The Best Butcher Shops in Toronto
The best butcher shops in Toronto really know their meat. That, of course, doesn't just mean knowing the difference between top and bottom sirloin. No, it means being able to explain where the source animals were raised, what they ate, how they lived, how they were killed, processed, and then--yes--the difference between top and bottom sirloin. Bonus points if you can recommend a good marinade recipe or wine pairing.
The proof is always in the pudding--or, um, poultry?--as you can taste the difference between meats sourced from quality butchers versus mediocre shops. But no mediocrity here. These are the best butcher shops in Toronto.
Note: This list was previously published on March 4, 2008. Comments below made up until May 28th, 2011 are in reference to the old list. We've purposely kept the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic. If you don't want to have to wade through all of them, simply hit the "sort by newest first" link at the top of the thread.
Cumbrae's is my butcher shop of choice, simply because the staff there always seem to have complete and prompt answers to my questions. Cumbrae's meats are locally sourced and farm-raised, ready at its Church Street and Bayview Avenue locations. And just in case you forget what you learned when you stopped by, you can always check out Cumbrae's YouTube channel to learn how to make the perfect burger and more. More »
The Healthy Butcher is as popular as ever, no doubt due to its commitment to organic, locally sourced meats. With one location on Queen West and another on Eglinton West (complete with valet parking on Saturdays!) The Healthy Butcher offers all the regular meats, along with harder-to-finds including geese, elk, and bison. More »
Is it the product or the personality? Probably both. Royal Beef has been around for more than 25 years, serving the community prime cuts of meat along with owner Carmen Estrela's quirky enthusiasm. On Danforth near Woodbine, Royal Beef has started introducing hormone and anti-biotic free chicken and beef, while keeping its famous homemade sausages and burgers. More »
Sanagan's Meat Locker in Kensington Market offers a plethora of information about its meat. Of course, you don't necessarily have to drop in, since Sanagan's boasts perhaps one of the most active and entertaining Twitter feeds of all the butchers in Toronto. If you do head over to Baldwin, though, you'll find an array of locally sourced meats with information on each specific farm. More »
Vince Gasparro's Meat Market is that classic, family-owned butcher shop. In business for over two decades, Vince Gasparro's on Bloor West at Ossington offers local Ontario meats including lamb, pork, and beef, as well as free-range, hormone-free chicken. Expect to encounter counter banter. More »
Olliffe in Summerhill is not your blood-on-the apron butcher. Rather, it is a "purveyor of the finest meats" sourced from Ontario, as well as farmers around the world. Along with Mennonite-raised chicken, whey-fed pork and more, Olliffe also offers game meat such as quail, ostrich, and venison, available for special order if not in stock. Or else, anyone in the mood for some kangaroo? You can get that here too. More »
Rowe Farms keeps on growing. In fact, you can find its products at Fortino's and even Metro. But to get the full Rowe Farms experience (or else, all of the necessary information), I think it's best to stop in at one of its six Toronto locations. With a focus on local and anti-biotic free, Rowe Farms offers beef, poultry, lamb, and more, with information on how the animals were raised and prepared. More »
WhiteHouse Meats is one place where you can count on finding game meats that you may have had to order ahead of time from other butchers. A business going on 60 years, WhiteHouse is a St. Lawrence Market fixture (with a few other locations around Toronto), offering an impressive selection of meats from animals raised in a variety of conditions including free-range chicken and farm-raised lamb. More »