If you're a meat eater, you should maintain a good relationship with your butcher. Really, you should. Especially considering commercial agriculture and the reliance people place on meat from less reputable store (e.g., Costco), it's important to trust the place selling you your animal protein. Also of importance? Butchers the offer education and classes for those who want to know more. Here are our favorites in the Bay Area.
The new little butcher shop at the edge of the Mission from longtime Ferry Building vets 4505 Meats is an excellent place to go not only to buy a pre-tied roast or a couple of well marbled steaks, but also to learn about what you're buying from the man himself, Ryan Farr. He makes his own bacon -- and his famed bacon-studded hot dogs -- and does cut-to-order steaks along with unusual restaurant cuts like culotte steaks. And as an added bonus, you can pop in here for a hot sausage on a roll any day of the week.
1909 Mission (at 15th Street)
Tucked away on Cortland in the tiny hamlet of Bernal Heights is Avedano's Meats and Holly Park Market, an old-school butcher and neighborhood market that keeps things simple, the way a butcher shop ought to be. The space has been home to a butcher shop for the better part of the last century and Avedano's owners (who opened the current store in 2006) respect the tradition with meats, seafood and exotic cuts from responsible sources and doing all their butchering in-house. If you can't get to Bernal, look for their meat wagon. Thursdays - Saturdays in Hayes Valley.
235 Cortland Street (at )
Prather Ranch in the Ferry Building. (Photo: Gary Soup)
Prather Ranch is a standard bearer for the Temple Grandin school of cattle farming, which says more than a string of buzzwords on a menu ever could. Responsible meat eaters will find they apply the same standards to everything they butcher: from pork to buffalo to poultry.
One Ferry Building, as well as farmers markets across the Bay
At either of the city's two Bi-Rite Markets you can regularly find lovely cuts of beef, pork, and lamb (for a price), all sustainably pasture-raised from local producers like Marin Sun Farms, Gleason Ranch, Devil's Gulch, Estancia, Llano Seco, and Don Watson -- all names you will also encounter on many Bay Area restaurant menus that like to tout that sort of thing. Also, they've got nice chicken and a typically swell selection of fish. Don't get us wrong, all the products are terrific and tasty. But we'd say unless a) you have a great deal of disposable income, or b) you're only cooking for you and a special someone you're trying to impress, or c) treating yourself, the prices might drive you elsewhere, especially when talking about a larger dinner party.
3692 - 18th Street (at Dolores)
550 Divisadero (at Hayes)
Meat threeway at Golden Gate Meat Company. (Facebook)
Golden Gate Meat Co.
This Ferry Building standby is a family-owned operation that dates back to 1977 (in other locations). They specialize in organic beef, lamb, veal, pork, and poultry, and they do dry-aging on premises. Also, as a large wholesaler, you can order pretty much anything from these guys, including all your unusual cuts and roasts and all your offal needs. Plus they make amazing pre-made burger patties, and they have their own line of dry-rubs to kick your grilling up a notch.
550 7th Street (at Brannan), S.F.
One Ferry Building, S.F.
Pork belly from the Fatted Calf. (Photo: fattedcalf.com)
Oh brother, is this place superb. The staff is wildly knowledgeable (sans any hipster butchery pretense) and the joint boasts excellent high-end and organic meats, plump homemade sausages, and gorgeously soft pâtés. SFist's personal favorites are the pancetta wrapped pork tenderloin, the beef chuck roast (great for slowcooker ragu), the duck rilettes, and the jars of Tonno di Maiale (pork cooked in wine and preserved in olive oil).
320 Fell (at Gough), S.F.
Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, every Saturday 7:30am to 2pm
644 C First Street (at McKinstry), Napa
Cow and vista at Marin Sun Farms. (Facebook)
Marin Sun Farms
These guys are like the OGs of grass-fed beef in the Bay Area, and many chefs swear by them when it comes to sourcing steak, lamb, and goat. They're based in Marin, where they pasture-raise their animals, and they've got an awesome little butcher shop and daytime restaurant in Point Reyes, where you can chow on one of their amazing burgers.
Oakland, Point Reyes, and Ferry Building Farmers' Market locations
Inside Belcampo Meat Co. Marin County Mart. (Photo: belcampomeatco.com)
Belcampo Meat Co. Marin County Mart
This new operation up in Larkspur (they plan to expand to S.F. at some point) was founded by Eat Real fest founder and food revolution cheerleader Anya Fernald. Rather than remain just an activist and festival organizer, Fernald started Belcampo, with its own farms and slaughterhouse operation in Northern California, in the last two years, and they opened their first retail outlet and restaurant at the Marin County Mart earlier this year. Sure, prices are Bi Rite-like and higher (this is Marin), but you are getting some seriously nice meat with a sustainable pedigree at this place. (You can also just go for a meal at the restaurant to sample the stuff, if you like.) Look for Belcampo's online store to launch in November, to save you a trip north.
2405 Larkspur Landing Circle (at Lincoln Village Circle), Larkspur
Noted for their meat department, Piedmont Grocery has drawn attention to meat that is organic, grass-fed, free-range and comes from local farmers -- well before it was chic. The place has been around since 1902. And their seafood department also pays close attention to sustainability and watch lists.
4038 Piedmont (at Glen Avenue), Oakland
Dittmer's Gourmet Meats (Mountain View, Los Altos)
Drewes Brothers Meats (San Francisco)
Bryan's Quality Meat (San Francisco)
Jay Barmann, Andrew Dalton, and Brock Keeling contributed to this article.(Photo: Todd Lappin)