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Austin on the Beltway

Texas politicians clamor for a slice of Hill Country

Author Jason Plautz Illustration Peter Oumanski

globetrotting5WASHINGTON D.C. – Considering its cowboy-boot décor and massive Lone Star flag made from blue jeans and red bandanas, D.C.’s Hill Country BBQ cannot be accused of subtlety. And that fact, as much as anything else, speaks to its Texas roots.

The 2-year-old honky-tonk joint, which ships in Texas brands like Blue Bell ice cream and Shiner beer, has become a big hit with homesick pols (Sen. John Cornyn is a regular, as is Gov. Rick Perry when he’s in town). It also offers plenty of opportunity for yee-haw posturing. Never has prime rib been consumed with such photogenic gusto. Rep. Michael McCaul, who claims to have discovered the place, took to the stage not long ago to play guitar with Austin country star Jack Ingram.
McCaul, too, can almost certainly lay claim to the best Hill Country–related sound bite. “I’ve always said we need a little less Washington in Texas,” he says, “and a little more Texas in Washington.”

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