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Looking for Good Butcher in Central Jersey

Anyone know of a good butcher in central Jersey, preferably within the Princeton-Flemington-New Brunswick triangle? I sometimes go to Wegman's in Bridgewater but I find the quality to be very inconsistent (the beef can be OK but the chicken is awful!).

I know about Kocher's in Ridgefield but that's really a trek for me.

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  1. have you tried the PA Dutch Farmers Market on Route 27 in Kingston? Only open Th-F-Sat. Haven't been able to buy meat or poultry anywhere else since I started going there.

    1. Chester Meat Market in Chester, NJ

      1. Re Wegmans -- I had to return the cryovack ribs TWICE. (last august). Their excuse was that the packer didnt rinse the meat prior to cryovacking (sp) and it gave off an odor -- supposedly harmless but an odor none the less. I stay AWAY from their meats. Last night bought chickn cutlets there and they were MEATY. GROSS. Been buying meat a long time -- i stick with the A&P (better PORK). BUT for a Butcher, try A&G Pork Store, one in Fords and one in Middlesex. EXCELLENT (pricey) pork, veal, chicken and beef. They will cut what you want.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nyebaby37

          I assume you mean the town of Middlesex?

          I NEVER buy the cryovack stuff at Wegman's. It's disgusting, let alone flavorless. I've had reasonable luck with beef and veal from the butcher but, as mentioned, the chicken is horrible. But then most chicken from supermarkets is horrible.

          1. re: nyebaby37

            I, too, don't care for Wegman's meats. The steaks and pork chops are all cut way too thick (with no option for thinner for grilling), they charge more per pound for 2 than for 4, etc. But, as far as Cryovac- I thought all meat smells bad from that packaging as soon as one opens it (the gas they use and absence of oxygen or something)- it's supposedly disapates and isn't "in" the meat. (I still don't like it, either).

            On the other hand, I stopped buying pork at my A&P, since it's all "enhanced" with sodium phosphate. I hate that stuff, too. Totally ruins true slow cooked, smoked ribs.

          2. I second the PA Dutch Farmer's Market suggestion, but if you're willing to travel farther afield, John's in Scotch Plains is one of the best in the universe.


            Another Superbutcher is:


            But they're way down near the Pine Barrens.

            2 Replies
            1. re: BrianYarvin

              Gotta dissent on John's. It certainly has the reputation, but several years ago, my wife went to John's for the first (and last) time and bought some steaks for my birthday dinner. They were very very pricey, and were really disappointing--we have done much better at the local A&P or at BJ's for a fraction of the price. I can't believe that John's would survive for long on reputation alone if they made a practice of foisting something so inferior on its regular customers, so I think they must have an A list and a B list depending on how much you buy.


              1. re: BrianYarvin

                If you're willing to drive to John's, better to keep going a few more miles to Barth's in New Providence. Thier homemade cold cuts are the best in NJ.

              2. Have you tried the PA Dutch farmer's market in Flemington? (I haven't - I'm just wondering if you have and what your experience was.)

                2 Replies
                1. re: flourgirl

                  No, I haven't tried it and I really should. I went a few times when it was located farther north on Route 31, but when it closed I sort of lost track of it. It was only last year that I learned it had moved only a few miles away. Do you know when it's open? Thanks.

                  1. re: ambrose

                    It's open Thursday through Saturday. Thursday from 10am-6pm, Fri from 9am-7pm & Sat. 8am -3pm.

                2. I actually like the butcher in the foodtown on rt 9 in manalapan..also like sals meats on rt 9 in manalapan as well...

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: karins

                    I agree that the fresh (unpackaged) selections in the meat dept. at the Manalapan Foodtown are excellent. And the butchers there are a great group of guys. However, it's quite a distance away from the o.p.'s area. From New Brunswick, it's about 30 minutes, and that's without encountering traffic delays on Route 18.

                  2. yes, the TOWN of Middlesex, and the town of Fords (part of Woodbridge). Same owners and Middlesex is fairly close to NB -- here's the website -- they are a cut about the rest...sorry LOL...

