Living across the street from one of the best butcher shops in the city comes at a price. I walk past Avedano’s Holly Park Market in Bernal Heights almost daily, where the smell of a freshly grilled steak sandwich calls me; the convenience is all too alluring. I’ve spent much of my paycheck on the chicken, fish, sausages, beef, and cured meats.
Over the past several decades, a community of passionate butchers like those at Avedano’s has stepped into the limelight. This crew has a zealous commitment to locally raised meat, obscure cuts, and creative new recipes. They cater to carnivores looking to cultivate a personal relationship with their butcher. As someone who grew up on a country farm, I’m infinitely familiar with the butchering process, and I can definitely appreciate buying from someone who can tell me about where the meat came from, how it was raised, and how it is best prepared. I’ve watched the staff at Avedano’s cut up animals right in the shop, so onlookers can understand the process the meat goes through.
Going somewhere that specializes in meat makes a difference. I recently went to my local supermarket for ground lamb and couldn’t find it, so on my way home I swung by Avedano’s and sure enough, they had it. (They carry plenty of things you can’t find at your local supermarket: rabbit, wild boar, duck, ground bison, and quail among them.) I recently went on a photo shoot of several better-known San Francisco butcher shops in order to better understand the meat scene around town.
Neighborhood: The Dogpatch
Olivier Cordier, the owner of Olivier’s Butchery, is a large, gregarious man. He’s got a huge smile and a firm handshake. I would not want to thumb wrestle this guy. He also knows his business. On the backstreet in the Dogpatch where Olivier’s is located, you’ll usually find a line stretching out the door. The morning I was there, I watched as Olivier single-handedly unloaded several halved cows that he’d just picked up. Then, with little assistance, he proceeded to cut them up. He’s the epitome of the DIY butcher.
Neighborhood: Bernal Heights
You’ll find Avedano’s on Cortland Avenue at the crest of Bernal Heights’ commercial strip. One of the owners, Angela Wilson, showed me around the shop and then got back to cutting up a cow that was hanging on a hook in the middle of the work area. The shop has a great neighborhood feel and offers meat-cutting classes for those inspired to go the extra mile.
Fatted Calf Charcuterie
Neighborhood: Hayes Valley
Tucked away in Hayes Valley, Fatted Calf is an artisanal charcuterie. A wide range of handcrafted products are produced here using natural ingredients. I wandered around the chic spot, observing the offerings – pâtés, salami, prosciutti, confits, and a selection of fresh sausage. Sandwiches and other lunchables are also offered.
Neighborhood: Noe Valley
Drewes Meats has the feeling of a quaint neighborhood butchery. The Drewes brothers’ self-proclaimed “old school service with new school attitude” aptly fits the décor; SF sports memorabilia plasters the wall and there’s plenty of fun signage. Drewes offers a full-service butcher shop that specializes in high-quality products. They sell all sorts of meats, poultry, and fish.
Compared to all the other spots, Boccalone felt more like a sandwich shop than a butcher shop. But the Ferry Building staple actually features a number of meat products you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere, like cured and cooked salami, mortadella, pancetta, lonza, capocolla, ciauscolo, nduja, and a variety of other artisan meats. The shop is simple and pleasant, and you can get some great sandwiches here.
Story design by Angela May Chen
Categories: Food & Drink