I’m no BBQ expert, but I’ve eaten ribs from here to Kansas City – and probably every other state I’ve ever visited – and I know good BBQ when I eat it. So hopefully I’m getting my point across when I say there’s close to a zero percent chance that I will ever eat at Hill Country again. Terrible decor aside (it looks like a Hooters minus the waitresses), I’m just not a fan of overpriced food that doesn’t measure up to the so-called hype. Hill Country, an import from NY, brings neither a gritty dive-bar vibe nor a go-to BBQ spot that the city of Washington, DC, desperately needs.
I’ll just get right into it. I walk up to the counter and start salivating as I consider what I should get. It’s set up cafeteria-style, much like Vapianos. You get in line to order your food, the butchers weigh it, and then you proceed to the cashier to find out the damage.
There are so many options, I’m flat-out overwhelmed. Do I get a half-rack and a half-pound of brisket, or just a full-rack? Such a dilemma. After much internal debate, I decide to go with the half-rack and some brisket, and see what it costs. Upon asking for the half, the butcher tells me that they don’t serve “racks.” They measure each each rib individually.
Individually? Whatever. I’m thinking somewhere around the neighborhood of 6 ribs will suffice.
“I’ll take 6,” I tell him.
He reaches for one rib and puts it on the scale. The scale reads 1.03 lbs. From what I thought I understood from the menu, the market price for the ribs are $6.49/lb. Naturally, that couldn’t be possible, so I ask just to make sure.
“Is that one rib really six dollars?”
“Yeah,” he replies.
I didn’t need a financial adviser to help me with that math equation. The full-rack vs. half-rack debate was now a non-issue.
“I’ll take one rib,” I say. I had to hold back from asking the guy to pour some soda in my hand for a dime.
One rib and 3 slices of brisket later, my tab is up to $17. Throw in a side of mac and cheese, coleslaw and some of the worst cornbread I’ve ever had, and I’m at an amazingly affordable $32 (that was sarcasm in case you couldn’t tell). To make matters worse, I literally had 4 bites of meat from my rib. I think I paid $4.50 for the bone alone. The mac and cheese was ok, but $32 is just way too much for mediocre BBQ. Dan and Neil shopped a little bit smarter. A BBQ chicken breast and 1 side, or 3 slices of brisket and 1 side, clocked in at about $15. Not a large amount of food but quasi-affordable and probably enough to fulfill an appetite.
Capital Q Texan BBQ, just a few blocks down the street, serves a half-pound of meat plus 2 sides for under $10. I wouldn’t exactly call Capital Q mind-blowing either, but, for under $10, it’s a much better deal.
However, Penn Quarter is a tourist area, so if you are out with a family looking for a place, Hill Country could be a viable kid-friendly option. Me? I just love BBQ too much to experience a letdown like that again. I feel like this place was just playing with my emotions.
Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I take back what I said before. Zero chance I’m eating there ever again.
|Address:||410 Seventh St., NW (Bet. D and E Sts.) Washington, DC 20004|
|Parking:||Public Lot and Street|
|Metro:||Archives/Navy Memorial and Gallery Place/Chinatown|
|Serves:||Lunch (Daily); Dinner (Daily)|
|Specials:||None listed online|
|Go for:||BBQ chicken; brisket; baked beans; potato salad; live music|