Eating At Hill Country Barbecue Market: A Little Texas In New York

By on Tuesday, September 5th, 2023 at 8:07 am

pickles, brisket, chicken and sausage, ribs

Lately I’ve been going down the rabbit hole on barbecue in New York City, and I realized there were a few places I hadn’t ever been. I found myself at Blue Smoke with my former college roommate, another Ian, who had taken me to Blue Smoke in Battery Park when the menu was still primarily a barbecue joint.

It all came together by accident. I emailed him wondering if he remembered the year it was we had eaten there. I was hoping I had in some photos of experience in my photo archive. But that got us to chatting about how it had been way too long since we had eaten together, so we made plans to go for it. I had just done some research on Hill Country and suggested it as our destination.

Hill Country first opened in 2007, part of the new wave of New York barbecue joints. In the previous decades, the best barbecue that could be found in the city was Virgils in Times Square and Dallas BBQ, better known for greasy chicken and cheap beer. But by 2007, the city as starting to see a new wave of better, more smoked-filled barbecue joints. (I also recently visited John Brown’s in Queens which opened at the tail end of this period).

Marc Glosserman and John Shaw opened the restaurant in June of 2007, right as Glosserman’s wife was giving birth to their first child. The Texas-style barbecue fast became known for a signature dish, “moist brisket,” a fattier cut of meat than is often used.

New York City isn’t quite the late night party town it once was. I like eating out during the week because popular spots like Hill Country are easier to get into without waiting on line, but when I looked up the closing time for the Wednesday evening, I was shocked to see it listed as 10:00 pm. We had actually considered meeting up again at Blue Smoke or even Mighty Quinns, but both those establishments listed their closing time as 9:00 pm.

We met up around 8:15 and ended up walking right in to a table. There were a few groups seated after us, but overall it was pretty empty.

We ordered a pittmaster platter with chicken, ribs, brisket, and sausage. It also came with some crispy pickles. We had a cucumber salad, sweet potato mash, collared greens on the side, and ordered a bit of pulled pork too.

pickles, brisket, chicken and sausage, ribs

There two sauces, a hot sauce that looked the same color and had a slightly thicker viscosity to tabasco, and then a thick red sweet sauce. The pulled pork also came with a golden sauce that was sort of like a mustard but not really. It was not as good as the other sauces. There was a dry pepper we didn’t use, but I tasted and it was spicy.

The brisket was in fact moist. The brisket was notably fattier from the marbled piece of piece. It was tender and delicious and had decent mouth feel.

The ribs were tender but didn’t fall off the bone. Still, it had good flavor.

The sausage had a nice taste and had a good crispy skin on the exterior. I don’t typically jump at barbecue sausages, but Ian was interested in giving it go. It worked well with both sauces.

The chicken was juicy but the flavor was mostly on the exterior of the bird.

The pulled pork had a bit more fat in it and it had been crisped on the oven or salamander so it didn’t quite have that delicious greasiness to it.

The thing that was quite refreshing was the cucumber and onion pickles. Along with the cucumber salad, which had a hint of sweetness, the vegetables added a lightness to the meal.

mashed sweet potato from hill country

I particularly enjoyed the sweet potatoes. They were smooth and mashed up with cream and butter with strong dose of sweetness — the same way I like to make them at home.

collard greens from hill country

The collared greens had chunks of meat, and the flavor was fine, a bit of tangy sweetness to them. But as happens with most collards, the green part of it was very wilted and soft.

The space is large, especially for Manhattan. There’s an open kitchen where the curious can watch the preparation of meats, and of course the menu is listed here as well.

Hill Country Market has an open kitchen with lists of meats

Hill Country Barbecue Market

30 W 26th Street


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