San Francisco's food movement has given birth to countless specialty stores and restaurants, but these days there seems to be no end of high-end butchers popping up across the city. Of course, getting top-grade meat here is nothing new — but now competition is stiffer, the prices higher, and the choices even more delectable than ever. Here are a few of my favorites:
The original pioneers of quality butchery in San Francisco. In 1963, Bryan Sr. opened Bryan's Quality Meats on California Street in Laurel Heights — that was back in the day when he'd personally select his head of cattle from his suppliers. These days, his sons run the operation and have expanded the business to a full supermarket dedicated to top-notch produce. I always buy their veal shanks to make osso buco, but their California Reserve steaks are unbelievably good, too. Not to mention their fresh fish and poultry.
The definitive nouveau charcuterie. Marina Meats has paved the way for the city's new wave of boutique butchers but its soul is still old-school San Francisco. Owner Joey Gandolfo is a Marina District native and the grandson of a Sicilian fisherman — and personally handpicks all the meat, poultry and seafood. The emphasis here is not just on organic but grass-fed beef of the highest quality.
Talk about transparency in the meat industry: This Hayes Valley outpost of the famous Napa Valley charcuterie shows off its beef with a window-walled refrigerator that customers can see as soon as they walk in. Like Marina Meats, Fatted Calf is all sleek and clean and very boutique-y. The meat selections are all organic, hormone-free and locally sourced. Every Wednesday, 5:30-7:00 pm, is Pork Happy Hour, where they'll butcher a whole heritage hog while you hang out and sample artisanal beer and hors d'oeuvres.
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