said it was nothing to special as everyone on the board here agrees.

                                                As for sides the beans were not good but, that seems to be the case everywhere in NYC. I'll stick to my can of Ranch style beans. Green bean caserole was a dissapointment the mushroom gravy was good but the green beans were cripsy and undercooked. This is one dish where i acually want a mushy out of the can green bean.
                                                Also, the bread was not stale maybe they fixed that problem now.

                                                No room left for dessert, man i wish i had room left for some blue bell.

                                                On the shiner bock note i was chatting with the friendly bartenders. It doesn look like they will be able to get it. There are no distributors north of delaware and they cannot transport over state lines themselves.

                                                Ill be going back again after i eat my leftovers that is.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: mingt

                                                  <<the beans were not good but, that seems to be the case everywhere in NYC>>

                                                  what? Daisy Mae's and RUB both have excellent beans! You are misinformed.

                                                  1. re: rootytootyfreshnfrooty

                                                    Went tonight, a little after 7:00 PM. Most of the tables upstairs were full or reserved. Plenty of roon downstairs.

                                                    Had the following, brief comments to follow:

                                                    Sides:
                                                    Cole slaw - really good;
                                                    Sweet potatoes - just ok; a bit mealy;
                                                    Mac and cheese - very congealed; had been sitting around for too long;
                                                    Potato salad - eh;
                                                    Skillet bread - tasty but oily.

                                                    Meats:
                                                    Pork chop - great; very moist and juicy;
                                                    Brisket - good meaty flavor but fatty;
                                                    Ribs - good; sweet and meaty;
                                                    Prime Rib - disappointing; half fat and very expensive. The slice I got was over $20 and literally half the weight was fat. I probably should have said something...

                                                    BTW - The white bread was fresh and tasty!

                                                    1. re: BackyardChef

                                                      I went Saturday night for my first visit. I have been to Kreutz' twice, inlcuding a visit two weeks ago. I figured if this place was half as good, I would be quite happy. Got there at 9, and they ran out of the moist brisket and beef ribs right before it was my turn to order. I had them cut some lean brisket from the end, and it was delicious. By far the best brisket in the city. I can't wait to try the moist. The pork ribs were very good and tasted very close to Kreutz'. Had a slice of pork shoulder that was good, but this has never been my favorite cut. Had one link of each Kreutz sausage, which is as good as it gets. Everybody really liked their sides, beer braised beans, mac and cheese, and green bean casserole. Sat downstairs and heard about an hour of the band that played. A lot fo fun. Great space and good people working there. I was pleasantly suprised the meat was as good as it was this early after the opening. I can't wait to go back for the beef ribs and moist brisket.

                                                2. Went last night, moist brisket and jalepeno sausage were winners. chicken was very good (perfectly moist) and i like the green bean casarole.

                                                  pork ribs were ok, nice and meaty but overall not something I would go back for given the other options available in manhattan.

                                                  Service was pretty bad... drinks ordered before we went to the food lines arived toward the end of the meal, several people were left with no drinks at all while we ate since the water never came. And a busboy tried to clear someones half empty plate before they had even recieved their drink (and were clearly not done with the food anyway)!

                                                  No doubt I will be back for the food, but am not sure I will bother eating it there. The food, ordering system and (terrible?) service seem cutom made for take out.

                                                  ... oh, and the bread was fine :-)

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Abe Froman

                                                    I actually did takeout here on the 4th of July, and you are definitely right. I split up from my friends to get the sides first, while they waited in the meats line. The counter staff were very helpful in packing up a whole rack of ribs for us, as well as 2 lbs. of fatty, fatty brisket, enough to feed 7 hungry people. Unfortunately, they were out of the beef ribs (this was 8:30 or so), so we got 3 regular sausages and 3 spicy jalapeno to go. We weren't going to get many of the jalapeno until someone started walking around offering samples!

                                                    In fact, the bag of ribs BROKE due to the steam and hot juices, and they rescued the ribs, and double bagged it for us. So beware the grease if you get BBQ to go from here. I felt odd as i wanted to tip the counter guys but there was no obvious way to do it. Paying up front was very easy, though, once you got used to the ticket system -- and the stains on the meal ticket from the meat counter.

