Hill Country BBQ opened a location in Penn Quarter in DC not much more than a month ago. Hill Country refers to the Hill Country of Texas and not Capitol Hill. The original one of these places is in New York City. It's a surprisingly big joint with a basement bar where they're bringing in bands. Most of the gigs are for local bands; the Grandsons, Oklahoma Twisters, Honky Tonk Confidential, and others are well represented. But they're bringing in some Austin bands a couple times a month. Most of these shows are free. Friday, the Derailers came through and a crowd came out for them.
Most of the Derailers crowd were at the Hill Country BBQ for the first time, like myself. And since this places is a BBQ joint first and a venue second, I think it's useful explain how things work for the uninitiated. You've got a choice to make as soon as you walk in the door: seated at a table or at the bar. They are treated differently. For table seating each person gets a meal card which tracks your purchases (don't loose it). Service is cafeteria style; there are a few meal options, but you pick what you want like a deli... 1/4 lb of brisket, sausage, or whatever. The food is quite good, even if they do follow that strange Texas emphasis for barbecuing cows. When I arrived on Friday the wait for tables was significant, 45 minutes maybe. But you can call ahead and reserve a table, which is particularly important if you want one downstairs.
If you choose the bar option, you get a wrist band and everything goes through the bar. You can get food, but I think it's limited to the bar menu.
Anyway, the music... the Derailers... excuse me, the DErailers are a honky-tonk country band out of Austin. They've been through a few changes over the years and flirted with mainstream country success, but it never worked out. And co-founder Tony Villanueva left the band in 2001. I think that was a rough time for them. But they were in fine form Friday night. They played a good mix of songs, their own stuff and covers often with little musical references sprinkled throughout. Hill Country BBQ doesn't have the license from the local ANC that lets them have a "dance floor" but there is some room and no objection to us getting up and dancing. The floor is concrete, but it's not a bad surface.
There's a lot of good music coming.