                    1. At the Kingston Farmers market, Beiler's has superior pork and poultry, but I'm not always as happy with their more expensive cuts of beef. I do like their regular cuts, especially the flank steak and stew beef. you can get a good prime rib roast there. They also sell great bacon and jumbo hot dogs. Their meatloaf mix (veal, pork and beef) is excellent for meatloaf and meatballs, as are the carryout rotisserie meats from another vendor in the market. Try the ribs, chickens, ham, turkey and pork tenderloin. You can also get Peaqua Valley Yogurt there, which is absolutely wonderful with cream on top, as well as fresh butter and sour cream. For top shelf beef I go to Whole Foods for their organic and grass fed selections. Just north of Kingston is an organic poultry farm just off River Road that offers all kinds of fowl for sale, I'm blanking on the name, however. On Rt. 206 just south of Princeton there is a farm advertising grass fed organic beef. You might want to stop by and see if they sell retail. If you ever wander down to Trenton there is a great farmers market (for best selection go on Fridays/Saturdays) on Spruce Street that has a good butcher (Cartliges Meats) and a fantastic selection of Polish/Eastern European meats and sausages. Do NOT miss their peirogis. Some of the best I've ever had. They also have two knowledgeable and nice cheese vendors and an Italian specialty place where you can get fabulous fresh ricotta and very good homemade pastas and sausages. There is a small stand in the market that sells the best tamales I've ever had on Saturdays. He usually runs out by noon. Check out Halo Farms next door for good milk and ice cream. If you've never been it's worth a trip down Rt. 1.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ellen

                        Thanks Ellen and everyone else who responded. I have a number of excursions lined up, though perhaps not to the Pine Barrens!

                        1. re: Ellen

                          Be very very careful regarding hind and fore. Yes the old style butcher shop concept is very appealing but after trying it several times I must confess that i was very disappointed with the service and quality of its meats. Buyer be VERY beware.

                          1. re: Trattoria

                            Sabatos is still fantastic- Both their meats and their service *****

                        2. Ambrose, I forgot about the Hind and Fore on Rt. 28 in Bridgewater - have you tried them?

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: flourgirl

                            A name from the past! My late wife used to talk about the Hind and Fore but that was 15 years ago. Someone told me it had closed so I'll put it on my list to check out. Although I go through Bridgewater quite a bit I never take that stretch of Route 28.

                          2. It's probably too distant for the OP, but I like my local butcher shop, Sabatos in Middletown. It's not worth traveling a great distance, but if you're local, they have very good meats. Their chicken is Bell&Evans. I love their homemade sausage -- delicious classic Italian sausage and pork breakfast links. Their kielbasa is made by Pulaksi's, using Saboatos own private recipe.
                            They are scrupulously clean and the service is great.

                            Sabatos Prime Meats
                            (732) 787-9119
                            113 Leonardville Rd
                            Belford, NJ 07718

                            1. Best places to buy meats in your area you mention:
                              Hind and Fore, Rte 28 Bridgewater - STILL OPEN
                              Dutch Country Farmer's Market - Flemington (Behind Shop Rite) - open only Thurs-Sat
                              Whole Foods Market - there is one in Princeton on Rte. 1 - I go to the one in Madison

                              1. This is a bit out of your way, but the German Butcher in Forked River is incredible...a bit pricey, but SO worth it.

                                1. If you can get to Wegman's in Bridgewater, you have been passing up the best butcher shop in Central Jersey......namely, Hind and Fore on Rt. 28 between the Somerville traffic circle and Raritan Valley Community College. The place has been around since the 1920's and it looks it from the outside but the quality of meat is nothing short of stellar. With an advance phone call, they will do special cuts for you, they will set aside hanger steaks and tri-tips, they will custom dry age special cuts and their prime quality really is prime graded. They provide fabulously fresh turkey's for the holidays, they make a killer kielbasa and they custom grind their own 85% (50/50 blend) of ground beef for grilled burgers that has remarkable flavor. If you want custom cut lamb loin chops cut 3" thick, this is the one place that will do it for you and not charge a boutique price. Ed Destefano and Richard Scott have been running this place for decades and it just puts those cryovac packages of slurpy gloop to shame. Fresh poultry that they get from Griggstown Quail Farm (a destination in its own right between Manville and Montgomery) provides free-range, organic and flavorful birds....and if you just want good old Thumann cold cuts, they seem well equipped for those basics as well. PS just recently Hind and Fore were selling bunches of just picked, fresh asparagus from a Hillsborough farm, complete with mud on the stalks but if you took the time to wash them well before some grilling, they were the penultimate of what fresh asparagus can achieve. Hind and Fore is the real deal and sets the standard for a level of quality that Wegmans and those other chains can never achieve.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ThanksVille

