Considering how popular Ribfest is in Lincoln I'm surprised we haven't seen more barbecue chains set up shop here.
There are several local vendors, but Famous Dave's has been the one and only franchise for several years.
On July 19, Dickey's Barbecue Pit became the second. The Texas-based chain opened its first Nebraska location in the shopping center anchored by Super Saver at 27th Street and Cornhusker Highway.
Dickey's first restaurant went up in Dallas in 1941. The restaurant began franchising in 1994. Today, it boasts more than 150 stores in 38 states.
The restaurant is known for slow-roasting its meats -- ribs, brisket, pulled pork, ham, chicken and turkey breast, Polish sausage and spicy cheddar sausage -- overnight at each location.
The Lincoln site is owned by Will Carter and his parents. A former home inspector, Carter was looking for another opportunity when he discovered Dickey's online.
"I read the review, did my research and made some phone calls," he said. "It seemed like it would be a good fit (for Lincoln)."
Carter and his general manager attended three weeks of training to learn how to run the smoker inside the restaurant. Dickey's taught them how to prepare, smoke and cut the meats.
Diners have several options, ranging from "meat plates" to sandwiches to baked potatoes and salads. Although I'm not sure why anybody would order a salad at a BBQ joint.
The plates and/or sandwiches are the best way to go, costing $6 to $10, with a choice of two sides and buttery roll.
I ordered a two-meat plate ($9) -- ribs and sliced brisket -- with fried okra and macaroni and cheese. My guest, a friend from Chicago, ordered the four-bone rib plate ($10) with green beans and fried onion tanglers.
Our ribs were meaty, but a tad dry as was the brisket -- a sign of being cooked a little too long. I moistened the meat with Dickey's sauces, which included sweet (my favorite), hot and signature flavors. The signature sauce is tangy in a vinegary kind-of way.
The portions are sizable. The quarter plate, for instance, features a quarter pound of any kind of meat with two sides for $7.
The sides definitely are a draw. Other choices include beans, coleslaw, jalapeno beans, potato salad, baked potato casserole, Caesar salad and waffle fries. I was quite happy to find fried okra. Grade: B
Dickey's is not full service, using a fast-casual concept that is trending right now. Customers peruse the menu and order at one end of the counter and pay at the other end.
The staff hands over the food at the cash register or brings it out to the table, depending on which sides are ordered. The fried okra and onion tangles take a little longer than the premade macaroni and cheese.
Food is served in baskets and utensils are plastic. The sauces are on a separate counter with the soda and ice cream machines. Putting squeeze bottles at each table seems to make more sense. Grade: B
Dickey's has the look and feel of a down-home restaurant, with black-and-white photos and a variety of nostalgic-type signage. There's plenty of tables for dine-in customers, with a roll of paper towels at each table. Classic country music is played over the sound system. Grade: B