                                                    1. re: kathryn

                                                      "I felt odd as i wanted to tip the counter guys but there was no obvious way to do it."

                                                      we had the same thought and asked the hostess who told us to leave it in the tip jars at the register... sort of feel like asking the guys if they do in fact get that money next time i go. Easily the best part of the service experience was at the meat counter, guys were extremely chill and accomidating.

                                                  2. Finally went tonight. Apparently Sunday nights are the time to go. We got there around 9 and there were only 2 people in front of us for the meat. We had:

                                                    1 lb. beef ribs (moist, great smokey taste)
                                                    1/2 lb. moist brisket (great)
                                                    corn pudding (loved it, but I love all things corn)
                                                    mac & cheese (good)
                                                    pbj cupcake (great frosting, dry cake)

                                                    W/2 beers, cost came to $50.14, and we were stuffed by the time we finished. I had a great time.

                                                    1. Just got home from my first trip to Hill Country. Liked: The brisket. Didn't like: The ineffective line up system (put your name on a list, wait 30 minutes for a ticket, then stand in line for 30 minutes waiting to order your food, get jostled by all the people trying to get past you and down the stairs). Also wasn't crazy about the "flavored" stuff. They do a good job with the simple preparations, like meat smoked with just salt and pepper. They falter with overflavoring their sides and sauce.

                                                      Anyway, about our food. The brisket was good, although a bit salty. I'm from the real Hill Country and think this is the closest to home that I've tasted in NYC. The beef ribs were just ok, but not something I would order again. The sauce was wayyy too vinegary (especially for a central Texas style sauce) and the baked beans had an overpowering molasses and vinegar taste.

                                                      The Kreuz's sausages were sort of mealy, and I've had those in the past and thought they were good, so maybe it was just this time. My friend loved his chicken, especially the price! He ordered a leg and thigh and it cost $1.80! Compare that to $9 for two very heavy ribs (I guess that's because you're paying for all that bone).

                                                      Sides: The white bread, which should be marshmallowy soft, was stale. The deviled eggs had good flavor but were way too cold, which left the egg white and yolk filling sort of rubbery and too set up. The cucumber salad was refreshing and bright. The pickles were 50 cents, what's up with that?? I've never paid for pickles at a bbq place... seems so wrong. The corn side was yummy, sort of like a cheesy, crispy corn pudding/casserole. The cornbread was pillowy and sweet and came with an odd (but in a good way) sweet ancho butter.

                                                      Margaritas are either $5 (served in small cocktail glasses) or $8 (served in mason jars, the de rigeur big city way of saying "look how humble we are! yeee haw!")

                                                      Overall, I add this place to my growing list of NYC bbq restaurant reviews -- ok, but not great.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: tashistation

                                                        I just posted this in one of the other threads on the site comparing RUB to Hill Country. My buddy and I went around 2:30 pm and no line at all. The ordering system seemed pretty easy to figure out. I like them both but for different reasons. As of late, I've been addicted to RUB's Beans (with burnt ends). They are like a tangy, smoky punch in the mouth. The brisket is good, but a bit dry. His burnt ends are very tasty and I was able to get them as a 1/4 lb of meat deal. I do like Paul Kirk's sauces too. I went to Hill Country the other day with a buddy of mine. I took some pics and wrote about it on Roadfood.com. Here is the link.
                                                        I thought you might be interested in this post:

                                                        http://www.roadfood.com/forums/topic....

                                                      2. Anyone know if the prices are the same for lunch as they are for dinner. I imagine they are.

                                                        1. I went there last night and was extremely disappointed. I ordered the holy trinity: brisket, sausage and ribs. The brisket was average -- tender and juicy with some flavor from the dry rub except I could detect very little smoke from the "imported wood" they contend they cook with. One bite into the meal it was apparent that Hill Country BBQ was not smoking their meats in woodburning pits in a manner similar to that of the Texas greats. The sausage was pretty good but only because Kreuz packs a pretty good sausage. It certainly was no better what you could do by simply ordering a case of sausage from Kreuz online and broiling it in your oven at home. The ribs were terrible, suffering from more than just the poor preparation techniques that limited the brisket and sausage. As far as pricing goes, had the 'cue been up to snuff, I would have had no quibbles about the meat pricing. The stuff the Texas greats are cranking out is not exactly cheap and as anyone that has lived in both NYC and central Texas knows, significant price expansion is reasonable and expected. However, unless I am going hungry, I will not make a return trip to Hill Country BBQ.

