Thoughts, Tips, Info and Photos

Hill Country Barbecue & Market

30 West 26th Street

(between Broadway and 6th Avenue)

New York, NY 10010

(212) 255-4544



New York BBQ, Manhattan BBQ, Robbie Richter




my review of Hill Country


Other Opinion

Hill Country Joins NYC BBQ Elite

(06/19/07) (07/14/07)

14 Tips for Your Visit to Hill Country

  • If there's one meat you want above all others, call to verify that they have it on the night of your visit. They didn't have beef ribs when I was there. (And if they are out of something, don't develop a 'tude, be glad that they're cooking everything fresh. "There's always next time" is how I look at it.)
  • Go early to guarantee a seat.
  • If possible, get the "pitmaster's table" that faces the meat cutting area. Not only is it great theater, but it's a great way to be alerted when the various meats are added to the holding pits near the cutting table. There may be brief periods when certain meats aren't ready, but look at this as not an inconvenience but a guarantee that what's served is fresh. It's also a good way to pace yourself.
  • If you can't see the meat cutters, at least try to get a table that has a view of the meat lines. It has an ebb and flow, so keep an eye out and strike when the lines are short.
  • Remember, there are three meat lines. I like the one on the left because it has the best view of the meat.
  • Don't try to order all your meats at once. It will be too much and they may get cold by the time you get to them all. Just relax and take them in a few at a time.
  • This is Texas barbecue. When in doubt, go for the beef items. The sausages are imported directly from the legendary Kreutz Market in Lockhart TX, so don't miss a chance to try the real deal.
  • Just because the meat is weighed and charged by the pound doesn't mean you have to order by the pound. You can ask for three pork ribs, two slices of moist brisket and six slices of lean brisket if that makes things easier.
  • If ordering by the pound, figure around 1/4 pound of meat per item per person for boneless items and twice that amount for ribs, chicken and chops. Any more than that and you might get too full to try everything.
  • Go with a group. That's the best way to sample as many meats as possible without breaking the bank or an artery. It's also the best way to get food on the table: send one person to the meat line, another to the sides/trimmings line and another to get drinks.
  • If you go alone and early, hit the sides and trimmings line before the meat line. By the time you're settled, that early rush of the meat line may have subsided.
  • Unless you have compelling dietary or philosophical reasons to do otherwise, do not—I repeat, do not—leave Hill Country without trying their brisket. I know, there are those who are simply not brisket fans. I used to be one—not because I didn't like brisket, but because I rarely had good brisket. Hill Country has great brisket.
  • When ordering the brisket, be sure to get both the lean (from the "flat") and the moist (from the "deckle"), even if you have a preference of one over the other. I'm a deckle guy, but I enjoyed Hill Country's lean brisket much more. It's the best sliced brisket flat I've ever tasted.
  • Don't order the pork chop unless you have someone to share it with. Those babies are huge.





The Evolution of a Name

This sign hangs on a wall in the meat smoking area as a reminder of the old days. Many New York BBQ fans know that Robbie Richter's barbecue team name (and catering operation), before using the new Hill Country moniker last year, was Big Island Bar-B-Que. But Robbie Richter told me the original name was Urban Bar-B-Que, consisting of himself and his brother, along with a neighbor and current team member Barry Stockman.


"We liked to wear Hawaiian shirts, so we changed the name for a while to Bobby's Luau. But that name suggested a different kind of food from barbecue, so in 2003 we changed the name to Big Island Bar-B-Que. It still had the Hawaiian thing, plus it ties into Manhattan and Long Island."


"This sign has logged a lot of miles and its sharp edges have caused a lot of cuts, but it's safe right here."




other opinion:

Restaurant Girl's review of Hill Country

Steve Cuozzo's NY Post review of Hill Country

Peter Meehan's NY Times review of Hill Country

Andrea Strong's (the Strong Buzz) dinner at Hill Country


other info:

Jason Perlow's Off the Broiler preview of Hill Country

Jason Perlow's opening night visit to Hill Country



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The entrance on West 26th.



Hostess Montana, from Oklahoma.



The bar just past the entrance.



Meal ticket rules and instructions.



The upstairs (main level) dining area, with plenty of wood.



The meat counter has 3 lines.



The meat counter, where you order meat by the pound.



Pork chops cut to order. You can pick the chop you want.



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Slicing the brisket (this one is the moist).



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Lean brisket (smaller slices), moist brisket and chicken, served on butcher paper.



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More lean brisket. I loved the flavorful crust.



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Lean and moist, side by side.



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Dark quarter chicken "tomahawk".



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Chicken was as moist as it gets.



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Beef shoulder (called "clod" in Texas).


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Sausage links, regular and jalapeno cheese.


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Note the varying textures of the meat inside. I liked them both, but the jalapeno was my favorite.


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Monster pork chop and pork ribs.


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Another view of the monster pork chop and pork ribs.


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Pitmaster Robbie Richter holding a rack of chops.


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Pork ribs close-up.


Sides: Elizabeth Karmel's chili, cucumber salad and "Texas Caviar" (blackeyed pea salad).


Sides: Whole jalapeno peppers and avocados.


The meat doesn't need sauce, but you can buy it as a souvenir from Genesis at the gift shop.


Opening pitmaster Robbie Richter in a relaxed moment. If you like a little extra heat with your meat, ask for Dirty Dick's hot sauce. It's one of my favorites and made by one of the legends of the New England competition circuit.


A closer look at the beans.


Longhorn Cheddar and Pepper Jack cheese.


Cupcakes being prepared.


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The much-talked-about peanut butter and jelly cupcake.


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A look inside the pits: links and chops.


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More smoker activity: ribs and links. Note how the links hang, in the tradition of the German pitmasters of Texas.



A handy sink off to the side of the dining area. The photos pay homage to Kreutz Market in Lockhart, Texas.


This log, brought from Kreuz Market by legendary pitmaster Rick Schmidt, started the fire at Hill Country.


An autographed mop from another legendary pitmaster, Mike Mills.


Just some of Robbie Richter's many BBQ trophies.




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