                                    If their asparagus is the penultimate, I wonder where I can get the ultimate...

                                    H&F is very good for certain things, especially prime beef. You tell them how many people you're cooking for and give a general idea of what you want to do, they will recommend the right roast or cut, and even give you xeroxed cooking instructions. If prime beef is your thing, this is a good place to shop.

                                    I have had a couple of problems there though, and they were both when I asked them for a cut they don't normally sell. The countermen tried hard to steer me away from my request, and in retrospect I should have taken that as a hint. (Especially the second time!) *

                                    Another odd thing, and the reason I started looking around for a different butcher, was when I asked one of the guys how big of a freezer I would need to buy to hold a whole pig, lamb, or a side of beef, butchered. His reply was, You really shouldn't buy meat that way because there's alot of waste! I was thinking O....K.... this is a butcher shop, isn't it ?!?

                                    So, my conclusion is that this place is more of a meat reseller than a true butcher shop. With the exception of roasts or steaks of beef, WHICH ARE EXCELLENT, I go elsewhere.

                                    *Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, uh huh uh huh uh huh.....Won't get fooled agin!

                                    1. re: The Engineer

                                      @ engineer- i think the waste reference was based on the assumption that you were going to butcher it.
                                      Hind and Fore is great. The steaks are expensive, great customer service. Georges meat market is pretty good in raritan right by somerville. the butcher is a smart ass but that adds to the experience. great italian sausage.

                                  2. How about some recs of places in Monmouth county?

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Barbarella

                                      drew's in spring lake heights (rt 71)
                                      monmouth meats in RB (monmouth street)
                                      Andy K's in Monmouth Beach-- seriously... not the spot in Sea Bright---ask for vinny... black angus, nice steaks, clean ground beef
                                      if you want to pay big bucks, whole foods in middletown, sickels in little silver, delicious orchards in colts neck

                                      1. re: Barbarella

                                        Sabatos Prime Meats
                                        (732) 787-9119
                                        113 Leonardville Rd, Belford, NJ 07718

                                      2. moved - so I haven't been their in a couple of yrs., that said - Sal's in Shrewsbury use to have great meat 'n chicken. re Delicious Orchards - not that great.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: eatinman

                                          Sal's bacon-wrapped boneless ribeye grilled up med rare is one of my favorite summertime treats

                                        2. Hind and Fore is the best. Worth the drive and everything is hand cut. Beef is truly prime and the quality is consistent. John's is living on its reputation. Very inconsistent and the butchers don't care about the customer. Saty away.

                                          1. I don't know if this meets your geographical criteria, but I drive here from Mercer County when I want special, cut to order, meats: Ely's Farm Products. Here's some info (from their own website, but I've found it all valid, not just puffery).

                                            "Ely Pork Products, Inc. was established in 1981 by Dwight Ely, a seventh generation farmer, on the historic Ely Farm which dates back to the late 1700's. Hogs, cattle, and hay are raised on the farm to help to supply the butcher shop with its quality meats. In eight recent years, Ely hams have placed first in national competitions held by the American Association of Meat Processors. Many additional products have won state and national awards as well.

                                            In 2006, we changed our name to Ely Farm Products to better reflect the wide variety of products we sell. At this time we also began making our own European-style, raw-milk aged cheeses."

                                            Here's their homepage; website includes driving directions.


                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mchametzky

                                              I can second Ely. Just this week, we had Christmas ham (which became breakfast ham yesterday), Christmas morning sausage, and blizzard bacon. All were absolutely top notch flavor. That's an awful lot of pork for three days, but it was all delicious.