                                                          Since a lot of the Texas greats either lack i) adequate sides (Black's sides come to mind) or ii) atmosphere/experience/service the review could probably end here but there are a few other things worth mentioning--

                                                          namely, the disconnect between the prices and quantity/quality of the side dishes and deserts. I tried the bourbon whipped sweet potatoes and the "Longhorn" mac and cheese. Even by NYC southern-style standards, they were both failures and at $5.25 for a small dip of each, laughable. However, perhaps the biggest disappointment was dessert. For a hefty $4.00 for a serving, I assumed I was going to get a big bowl of creamy Blue Bell ice cream. Instead, I was served a "mini-carton" (you know, the single servings that they sell Texas high school cafeterias for 35 cents) that suffered from serious freezer burn. What a joke. As an aside, if anyone in NY is interested in consistently paying $4.00 for a half dip of Blue Bell, send me an email and I will quit my job in finance and make some real dough importing this stuff from Texas.

                                                          I was also a little put off by the “atmosphere.” From the card marking system to the mason jar beverages, the whole experience was a little hokey.

                                                          I’m clearly in the minority here, but in a city full of so many great restaurants, aside from Texas nostalgia, I have no idea why someone would pay $50 to eat at this place.

                                                          23 Replies
                                                          1. re: carter4133

                                                            I am with you.. The Kreuz sausage is the only reason to go here.. That and some of the better beans around town..

                                                            1. re: Daniel76

                                                              The green bean casserole and mac-n-cheese were disappointments and the shoepeg corn wasn't authentic at all. I did love the lean brisket...it was very moist, tender and perfect.

                                                              1. re: LeahBaila

                                                                really great post, carter4133. after having tried dinosaur's, blue smoke, rub and daisy may, i was looking forward to trying hill country when it first opened. after reading the posts since opening day, i just haven't bothered. your post basically summed up all of the key aspects quite nicely and your comments seem to be along the same lines of many previous posts. thanks for sharing the details. it's disappointing. are you a texan native? i've only been once but can't say i had the time to sample the best rib joints.

                                                                  1. re: nativeNYer

                                                                    Seriously - you're not even going to try it and decide for yourself??

                                                                    It's not like committing to dinner at Per Se, just get a couple bucks worth of brisket. The barbecue at Hill Country is damn near perfectly done, and if you want mac & cheese, you can get the little blue box at the grocery store.

                                                                    1. re: viva_zapata

                                                                      i was gonna come right out and say that i had now completely decided against trying hill country after reading carter's post, but i held back b/c i know myself. i will probably wander over there out of curiosity but it has to be on a day when i'm not craving a really great meal or else i'll be disappointed. if i'm ever in the nabe and not especially starving, i'll give it a try. i am completely stuck on daisy mae's dry memphis ribs but i don't like their sides. i'll let you guys know what i think when i finally make my way over there.

                                                                      1. re: nativeNYer

                                                                        I implore you to go and get the Beef Ribs. They are flat out awesome. Forget the sides, hokey soda and desserts. Just get the Beef Ribs and report back.

                                                                        1. re: princeofpork

                                                                          unless they are cooking their beef ribs in an entirely different manner than the rest of their meats, I will pass. My point: Hill Country BBQ does not smoke their meats in a manner similar to that of the Lockhart legends. I couldn't tell if they were parboiling and then finishing in a faux smoker with a gas flame and liquid smoke or what, but whatever they are doing differs significantly from what they do in the Texas Hill Country. Also, please note that I am not asserting that this method of cooking meat makes inherently bad BBQ, only that they are not doing what their name and organizational goals suggest (and thus why I stopped in).

                                                                          1. re: carter4133

                                                                            now i'm definitely curious so i'll try to beef ribs and will report back.
                                                                            what makes them good, princeofpork? i'll be surprised if i like them better than daisy may's memphis dry. we'll see...

