I was in Omaha on a recent fall evening and I had a hankering for some barbecue. I was staying on the southwest side of the city and I was looking for places that were in the immediate area. I found a place called Doc & Eddie's BBQ that wasn't far from the hotel. I made it over there to find out a pretty interesting back story on how the place came to be.
Dr. Jeff DeMare is a renowned critical pediatric care doctor at Children's Hosptial and Medical Center in Omaha. When Dr. DeMare began to work at Children's Hospital in 2002 he befriended a security guard by the name of Eddie Vacek. It turns out that DeMare and Vacek had a number of things in common - they liked to talk about sports and about girls. But they also found out that they both had a deep appreciation for good barbecue. This unlikely friendship turned into a partnership where DeMare ended up buying a portable professional smoker and Vacek and he would spend their summer weekends in 2006 along side a road in the Omaha suburb of Gretna drinking beers, smoking meats and selling it to the people who would stop by.
The two decided that they needed to have a full time barbecue joint. They found a spot in a strip mall on the southwest side of the city, but just before the place opened up Eddie Vacek suddenly passed away. DeMare was determined to soldier on in remembrance of his friend and he opened Doc & Eddie's BBQ in July of 2007. (There is a former chain of sports bars that was called Doc & Eddy's, but they're not affiliated with DeMare's barbecue joint.) DeMare ended up hiring Lynette Hughes to be the manager and part-owner of Doc & Eddie's.
Doc & Eddie's is located in a strip mall just northwest of the corner of 168th and Harrison. (see map) It's set back from the street a bit, so there was a bit of driving around the parking lot before I found the small storefront of the restaurant. If I'd had my window down in my car I would have been able to find the place a lot quicker. The smell of the smoke of there restaurant was wafting in the cool fall air.
I got there at the right time - it was around 7:30 and they were only open until 8 p.m. that evening. A couple other people were in there eating when I got there and, interestingly, a number of cops came in to pick up orders to go from the time I got in there up to the time I left.
The place isn't all that big - it probably seats three dozen or so people. There are a number of tables and booths between the brick walls. The kitchen area is open behind the front counter.
The menu is located on the wall above the counter. Doc & Eddy's specializes in meaty St. Louis style ribs as well as beef brisket, pulled pork, smoked sausage and turkey. They also have grilled chicken sandwiches and burgers on the menu. As I'm wont to do with most barbecue places that I visit, I want to try a couple three things. I was looking at getting the ribs, brisket and pulled pork platter, but I was told by the young girl at the front counter that it was a lot of food. The guy manning the kitchen in the back said, "Yeah, if you're really hungry, go for it."
I decided to just go with the pulled pork and brisket combo. I got two sides with it - I chose baked beans, but was having trouble figuring out if I wanted fries, cole slaw, potato salad, corn fritters, or a handful of other sides. I asked the girl for a suggestion and she said, "We sell a lot of the mac and cheese." OK, I'll do the mac and cheese as a second side. And the one great thing about Doc & Eddy's - they had beer. I like a cold beer with barbecue so I was happy they could accommodate me that evening.
The barbecue platter was brought out to me about five minutes after I ordered at the front counter. The first thing I noticed was that they had chopped brisket rather than sliced brisket. I normally don't go for the chopped brisket, but that's what I got. But the first bite pretty much allayed any trepidation I had toward chopped brisket. The brisket had a great smoky taste, it was moist and tender, and it literally melted in my mouth. It was some of the finest brisket I've ever tasted.
The pulled pork was also moist and tasty, but it wasn't as good as the brisket. The pulled pork and chopped brisket were served on pieces of white bread, a nod to Southern-style barbecue places.
Doc & Eddie's BBQ had three different types of sauces - their original sauce had a sweet taste with a bit of spiciness on the backside; the chipotle sauce had a faint chipotle taste with more of a spicy kick, but nothing that was overbearing; and a sweet pineapple sauce that was sweet and fruity. I didn't care for the sweet pineapple sauce, but found myself going more toward the chipotle sauce than the original Doc & Eddie's sauce.
For the sides, the girl steered me wrong on the mac and cheese - it was pretty pedestrian and bland, but the baked beans were good. And they were made even better when I added in a mixture of the chipotle and original barbecue sauces.
I'll have to say that my meal at Doc & Eddie's surpassed my expectations. The brisket was outstanding, the pulled pork wasn't that far behind the brisket, the sauces were above average - not outstanding - but still good, and the beans totally saved the sides over the limp tasting mac and cheese. I'll say Jeff DeMare has done a wonderful job keeping the memory of Eddie Vacek alive with the fine barbecue at Doc & Eddie's BBQ.