What makes a good butcher shop? The products on offer, of course, along with the atmosphere and customer service. Below are our choices for the city’s best butcher shops, from a halal slaughterhouse in Queens to a shop dedicated to small, local farms in Brooklyn, from new school to old school. By Jessica Allen.
Everything at Dickson’s Farmstead Meats, in Chelsea Market, has is either made in house or sourced from New York farms that raise their poultry, lamb, pork, and beef humanely. That’s pretty extraordinary. So are the jerkies and sausages and charcuterie and sandwiches (oh, the sandwiches, mammoth and juicy and tender and delicious). In back, fine folks strive to break down and use every part of the animal, from top to tail. Check out the “Whole Beast Card,” which lets you work your way through various cuts, from chuck to round to shank.
Located in the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side, the Heritage Meat Shop is named for its cuts: here, you’ll find meat sourced from farms specializing in breeds that were raised before industrial farming became the norm. In other words, you’ll be eating the same kind of poultry or meat as your great-great grandparents. The shop was founded by Patrick Martins, the author of The Carnivore’s Manifesto and one of the founders of Slow Food USA, which promotes locally grown food.
It’s one thing to know where your food comes from, another to watch it get slaughtered. At Madani Halal in Queens, you can select your farm-raised bird, including cornish hens, squab, duck, and turkey, or goat or lamb, then watch it be humanely killed according to the strictest interpretation of Islamic law. This family-owned and -operated butcher shop invites visitors and welcomes questions. If you want to get up close and personal with your food, here’s where to do it.
The Meat Hook, in Williamsburg, specializes in pasture-raised, cruelty-free cuts, from lamb to beef to pork and poultry. In keeping with the cruelty-free ethos, this butcher shop sources as much of its stock, including sausage and charcuterie, as possible from small, family-owned farms in New York State, and a percentage of every single sale goes directly to the farms. If you want to know who exactly will be cutting your meat, have a look at the butchers’ bios on the website.
Ottomanelli doesn’t mean “old school,” but it might. This butcher shop has been around for more than 100 years, since the first Ottomanelli threw open his doors to cater to the neighborhood’s meat needs. These days, patrons come from near and far for the shop’s veal, lamb, and beef. You just might see fourth and fifth generation Ottomanellis behind the counter, clad in white aprons and ready to serve you.