                                                                            1. re: nativeNYer

                                                                              I have had Daisy Mays and happen to like these better. They seemed meatier, more tender and the flavor of the spices lasted on my lips well after the meal was complete. I hope you enjoy them!!

                                                                            2. re: carter4133

                                                                              So you have absolutely no idea how they prepare/smoke their meets?

                                                                              Got it.

                                                                              And cudos on the baseless liquid smoke/gas flame comment!

                                                                              1. re: Abe Froman

                                                                                did a "pit" tour a few years ago and never came back to post.

                                                                                they use a gasser at really low temp (compared to central texas legends) and put post oak coals in the gasser, not for heat but for smoke.

                                                                                so the gas flame comment was pretty much dead on. no sign of liquid smoke, though!

                                                                                I also noticed in the past few years the Schmidt family has been busy expanding their empire (as I noted back in 2007). Bee Cave, Lockhart Smokehouse (in Dallas), another planned location in the northern Dallas burbs, another Hill Country location in Brooklyn (which I assume will receive Ray's blessing).

                                                                                bbq was mediocre and overpriced as usual.

                                                                                1. re: carter4133

                                                                                  To clarify: this is a report about a meal you had a few years ago?

                                                                              2. re: carter4133

                                                                                That is categorically incorrect. There is no liquid smoke or parboiling going on at Hill Country in the pit area.

                                                                                Too bad that the food didn't live up to your expectations, but there isn't a vast difference between the procedures at Hill Country or places like Kreuz. They worked closely with Rick Schmidt leading up to opening to perfect their techniques and he seemed satisfied. Sorry that you weren't.

                                                                                As bbq goes, those are unfair allegations to throw at a place when you don't know what you're talking about.

                                                                                I do not work for Hill Country but am a fan of their food.....

                                                                                1. re: BackyardChef

                                                                                  so would there be any reason for not smoking their meats using a similar method as the legends? is it a matter of saving money (equipment/time) or just lack of knowledge? i am neither agreeing nor disagreeing with the comments here as i haven't tried hill country nor any of the texan places
                                                                                  so the most i will ever be able to share is personal taste. i am just curious.

                                                                                  1. re: nativeNYer

                                                                                    Note that Careter has no idea what method they use to smoke/prepare the meats at Hill County, he is simply making things up.

                                                                                  2. re: BackyardChef

                                                                                    BackyardChef: A statement beginning with a qualifying phrase, "I couldn't tell if...," is hardly an "allegation." Again, I do not know exactly what they are doing, but they aren't cooking the meats in brick chutes solely heated by natural oak flames. If they were, you would be able to smell it in and outside of the restaurant. More important, you would be able to taste it in the meats.

                                                                                    Honestly, I was a little surprised when I learned of Rick Schmidt's blessing. He is a notorious hardass. However, he is also the most commercially oriented of the top central Texas brisket joint bosses, as evidenced by the BBQ Wal-Mart he moved Kreuz into at the turn the the century. Hill Country BBQ is purchasing all of its sausage from Schmidt and also providing free advertising for Kreuz. Of course, I do not know either owner or what sort of business relationship they have with each other; however, it is not inconceivable that these factors influenced his decision to "bless" the restaurant.

                                                                                    1. re: carter4133

                                                                                      "I couldn't tell if they were parboiling and then finishing in a faux smoker with a gas flame and liquid smoke or what but whatever they are doing differs significantly from what they do in the Texas Hill Country."

                                                                                      But, the whole statement is mistaken and based on no knowledge whatsoever. Based on one meal that you were unhappy with, you discredit their entire process....which is based on many hours of Post Oak....and a simple rub to let the flavor of the meat shine through.

                                                                                      Now you are questioning Rick Schmidt's credibility as well claiming that they essentially bought his approval. I'm not sure what your axe to grind against both Kreuz (BBQ Wal-mart-- is the 'que from China??) and Hill Country is....but you really don't know what you're talking about in this case. Perhaps you are a true maven of the 'que from the Lonestar State, but you are off base.....

                                                                                      You don't work at Smitty's do you?

