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The 6 Best Butcher Shops in America

We love our meat at The Manual, and we know that you love it, too. We’ve descended into chef’s kitchens to learn how to make sausage and butcher a whole crown roast. We’ve embarked on quests to find the best bacon and spent countless hours learning how to grill the perfect steak. We love meat of every shape and size, and we wouldn’t be able to enjoy any of it if it wasn’t for the talented, hard-working butchers who are filling our favorite meat cases with juicy, delicious cuts every day.

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A butcher’s job is hard work, but it’s also a labor of love. Back in the day, people knew their butcher by name, and visiting them was a social experience. They would talk to customers about what was fresh that week and how to cook a piece of meat to perfection. When big grocery stores took over the food shopping experience, the small butcher was all but forgotten, save for a few classic shops that kept their businesses going. But as the farm-to-table and sustainable food movements have become more prominent in recent years, the old-school butcher shop has made its return, bringing with it a new class of talented butchers who combine old world methods with modern techniques.

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The United States has no shortage of amazing butcher shops, and there are many local favorites that we weren’t able to cover here, but these six stand out above the rest. They are dedicated to supporting local farmers who raise animals humanely, in turn producing the tastiest, juiciest meat in the biz. They make their own charcuterie, smoke in-house, and serve delicious food that’s made with their outstanding products. Here we ask them why they decided to become butchers, what they love about their shops, and which cuts of meat they’re excited about right now.

Foster Sundry

Brooklyn, New York City

Before Foster Sundry moved into the neighborhood, there was nowhere to buy sustainable meat in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood. But that all changed when the shop opened in August 2015, and it’s been a bustling place where locals buy meat, housemade sausage, cheese, bread and pastries, local produce, and craft beer ever since. They even have a full-service coffee bar and sandwich counter that serves the best biscuit breakfast sandwich in all of New York City. Here, Managing Butcher Peter Pinti explains why he left the corporate world to cut meat and how having great coworkers makes his job so pleasant.

foster sundry
Foster Sundry/Facebook

What made you want to become a butcher?

I was in the corporate world for 18 years. I was working in IT and running a small business when I realized one day that it was not fulfilling my soul anymore, so I enrolled in a one-day pig butchery class. I have been doing sausage making my entire life with my family, and I always enjoyed doing it, so after the course I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I discussed it with my family and decided to take the plunge and change careers. At first I was doing apprenticeships in the shops around NYC to learn the craft and to make sure I wanted to do it. This led to a full-time position at a shop in the West Village, then eventually to Foster Sundry.

If you could sum up your love for Foster Sundry in one line, what would you say?

I love working with everyone, it is very much a relaxed place and everyone supports each other, and this starts from the top with Aaron [Foster] being a fantastic business owner.

foster sundry
Foster Sundry/Facebook

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

I would have to say the pork coppa.

Besides Foster Sundry, do you have a favorite butcher shop?

If there is any other butcher shop, I would have to say Dickson’s in Chelsea Market.

Grass & Bone

Mystic, Connecticut

We feel awash with excitement every time we walk into this nautical town’s butcher shop. The case is full of succulent meats that are ready for grilling, roasting, and stewing, and whole animal breakdowns are happening behind the counter so hungry eyes can feast on what’s to come. Grass & Bone is a wonderful, casual place to grab a bite, and the menu is always changing with something new and delicious on the menu. Think bowls of hearty ramen, beef tartare on toast with egg and pickled mushrooms, and house-made pasta with beef cheek ragu — not to mention killer sandwiches. We chatted with co-owner and butcher Dan Meiser to get acquainted with Grass & Bone’s dry aging program and learn why opening the shop has helped his other Mystic restaurants.

grass and bone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What made you want to become a butcher?

Grass & Bone was born out of passion and necessity. Since day one at our restaurants Oyster Club and Engine Room, we’ve always done our own butchering, curing, smoking, and grinding in-house. Grass & Bone was a chance for us to open up a central butcher shop for our spots while giving the people of Mystic a throwback butcher shop. As a hunter, I’ve also spent a lifetime of living the true definition of “farm to table.” Hunting, fishing, cleaning, skinning, cutting, and cooking wild game has been passed down from generation to generation in my family.

If you could sum up your love for Grass & Bone in one line, what would you say?

Good old days.

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

Three-hundred seventy-seven day dry aged bone-in ribeye of beef from Beriah Lewis Farm in North Stonington, CT. We get freaky with our dry-aging.

Besides Grass & Bone, do you have a favorite butcher shop?

Adolf’s in Hartford. It’s an old school German Shop in a not so German neighborhood. You can smell the smoke from a mile away and the Wursts are off the charts. Also Dai Due in Austin, TX. Our buddy Jesse Griffiths is a throwback for sure. Chef, butcher, and hunter. New School of Traditional Cookery — check it out.

