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.)