                                                                                      1. re: BackyardChef

                                                                                        For the record, I never questioned the quality of que at Kreuz Market or Scmidt's decision to turn Lockhart into a nation-wide tourist destination. Kreuz serves one of the best briskets in the world. Their smoked prime rib ranks in my top 5 foods of all time. Schmidt's commercial zeal has exposed more people to great BBQ than would be exposed otherwise. I recognize and appreciate this. The only thing I did was offer up a possible explanation of why Schmidt gave HC BBQ his "blessing" when, in my mind, they are serving a product grossly inferior to that of what he serves back in Texas.

                                                                                        I will soon make a return trip to HC. I will also ask the pitmaster for a pit tour or at least an explanation of their smoking methods. Pit tours are common in central Texas and I am certain the folks at HC will oblige, assuming they have nothing to hide.

                                                                    2. re: carter4133

                                                                      Sigh. I went last Friday for lunch and there was no line. The two of us had some beef ribs, piece of chicken and sausage. Chicken was good -- go out of my way good? -- no, but moist and juicy good. Sausage was good as usual. The beef ribs, sadly, were totally desiccated. Maybe it was the time of day I went? I think I could probably make a regular lunch out of the sausage with a side of beans and corn bread. I had the ice cream, too. (And mine also had a layer of ice on top and I, too, felt very bent over the barrel on the price.) I really want to love this place, but, ugh, sigh. Aside from some of the misses I've had and the prices, it's the little things like having to seek out a fork from the mason jar at the next table (or the next, or the next...) and trying to cut chicken with a g.d. butter knife. I mean, yeah, it's supposed to be all Texas, but hells bells -- I'm a Texan in Manhattan. I want the authentic taste with a ratchetted-up style. Is it too much to ask for my $25 a head to have a knife that cuts and a fork that isn't bent? On the upshot -- I think the service is very friendly and they did have Lone Star this time and RC cola always tastes right.

                                                                      1. re: Westrite

                                                                        So interesting. I loved the ribs and found the sausage bland and a weird consistency, like a rotten apple. I did think the prices were absurd. Oh well different strokes for different folks

                                                                        1. re: princeofpork

                                                                          Hmm, see, for me what I like about the sausage is that it is loose-packed. But I can totally see how someone might not dig that mouthfeel. (Doesn't help, I think, that you have to work so hard to saw through the damn thing and it gets beat up to mush in the process.) I think I may have caught the ribs at a bad hour 2pm, because, I mean, really, they were not passable.

                                                                        2. re: Westrite

                                                                          Westrite,

                                                                          There are other knives. Steak knives with black handles. Not Laguiole, but much better than the plain ones. There are usually a couple in the mason jar. If not, check the next table, or the one next to that.... lol I agree that the staff couldn't be nicer and more efficient. So, if all else fails, ask one of the servers or busboys.

                                                                      2. I haven't been to the restaurant, but I tried the brisket at the blues & bbq festival on Sunday. I know this isn't the way to judge the place, but the brisket was nothing special, and it was about 50% fat.

                                                                        The pulled pork sandwich from the Dinosaur stand was pretty mediocre too.

                                                                        For some reason, ribs were hard to find at the festival--I think only Brother Jimmy's had them, and I chose to stick with the above 2.

                                                                        http://petercherches.blogspot.com

                                                                        1. A partial source of the controversy over this place, I think, is that it sets itself up like the worst sort of sucker (picture Curly mouthing off to Moe) for comparison with the legendary BBQ shrines of Central Texas. OF COURSE Hill Country isn't as good as Kreuz's (which, in my opinion, is far from the best of said shrines). And OF COURSE it's three times as expensive. It's smack in the middle of Manhattan! Anyone expecting a brand-new BBQ restaurant in New York City to be as good as some of the best BBQ in Texas, or as cheap, just doesn't know how the world works. And yet I, too, couldn't help comparing the first meal I had there to my meals in Lockhart and Luling and the like. I won't go into a detailed comparison, but you can guess who won, and I came away pretty down on Hill Country.

