Friday, August 17, 2012

Carter's Bar-B-Que

LONGVIEW: Carter's Bar-B-Que
519 South Eastman Rd.
Longview, TX 75602
Open M-Sat 11-7

Rarely have a seen a more skilled carver than the guy at Carter's. I was actually happy to have a line of people in front of me just so I could watch him work. It took him no time to carve through a whole brisket for the bulk orders of the hungry diners before me, but as I watched it was clear that I'd be eating some dry brisket. You could almost see the surface of the meat curling up as it dried on the cutting block immediately after slicing. When I got to the counter, the cashier raved about the turkey, so we added it to our tasting of the menu.

The beef had some smokiness in the crust, but the rest of the slice was just poor roast beef. Even with the dry brisket, the cheap and fatty commercial sausage was the worst item on the plate. Thick slices of deli turkey had a solid smokiness, but I just can't get behind using the term barbecue for something that belongs in the deli case. The boudin was good and smoky with a casing that had been smoked long enough to be crisp with just the right chew.

Overcooked ribs had the texture of stewed pork. They must have been wrapped during smoking, and the sweet glaze didn't help with crust formation. There wasn't much smokiness in the meat. They needed more help than the sauce.

The most successful menu item was the Carter's Special. This unholy sounding mash-up of chopped beef, sliced boudin, beans, barbecue sauce and onions actually worked well together. The chopped and sauced beef hid its dryness with a good sauce and the hearty and well seasoned pintos were a good addition. The dish alone would make quite a meal, but it's not enough to make Carter's a real barbecue destination in East Texas.

Rating **


Nick McWhirter said...

Also worth mentioning: the shotgun hole in what used to be the gas station canopy out front. :)

Nick said...

Man that sucks that you had a bad experience at Carter's. I live about 3 miles away and eat here often. They tend to be inconsistent sometimes. I've seen the brisket pouring juices as it was sliced! You're right, the guy knows how to cut meat. This place was on Texas monthly's top 50 at one time.

Unknown said...

I eat here regularly and an well aware of inconsistent results. It a shame that you visited on an off day. Ribs do vary in quality, but I have enjoyed some the best I've ever consumed here. And brisket too suffers from mistreatment from time to time, but is usually very tasty. They serve a jalapeno sausage that is superior to the commercial regular product. I think the real problem with Carters is the amount of volume vs. the capacity of labor and facility. This place always rocks at lunch and their outside "catering" sales are off the charts. I just think quality suffers when you're pressed to get all that product prepared with limited staff and facility. I hope you'll give them another try if you're in the neighborhood. All those customers, sometimes lined up around the dining room, seem to know something.


Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.