It's hard to fake me out when it comes to food. I'll know probably before I take a bite of something whether or not it was made on the premesis, or flash-frozen and shipped from some salmonella factory Guatemala, or Sam's Hamburger Patties in Dung Pile, GA (E.Coli Free since March!). Fake food annoys me. It's easy. It insults our intelligence as consumers. But, what's to be expected? Haven't we been lulled to sleep over the decades from companies and restaurant chains who know that the vast majority of Americans could give a shit less where their food comes from, let alone how it even tastes half the time? Is it cheap? Is it fast? We buy it. We drive away from the drive-thru window.
It's safe to say that's not how things are done at Phat Jack's BBQ. It's a great success story (at least a story that hasn't had a quick and abrupt ending, like so many start-up restaurants). Matt and Jackie started out as a competitive BBQ team, cutting their teeth around the Kansas City area beginning in 2004. Like most winning teams, practice patience and time brought them some success, with such accomplishments as taking home 4th place in the 2007 World Brisket Open. Others include reserve chamption at the 2007 Cookin' on the Kaw, and 2008 Eagle, NE Days Grand Champion. With their success, they were drawn as an invitee to the prestigious Jack Danilel's Word Championship Invitational in 2008. "The Jack" is one of the crown jewels on the competitive BBQ circuit, but due to a scheduling conflict, they were unable to attend.
In 2009, they took their passion to the next level, and opened up their own restaurant, committed to offering "competition-quality" BBQ to the masses. While they can't cook in such quantity as some of the others, their quality certainly makes up for it. They make all of the usual favorites: Brisket, ribs, pork shoulder. I can't say that any of these selections are anything less than above average to excellent. Personally, I'm a sucker for their brisket. Tender, but not mushy, great flavor, perfect smoke.
Another favorite is a daily special, featuring slices of smoked sausage serving as the bed for a mound of pulled pork, drizzled with sauce. Heaven.
As for the crowds? Get to this place before Noon, otherwise you'll be standing in line....sometimes out the front door. The seating area is fairly small, but I like that. And have patience trying to get to the place...it's not the easiest to pull into, depending on which direction of Cornhusker Road you're traveling.
A full, ringing endorsement for this tremendous hidden gem for BBQ fans around Lincoln, although it's popularity is catching on. It may not be the exact same consistency from day-to-day, but that's the nature of cooking competition BBQ. I wouldn't want it any other way.