The tagline stenciled on nearly every surface at Stanley’s is “Be Kind, Have Fun,” a somewhat incongruous entreaty in this traditionally rough-and-tumble East Texas railroad town. But Stanley’s lives up to the motto, combining a world-class barbecue joint with two bars stocked with a dizzying selection of beer and assorted whiskeys and a honky tonk–inspired stage for live music. Owner Nick Pencis’s smoked meats are consistently great, anchored by the towering Mother Clucker smoked chicken sandwich and the baby back ribs rubbed with an eleven-spice dry mixture. Above all, Stanley’s is a community gathering place where staff and guests embody the fun and kindness that the restaurant’s slogan extols.
Stanley’s Famous Pit Barbecue
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