Hill Country

NYC and BBQ haven’t always been the best of bedfellows. New York’s strict smoke laws, dearth of pit masters, and aversion to most things “country” kept Gotham in the dark until a spate of barbecue joints brought the city up to code in the late 2000s. Hill Country was at the forefront of this movement and has since become the superlative city ’cue, its Texas dry-rub style—smoked “low and slow” over post oak—even making some critics’ national best barbecue lists. Beef, pork and chicken are sold by the pound cafeteria-style and wrapped in brown butcher’s paper, burnt campfire beans and sweet-potato bourbon mash on the side. The super-size, 11,000-square-foot space is decked out in an exacting and predictable style, standard from Florida to Alaska: chipped paint, flatware in pickle jars, paper towel racks and sauce on the tables, and cowboy boots on the bar’s top shelf. Attempts at no-nonsense atmosphere don’t always win over theme-eschewing New Yorkers, but the bar and stage in the basement, featuring regular honky-tonk and alt-country acts, make Austin feel just a little bit closer and somehow authenticate the slightly chainy feel of the decor. The patrons, however, are neither country nor chain but rather a mix of hipsters, families and suits who pop up at different intervals of the evening to see what this new-school barbecue with old-school flavor is all about.

sweet seats

The table for four in the back by the cord of wood is cozy, close to the kitchen, and gives you an eagle’s eye perspective on the restaurant.

chew on this

Hill Country has several recession specials for lunch, dinner, families, drinks, delivery and even vegetarians. Three standouts include: Monday’s All-You-Can Eat night for $25; Sunday’s Family and Trivia night with kids’ combos for $7; and Longhorn Brisket Chomp for $12. Unless you’re a big sports fan, you might want to avoid the place on game nights.


Sun.-Wed. noon-10 PM
Thur.-Sat. noon-11 PM
separate late-night menu available Thurs.-Sat. until 1 AM

price range

$12 (Longhorn Brisket Chomp, one side dish, corn bread) to $25 (The Pitmaster, with brisket, pork sparerib, beef rib, one-quarter chicken and two sides)