Porky Butts BBQ, Omaha, Nebraska

Nancy and I recently resumed our quest to do 10k walks, “Volksmarches,” in all 50 state capitals, this time to check Nebraska and Kansas off the list. We rose well before the dawn to catch a flight to Kansas City. picked up a rental car, drove to Lincoln, did our 10k walk — which by the way was very nice, with lots of old areas converted to a restaurant and bar district, through the U of Nebraska campus, and past the fascinating capitol.

Have you ever seen a bluer sky? The walk competed, we hopped back in the car and high-tailed it to Omaha for the evening. We were on a mission. We were going to have dinner with Ryan Cooper.

You don’t know Ryan Cooper? He’s the genius behind BBQ Tourist (Facebook and a great Instagram account) and the co-genius with Sean Ludwig behind the Smoke Sheet. He’s also a great guy, thoroughly affable and very interesting. By day he’s a geographer with the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Ryan suggested we meet at Porky Butts.

Porky Butts is a new place in the western reaches of Omaha. It’s a new place with great promise of attaining real barbecue character with a few years of smoke and wear and tear. Why do I say that? Porky Butts has captured the essence of Kansas City style barbecue. I don’t want to oversell my qualifications. I ate at Arthur Bryant’s and Gates’ many years ago, and then again more recently. I grew up eating pork barbecue, and flatter myself that I was able to analyze the two places dispassionately, and see how they were alike and how they differed.

So, on to Porky Butts. Ryan and I talked elaborately about the menu options while Nancy decided to get smoked turkey with slaw and green beans.

Ryan and I finally, and actually inevitably, decided to get the Porky Platter, described as a “family platter for 2-3 people.” Now, according to normal serving sizes, I’m usually a family of four, so that’s 2-3 Big Hungry Boys. Voila!

Where to start? Well, you see before you, from upper left, — beans, ribs, brisket, burnt ends (under the tongs), pickled onions, a bunch of butter and honey, cornbread, and slaw. Let’s take them in order.

The beans were way above average. They were molasses free! It’s been ages since I’ve had beans that I looked so much. The ribs were nice and meaty, and they had the right texture and some smoke flavor. They had a sweet glaze for the sweetness that is one of the hallmarks of Kansas City barbecue. I enjoyed them. The brisket was tender as can be This was cut from a wonderful piece of meat — just look at that marbling.

Gorgeous. That meat and a slow smoke made it the star of the meal.

The burnt ends were a treat, a great blend of meat and fat and that sweet glaze. It’s easy to see why people love them. And those pickled onions were just right. You really want a little tart, I mean a little tartness to go with the rich food and glazes. Great touch. And the cornbread: I’ve subdivided cornbreads into sugar and no-sugar, bacon grease and no-bacon grease, cast iron and sheet pan. This cornbread was excellent for the sugar/no bacon/sheet pan category. I added some butter and really enjoyed it. The slaw was good, but what can I say about slaw? I liked it, and it’s always a plus to have some vegetables.

Did I forget to mention the pork sandwich and fries?

The pork inside there was pulled and chopped into bite sized pieces, and was tender and moist with a hint of smoke and just a touch of sauce. And the fries were terrific, with a nice touch of crispness outside and a creamy interior with a real potato flavor.

Ryan and I ate a lot of food, almost as much as Sean and I had eaten at Smokecraft before we went to Ruthie’s. The food was great, a fine example of what I’d experienced as Kansas City style barbecue. As good as the food was, the best part of the dinner may have been the conversation. Ryan is a very interesting guy, and we had a wide ranging conversation about barbecue, geography, blogs, Lewis and Clark, and Ryan’s wonderful son, Henry. We had a great time, and Nancy is now a huge fan of Ryan.

I hope that when you’re in or near Omaha, you’ll give Porky Butts a try. They have some great Kansas City style barbecue. I just hope you have as much fun as we did.


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7 thoughts on “Porky Butts BBQ, Omaha, Nebraska

  1. Porky Butts is in our Nebraska top two, alongside Smokin Barrel. The product here is well above average, from the top to the bottom of the menu.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great report. We also stopped at the capitol in Lincoln and spent a night in Omaha. I guess I’m not surprised that you singled out the baked beans from your KC-style meal. I had beans at two barbecue places in Kansas City and they were spectacularly good on both occasions. They really know how to make them in that part of the country.


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