Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Texas Hill Country Meets DC

As promised, I have now been to DC's newest barbeque stop, Hill Country in Penn Quarter. As mentioned earlier, I was anxious to compare it to it's neighbor, Capitol Q in Chinatown. Both offers Texas style BBQ which usually means beef. Fans of pork ribs (like me) or puled pork should seek these delicacies elsewhere.

The central tenant of Texas BBQ is brisket. prepared correctly, it is sublime. Readers of this blog know this: if the brisket is good, everything else is usually good too.

I have now been to HC twice, both times with four other diners. I've only been there for lunch, so I can't speak to the quality of the bar (looks busy) or the live entertainment provided nearly nightly. I can talk about the food, which more than meets expectations.

A few important points:
  1. BBQ should be inexpensive, but purely as the result of a restaurant located in a big city, any place would cost more than you would expect in a rural location.
  2. Between all of the people who work or eat there, I may be among the very few who have actually been to the Hill Country in Texas, and had my share of barbeque there. I do have an accurate basis of comparison.
  3. Do not let the long line in the front deter you. It moves fast and you are served quickly once you find a table
  4. I like good barbeque.
Hill Country is a surprisingly big place. It has two main dining rooms and a "market" where one gets the food, sort of cafeteria style. This is due to the restaurant's desire to serve in the most authentic way possible. BBQ is offered by weight and served on butcher paper. Diners carry a "meal ticket" into the market and for each food item chosen, the correct mark is added to the ticket. This is how the bill is calculated.

I had the brisket both visits, because it was that good. It was moist and flavorful, with just the right amount of fat. Tell-tale pink smoke marks were present, and the peppery rub was evident throughout. The sauce was a tad sweet for me but again, authentic Texas. It works well with the meat, but I'd prefer some sauce choices. Still, the brisket could be easily enjoyed without any sauce at all. I recommend the Brisket "Chomp", a 1/3 lb. portion including (decent) cornbread and one side dish for $11.50. The side item choices are many, and there should be enough to satisfy almost anyone. The service is cheerful, friendly and efficient. For a city setting, this is probably the closest I've been to authentic Texas BBQ. I'm sorry its so close to where I'm working, because I'll probably eat there too often.

Hill County BBQ and Market - 410 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007 202 556-2050