The formidable case at Beast and Cleaver.

Image: Amber Fouts

Few industries pack more tradition and lore than butchery—the cleavers, the aprons, the white-tiled walls. And few have been as ripe for disruption, courtesy of apps and a growing interest in sustainable eating. Seattle, thankfully, has a destination for every meat-eating narrative; these are the specialty shops and butcher counters that keep Seattle stocked with holiday roasts and fodder for the summer grill.

Beast and Cleaver

A whole-animal butchery philosophy and some old-fashioned handsaws fill the Ballard butcher case with hefty cuts from small local farms. Co-owner Kevin Smith puts his own touch on good quality meat, dry aging rib eyes for 100 days for a bit of funky edge, or ensuring every last bit of his animals get used in pate, more than 40 rotating sausage varieties, or his standout pate en croute. Smith also channels his meat know-how into a dinner series, called the Peasant, that has a lengthy waitlist. Ballard

The aftermath of the titular cleavers (and beasts) at Ballard's Beast and Cleaver.

Image: Amber Fouts

Better Meat

This little white building looks as if it were dropped on a Greenwood side street straight from the 1950s. Better Meat offers its vast wholesale sheet to retail customers, which means you can call in orders for pretty much any part of a cow, pig, chicken, or lamb—and throw in some game meat, veal chops, bacon, sausage, or lunch meat while you’re at it. The staff will tailor orders to suit your preferences, prepping pork butt in two-inch cubes, say, or vacuum sealing it to your specifications. Check Facebook for the latest order sheet, call in requests, and plan to pick up curbside when it’s ready. Greenwood

Bob’s Quality Meats

A Columbia City institution, this neighborhood butchery opened its doors in 1962 and has been sourcing Washington meats ever since. Second-generation owners list selections on a whiteboard and balance their high-quality chickens, ribs, and beef tongue with housemade jerky and sausages. A turkey from Bob’s is a full-on Seattle holiday tradition at this point. Columbia City

The Butcher’s Table

The glimmering bilevel steak house on Westlake hides a butcher counter inside, just beyond the tables. Enter via a dedicated door and find a glass case filled with boneless rib eye, housemade hot links, bacon, even a dramatic tomahawk. The Butcher’s Table is part of Kurt Beecher Dammeier’s Sugar Mountain company, so all meat is his Mishima Reserve American wagyu. Denny Regrade

Image: Jane Sherman

Carniceria El Paisano

Whether you’re well versed in Mexican butcher cuts or looking to add some arrachera or trocitos de puerco to your life, the staff at this amply stocked shop is ready with input and advice. Stacks of classic cuts share space with finely ground chorizo and marinated meats, like a shredded al pastor de puerco that sparks with pineapple flavor. White Center

Crowd Cow

What began as a Seattle-based service that let strangers go in together on sharing cuts from a single cow is now an expansive online meat market. Users customize their own recurring shipments or one-off orders, browsing through everything from ground beef to prestige cuts, grass-fed to premium wagyu, all from producers they know well. Since Crowd Cow launched in 2015, the selection has expanded way beyond the name to include seafood, heritage pork, chicken, and game meat. Online

Crowd Cow conducts a full-service butcher shop via the internet.

Don and Joe’s

This old-school butcher in the heart of Pike Place Market has been a Seattle fixture since 1969. Owner Don Kuzaro Jr. has a selection that spans global meat traditions. Need some tripe? Chorizo? Look no further. Come summer, the shop offers a variety of cold cuts and jerkies for picnicking as well as their regular selection of housemade bratwurst and Italian sausages. Home meat prep gets an assist from the shop’s own steak seasoning, blended next door by longtime fellow vendor MarketSpice. Pike Place Market 

The Ruby Brink Bar and Butcher

This restaurant and meat counter serves Vashon Island locals, but is entirely worth a trip from Seattle. Co-owner and butcher Lauren Garaventa lets personal relationships with farmers and the quality of the animal’s life guide her purchases; she buys only two cows and a limited number of lambs and pigs each month in order to emphasize protein with a smaller environmental footprint, like pastured chickens. But she accomplishes an astonishing amount with her finite quantity of meat, from the kitchen’s menu of sandwiches, bowls, and meaty broths to a lineup of charcuterie and meat products by the pound. Stock up on “lamb ham” and various types of bacon. Vashon Island

Sustainability drives the meat program at the Ruby Brink.

Image: Amber Fouts

EC Wilson Meat 2 Go

This long-standing butchery dates back to 1906 and has been handed down for four generations in the Hine family. The Lynnwood shop started as a counter at Pike Place Market and has evolved into one of the major suppliers for Seattle’s top restaurants, and sources all its chicken, beef, and pork from the PNW. The shop’s extensive online store makes it easy to shop the meat case from home and any orders placed will be packed for curbside pickup. Don’t know where to start? A Wagyu Gold flat iron steak or a classic Double R Ranch tomahawk steak done on the grill are both foolproof choices. Lynwood, Online

Fischer Meats

Established by a German sausage maker over a hundred years ago, Fischer deserves particular admiration for its bangers (pork sausage, in across-the-pond parlance, not Dua Lipa singles). The shop’s cowboy steak, a specialty cut in the style of a tomahawk, is a worthy centerpiece, while their wildly popular jerky offers a simpler pleasure. Issaquah

Golden Steer Choice Meats

Opened in 1968, the Golden Steer provides the sort of earnestly genial customer service that feels of a bygone era; in 2011, the shop sent a customer who crashed her sedan through their front window home with four pounds of stew meat, on the house. The shop does all its own smoking and dry aging, and has a small wine and beer selection to accompany its housemade sausages, marinated chicken, and specialty casseroles. Bellevue

Image: Jane Sherman

Meat the Live Butcher

The name honors a family tradition of butchery as well as patriarch Bernie Salle, known for decades as the “Live Butcher.” The shop itself, a retro storefront guarded by a faux steer, makes the most of every square inch, balancing quality cuts with smart, prepped items, like pre-marinated meat and the house North Dakota country-style pork sausage. Pantry items, like charcoal from Sonora, are exceptionally well chosen. White Center

Rain Shadow Meats

Russ Flint’s meat counter in Melrose Market opened in 2010, but exudes the calm competence of a business that’s been around for generations. (The handsome industrial aesthetic helps too.) Rain Shadow buys from small, Northwest farms and celebrates oft-overlooked animal parts, but Flint is particularly skilled with sausage—from chorizo to bratwurst to cheddar-jalapeno hot dogs—and charcuterie. Delivery available. Capitol Hill

The Shambles

A butcher-bar hybrid, the Shambles fills its dinner menu and its butcher case with meat, trophy cuts to house-cured charcuterie and massive “pork porterhouse” chops, courtesy of butcher (and Bateau alum) Thomas Coss. The meat rotation changes constantly, but wins for sheer breadth of cured and ready-to-cook options, not to mention pretzel buns to go with summer burgers or brats, and seasonal pickles. Maple Leaf

The Shambles is equal parts beer bar, decadent restaurant, and specialty meat haven.

The Swinery

West Seattle’s favorite butcher shop gets more recognition as a restaurant—mostly thanks to Kim Léveillé and Danny Rogers’s burger, sandwiches, and various loaded fries. But to overlook the butchery side of the operation is to miss out on nitrate-free bacon, classic cuts, Toulouse sausage (ground with bacon and then seasoned with a healthy amount of garlic and white wine), or Norwegian-style ribs: meat is brined overnight, then seasoned with paprika, cayenne, and brown sugar, all before getting the shop’s signature smoke treatment. West Seattle 

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