The Scoop: This is BBQ in NYC that’ll make any misplaced Texan wish for home. And perhaps their e...The Scoop: This is BBQ in NYC that’ll make any misplaced Texan wish for home. And perhaps their elastic waistband pants. This Chelsea meat market by way of Austin is big and spacious, with barn-style walls, piles of White Post Oak kindling stacked in back, slabs of meat served on butcher paper, and live blues and country in the bar-room basement. Hill Country is huge (would you expect any less from Texas?) and the atmosphere makes you want to kick up your city-worn boots and throw back a cold one.
It’s been three years since Hill Country opened here in Chelsea. And three years since New York Times claimed Hill Country as the restaurant that finally got Texas BBQ right around these parts. Leave it to Marc Closserman, with four generations of family in Lockhart, Texas, to be the one to break the curse; this authentic Barbecue Market is “his love letter to his family’s hometown” and you better believe this man is all about doing right by Texas. As if opening this place wasn’t enough, his son Austin was actually born the exact same day Hill Country opened its doors. A fitting tribute, indeed.
Also quite fitting: the size of this ginormous market-style restaurant. Downstairs, live music kicks up every Tuesday through Saturday night; roots, rock, blues, country, folk, and live band karaoke take place in what seems to be the perfect space for a proper hoedown. Boots are lined up over the bar and the stage comes complete with a big ol’ Lone Star flag painted on the wall. Upstairs, in the barbecue market, Hill Country Pitmasters hand- carve all the meats; barbecue is dry-rubbed (meaning there’s no sauce until you add it) and smoked low and slow with that post oak wood shipped up from Texas. Order your meat by the slice, by the rib or by the link, tally up your sides and sweets, and servers will mark your Meal Ticket which serves as a miniature menu and passport on your trip through Hill Country. After that, take a seat with your mason jar of tea or your ice cold beer and let the feasting begin.
I came here to sample the buzzed-about Brisket Moist and left in immediate need of some fat pants. The kind folks who work at Hill Country (who are mostly ex-Southerners, bringing that authentic charm to the table along with your food) seemed to make it their mission to fill me to the brim with all the fixins. My original order somehow tripled into about a pound of meat, including that brisket, the Kreuz Sausage shipped exclusively from Texas (a must-try), and the Pork Spare Ribs. With the meat came some hard-to-ignore sides: Beer-Braised Cowboy Pinto Beans, White Shoepeg Corn Pudding, and Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese. And almost as a taunting joke, along came a tray of PB&J and Red Velvet Cupcakes, a perfect mini Bourbon Pecan Pie, a cookie the size of my face, and - wait for it - a Lone Star beer to wash it all down with. If the size of my appetite here is any indication, that everything’s-bigger-in-Texas legend is most definitely true. Now, excuse me, while I go into food coma for a few days....
Brisket Moist (beef), $22.25/lb.
Kruez Sausage, $6.00 (per link)
Beer Can Game Hen, $10.00/lb.
Pork Spare Ribs, $12.00/lb.
Sides & Trimmings, ($5.50 for smallest, $20.00 to “Feed Yer Family”)
Longhorn Cheddar Mac & Cheese
Campfire Baked Beans with burnt ends
Sweet Potato Bourbon Mash
White Shoepeg Corn Pudding
Texas Black-Eyed Caviar
Sweets & Treats
Cupcakes (try the PB&J, Red Velvet, or German Chocolate), $4.50
Pies & Cobblers (try the Bourbon Pecan Pie), $6
Blue Bell Ice Cream, $4
Live Music & “Big Doins” happen every month: go to hillcountryny.com for more info.
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On-premise events and off-site catering available.