Compared to our southern neighbors, the Midwest is sometimes overlooked when it comes to barbecue notoriety. But Omaha has so much to offer! We found a few restaurants in the area that put us on the map, and a couple have even developed our very own, unique Nebraska-style BBQ. We have a bit of everything here — including smoky, saucy, spicy and more. And with this useful guide to the best in town, you can try every single one!
In between those Omaha steak dinners and our Reuben pride, sneak a little BBQ into your diet. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll definitely be craving more!
Must-try: Pulled Pork
Swine Dining has won multiple awards in barbecue — most recently, a local first place award at the 4th Annual BBQ Ribstock. Omaha World Herald also chose it for best overall BBQ and best pulled pork. While the credentials suggest you should try it all, if you only have one choice, we suggest the pulled pork! It has the perfect amount of bark — flavorful charred bits — and smoky flavor to satisfy all your BBQ cravings.
Photo courtesy of Smoking Jay’s
Must-try: Jay’s Grilled Cheese
One of the newest BBQ spots in the city, Smoking Jay’s serves up all the smoked classics as well as gizzard and barbecue chicken. If you want to sample a bit of everything (which we definitely suggest) you can order family style and eat your heart out! Try Jay’s Grilled Cheese for a flavor combination you won’t soon forget — jalapeño bread, cheese, pulled pork, BBQ sauce, and sautéed peppers and onions.
Photos courtesy of Tattoo Bob’s
Tattoo Bob’s isn’t actually a restaurant — it’s a food truck! And this mobile BBQ smoker dishes out the best ribs in Omaha. The World Herald thinks so, too. You’ll have to check their Facebook page to find out when you can get a taste, but the ribs are worth the effort as they are southern quality and consistently perfect — both in flavor and tenderness.
Must-try: BBQ Pork Sandwich
The first Jim’s Rib Haven opened in 1967 in Rock Island, Illinois. The ribs were too delicious not to share and soon enough, demand rose. When they were forced to open more, Mr. Overton chose Omaha for his next carry-out BBQ shop and we’re so glad he did! Since coming to the city, Jim’s Rib Haven has been a local favorite. Omaha isn’t the only place in love with Jim’s Rib Haven, though. It made Food Network’s best of 2002!
Fat Shack began as a year round food truck and just recently opened their brick and mortar location serving the same hickory smoked classics. We weren’t the only ones who braved the weather year round to get more Fat Shack BBQ, so the indoor seating is much appreciated! Though their pulled pork and ribs are delicious and nearly perfect, the stand-out is the brisket. It is tender and melt-in-your-mouth perfection!
Must-try: Baby Back Ribs
Hartland Bar-B-Que won best barbecue in the 2015 Best of Omaha thanks to their baby back ribs — and we could not agree more. They’re slow smoked with real hardwood and are some of the meatiest ribs in Omaha. But all the meat on their menu is smoked old fashioned pit style, so you can’t go wrong with anything.
Photos courtesy of Hiatt Family BBQ
Must-try: BBQ sauce
Hiatt Family BBQ’s restaurant is take-out only, but keep your eyes peeled (or check their Facebook page) for their food truck which ventures into the city on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We can’t decide if the meat is actually some of the best we’ve tasted or if their homemade sauce is just that good. Lucky for us, we don’t have to choose as you can order it by the pint!
Photos courtesy of Hog Wild Pit Bar-B-Q
Must-try: Smoke Stack Sandwich
Hog Wild began in Kansas and though the state’s southern status has been argued, there’s no denying where the barbecue comes from. They brought their genuine, southern pit style BBQ to the Midwest and we couldn’t be more thankful. Try the smoke stack sandwich to get two of their best meals at once: beef brisket and sausage links!
Must-try: Burnt Ends
Boyd and Charlie’s serves more than just BBQ, but that’s what won them the Best of Omaha in 2015. They’ve been serving delicious barbecue in Elkhorn for over ten years now and over time they have perfected their burnt ends — marinated, seasoned and smoked with mesquite wood. Considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking, burnt ends are difficult to master, but Boyd and Charlie’s makes it look easy!
Photos courtesy of We’ll Smoke U
Must-try: Hot Hawaiian
We’ll Smoke U is just west of Omaha in Gretna. Their barbecue is flavorful and paired with some of the best unique barbecue sides — Smothered Fries and Piggy Tails. Their pulled pork is the best combination of sweet and smoky, and their Hot Hawaiian option pairs it with pineapple and jalapeños. Check their Facebook page for delicious daily specials!
Photos courtesy of 402BBQ
Must-try: Smoked Sausage
Featured in our Top Food Trucks in Omaha, 402BBQ is also one of the best spots for barbecue in the area, so they’re leading in both categories. Track the truck down on Facebook or Twitter and prepare yourself for their 100% handmade grub. They source all their meat locally and smoke it over a Mulberry and Apple wood fire in true Nebraska style with locally farmed vegetables, one-of-a-kind sauce, and fresh Rotella’s bread!
Must-try: Rib Tips
Originally inspired by Memphis barbecue, Beyond BBQ now embraces traditions from nearly every region — with 12 different sauces to choose from and a huge menu, including a few Asian options. Their meats are brined Memphis style and slow smoked up to 23 hours! They also have a restaurant and a trailer which has been making appearances at festivals and markets all over the area! You can follow along on their Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of Block 16
Must-try: Pulled Pork Sandwich
Block 16 is not just a BBQ restaurant, but their pulled pork sandwich makes our list nevertheless. It turns barbecue into a farm-to-table experience, and gives the pulled pork sandwich a fresh and flavorful twist. Served on a sourdough hoagie with few condiments, this sandwich allows the slow-braised, sweet and tangy meat speak for itself. This is the perfect place to stop by if your group can’t decide what to eat — they have a little bit of everything and it’s all farm fresh!
Where do you eat BBQ?
Which Omaha BBQ joint is your favorite? If we missed it, let us know! For more information and updates on other great places to eat in the area, be sure to subscribe to our blog.