Brooklyn barbecue sure is having a moment. Remember when Fette Sau was the last word in brisket and pulled pork? Heck, we remember when our sole association with smoked meat was the syrupy quarter chicken from Dallas BBQ in the West Village (where, let’s face it, we only went because they never carded).
But oh, what the last few years have wrought. Delaney’s and Mable’s more than stand up to Fette Sau in Williamsburg. Fletcher’s is a mecca of burnt ends and unusual cuts in Gowanus. Morgan’s has turkey tails. Dinosaur has kitsch. Hometown is in Red Hook, and it’s always sweet when noteworthy spots open in Red Hook. And most recently, the desolate downtown area became home to the borough’s own outpost of Hill Country, which is still known as one of the few notable ‘cue destinations in Manhattan (sorry, Dallas).
The dry-rubbed, Pat LaFrieda meats and Lockhart-sourced Kreuz sausages are exemplary — as we’ve come to expect from any place that knows its way around a Texas post oak-burning smoker. But what rowdy Hill Country really brings to the party is a slew of kick-ass sides (typically an afterthought at pit-stops South of the Mason Dixon Line) and tons of atmosphere. Let everyone else do the bare bones, communal tables bit, this is where you go for 11,000 square foot bi-level dining, with rockabilly bands holding court in the reclaimed wood and vintage wallpapered area up above, and a bustling food market and expansive bar with taps full of Shiner down below.
A meal ticket system (check the box now, pay later) makes it entirely easy to crowd your tray with an embarrassment of obscenely caloric riches. Flank your by-the-pound, brown paper-wrapped short ribs, pork ribs, prime rib and brisket with tubs of smoky and spicy greens, shoepeg corn pudding, mac and cheese, campfire baked beans and sweet potato bourbon mash. Or if it’ll make you feel better about yourself, there’s always cucumber salad or Texas caviar (black-eyed peas), but no promises there’s not a gleefully unhealthy ingredient or two lurking in there somewhere.
And don’t even try to be abstemious about dessert. While many BBQ places attempt to seal the deal with plastic wrapped cookies or slices of someone else’s pie, sweets are serious business at Hill Country. The collection of mason jars aren’t only for cocktails; you’ll have to dig deep to get to the bottom of warm apple cobblers sporting four-inch thick crumble toppings, or textbook banana puddings layered with banana liquor-infused custard, Nilla Wafers, and clouds of fresh whipped cream. And the extensive selection of mini pies (like the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cowboy, sinful chocolate pecan and powerfully fruity double cherry) are officially some of our favorite pastries ever, even in a borough rife with other excellent options.
Manhattan still has a bit of catching up to do on the smoked meat front (and wannabes like Dallas to contend with), but Hill Country switch-hitting for our already stacked team? Brooklyn is officially a barbecue force to be reckoned with.
345 Adams St., (718) 885-4608