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.