Saturday, September 22, 2012

A little country in the big city

I've been on a few adventures since being out of school and not yet at work. One of which was an excursion into the city to one our of favorite restaurants: Hill Country Barbeque. Since Howie is from Texas, he's always on the lookout for "home-comfort-foods," aka real barbecue and real mexican food (I'll leave the explanation of the italicized "reals" for Howie to explain in a guest post since these are two of his hot-button topics). I actually first heard of this restaurant through an old high school friend who attended college in the city. Though it took some convincing to get Howie to try it because he is highly skeptical of the quality of northern bbq, it has turned into one of our top choices of places to eat in the city.

When you first walk into Hill Country it's like walking into an entirely different time and place than the busy streets of New York. Located on 26th between 5th and 6th ave, right near Madison Square Park, Hill Country is a great place to indulge in the southern delicacy of barbecue. The art of barbecue varies from region to region in the south, but the premise remains the same: meats cooked over low heat for hours and hours basted in succulent sauce. With this barbecue comes additional treats for your belly: mac & cheese, potato salad, cucumber salad, mashed sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, corn bread, and more. The food is delicious and will send you directly into food coma if you aren't careful, which we usually aren't.

Aside from the southern comfort foods, this place is also unique because of its ambiance. With wood everywhere and mildly dim lighting, you feel as if you've walked into a southern hole-in-the-wall bbq joint. There are wood tables lined up cafeteria style, wooden chairs, a wooden bar, and stacks of fire wood along the back wall. When you enter, you are given a meal ticket that you bring with you up to the meat counter where you order your choice of beef, chicken, or sausage by weight as the meat is taken from the back where its likely just come out of the smoker. The meat is wrapped in paper, you are given a tray, and your meal ticket is marked before you move to the line for sides. At that station there is a minimum of 8 or so options to choose from in a variety of sizes along with an additional 5 or so desserts to choose. Your order is marked on your ticket and you are then free to sit anywhere you like. A waiter will come with options for drinks: water, iced tea, lemonade, soda, beer, the usual suspects. As you can imagine, its extremely easy to get carried away here.

My favorite: the 1/4 bbq chicken, with sides of mac & cheese or potato salad and cucumber salad. Howie usually goes for a multitude of things including sausage, brisket, and whatever else he finds himself drooling over... his eyes are always bigger than his stomach. This place has something for everyone and the food is excellent; its definitely somewhere you should try when you have time in NYC.

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