                                                                          I went back, though, and tried the lean brisket (the fat brisket is just plain too fat, and this from a man who likes his fat brisket pretty fat) and the sausage, which I had missed on the first meal. And as I was eating my meal (the lean brisket is the only really good BBQ brisket I can remember having outside of Texas), I thought of how foolish I'd been to hold Hill Country to that standard, even if the restaurant does imply that that's the standard to which it wants to be held. It wouldn't hold up in Central Texas, but Hill Country's lean brisket would do pretty well for itself in Dallas (well, if offered at non-NYC prices). Similarly, by spending lots of effort and money attempting to capture the atmosphere of an authentic Texas hill country BBQ joint, they've managed to end up with the sort of place that would be right at home in, say, downtown Fort Worth.

                                                                          So they missed the mark by a couple hundred miles - they were aiming for Lockhart, and ended up with Dallas-Ft. Worth. That's not a runaway victory by any means, but it's still a BBQ place that could do very well for itself in a major Texan metroplex. For a BBQ restaurant in the middle of Manhattan, I'd say that's pretty high praise. The lean brisket is easily the best BBQ I've had in NYC, possibly the best I've had north of the Mason-Dixon line. The sausages are delicious, the atmosphere is Texan, and they have Big Red in glass bottles. And I seem to recall seeing what looked like a pretty decent Bourbon selection behind the bar, something unimaginable in Lockhart but of which I thoroughly approve.

                                                                          Just a technical note:
                                                                          Somewhere in this thread, someone said that meat should be smoked with all the fat on, and then the fat should be cut away at the end. This is all wrong. The meat needs to be exposed to the smoke, which gives you that nice red ring and a little bit of crust; that's where all the flavor comes from. If you throw away the smoke ring, you might just as well have slow-cooked your meat in a gas oven.

                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                          1. re: ratatosk

                                                                            What time of night are all these people going to Hill Country that they run out of moist brisket and beef ribs?? I'll be going tonight and I expect to get there at 7 PM on a Sunday... will I be out of luck? Because those are the two reasons we are going. I forget where we went, but we had been to a place with famous lobster rolls and they were out of lobster at 7 PM... running out of your best products before it even gets late is insane and bad management. Are people who miss out on the beef ribs and moist brisket going at 8 and 9 PM on a Saturday?

                                                                            Please, I'd like to find out before tonight and maybe I'll plan to go earlier!

                                                                            1. re: hamstrman

                                                                              I've been at about that time on a Sunday. They'd run out of sausage but had the brisket and ribs. This being a holiday weekend, you'll hopefully benefit from people being out of town.

                                                                              1. re: hamstrman

                                                                                Went to Hill Country last night with my folks. They weren't out of anything! And I didn't realize that beef ribs were like something out of the Flintstones! I tried the moist brisket (I must've gotten lucky from that portion of the brisket mentioned earlier that is "moist" but hardly fatty at all). It was very tasty and certainly moist. Also the jalapeno cheese sausage was just divine. And the beef ribs were so tasty! Firm, but at the same time fall off the bone! And this is a momentous event: Hill Country is the first time my dad didn't put a drop of BBQ sauce on his BBQ and stated that it didn't need a thing. Momentous indeed. More momentous still? My dad had no complaints AT ALL about the restaurant which is damn near impossible. My mom and I thought the pork ribs were much too salty though. I enjoy my local chinese restaurant's better... The prime rib was tough, which was unfortunate. But the beef ribs (which I couldn't finish because I ordered them assuming they were comparable in size to pork ribs - I know I know I didn't even think!) were great the next day cold too! And the cornbread, while not amazing, was quite satisfying with the ancho honey butter. As a native New Yorker who hasn't been to the south, I would expect the prices to be what they were and enjoyed every bite at those prices. This is New York after all... I also spend $70 a week on sushi so a $3 humongous rib is no big deal. Overall, it was fantastic. Just stick to the beef ribs, sausage and brisket.

                                                                            2. We've been to Hill Country twice now. The first time we got beef ribs, lean brisket, Kreuz jalapeno-cheddar sausage, mac&cheese, and green bean casserole. Everything delicious, although the prices do sorta sneak up on you. The brisket was perhaps the least interesting (though still quite tasty), so on our second visit we replaced it with the beef shoulder, and decided the brisket was better; we actually needed BBQ sauce on the shoulder.

                                                                              The mac&cheese reminded us both of Beecher's mac&cheese (at Pike Place Market in Seattle); less complex flavor than Beecher's, as befits a Texas dish, but a similarly luscious creaminess.

