Butcher shops are a dying breed. This is obviously not due to any influx of vegetarians, especially here in Texas, but it might have something to do with Americans' growing disconnect with their food and where it comes from. Or maybe people just don’t care.
According to the USDA, the best type of beef is Prime, which comes from young, well-fed animals. The second best type is Choice, but that covers a lot of ground. Your best options will be tender with abundant marbling. This is the stuff you typically have to go to a butcher shop to find. After Prime and Choice, you have Select, which is typically found in grocery store chains. Select looks uniform and lean; it has less juice and flavor. Stores also like to give Select meats silly names to make them seem special, but they are pretty much all the same. Below Select, you have Commercial grade beef — this is what many fast food chains carry. It has been reprocessed, multiple times, in order to be edible for humans.
Suffice it to say, it’s a good idea to know what you're eating when it comes to meat. If you're looking to bone up on your meat smarts, here are the best Dallas butcher shops where you can buy groceries and learn a thing or two.
Old Town Market
301 S. Mill St., Lewisville
Old Town Market has been going strong for 39 years, but it feels even more old fashioned than that. The service is kind and personal, and the lunch crowd sits together at one long communal table. The environment is laid-back — a nice break from the stuffiness of the city. In addition to a selection of quality meats, this butcher shop is known for seasonings. They also have an assortment of Amish cheeses and butter and a variety of house-made sausages with newer chicken offerings like apple chipotle and asiago spinach. Barbecue enthusiasts are also well advised to try their barbecue sandwiches for lunch. The brisket is sliced thick, the relish has a nice kick and the thin vinegary sauce is surprisingly effective.
Ye Olde Butcher Shop
811 E. 15th St., Plano
At this butcher shop, they wear their feelings on their sleeves. The menu proclaims that the shop is always sold-out of veggie burgers and in the back, there's a vegan mount on the wall by taxidermy heads of animals. Ye Old Butcher Shop has been around since 1974; perhaps the same goes for its checkered tablecloths. The butcher shop is also a popular game processor, so kill it, strap it to your roof and bring it in. It's also a popular lunch spot — people come here for buffalo burgers more than anything, but Ye Olde Butcher Shop has wild hog burgers on Mondays. The homemade desserts are yet another stunner from this unique shop, particularly the fried pies.
David’s Meat Market
4010 N. Jupiter Road, Garland
David’s Meat Market is a great place to buy a steak, with ribeye proving the most popular. In Garland since 1982, this butcher prides itself on serving the kind of meat you'd find at a five-star restaurant, but the prices are competitive. All the beef is corn-fed and has a texture that's almost buttery. They also have 17 different types of sausage made in-house, including green apple cider bratwurst. David’s also has tri-tip cuts, a flavorful bottom sirloin cut often used for barbecue in California or for maminha in Brazil.
1301 W. Park Road, Plano
If you want to grill or smoke meat, this is a good place to get supplies — they even stock a variety of wood for your smoker. If you just want to throw some burgers on a grill, get some ground beef from Hirsch's and don’t bother with seasoning. The ground beef here is juicy and flavorful because it's drawn fresh every single day. Hirsch’s opened in 1992, partially in response to grocery stores downgrading meat to Select, which simply doesn’t have the same flavor. Hirsch’s has Italian and Polish sausage that people will drive an hour for. They also have wagyu beef. Everything here is fresh, all natural, never frozen. Hirsch’s also has impeccable service — these people sincerely want to make you happy.
Matador Meat & Wine
8200 Preston Road, Plano
If you buy a nice steak at a restaurant, you're probably going to want to buy a nice bottle of wine to go with it. The pursuit of solid restaurant-quality proteins with small production wines spawned this place, which later added craft beer. Nothing here arrives pre-cut — and these are beautiful cuts. Hundreds of years ago, people would’ve wanted to paint this meat. Now there are probably people taking pictures of it all day long with their phones. All the beef here is Prime or top-notch Choice. The chickens are locally raised in a pasture free of growth hormones. The dry-aged Prime tenderloin is the best seller at Matador Meat & Wine. Available with or without a bone, this filet can easily be cut with a fork.
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Rudolph’s Market and Sausage Factory
2924 Elm St.
Rudolph’s is a Dallas institution that's been around since 1895. Behind the counter you can still see the original front door. Rudolph's is not a modern take on the meat market — Rudolph’s is so old fashioned, it can be seem exotic. If you glance at a picture of the shop from 1950, you'll notice that the cuts are the same today. And at more than 120 years old, Rudolph's just keeps going, hardly noticing if Deep Ellum is booming or if it's been abandoned. They carry Prime and Choice, but this is a massive butcher shop with so many different cuts that they accommodate a variety of budgets. If you can’t afford $20 a pound to spend on steak, tell them. Perhaps an English roast from the chuck will do the trick, and it will cut the price in half.
Local Yocal Farm to Market
213 N. Tennessee Street, McKinney
McKinney Downtown Square is incredibly vibrant, like everything that could possibly be beautiful about a small town crammed into one place. Just off the square is Local Yocal, a butcher shop owned by a rancher. Did you miss the farmers market? If so, this spot sells many of those local products. There are no steroids in this meat — and this protein is worth the drive, especially the wagyu beef that's loaded with healthy fats. They also have Berkshire pork, a naturally-raised, high-quality heritage breed comparable that's sort of like the wagyu of pork. Local Yocal also carries lamb seasonally, but only when it tastes good enough to meet their high standards.