Often when people hear that I don’t eat dairy products, they assume that I am a vegan. Cue the gross airplane meals and the bird food at parties. While vegan bakeries like Babycakes and vegan restaurants like Blossom allow me to eat things that I can’t usually eat unless I make it myself, such as brownies and French toast, I am not allergic to meat. While I don’t eat red meat on a daily basis, it is part of my diet, especially when my cousin calls me up and asks if I want to go to one of his favorite barbecue places.
Hill Country BBQ is an incredible establishment. Located in the Flatiron district—named for the famed building and the steaks—Hill Country BBQ is tucked away on 26th Street, between 6th Avenue and Broadway. The restaurant is a short walk from the 28th Street station on the 1 train or the N train, or the 23rd Street station on the 1 train, the N train, or the F train.
There are two levels to the surprisingly huge restaurant, and the whole place is a busy, bustling affair. Right away, one of the hostesses handed me a copy of their dairy-free items. Basically, all the meat is perfectly safe, save the jalapeno-cheddar sausage (which sounds gross anyway). Even though we went on a Wednesday night, we still had to wait several minutes for a table. The wait gave us time to strategically plan our meal.
We squeezed into a table, where our meal tickets, place settings, and paper towels greeted us. That’s right, there are no napkins at Hill Country BBQ; they go straight for a nice large roll of paper towels. We went for some moist brisket, some pork ribs, and a small side of beans. I wasn’t the one getting the food, but at Hill Country BBQ, rather than have a waiter bring you plates, you bring a meal ticket to the counter and get your tray of meats and sides.
The food was deliciously dairy-free, and Hill Country BBQ was smart to stock the paper towels. Their house barbecue sauce, provided at every table, complemented all the smoky flavors very well. The moist brisket was indeed most, and the ribs were enormous—two or three were enough for me. Everything was very savory and expertly seasoned, but I can only eat so much red meat before I have to stop. I left the meal feeling sort of greasy, but also very full (and very thirsty). While Hill Country BBQ also boasts all-you-can-eat nights, I’m not entirely sure that I would be up to the challenge.
Obviously this massive amount of meat was much too much for one sitting, and I’m pleased to say that the leftovers were just as delicious. It was really simple to reheat everything up in a skillet; the brisket made a great sandwich, and the ribs were great with some roasted potatoes. My family members had preferred to focus on the main meat dishes. If I went again, I doubt that I would have ordered so much meat, and I might have balanced it out with more side dishes.
Hill Country BBQ seemed to satisfy a very large clientele (large as in diverse and also just large). Regulars celebrated job promotions and birthdays, while tourists scarfed down their food as if they had walked all the way from Times Square. All the servers were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable about their menu, and they all showed a personal enthusiasm for barbecue. All in all, Hill Country BBQ was a delicious dining experience!