I was convinced that they were out of business.
Skeet’s Barbecue’s small internet footprint consisted of several online reviews and an unofficial Facebook page for “Skeet’s Ribs and Chicken.” The listed phone number was disconnected, and their opening hours were a mystery.
The restaurant sticks out like a sore thumb at the intersection of North 24th and Burdette streets. Across the street from the new, bright, and shiny Fair Deal Village MarketPlace, Skeet’s resembles an old shack.
The white paint on the side of the roof is almost completely chipped off, and the rest of the building is in desperate need of a face-lift. A pair of ragged signs proudly proclaims that “Skeet’s Carry Out” is “Omaha’s Finest Barbecue.”
Skeet’s has been a community landmark in North Omaha since 1952. In that time, the restaurant has gained renown for perfecting its sauce recipes and meat-smoking techniques.
They are open for customers when I drop by for lunch with a friend on a recent Wednesday.
Walking inside, we discover a bare-bones establishment. The atmosphere seems a bit like a food truck, but indoors. A sliding glass window separates customers from employees. The menu, printed on crisp white paper, is taped to the glass. Main entrées don’t venture outside of pork, ribs, or chicken. Side dishes introduce limited additional options (smoked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, and extra bread).
An older gentleman walks out of the back room, looks at us, turns around, and returns to the back room. Five minutes later, he comes back to take our order.
Immediately after we order, he goes over to the prep station and puts together a half chicken dinner with a side of macaroni salad and a three-bone rib sandwich with a side of potato salad.
He grabs our meat selections out of their respective containers and paints a thick dark red sauce on top, drops the barbecue on two slices of Wonder bread, and sets the orders into white styrofoam to-go boxes. He tops each sandwich with an extra piece of bread. The macaroni and potato salads also come in white styrofoam containers. He packages the meals in separate plastic grocery bags and hands them off through the sliding window.
Back at my friend’s office, we unpack the bags. It is a magical, barbecue-slathered moment. Opening the take-out containers releases a succulent, smoky aroma that fills the room. We sample the mild and spicy sauces, and the meat easily falls off the bones.
The spicy barbecue sauce cloaks the chicken. Its flavor is so intense that our taste buds need a moment to regroup after a few bites. The mild sauce covering the ribs uses a ketchup base, which is subtle enough that the meat taste still comes through.
The potato salad’s strong mustard flavor balances against potatoes, onions, and other ingredients. But the macaroni salad is more palatable to my preference, with a slightly sweet sauce coating the noodles.
Skeet’s offers its customers a great deal on good barbecue. The portions are large, and the cost for our two meals is just over $15.
Overall, Skeet’s staff pour all of their attention in producing good quality barbecue at a reasonable price. Although the service, ambiance, and the appearance of the building are questionable, the food is delicious. At Skeet’s, it is all about good old-fashioned barbecue.
2201 N. 24TH ST.
Food: 4 stars
Service: 1.5 stars
Overall: 4 stars
This article was printed in the November/December 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine.