I have been looking forward to The Real Butcher Shop (907 W Alameda St., 780-8067) for some time. I live in the area, so every time I would grab a coffee at Betterday or a carton of ice cream at the Co-op (and frankly, that’s about all my shopping trips), I would stare longingly at the dark storefront, imagining the many glories of organic, farm-direct meats. The suspense was killing me, and I was pretty curious to know how the place got started.
“I had been considering a shop for 10 years,” explains owner Tom Delehanty, “discussing it with small local producers, trying to figure out how farmers can be effective in selling products wholesale; you’re just not able to pay for the land and make a profit.”
Thankfully, he was up for the challenge. “I’m a farmer myself, and I realized what we had to do: open our own shop,” Delehanty says. “It took time to raise the money and of course personal things got in the way, but I’m glad I got the time to set the place up as it is now.”
And what it is is pretty cool: a marketplace for farm-direct food from local and regional producers. It’s whole-carcass, grass-finished, producer-owned and lots of other adjectives that set a consumer’s heart a-flutter.
“There are only a handful of places like this in the country,” says lead butcher Zach Hulbert. “I really believe in the ideal and the goal of the place: providing local support, not undercutting. We give the producers what they need to continue their business and price up from there.”
For him, meeting farmers (and their animals) is paramount in running a successful operation.
“Take the pork for example; it’s pasture-raised,” he says. “I mean, are you kidding? Pasture-raised pork? You don’t find that anymore!”
When I first walked in, I was making a beeline for that meat counter, but kept getting a bit distracted, because hold on, is that a ton of honey? And local sourdough? A wall of milk and cheese? They serve burgers here?! Yes, and don’t worry, I am not about to let you down by not eating one.
I had the organic beef burger with caramelized onions, tomato and greens ($12) and a side of potato salad (the other option is rainbow chard), and it was great. Honestly, it could give local favorites a run for their money. I got the add-on of a fried egg (you can also get bacon or green chile) for $1.50, and I have to tell you—yes, the burger was lovely, the onions, heirloom tomato and greens it comes with were great—but for me, the real star of the show was the egg. It was the absolute ideal over-medium, the thing that all other over-medium eggs strive to be.
Ballads will be written about this egg. Long, involved, rhyming ballads. Everything that perfectly gooey yolk touched turned to awesome.
I also tried the lamb burger ($14) on a separate occasion, because I have a mortal stomach, and it was packed with flavor and left me with that satisfying I’m-going-to-nap-till-Tuesday feeling. With heritage turkey and buffalo burgers as well ($12), there have plenty of options.
You can also get in on that pasture-raised pork situation and try their pulled-pork sandwich ($12).
Sure, 12 bucks can be considered a bit steep for a burger, but it’s nice to know where everything came from and where the money is going. Not to mention that the deliciousness you’re tasting is from the actual ingredients.
“We know exactly who made and farmed everything, where everything comes from,” Delehanty says. “There’s no mystery here.”