Even hard-to-please Texpats say Hill Country, the three-week-old Lone Star–style barbecue joint, gets it right. “As an Austin native,” declares weegums, “I can say that was the best Texas-style ’cue I’ve had outside of the state, and a good deal better than most places I’ve eaten around the Hill Country itself.”
Brisket is a big favorite: moist, fork-tender, and richly flavorful, with a good whiff of the Texas post oak that’s trucked in to feed the smoker. “Right on and delicious, probably the best barbecued brisket in New York City right now,” raves BackyardChef. Terrific sausages, regular or jalapeño-cheese, come from Kreuz Market of Lockhart, Texas, a venerable barbecue house that was among the inspirations for Hill Country. Pork ribs, beef ribs, and chicken are also recommended. Among the sides, corn pudding and marinated black-eyed pea “caviar” have won praise; coleslaw and green bean casserole have not.
Service is neighborly and relatively smooth, though kinks remain to be worked out. Some find the cafeteria-style ordering system confusing and the carvers not yet up to speed. Others complain that brisket and other popular items often run out.
The room is loud, cavernous, and done up in Texas kitsch—”very un-New York City,” notes fat parish, “but in a good way.” Nostalgic Texans will appreciate old favorites like peanut-bacon brittle, Lone Star beer, and Blue Bell ice cream—if they’re not sold out. “To avoid a tear in your beer, call before and make sure they have them,” advises Westrite.