Sun-Wed, noon-10pm; Thu-Sat, noon-11pm
N, R at 28th St.; 6 at 28th St.; F, M at 23rd St.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
14th St. to 42nd St., First Ave. to Twelfth Ave.
When it comes to new barbecue joints (as with new sushi parlors and French brasseries), it helps to have a mania for replication. Witness Hill Country, the Texas-themed honky-tonk joint on a lonely stretch of 26th Street, in Chelsea. According to its proprietors, the boxy, two-story space is designed to evoke the old “barbecue markets” of central Texas. There’s a giant silver star suspended by the bar and the brick walls are covered with photos of battered pickups and empty country roads. The rough-hewn tables are set with rolls of paper towels and cutlery thrown in a pickle jar, and the Texas sausages and chickens and steaming hunks of brisket are measured out on scales in front of brick holding pits, then dispensed, cafeteria style, by gentlemen bearing big silver tongs. This utilitarian, slightly bewildering setup is modeled, to an obsessive degree, after Kreuz Market, a legendary barbecue joint in Lockhart, Texas. The barbecue world is famously pork-centric, but in Texas, the specialty is beef. And the specialty at Kreuz Market is brisket, a notoriously temperamental dish that takes hours to cook and is prone to toughness. At Hill Country the specialty is brisket, too, smoked over cords of post oak trucked up from Lockhart. The grizzled pit master at Kreuz Market, Rick Schmidt, traveled to Hill Country himself and seasoned the big, state-of-the-art smokers with a half-burnt log from his own smokers in Texas. And as at Kreuz Market, the brisket is smoked unadorned, without sauces, and served on brown butcher paper, which grows increasingly wet and greasy as your meal progresses.Note
In the restaurant’s basement, there’s a live stage where honky-tonk bands play till the wee hours, if that’s your sort of thing.
“Moist” brisket, pork ribs, beef shoulder, smoked sausage, shoepeg corn pudding.