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Grocery Stores

Sanagan's Meat Locker

Posted by Melissa Yu / Posted on December 6, 2009

Sanagan's Meat LockerSanagan's Meat Locker on Baldwin Street might be easy to miss from under the red Max & Son-branded awning, but one should not overlook this new kid on the Kensington block.

I found Sanagan's, my new butcher, through a more unconventional route: Twitter. Toronto's network of foodies like to tweet, and it's the best place to find the latest Toronto food news (like what Jamie is serving for lunch at Gilead Cafe; when tickets for the Daily Bread Food Bank's annual fundraiser, "HohoTO", are on sale; and what Corey Mintz made for supper last night). So when someone mentioned something about the deliciousness that is Sanagan's cheeseburger sausages, I just had to know what all the fuss was about.

Sanagan's Meat LockerPeter Sanagan, a former instructor and alumni of George Brown College, has had some big shoes to fill, what with the former Max & Son having been a Kensington staple for over 50 years. And fill them, he has. In the few short weeks they have been open, Sanagan's has crafted out an identity based on their commitment to supply meat products from small Ontario farms. And through the use of social networking mediums like Twitter and Facebook, they've found an audience that is on a quest for locally-sourced food and meat.

Sanagan's Meat LockerToronto is in the prime of the local food movement. With community organizations like The Stop and Slow Food Toronto demanding attention, homegrown celebrity chefs heavily pushing the local agenda, and books like "The Edible City - Toronto's Food from Farm to Fork" being launched at the Gladstone, urbanites are catching on.

For someone new to the game, it can be tough; there are so many buzzwords floating around - organic, local, sustainable, grain-feed, grass-fed, free-range. It's hard to know what to look for. People want solutions, and Sanagan's offers the best way to start: knowing where your food comes from.

Sanagan's Meat LockerOn a cold and windy Friday affternoon at Sanagan's, business is bustling. Everyone seems to have skipped off work early and is hanging out in Kensington, catching the last rays of sunlight. I slip into the clean and brightly-lit store and am greeted with an even brighter smile. As I wait my turn, I consider my meals for the week ahead: a fresh batch of chicken stock is definitely needed for a week's worth of risotto and soup-concocting, but I'm looking for something a little heartier for tonight's dinner guest.

I ask for a chicken carcass or two ($1.50/lb), and Derek, Sanagan's right-hand man, offers to cut it up into pieces for me. We chat about osso bucco, how one ought to utilize cow trotter in soup, and when I can get some of those aforementioned cheeseburger sausages.

Service is efficient, the advice is knowledgeable, and the cooking tips are creative. Ten minutes later, Derek has sold me on a couple pounds of stewing beef ($3.99/lb), which I have decided is destined to be slow-cooked with a bottle of dark St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout and a dozen fingerling potatoes. When I ask, I am told that my beef is from a farm in Meaford, Ontario, within 250 kilometres from Toronto.

Sanagan's Meat LockerI hit the busy Baldwin Street minutes later, my tote bag laden with purchases; feeling inspired to cook and satisfied to have done my duty as a locavore for the day.

Sanagan's Meat Locker is open Monday to Saturday from 8 am to 7 pm, on Sunday from 12 pm - 5 pm. Follow them on Twitter @Sanagans.



Chester Pape / December 7, 2009 at 12:22 am
As far as I know HoHoTO has NOTHING to do with Slow Food. IIRC it's a fundraiser for Daily Bread.
Melissa Yu replying to a comment from Chester Pape / December 7, 2009 at 07:40 am
You're absolutely correct, C. Correction duly-noted.
ben spigel / December 7, 2009 at 09:48 am
I think that everyone can agree that nothing is ever going to beat Kensington Meats. There's nothing like fighting with old Polish grandmothers over the best cut of bottom roast. Plus, $2.59 a pound for the best damn bacon in town.
Corey Mintz / December 7, 2009 at 10:33 am
Thanks for the shout-out Melissa Yu. Sanagan's is my new butcher shop. Everyone in and around the market couldn't be happier about it.
Michelle / December 7, 2009 at 11:10 am
Hey great news for the market! European Meats is good and cheap, but it's not local. I think Sanagan's selling point is that it's locally sourced meat. I am buying WAY less meat, and there's no reason I can't pay a little more to make it local, so I'll be stopping by Sanagan's for certain.
Kid Specific / December 7, 2009 at 02:26 pm
Healthy Butcher FOR LIFE
Chester Pape / December 7, 2009 at 04:59 pm
Thank's for the correction, it's still a little off as it seems to imply that Daily Bread organizes HohoTO (they don't, they get the proceeds but lots of other fine folks do the organizing) or that it's their main or only fundraiser (it's neither of course) anyway, close enough.

