Las Vegas is a desert, therefor not exactly known for it’s lush farmlands. There are few exceptions of organic raised cows , and the farmers market is obviously not as impressive as a Midwest, or even California, experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to find good meat in Vegas. This is the story on how I found the best butcher in Las Vegas.
In my quest to make the perfect steak, I have tried many options. I’ve tried out the guy at the grocery store who calls himself a butcher, but really just follows the orders of the corporate office. I’ve done mail order, primarily through Omaha Steaks, which honestly leaves much to be desired, and can be on the pricy side if not buying with a coupon. And I’ve listened to the people go on about how Sam’s Club has good meat, only to be highly disappointed. But I finally got serious and found myself a real butcher. Branded Meats.
I found these guys on Yelp. I have found the best way to gauge the reviews on Yelp is to not just look at the good ones, as those could obviously be fake, but check out the bad reviews. In this case there was only one bad review. It was from a guy whining about the fact they weren’t open on Monday, and he wasted his time driving down. He goes on to acknowledge that his other butcher is closed on Monday, and that this is a common practice. Even better, he says he sent an email complaining about this to the owners, and they sent an email back apologizing for not making their hours more known to him. And then he gives them a 1 star review without ever actually buying, or trying, anything. If this is the only complaint, then I think it’s worth checking out.
Stepping into Branded Meats is not an overly impressive experience. It’s a small shop with a line of freezers on one side, the butcher counter on the other, and a few racks of butcher related spices and knives in the middle. The back of the shop is visible and it where to work is done.
I admit that I was a little disappointed, as I would love to walk into some old-world looking butcher shop, like some cross between an old New York butcher, and something out of a Dickens’ story, but this is really just a very plain looking shop, which is maybe a good style on it’s own.
The service at Branded Meats is friendly, and what the interior lacks, the owner more than makes up in his strong opinions on meat. Ask him his thoughts on dry aged vs. wet aged beef and you’ll get healthy dose of butcher attitude. (he prefers wet aged by the way)
My first test order was a few filets and a couple New York strips. I also had him throw in some sweet Italian sausage and few boneless chicken breasts.
The filets, which I simply cooked by searing in butter on a hot cast iron skillet, and then baked at 350 for 8 minutes, were incredible. That thing that always seemed to be missing from my steaks was now there. I had my little focus group who had in the past praised my steaks as the best they’ve ever had at home, now gushed that they were the best they ever had, period.
The New York strips also came out wonderful with the same preparation. Although I can’t help feel I should have used my sous vide to really break down the fat and muscle in the meat. Still, certainly near the best I’ve ever tasted.
As great as the steaks were, the sweet Italian sausage was the thing that surpassed my expectations the most. Growing up in Chicago, I have a pretty good handle on what good sausage should taste like, and most places come up short. But these babies from Branded Meats put everything I have ever had in the past to shame. They’re amazing. One could open an entire restaurant around these things and probably do quite well.
The biggest let down was the chicken, which turned out dry when prepared in a steamer. Again, a sous vide would probably have saved the day with these.
So, when looking for the best butcher in Las Vegas, check out Branded Meats. The prices are more than decent, only about 15% higher than the crap they sell at the grocery store, and the taste is fantastic.