by Kriston Capps
This is how you make barbecue in Central Texas:
And this is where it comes from:
So how do you fit all that here?:
In July 2010, Bethesda-native Marc Glosserman proposes to bring his wildly successful Central Texas–style Chelsea barbecue joint Hill Country to Penn Quarter. Will it work?
As IFA readers know it’s extremely difficult to open a restaurant in the District. Now, Glosserman’s just printing money from his location in Chelsea. I don’t think he’ll have much of a problem in this regard, provided that he’s patient. (Something that might be harder to pull off in Penn Quarter: a live music stage.) The larger question is whether he can fit a smokehouse into a storefront.
According to the Washington Business Journal, Glosserman’s renting 13,000 square feet in Penn Quarter. (I presume that means Hill Country DC will take up the spaces formerly occupied by both Lifestyles USA and Apartment Zero. I’m not sure which I’ll miss more.) So that’s 3,000 more square feet than he has for his Chelsea location.
You’d think that 10K square feet would be plenty to set up a smokehouse, but he’s had to make some shortcuts. Primarily: gas. Tim Carman toured the smokers when the place opened and notes that the pits use both wood and gas. Presumably the gas only serves to start and stoke the fire. If that’s the case, gas is a shortcut I’ll live with—in the long run, he’s still smoking with wood.
I visited Hill Country for the opening, too, and the biggest problem I had with the place was what I still presume to be a misprint on the menu: My man serves “lean” and “moist” brisket. I can only conclude that “lean” means “half a pound or less,” because there’s no trimming the fat off the brisket. That just isn’t done. (The only time I have ever witnessed such a thing was when I ordered a brisket cut at Whole Foods. A one-time mistake, to be sure.)
Otherwise, Hill Country just kills it. Longhorn mac n’ cheese, German potatoes, deviled eggs, green-bean casserole—that’s straight out of Gruene Hall, y’all. They get the sausage from Kreutz, they serve the Q with Texas toast, they don’t mess with sauce, and everything’s on butcher paper. Think there’s any chance they’ll open affordable housing above the restaurant?