I think the thing that everyone is happy about is to see that the retirement of a proprietor of a long standing independent storefront butcher shop hasn't resulted in conversion into another coffee shop or t-shirt emporium but what certainly looks and feels like a worthy successor, I wish Peter the best and hope he's still there hawking meat for as long as Max & Son's were.
BenJAmin / December 7, 2009 at 05:05 pm
Healthy Butcher's prices have gone up a fair bit. I'm over them. Long live Kensington Market!
mondayjane / December 7, 2009 at 06:49 pm
I went to Sanagan's a couple of weeks ago - the meat I bought was delicious and Peter was really nice, helpful and knowledgeable.

<br><br> There was one thing that really bothered me tho. After Peter handled the meat with his bare hands, he took my money and gave me change without washing or even wiping them. I was too surprised and shy to say anything directly; did not want to be confrontational either.

<br><br>Peter if you are reading this: I truly want to support your excellent business, but please clarify your plans to change the sanitation practices. Perhaps you have done so already?

<br><br> To end on a positive note, this is a guy with great knowledge of his product, good prices and a lovely rapport with customers.

Peter replying to a comment from mondayjane / December 7, 2009 at 10:54 pm
Hi mondayjane,

You are absolutely right. Sometimes I get so busy in the store it's tough to get to the sink before I handle cash. However, let me assure you this never happens in the reverse. I am fastidious when it comes to cleanliness with food handling. I hope this alleviates your concerns and that I have the pleasure of serving you again soon.

Sincerely, Peter
bethany_baby / December 7, 2009 at 11:18 pm
I like Healthy Butcher equally as much. But competition breeds progress! I think it's great if Sanagan's can offer an equally, if not better, product under the same local-goal.
mondayjane / December 8, 2009 at 07:28 am
Peter thank you, I will happily come back, and also spread the good word.
Pat / December 8, 2009 at 11:27 am
Healthy Butcher has changed the landscape for serving local, organically raised meat in T.O. No one comes close.
Ross Evertson / December 8, 2009 at 02:27 pm
Good to see Sanagan's on blogto! I just photographed Peter & Derek last week—
sam chow / December 10, 2009 at 09:28 pm
wonderful, congrats on your first article!
A / December 13, 2009 at 07:11 pm
Congrats on the article :) I'll be sure to recommend Sanagan's to all of my meat-eating buddies!!
Moreover / January 2, 2010 at 12:33 am
I was in Kensington a couple weeks ago and was lured in by the bright and inviting storefront of Sanagan's. I went in and bought a few sausages from the friendly and helpful butcher, which were delicious. I'll be back.
econetizen / March 3, 2010 at 04:08 pm
Sanagan's meat is always fresh, the quality of meat is superb, and it's affordable. $2.99/lb for local, free-range, grain-fed whole chicken is the best price I've seen in TO. They also sell unique heritage varieties of chicken. And, they're going to be selling local organic chicken soon. They guys who work there are super knowledgeable and always helpful. I've got to give kudos to these guys for keeping meat real.
econetizen replying to a comment from mondayjane / March 3, 2010 at 04:18 pm
I have also found Sanagan's meat shop to be impeccably clean! You can tell these guys know how to handle meat properly the moment you walk into the shop.
Chelseagirl / August 11, 2010 at 09:58 pm
I used to live close by Cumbrae's on Church and I thought nothing would come close to the taste of their meats. Had my first meat from Sanagan's today and it did not disappoint! I look forward to trying more.

I agree, competition breeds progress so it's good to have several organic meat choices in Toronto.
Chelseagirl / August 11, 2010 at 10:00 pm
The old butcher:

<a href=""; title="Fresh... goat meat by chelseagirl, on Flickr"><img src=""; width="191" height="240" alt="Fresh... goat meat" /></a>
j / February 14, 2011 at 11:52 am
can you buy filet mignon here?
j / February 14, 2011 at 11:53 am
can you buy filet mignon here?
Chelseagirl / February 14, 2011 at 02:09 pm
j, I'd call ahead to Sanagan's for anything specific. They do not have everything, every day, if you know what I mean. It's a smaller operation, but what they have is great and if you asked they might do a special cut for you.
Brandon / October 12, 2011 at 09:50 am
Their double smoked bacon is the best I've ever had.
leo replying to a comment from Corey Mintz / November 2, 2011 at 10:09 pm
corey is right they are a great asset to the market..we are very happy they have found and have enhanced the kensington market experience... they truly care about the people they deal with...
JonasOfToronto / May 26, 2013 at 11:42 pm
I am impressed by the good availability of cuts, the ethical sources and the sometimes unusual offerings, such as wild boar and 'heirloom' chickens. Fresh store-made sausage runs to the deliciously exotic, and the double-smoked bacon is like no other. Great lunch specials if you gotta eat quick.
Only once did I buy some skirt or hanger steak that had a bit of off-putting 'sour' flavor that I later learned could occur from 'wet aging' a side of beef. The artisan Montreal Smoked Meat I tried once was very dry and crumbly. But pretty much everything I ever bought at Sanigans is a prime ingredient to help me prepare an easy and delicious dish; I say dive in and explore more of what they sell & and also ask them any questions because these good people are happy to share the vast knowledge they have about meat and cooking.

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