                                                                              The beef ribs are to die for, and meatier than Pearson's/Legends (which I gather are technically "short ribs", reminiscent of the Flintstones) but as we were finishing up last night I looked at the bill and realized that the beef ribs had cost significantly more than the shoulder and sausage put together; $17/pound (or thereabouts) for something that is 60% bone is a little much. We resolved that next time we'll get only ONE beef rib per person :-)

                                                                              1. I've been to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, TX. Hill Country is as close as you can get without getting on a plane to Austin.

                                                                                1. Rather than write up a completely new post, I figure I'll just tack this on here.

                                                                                  I had a friend from Lockhart, along with two of his friends from home, visit a few weeks back for the Robert Earl Keen concert. One of the friends mentioned that his uncle (I believe Roy was the name) actually makes the sausages at Kreuz. They found his picture on a wall near the top of the stairs, opposite the drinks/dessert station.

                                                                                  Anyway, that was how the first part of our meal went, with the three visitors scanning walls and pointing out their high school, the local gas station, etc. etc. Before we got in the meat line, a phone call was made that we hoped would lead to a comped meal (it didn't get through in time, but apparently would have worked).

                                                                                  With that said: beef ribs, sausages, and moist brisket seemed to be a common thread through all orders (apart from my vegetarian girlfriend's). I thought the ribs were good, the sausages very good, and the brisket fantastic. The three Texans all enjoyed their meals, declaring that Hill Country would stand on its own down in Lockhart. The "Nephew of Roy" mentioned that he was impressed how lean the moist brisket was -- which I found funny, having read the many fatty-hater comments here on the boards. His words: "must be because of all that health conscious stuff they got here in New York."

                                                                                  Apart from the meat, orders were put in for pickles, fresh jalapenos, corn pudding, mac and cheese, green bean casserole, mashed sweet potatoes, Big Red, RC Cola, the tiny tub of Blue Bell ice cream, and a PB&J cupcake. Standouts were the corn pudding and the (awesome) cupcake.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: big o

                                                                                    I'm a Texan and I thought the pork ribs were fantastic...I'm kind of over their brisket, it's definately not as great as it was when it first opened.

                                                                                  2. Another disaster from Texas.

                                                                                    Had the deckle, the pork ribs, the original sausage, beans, mac 'n cheese, pasta salad, corn bread. The pork ribs were OK. EVERYTHING ELSE SUCKED. I could not cut through the gristle on the 'moist' brisket- and I love good fat; this was disgusting and flavorless and it was clearly not a good piece of brisket to begin with. Christ, you only have to go to Costco to get better brisket. The sausage was under-seasoned ground meat in a nice casing that was cooked two hours ago and had no snap. The sides were all pathetic. The beans were like something your college roommate cooks up when you're stoned- a kitchen sink conglomeration with no discernible flavors. The ribs were OK, but definitely not great. They ran $10.55 for two pork ribs.

                                                                                    No Shiner Bock. $5 for a freakin' Lone Star. This place is for losers.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: mac827

                                                                                      WHAT A DISAPPOINTMENT

                                                                                      Maybe our expectations were too high going in (our first time tonight), but this place gets two greasy thumbs down from my wife and me.

                                                                                      Prime Rib: Gristly, Tough, Flavorless, and $14.00 for a single slice.

                                                                                      Moist Brisket: Overly fatty, meat flavorless and dry, no seasoning.

                                                                                      Kreuz Sausage (jalapeno): pretty good, actually - a surprise

                                                                                      Sides: Uniformly good, but $20 for coleslaw, baked beans, corn pudding, and a casserole made of canned green beans and mushroom soup? Really?

                                                                                      Then there was the band.
                                                                                      Earsplitting.
                                                                                      Conversation was absolutely impossible. We were seated downstairs at 9 PM on a Thursday.

                                                                                      Service: No silverware on the table (we had to run upstairs to ask for forks and meat knives); no one stopped by to check on us; service is cafeteria-style, and then they expect a tip?

                                                                                      This, for $62.00.

                                                                                      For the record my wife makes the best brisket in the world. Next time I'm staying home!