The 7 Best Butchers In Chicago

By Staff in Food on Aug 14, 2013 7:40PM

Carl Sandburg immortalized Chicago as the "hog butcher for the world" in a poem but the modern Windy City is a far cry from the stockyards and meat packing districts of yore. These days finding a good butcher is hard to come by in the age of the supermarket.

But butchery isn't a dying art form; you only need to root around a bit to find a quality butcher. Chicago still has plenty around, whether you prefer a place that cuts ribs quick or a place that makes cured meats and sausages from heirloom pigs.

Following are seven shops we feel represent the best butchers in Chicago. If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments.

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The Butcher & Larder
When The Butcher & Larder opened, sustainable meat lovers throughout Chicago breathed a collective sigh of relief. Finally, here was a place where we could buy whatever we wanted and not have to worry about where the meat came from or how it was treated. Chef/Butcher Rob Levitt has done more for meat in this city than anyone since Upton Sinclair, hosting demonstrations, working with farmers, speaking at conferences and evangelizing for sustainable carnivory. You might not be able to find exactly the cut you want, as Levitt breaks down whole animals and there are only so many steaks on a cow. But he'll guide you through the process of choosing a great cut. Plus, anything he doesn't have, he can probably custom order for you. If you are there during the day, be sure stay for a sandwich made with Levitt's own charcuterie. —Anthony Todd

The Butcher & Larder is located at 1024 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Gene's Sausage Shop
To some, Gene's Sausage Shop may look like a regular grocery store—produce, cheese, sweets and beers line the walls. But if you're a meat-lover, Gene's looks like paradise. A huge meat counter meanders along one wall, containing the largest collection of deli meats and charcuterie we've ever seen. In addition, Gene's stocks dry aged and grass fed beef (aged in-house) and an exceptional variety of sausages. Want to try before you buy? Head up to their Lincoln Square location's rooftop bar and grab a brat or veal sausage and wash it down with a beer. —Anthony Todd

Gene's Sausage Shop is located at 5330 W. Belmont Ave. and 4750 N. Lincoln Ave.

Beograd Meat Market
This shop on Irving Park Road has evolved over the years from a simple meat market to its current incarnation as a full-service delicatessen offering pastries and other delicacies in addition to its fine line of smoked sausages, meats and some of the best cevap in Chicago. —Chuck Sudo

Beograd Meat Market is located at 2937 W. Irving Park Rd.

Publican Quality Meats
Lovers of the Publican know that Paul Kahan's West Loop restaurant is the place to go for the best pork in town. Until Publican Quality Meats opened, they were stuck ordering it at dinner. Now, fans of all things porcine can visit PQM and purchase a wide selection of organic and sustainable meat retail. In addition to meat, PQM stocks a wide variety of boutique and gourmet grocery products. No visit to the store is complete, by the way, without scarfing down at least two of their excellent sandwiches. —Anthony Todd

Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 W. Fulton Market.

Olympia Meat Packers
Grillmasters on budgets should head to this Randolph Street institution where the meats are affordable and the staff is patient and goes out of the way to help you make the right choices for your Smokey Joe. When they're done with you, you'll be grilling and talking about cuts of meat like a pro. —Chuck Sudo

Olympia Meat Packers is located at 810 W. Randolph St.

Gepperth's Market
This Lincoln Park shop is one of my favorite butchers in Chicago and has changed little as the neighborhood has evolved into one of the more affluent spots in the city. Whether you're looking for meat in bulk, cut to order or need some tasty homemade sausages for holiday grilling, Gepperth's will take care of you the same way they have over their 107-year history. —Chuck Sudo

Gepperth's Market is located at 1964 N. Halsted St.

Paulina Meat Market
Easily one of the most popular of Chicago's old school butchers, Paulina Meat Market offers obscure German sausages and inventive twists on brats, Andouille sausage and other encased meats in addition to fresh cut meat. They also have enough inventory of non-meat products here you could pack your own picnic basket here. —Chuck Sudo

Paulina Meat Market is located at 3501 N. Lincoln Ave.


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