We all shop at supermarkets, and there's no shame in that, but there's nothing quite like walking into a nice butcher shop, especially one that specializes in local meats.
Buying local is better for many reasons, beginning with the beautiful displays of marbled beef and premium lamb, but even more importantly, because vendors work directly with farmers to ensure animals are raised and slaughtered humanely, and often, there is less waste as whole cows and pigs are used to make everything from sausages to bone broth. Also, the meat just tastes better than the factory farmed stuff.
“It’s not light, fluffy and full of steroids and corn, It’s a completely different product," explained farmer Tim Kenney, who runs Red Mountain Cattle Company, a small cattle farm out in Mesa. Red Mountain has a little country store where you can purchase fresh mesquite honey from bees and grass-fed ribeye, sirloins, hamburger make from cows that roam free on the 46-acre property.
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Sustainable meat from ranchers like Red Mountain is not hard to find in Arizona.
Farmer's markets including the Uptown Farmers Market in Phoenix and the Gilbert Farmers Market are great places to start and the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association has a website that lists dozens of local ranchers, searchable by county.
Easiest of all is to head to a brick and mortar butcher shop that does all the local sourcing for you.
Here are five places to buy Arizona raised meat in metro Phoenix.
Arcadia Meat Market
With its spiffy, clean, white-tiled facility in Arcadia, this butcher shop is the biggest name of the bunch and comes highly recommended by many of the vendors on this list. The meat case speaks for itself, with gorgeous mounds of bone-in ribeye steaks and prosciutto wrapped filets, Brazilian picanha and marrow bones.
Manager Bryan Suarez said the shop takes a holistic approach to animal butchery, and focuses on utilizing "all of the animal in any way we can."
The shop is partnered with Arizona Grass Raised Beef company, which sources its grass-raised and grass-finished beef from 25 to 30 different farms in Northern Arizona. (Grass finished means that the animal isn't sent to a feedlot at the end of its life, but is continued to be raised on grass.) They also sell local chicken from Top Knot Farms in Benson, local lamb bacon and more.
Details: 3950 E. Indian School Road, Suite 130, Phoenix. 602-595-4310, arcadiameatmarket.com.
The Meat Shop
Located in an industrial area south of downtown Phoenix, this hidden gem has been offering quality local meat at more affordable prices since 2008. The small shop also supplies meat to some of the city's best restaurants including Pizzeria Bianco and Belly.
The beef, pork and lamb come from the shop's small farm in Palo Verde, about 40 miles west of Phoenix. The pigs have their own mister systems and the owner makes their feed with a blend of vitamins, minerals, soy and grains, explained head butcher David Grant.
The shop also sells some interesting cuts of beef, including an "underrated" shoulder cut called teres major that sits next to the flat iron. When cooked to a medium rare on high heat on the grill, the flavors are clean and not at all fatty.
Details: 202 E. Buckeye Road, Phoenix. 602-258-5075, themeatshopaz.com.
The Meat Market
Located in Carefree, this contemporary, chic butcher shop has one of the most impressive dry aging programs in town. They take ribeyes and T-bones and age them anywhere from a couple weeks to a month, allowing the flavors to condense and become more prominent when you cook them, almost like a blue cheese, said The Meat Market's chef Dale Flores.
The beef comes from the Midwest, but all of the pork, lamb, chicken and eggs come from Arizona, mainly from Chiricahua Pasture Raised Meats in Willcox.
Try the top cut pork sirloin, basically a pork chop with a long thin layer of fat straddling the edges. Toss it on the grill for ten minutes over high heat and pair it with some of the housemade beer mustard that they make with Huss Copper State IPA and a nice dose of apple cider vinegar. The mustard alone is worth the drive.
Details: 37636 N. Tom Darlington Drive, Carefree. 480-575-4358, themeatmarketcc.com.
Red Mountain Cattle Company
Arizona has dozens of sustainable ranches, but this beef company is the most accessible. Located off the Red Mountain freeway in Mesa, this small cattle ranch sells its beef at a country store on the property. Drive down the dirt road and see horses and cows grazing on grass and mesquite beans, then hit up the market to stock up on New York steaks, sirloins, ribeyes, roasts, burgers, organ meat and more.
The ranch is a partnership between Tim Kenney and Scott Tyler, who originally created the space as a horse boarding facility called Tyler Farms equestrian center. They've been raising beef for more than 16 years along with 72 beehives that produce local mesquite honey.
Details: 3811 N. Val Vista Drive, Mesa. 480-735-8838.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: These are the best butcher shops in Phoenix for local meat