Nightlife review: Big Red has good food, good beer — much more than keno

By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, Sept. 23, 2019

Big Red Restaurant & Sports Bar

Where: 8933 Andermatt Drive, Lincoln

Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to midnight Sunday

Info: 402-405-0420 or


I’ve been doing bar reviews for about five years now. In those five years, I’ve had plenty of beers, ate my fair share of appetizers and watched a football game or two (thousand).

But, in all my years of barhopping, I’ve never played keno.

Thankfully, even folks like me with no keno knowledge are still able to enjoy bars such as Big Red Restaurant & Sports Bar.

Five locations of the bar and restaurant in Omaha, east Lincoln, west Lincoln, Fremont and Norfolk are associated with Big Red Keno, one of the largest keno operators in the U.S. It provides keno to almost 250 locations in eastern Nebraska.

I recently went to the Lincoln East location and found that — in addition to keno — Big Red also offers plenty of drinks and quality eats.

Big Red offers all the usual domestic brews, as well as mixed drinks and wines. It also offers some craft beer options, such as Zipline Brewing Company’s Copper Alt, which is one of my go-to beers. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend it. Zipline bills it as a hybrid of an ale and a lager. It has hints of chocolate and hazelnut and, at 5.2% ABV, it’s an easy-drinking craft beer perfect for someone who may be transitioning from domestic lagers.

On the food side, Big Red offers good bar food at even better prices.

Like any sports bar worth its salt, Big Red offers appetizers like onion rings, Bavarian pretzels, potato skins, nachos, wings and other assorted breaded and fried food. All of the appetizers, including the 18-piece wings, are under $20. Most of the items on the appetizer menu are less than $10.

Big Red has about a dozen burgers, and most of them are around $12. You can also personalize your burger with about 15 toppings. The bar also has wraps, fried shrimp, bacon macaroni and cheese, beer-battered fish, salads, sandwiches and soups. All of these options are less than $12.

The bar’s more filling dinner options — including pot roast, New York strip steak, flat iron steak, chicken fried steak, chopped steak and chicken fried chicken — also all cost less than $20, and most of them are less than $15.

I had the hand-breaded chicken tenders, which were — in a word — amazing. I know, I know. It seems like I’m exaggerating here, but I’m not. Big Red bills these as “jumbo strips of tender, juicy, all-white chicken,” and they really were. They come with Big Red’s homemade ranch for dipping and a side for $9.99.

In addition to its already generous prices, Big Red offers lunch and dinner specials, and kids eat for $1.99 every Monday and Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. with the purchase of an adult entrée. Yeah, you read that, correctly. I said $1.99.

I still don’t know a darn thing about keno, but those numbers look pretty good to me. That’s why I think I can safely bet that you’ll like Big Red Restaurant & Sports Bar.