The internet is a glorious thing. Thanks to its magical powers, we're barreling down a winding two-lane road somewhere north of Longview. Ranch-style homes sit on sprawling lots, and trees on both sides of the road arch their canopies overhead, forming a verdant tunnel over the blacktop. Trusting in our navigation's guidance, the road ends at U.S. 259, just a few hundred yards south of Sunbird Barbecue, Longview's new barbecue destination.
In the month or so of Sunbird Barbecue's existence, the knowledge of the barbecue excellence served here has spread online far and wide. When we arrived at Sunbird just a few minutes after the 11 a.m. opening, a line two dozen deep has already formed in front of the massive trailer. The first dozen or so in line are granted respite from the summer sun by a pair of folding canopies, while the rest of are subject to the full Texas summer experience, eased only briefly by the occasional passing cloud.
Don't cry for us yet — we were still able to order a half-pound of Sunbird's stellar brisket ($24/lb), along with a Central Texas-style hot link ($5), a stick of burnt end boudin ($5) and the chili relleno hash brown casserole ($3.50). We found a shady spot to post up while our order was prepared, then took our haul inside the Green Top Market next door to dine in air-conditioned comfort.
Bingham was eager to make a name for himself in barbecue though, and all of his prowess and creativity are on full display at Sunbird. The brisket we ordered should serve as Exhibit A in any arguments about Sunbird's status as an instant barbecue classic. We picked up a hefty slice that almost immediately gave way under its own weight, brilliantly tender and moist.
New discoveries will be the name of the game at Sunbird as each week, Bingham and Segovia come up with something new and inventive alongside the standard barbecue hits. We wish for two things, both self-serving: a shorter drive and longer hours (we told you we were being greedy). The locals of Longview have themselves a gem, and Sunbird Barbecue is a spot that any community would be proud of.
Sunbird Barbecue, 7486 U.S.-259, Longview, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, Closed Sunday-Tuesday
Road Trip Details
Sunbird Barbecue was our longest trip of the summer, clocking in at 129 miles from downtown Dallas. Most of that is spent on Interstate 20, but once you exit the interstate just past Tyler, the U.S. highways and state roads are lightly traveled and enjoyable to drive. Make sure to check out Sunbird Barbecue on social media before you go — we had to reschedule our first planned visit when they closed on a random weekend for an out-of-town pop-up.
Making A Day Of It
If you're going to get wet, you might as well go swimming. And if you're going to drive to Longview, you might as well drive another hour to Shreveport and Bossier City, where casino hotels give you all the flavor of Las Vegas without the plane ride.
For something more low-key, antiquing is supposed to be big in the Longview area. Just west of Longview and on your drive in, the town of Gladewater advertises itself as the Antique Capital of East Texas and a variety of antique malls, independent shops and thrift stores call the area home.