Publican Quality Meats

Chicago, Illinois

Appropriately located in Chicago’s meatpacking district, Publican Quality Meats is so much more than a neighborhood butcher shop. Besides their offering of delicious meats — with a focus on house-made sausage and charcuterie — Publican is a bakery, artisanal market, and cafe that serves pastries, coffee, and delicious sandwiches. Publican Quality Meats Chef de Cuisine and head butcher Joe Frietze tells us more about why he loves being a butcher and which underrated steak you should be cooking right now.

Publican Quality Meats
Sandy Noto

What made you want to become a butcher?

The same way a chef at a more conventional restaurant perceives the lettuce he buys at the market is the same way PQM looks at meat. Sustainable, fresh, raised with TLC. You listen to people talk about their organic Brussels sprouts, but then they buy a garbage chicken to serve it with. PQM drew me in with respect and appreciation for the animals (that probably ate those tasty greens) and how we can show the masses what it is to have a better way to serve and eat meat. Also, cutting animals is kinda fun and awesome!

If you could sum up your love for Publican in one line, what would you say?

Changing lives one sandwich at a time.

John Philp

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

Flap steak is probably my favorite cut of meat in the case right now. It’s like skirt steak’s bigger, cooler brother.

Besides Publican, do you have a favorite butcher shop?

I’m spoiled and don’t have to go to other butcher shops.

Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant

Los Angeles, California

This elegant butcher sources tasty meat from all around the world, whether it’s local California grass-fed beef or wild antelope from Texas. Not only does Gwen Butcher Shop and Restaurant have their own dry-aging room, they also produce homemade charcuterie like terrines, salamis, and confits. You can grab your favorite cuts to-go, or enjoy them in the restaurant with dishes like Grilled Lamb Ribs with Leek Ash Yogurt and Kurobuta Pork grilled with peanuts, sesame, and cilantro. Head butcher Andrew Sutton talks about what drew him to whole animal breakdown and his favorite way to cook a bird this season.

Clay Larsen

What made you want to become a butcher?

I had been working in kitchens, and like a lot of chefs, was simply trying to gain a new skill. After that I fell in love with the puzzle of how best to use the various parts of a whole animal.

If you could sum up your love for Gwen in one line, what would you say?

The heartbeat of the restaurant is the butcher shop — it drives the menu and the symbiosis between the two is special and rare.

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

Red-legged partridge from Scotland. Pan roasted in butter and rosemary, they taste like winter.

Besides Gwen, do you have a favorite butcher shop?

The Fatted Calf in San Francisco will always have a special place in my heart.

Porter Road

Nashville, Tennessee

Chris Carter and James Peisker founded Porter Road so they could serve their local community with delicious meat that was raised the right way. Their business turned out to be so successful, they now deliver their hand cut, dry aged goodness nationwide, in addition to serving Nashville carnivores from their brick-and-mortar store. They sell all the standard cuts and meaty favorites, as well as special holiday kits if you’re looking to serve a roast or glazed ham at your next gathering. Carter and Peisker talk about Porter Road’s mission and the perfect steak to feed a crowd.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What made you want to become butchers?

We started Porter Road as a way to provide humanely-raised meats to our friends and families in the Nashville area. From day one, our mission was to educate consumers and provide a pasture-raised and antibiotic- and hormone-free option. We have set out now to provide that service to the the country, while keeping the same mission.

If you could sum up your love for Porter Road in one line, what would you say?

Porter Road is a mission-driven company set out to change the broken food system one steak at a time, and that is an awesome thing to be a part of.

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

I love the flap steak. It’s versatile and great for a crowd.

Besides Porter Road, do you have a favorite butcher shop?

I used to, but now that PR ships nationally, it’s the only shop that I need.

Red Apron

Washington, D.C.

Red Apron was the first American butcher shop to source 100 percent of its pork from Animal Welfare-approved farms, and their sustainable philosophy has brought them great success — they now have three brick-and-mortar shops, two in D.C. and one in Merrifield, Virginia. Chef Nate Anda founded the shop in 2008 as a collaboration with Neighborhood Restaurant Group and a handful of dedicated regional farmers. You’ll find something new in the case practically every day, but Anda’s charcuterie is not to be missed when visiting Red Apron. Anda tells us about where else he like to shop for meat in Virginia and why he decided to become a butcher in the first place.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What made you want to become a butcher?

I wanted to know where my products were coming from.

If you could sum up your love for Red Apron in one line, what would you say?

As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to maintain the same ideals that we started with.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is your favorite cut or item in the meat case right now?

I’m a huge fan of the Bavette “sirloin flap steak.”

Besides Red Apron, do you have a favorite butcher shop or meat purveyor?

The Organic Butcher of McLean, Virginia.

Amanda Gabriele
Amanda Gabriele is a food and travel writer at The Manual and the former senior editor at Supercall. She can’t live without…
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