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.
Born a neighborhood bar that takes playful liberties with cocktails and smoked meat, Lady Jaye started selling butcher cuts to eager customers during the 2020 shutdown. That survival measure morphed into a proper meat market, whose glass cases coexist with the whiskey-filled back bar. The lineup of local wagyu is especially great, as are underappreciated cuts like bavette and teres major. Also underappreciated: the ability to buy the house rubs and bottled versions of Sara Rosales’s cocktails here.
This little white building looks as if it were dropped on a Greenwood side street straight from a vintage movie set. Better Meat opened in 1962; most of its customers are of the wholesale variety, but the family-owned shop offers its vast 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.
Nearly all the meat in Kevin Smith’s shop comes from Oregon or Washington—save the foie gras and some A5 wagyu. The staff puts its own touch on that high-quality meat, dry aging rib eyes for an impressive 70 days, or ensuring every last bit of an animal gets used in pate, in 40 rotating sausage varieties, or in a standout pate en croute. Smith considers himself a chef as much as a butcher; at night Beast and Cleaver morphs into a proper restaurant, serving a steak house–style menu or a full-on tasting in its handful of seats.
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 chicken, ribs, and beef tongue with housemade jerky and sausages. A turkey from Bob’s is a full-on Seattle holiday tradition at this point.
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.
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.
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.
Pike Place Market
This old-school butcher just beyond Rachel the Pig has been a Seattle fixture since 1969, but owner Don Kuzaro Jr. keeps the selection broad and current, from terrific fresh chorizo to cuts sourced from Washington ranches. In summertime, 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.
Co-owner and butcher Lauren Garaventa lets personal relationships with nearby farmers and the quality of the animal’s life guide her purchases; she buys only a few cows and a limited number of lambs and pigs each month and emphasizes protein with a smaller environmental footprint, like pastured chickens. But she accomplishes an astonishing amount with her finite quantity of meat; it fuels both the comforting restaurant menu and the butcher case. Here you’ll find traditional cuts and chops, but also bone broth, a lineup of great charcuterie, “lamb ham,” and various types of bacon.
This long-standing butchery traces its roots back to 1906, and through four generations of the Hine family. The Lynnwood shop started as a counter at Pike Place Market and has evolved into a major supplier for Seattle restaurants, sourcing all its chicken, beef, and pork from Northwest farms and ranches. An extensive online store makes it easy to peruse the meat case from home and place orders online for curbside pickup.
One of the oldest businesses in Issaquah was established by a German sausage maker over a hundred years ago. But over the decades its stewards have done an admirable job balancing traditions (personal service, classic cuts) with evolution. Long cases show off cowboy steaks, pork loin, chicken cordon bleu, and an impressive array of sausage—an emphasis that dates back to that original ownership.
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. Golden Steer does all its own smoking and dry aging, and has a small wine and beer selection to accompany its housemade sausages, marinated chicken, and even some specialty casseroles.
The name honors a family tradition of butchery as well as founder 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 also exceptionally well chosen.