Meat maniacs, take note: The Sarasota area is home to a handful of terrific butcher shops, with friendly, knowledgeable meat merchants you should get to know ASAP. Developing a rapport with your butcher is a key step toward improving your home cooking skills. The best butchers are those who are eager to share tips and recipes and demystify some of their rarer specialties like pork brains and veal sweetbreads. Here are six of our favorite local meat magicians.
4520 S. Tamiami Trail Sarasota, (941) 922-3797, alpinesteak.com
This combination restaurant and butcher shop is famous for its turducken (a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey), but it’s been wowing Sarasota residents with its simpler beef classics for over four decades. The menu includes dry-aged steaks, veal, lamb, chicken and even seafood, alongside German sausages and schnitzels.
3242 17th St., Sarasota, (941) 955-2822, butchersblocksarasota.com
Way more than just a steak ’n’ chicken shack, Scott McGowan's store offers difficult-to-source meats like venison, goat and rabbit, plus off-the-beaten-path selections like veal sweetbreads. There’s also a solid selection of wines and dry-aged beef.
5906 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, (941) 794-6328, chopshopgrocer.com
A west Bradenton destination since 1971, the Chop Shop sells the raw goods, as well as pork and chicken smoked in-house and take-and-bake seasoned and marinated meats. There's also a solid selection of Manatee County pantry items like honey, orange juice and milk, as well as everything you need to get your grill smoking correctly.
7447 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 923-3004
Whether you’re looking for rare European creations like blood sausage and head cheese or just a high-quality weenie for your backyard barbecue, Geier’s on the South Trail delivers. The brightly lit meat case showcases an astounding variety of both fresh and prepared items, with kidneys, tongue, pig ears and a bewildering spread of sausages. The store’s shelves stock all sorts of dry Teutonic treats, too.
701 Shamrock Blvd., Venice, (941) 497-7188, hermansmeatsdeli.com
Herman’s has been a south county institution for nearly 40 years, regarded for its cut-to-order service, homemade Italian sausages and store-ground meats. For more exotic tastes, owner Dominick Reina offers alligator, pork brains and a variety of bones. A hearty and inexpensive way to sample Herman’s offering is at its Saturday afternoon cookouts, featuring sausage, ribs, hot dogs and side dishes.
3134 53rd Ave. E., Bradenton, (941) 254-7453
For years, because of U.S. Department of Agriculture slaughterhouse rules, getting your hands on local beef was a challenge. No longer. The Sarasota Beef Company opened up earlier this year, selling locally raised, slaughtered and butchered beef that’s either all grass-fed or grass-fed and grain-finished. The store is also selling its wares at the Bradenton Farmers Market and out of a stall at the Red Barn Flea Market. Throw a local steak on the grill tonight.