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Posted at 8:30 AM ET, 03/ 8/2011

Smoke Signals: TX 'cue (via NYC) comes to D.C.

By Jim Shahin
HCBM interior4_opt.jpg Straight out of Central (Texas) casting: Hill Country in Washington. (Hill Country)

In June 2009, The Post’s food critic Tom Sietsema wrote that New York’s Texas-style Hill Country Barbecue Market was expected to open in the District of Columbia in July 2010. Here it is, a good eight months behind schedule, and the much-hyped barbecue restaurant is finally set to open at 410 Seventh St. NW.

The 300-seat restaurant debuts for dinner on Saturday, March 12. It remains open for dinner only “until further notice.” Insiders tell Smoke Signals that full service (meaning, lunch) will probably begin a week later.

For those who follow barbecue, Hill Country’s D.C. opening is a pretty big deal. While some liken the mammoth New York original to an Epcot Center version of the real thing, others believe it is a heartfelt homage to the smokehouses of Central Texas, where Hill Country founder, CEO and Bethesda native Marc Glosserman has family roots.

The whole story will be told in The Post Food section on March 16, but here's a sneak preview: Glosserman’s grandfather was the mayor of Lockhart, Texas, in the 1950s, and as a kid, Glosserman would visit family several times a year. He fell in love with Texas culture and Lockhart’s fabled Kreuz Market, considered by pretty much anyone who has taste buds to be one of the world’s best barbecue joints.

Fast forward to 2007. Glosserman opens Hill Country in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, importing post-oak wood from Texas to smoke the meats (like the 12-hour briskets), Blue Bell ice cream, Big Red soda and Kreuz’s own sausage. Foodies and critics went nuts.

Now, Hill Country has come to Washington.

Smoke Signals wonders how it will impact Capital Q, a Texas-oriented barbecue joint in Chinatown, as well as the Washington barbecue market generally. If he were to venture a guess (and, of course, he will), he would say the impact will be favorable across the board.

The country is in the midst of a barbecue explosion that, if anything, is coming late to Washington. The appetite for slow-smoked meat seems insatiable. Lots of reasons have been proffered for the boom, from a post-9/11 search for simplicity to the Great Recession’s impact on family dining to technological advances that help reduce the inconsistencies of “stick burning” to some quest for a lost-America authenticity.

Whatever the case, Smoke Signals believes that Capital Q has groomed a loyal following over the years and that its location is far enough away from the Hill Country behemoth to continue to attract a lot of tourists and locals. As for the city generally, how many Italian restaurants are too many? How many French? Washington is experiencing a growth in dining. The new kid on the barbecue block isn’t going to run anybody off.

Muskrat love. Been awhile since you had a muskrat popper? Well, another long wait is over. Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company is stuffing toothsome morsels of deboned (thankfully) and grilled muskrat into a jalapeno, which is then deep fried.

The delicacy is part of Rocklands's annual Grills Gone Wild, which started yesterday and continues through Sunday, March 13, at all four Rocklands locations.

Other items on the menu include grilled wild Alaskan halibut, wild boar sausages and snapping turtle chili.

By Jim Shahin  | March 8, 2011; 8:30 AM ET
Categories:  Smoke Signals  | Tags:  Jim Shahin  
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Posted by: srteee | March 8, 2011 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I am VERY hopeful that this is good, but color me apprehensive. I actually think that making food close to the quality of what you'd find in Central TX is the easier part, but the problem will be NOT letting it be DC'ed (i.e. overpriced and wannabe trendy). When I read that it started in NYC that makes me even more nervous.

I've been lucky to have had BBQ from some of the top places in Lockhart and Austin and (beyond tasty food) what makes them so good is that they really are low key, family run places. Nothing fake about them. I have trouble see anything in DC, especially Penn Qr., that isn't fake.

I went to their website and it featured cupcakes....ugh.

Posted by: dugly2ugly | March 11, 2011 10:49 PM | Report abuse

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