Issue 30

BBQ Review: Nine BBQ Restaurants Duke it out to be Omaha’s best

BBQ Review: Nine BBQ Restaurants Duke it out to be Omaha’s best

For this issue’s food review we held another one of our food competitions — this one to answer the oft-asked question, “Who has the best barbecue in the area?” Barbecue was brought in from nine of the best slow-cooking, meat-extravanganza, coma-inducing restaurants in the Metro area. There was a ton of food on hand and for just $15 attendees walked away with as much food as they wanted and the opportunity to vote for their favorites.

Food & Spirits Magazine held its first annual barbecue competition, which we called “Booze, Bands & BBQ,” at The Waiting Room last October. As always, Lucky Bucket was on hand with their fine brew and beer specials and Hockenbergs Food Service Equipment and Supply Company made a much-needed appearance with food warmers to keep all that barbecue piping hot. Also, the fine folks from the Heartland Chapter of the American Culinary Federation provided service. Boot-stomping barbecue music was provided by Matt Cox, 24-Hour Cardlock and The Willards, with a special guest appearance by Benson’s own Trent Knox.

As with all of FSM’s food competitions, there was an enormous amount of food on hand with attendees stuffing their face as much as they wanted and getting a take-out container to take their favorite BBQ home — scoring some of the best leftovers you could possibly ask for.


  • Swine Dining, 204 E. Mission Ave. in Bellevue
  • Boxer BBQ, 722 Creek Top in Council Bluffs
  • Chef Mike’s, 2401 Lake St. in Omaha
  • Harkert’s Bar-B-Q, 4865 Center St. No. 6 in Omaha
  • Hartland BBQ, 5402 Northwest Radial Hwy. in Omaha
  • Ozark Smoked Meat Co., 11302 Wright Cir. in Omaha
  • Uncle Earnie’s BBQ, 110 E. B St. in Cedar Creek
  • Hog Stop, 3621 9th Ave. in Council Bluffs
  • This Little Piggy BBQ, Catering only (but can be reached at 402.598.8263)


Participating restaurants were asked to enter at least one category but could enter as many as they wanted. Available categories were Ribs, Brisket, Specialty Meats, Pulled Pork, Barbeque Sauce and Side Dishes. Attendees were invited to vote for their favorites and nearly 200 votes were cast. The Food & Spirits esteemed team of judges — Bill MacKenzie (former president of the Greater Omaha BBQ Society), Derek (from, FSM writers Marq Manner and Jeremy Hunter — were also on hand to vote for their favorites as well.

As always, the competition was fierce, but a few clear favorites emerged from both the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice. Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of similarities between the results from the attendees and judges but both were just as enthusiastic in their praise for the vittles. The clear favorite from the People’s Choice was Boxer BBQ in Council Bluffs, while the judges favored Uncle Earnie’s and Ozark Smoked Meat Company, which are both located in Omaha. That being said, there was wide variation in the scores and every participating restaurant ranked in the top three in at least one category from either the judges or the attendees. So, without further ado, here are your top three winners in each category:


People’s Choice: Hartland, Uncle Earnie’s and Ozark

Judge’s Choice: Swine Dining, Hog Stop, Boxer and Ozark (tied for third with Boxer)



People’s Choice: Boxer, Uncle Earnie’s and Hartland

Judge’s Choice: Famous Dave’s, Swine Dining and Uncle Earnie’s



People’s Choice: Hartland, Uncle Earnie’s and Boxer

Judge’s Choice: Ozark (Hot), Ozark (Regular) and Uncle Earnie’s


Specialty Meat

People’s Choice: Uncle Earnie’s, Swine Dining and Chef Mike’s

Judge’s Choice: Uncle Earnie’s, Ozark (Sausage), Ozark (Feather Bones)


Pulled Pork

People’s Choice: Boxer, Chef Mike’s and Hartland

Judge’s Choice: Uncle Earnie’s, Chef Mike’s and Hog Stop


Side Dish

People’s Choice: Boxer, Hog Stop and Chef Mike’s

Judge’s Choice: Ozark, Hog Stop and Chef Mike’s


Plans for the next “Booze, Bands & BBQ” event are already under way with a tentative date set for October 15, again at The Waiting Room. As you might suspect there will be copious amounts of booze, bands and barbecue.

Erik Totten

Erik Totten

Erik Totten is the founder and publisher of Food & Spirits Magazine in Omaha, Nebraska. He's worked in publications for the last 21 years at all levels. As well as serving as a writer, designer, photographer and editor, he's also founded two publications which have allowed him to grow into being a publisher, which he would describe as his 'true calling'.

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