Hill Country Chicken is late to the fried chicken game. Blue Ribbon started the movement, followed soon after by Pies 'n' Thighs, Momofuku, The Redhead and The Commodore. Suddenly burgers were "so two years ago" and chicken became the new "it" food. Dave Chapelle, wherever he is, would be proud.
Under normal circumstances, we'd probably wait for a restaurant to be open for more than two weeks to weigh in, but we figured we'd be polite and help this new chicken counter work out its kinks. First, and most importantly, let's talk chicken. Hill Country is average at best. It's missing that extra special something that makes mouthwatering fried chicken all kinds of chronic. Additionally, they need to upgrade to actual plates and real silverware. Red baskets might be cute, but they're impossible to cut chicken in, especially when you're using a wimpy plastic fork and knife. Better hot sauce options and maybe a homemade BBQ sauce wouldn't be a bad idea, nor would putting said sauces on each table instead of in the communal area near the soda. Maybe we're spoiled, but we dig our fried chicken cooked to order, piping hot, and plucked right out the fryer rather than sitting under a heat lamp.
One last thing - fried chicken is supposed to be comfort food, right? There's nothing comfortable about waiting in line with a bunch of people and then dog fighting for a table. Honestly, we're not trying to hate - we really wanted this place to be awesome. But, with so many incredible fried chicken options around these days, this isn't one to go out of your way for.
Mama Els Chicken
Personally, I liked this recipe a bit more, as it tasted like the chicken was coated in brown sugar. Still, there was just something missing. It wasn't crispy enough on the outside or juicy enough on the inside to make you want to keep eating it. After a small piece or two, I'd had enough.Biscuits
I like my biscuits buttery and soft and these were heavy and dry. Not good.Texas Hand Roll
There's been a lot of fuss about this, and it's clearly the best thing on the menu. Still, it's not much better than the fried chicken wrap you can get at your local Chopt. The goodness of the chicken and fried avocado (ask for it with both) gets masked by the taste of the wrap, which is dry and bland. That being said, if I worked around here, this wrap would be a weekly power lunch move. It's got absolutely nothing on the Pies 'N' Thighs chicken biscuit, which has set the signature chicken sandwich bar pretty high.Sides
One of our favorite things about Hill Country are the sides - they SLAY sides. You can't beat their cucumber salad or corn pudding. Why wouldn't Hill Country Chicken use the same ones? Baffling. Instead, we're stuck with an inedible, slimy corn salad with too much red pepper and average cole slaw. We were pumped for corn pudding. Big disappointment.
We sampled one of each chicken part (leg, wing, thigh, breast) in each variety (Classic, Mama Els) to get a good feel for the bird. Overall, we were unimpressed. While the servings are big and you definitely won't leave hungry, the Classic recipe just didn't do it for us. Who's ready to hop on the train and go to Brooklyn?