Texas Monthly publishes its mouthwatering list of the state’s 50 best barbecue grills once every four years, and this time fewer establishments in East Texas have been selected.
Stanley’s famous Pit Bar-BQ to Tyler landed among the best again as he extended his streak by five consecutive streaks 50 best barbecue joints lists, but that wasn’t the only mention by amateur barbecue magazine. Texas Monthly also published a list of 50 honorable mentions barbecues, including Bodacious Bar-BQ in Hallsville, Joseph’s Riverport Barbecue in Jefferson, and Slaughter’s BBQ Oasis in Sulfur Springs.
Barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn and 35 tasters visited 411 Texas barbecue restaurants to determine this year’s list. Seeing Stanley’s name on this list once again was exciting, said Tamara Bethancourt, director of employee relations at Stanley.
“I think for Stanley, and not just for Stanley but for Tyler as a whole, it’s exciting to see us on the roster. It’s exciting to see Tyler in magazines, ”Bethancourt said.
Over the years, Texas barbecue has improved a lot and Stanley barbecue has continued to improve as well, said Daniel Vaughn, editor of Texas Monthly barbecue.
“It’s just one of those barbecue places,” Vaughn said. “It’s pretty rare that he keeps improving list after list.”
Being chosen as one of the 50 Best BBQs in Texas is like having a truly powerful barbecue, he said. There are things to consider as tiebreakers like sides and desserts, but the main goal is a great platter of brisket, ribs, sausage, and any other specialty item from one place.
In addition to their barbecue, Stanley’s also continued to improve their surroundings, making it a fun place to eat, he added.
“For me, it’s just the most fun place to go to eat barbecue in Texas, especially when they have a live show,” Vaughn said.
There is a long history behind Stanley that makes people proud to work and visit there, Bethancourt said. Stanley’s was opened in 1960 by JD Stanley and taken over in 2006 by Nick and Jen Pencis after Stanley’s death.
Stanley’s is a place that is not only strong community now, but always has been, she said.
This year, honorable mentions have been made differently, Vaughn said. Typically, it’s given to a joint that cooked a specific dish really well, but this year it’s a continuation of the Top 50 BBQs in Texas.
Gabriel Ritter, owner of Bodacious in Hallsville, said it was an honor to be among the top 100 barbecues in the state.
“We spent a lot of hours here,” Ritter said. “We’ve pretty much dedicated our lives to this job, so for someone to notice, we’re proud of it.”
Pitmaster Bryan Bingham worked at the original Bodacious location on Mobberly Avenue in Longview before venturing to launch Sunbird Barbecue in May with David Segovia.
Bodacious on Mobberly landed in fourth place on Texas Monthly’s previous roster, although Bingham wasn’t surprised his new spot wasn’t on the roster this time around.
“We were pretty sure we didn’t meet the criteria for how long it was open,” said Bingham, whose Sunbird was part of Texas Monthly’s BBQ Fest on Oct. 10 with Riverport at Stanley’s.
Bingham said he was not upset not to be on the list, although he would like to get the green light in the future. Its goal, however, is to produce a good barbecue.
“Our top priority is literally to bring the best food possible to our customers and to do something different here in East Texas,” he said. “We really just want to put East Texas and Longview on the map, and that motivates us to really push ourselves to do it.”