Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue

525 S. Beckham Ave.
Tyler, TX 75702

Phone: 903-593-0311
Hours: Breakfast Mon-€“Fri 7-€“10; lunch and dinner Mon-€“Sat 11-€“9
Twitter: @stanleysfamous

Opened 1959
Pitmaster Nick Pencis (since 2006) and Jonathan Shaw (since 2009)
Method Pecan; gas-fired smoker (ribs); indirect-heat pit (everything else)
Pro Tip Try a "breakfast bowl." Then go back to bed.

TMBBQ Rating: 4.5

Texas Monthly BBQ Top 50

More Reviews

May 16, 2013

Owner Nick Pencis isn’t going to take it anymore. For years he felt compelled by regional tastes to serve lightly seasoned briskets without a speck of fat on them. But when he renovated his restaurant in 2012 (adding a new bar and patio along with an impressive pit room), a few of the menu items got a makeover as well. The brisket now receives a more aggressive dusting of salt and coarse black pepper, and…

July 1, 2009

The four meat sampler plate should become a staple of every self-respecting BBQ joint. The idea of piling a plate with multiple proteins, and diggin’ in without the distractions of cole slaw, pinto beans or anything else to slow down the ingestion pleases me. The folks over at Stanley’s seem to agree with me. A friend from LA wanted a taste of some good Texas ‘cue so we headed out to East Texas in search…

May 21, 2008

The Brother-in-Law, a sandwiched smorgasbord of chopped beef, butterflied hot links, and cheese, has a powerful (and well-deserved) reputation in East Texas, but order the old-fashioned hand-pulled-pork sandwich, filled with juicy shreds of perfectly smoked pork shoulder. Nick Pencis, the owner and pitmaster, follows a fifty-year-old smoking method—meats housed for sixteen hours in the pecan-fueled pit—to turn out some of the best barbecue in this neck of the Piney Woods.


May 17, 2010

On a trip down to Nacogdoches, the family stopped for ‘cue in Tyler at Stanley’s. I’d visited once before with a friend and found many faults with Stanley’s although it seemed to have potential. After meeting owner Nick Pencis at the Gettin’ Sauced event in Austin, he urged me to return and try some of the recipes he had tweaked, most importantly the brisket. It has improved but there are still some issues.

Again, I ordered a four meat sampler along with a turkey sandwich for my wife. I actually enjoy BBQ sauce as a condiment (just not on well smoked meat), but my wife can’t stand it. So when my platter arrived with sauce on the side, and my wife’s sandwich had sauce all over the meat, I was confused and disappointed. After wiping it off with some paper towels, she had an edible sandwich of tender smokey turkey from an actual turkey breast rather than some processed bird. The sausage type had not changed, but these grocery store grade links had received a heftier dose of smoke to make them more palatable. Baby back ribs were meatier, but had a good crust despite the heavily sweet glaze. A good amount of smoke could be detected in these tasty ribs. Brisket was also smoky, and showed a great improvement from the first visit. Although too much fat had been trimmed, what was left behind were slices with a nice bark and a plenty good smokering. The flavor was smokey, and the meat was moist and perfectly tender. This was some good beef.

Two portions of pork. Which one looks better?

Pulled pork was a conundrum for me. The first batch was pale, monochromatic, and lacked much flavor at all. I explained this to the pit master, who promptly switched it out for a much better portion of pork that had bits of black bark with plenty of flavor and smoky goodness. I decided to reward a pit master who was willing to make it right rather than downgrade them for giving me a substandard portion of meat to begin with.

(This review originally appeared on Full Custom Gospel BBQ.)



    PM Summer says:

    Is this the place near the hospital, perched on a hill?

    BBQ Snob says:

    That’s the one. Have you been?

    wws says:

    I live in Tyler, go to Stanley’s often, it’s my favorite BBQ in the area by far!

    One meat I *have* to recommend isn’t covered in this review, and usually isn’t the kind of item that I search out in a bbq joint. But I guarantee that Stanley’s smoked turkey will be the juiciest, tenderest, and most fully flavored turkey you will ever taste in your life. I don’t know how they do it different, but I have never tasted any other turkey in my life that even approaches what Stanley’s can do with it.

    Anonymous says:

    I live in Tyler, and used to religiously frequent this place until the staff started shifting. They got rid of a long haired fella lovingly known as hippie, and you started seeing ( though I believe he was still there ) the young owner Nick less often. I think this coincided with a drop in the quality of the cue, which isnt exactly texas standard to begin with. Their pulled pork and ribs have always been my overall favorites, but I rarely go by there any longer, preferring to smoke it myself these days.

    Mr. L says:

    I miss this place. Used to live up the street and it was my introduction to barbecue. I remember some very tasty beef ribs if you were lucky enough to get them, they weren’t always available. You’ve convinced me to swing over there for a bite when I’m in town next month, it’s been at least 15 years.

    CajunScouse says:

    Stopped by Stanley’s today after visiting a relative in the hospital nearby. My first visit and I opted for the four meat sampler. I think EVERY BBQ joint should offer such a thing. Four meats and no sides to get in the way? Lovely! Anyway, my four choices were fatty brisket, hot links, pulled pork and pork ribs. The brisket was pretty good. Fat wasn’t completely rendered but the meat had plenty of smoke. The hot links were a bit of a disappointment. It tasted exactly like store bought smoked sausage. I actually thought they had made a mistake and given me smoked sausage. When Josh, a dude of all trades at the joint, asked how my meal was I explained the “mistake”. He corrected me that this was their hot link and quickly ran to the back and brought me some of their smoked sausage as well. Nice guy. Smoked was not much better though. The pulled pork and pork rib were the best on the sampler. Pork was slightly sweet without the addition of sauce. Ribs were meaty and sweet with nice smoke flavor. Too bad BBQ joints in northwest Louisiana can’t take a cue from our neighbors at Stanley’s in Tyler and Joseph’s in Jefferson.

    Tom Coleman says:

    Mr. Pencis, I just wanted to let you know that I consider myself a good judge of BBQ. I will tell you that your BBQ is much better than Coopers at the Stockyards in Fort Worth and you have a much better price than they do and the quantity is much more than theirs as they give you only a little birsket and/or pulled pork and/or ribs; you are also much better than Goodes in Houston, TX who has the best BBQ in all of Houston. If you don’t know and I’m sure you do, their pecan pies are sold all over the USA at both Thanksgiving and Christmas; your BBQ is much better than the place that is in Kilgore where the original outlet is in either Shreveport and/or Bossier City, LA; and while, in my opinion this place comes in second to Stanley’s, it is still behind you and that is Saddlers in Henderson, TX and also the Purple Pig in Flint, TX, who has gotten much better with their new owner, Mr. Wright of Wrights BBQ.

    I’m glad you had a place for me to send this so that all could read it and know more about Stanley’s.

    Have both a blessed day and a blessed week and blessings on your sales for the rest of 2015 and for the remainder of the time that your establishment is in Tyler, TX.


    Tom Coleman

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