I steer away from eating beef on a regular basis (pun intended). I am not immune to its charms, but I try to limit my intake to about once a week. This works better for me some weeks than others.
I have wanted to dine at Hill Country Barbecue since it debuted in DC last year. Food & Wine named it one of the best new barbecue restaurants in America, which obviously grabs my attention. But my dining to do list is longer than a country mile, and I don’t have that many people in my life who will accompany me for barbeque, hence the delay.
The time is right. I’ve got the two friends who dined with me at the all-beef Medium Rare raring to go. A 30% off deal at the website Savored is added incentive. (here’s a link to a Savored invite. It’s worth checking out.)
As described on the Hill Country website: Hill Country honors the barbecue and live music capital of Texas and takes its “cue” from the legendary meat-markets-turned-barbecue-joints of Central Texas with their distinctive, dry-rub style… brisket, sausage, ribs and other meats are smoked low and slow over Texas post oak and are served on butcher paper, counter-style by the pound as is traditional in Central Texas.
As we enter the restaurant my friend and I turn to each other simultaneously and say “wow.” The place is buzzing. I’m wondering if this is going to be one of those deafening experiences that is somewhat difficult to swallow. Fortunately, we are led away from the center of the restaurant and seated closer to the food area, where it is miraculously a bit quieter. Once seated we can really soak in the super casual Texas-style atmosphere.
We are greeted by an enthusiastic hostess, followed by an equally passionate server. They clearly love the food here. They point out their favorites and explain the concept. We are given a meal ticket to start and directed to the meat counter as well as where the sides are being dished out cafeteria style. My friend remarks that the meal ticket/cafeteria approach takes her back to her college days. Good for her- I can’t remember that far back. We like that the lines move quickly so there are no long waits for our food. We’re anxious to dig in.
There are a variety of meat choices, and we have a hard time deciding what and how much to get. I end up with 1/4 lb. of moist brisket (as opposed to the lean), two pork spare ribs, and 1/2 a Kreuz sausage with jalapeno cheese. The three of us share macaroni and cheese and sweet potato bourbon mash. I also have a small cucumber salad, because I want some kind of healthy contrast against the meat and rich sides.
The spicy sausage has tons of flavor. It’s a little too hot to eat all at once, so I alternate between bites of the other meats.
The macaroni and cheese is a little dull, but I make it better by adding just a touch of hot sauce. The sweet potato mash is a tad too sweet. A few bites are a perfect accompaniment to the meat. My instincts are right about the cool cucumber salad. It’s a bit heavy on the vinegar but at least it’s not loaded with fat. The sides are more than adequate, but the star attraction is definitely the meat.
I’ve seen mixed reviews for the ordering system at Hill Country, but I think it’s a plus. You can eat as much or as little meat as you like. If you come up short on the first round, you can mosey on back for more. We’re not moseying however. We are stuffed. In fact, I can’t even look at the display of cupcakes. You know I’m full if I’m passing on an opportunity for cupcakes.
Hill Country Barbecue is worth a visit for any carnivore. It’s fun, it’s flavorful, and it’s definitely filling. In fact, it’s a few days later and the thought of eating all that red meat is still weighing on me. And I mean that in every sense of the word.
Hill Country Barbecue, 410 Seventh Street NW, Washington, DC
My rating (on a 1-5 scale): 3.4