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Butchers in San Diego

Hey guys,

After ordering some Bryan Flannery steaks from up north (drooool) i've been wondering, are there any REALLY GOOD high quality butchers in San Diego?

I want usda prime fresh off the bone ribeye and all that sexy stuff. Heck, if they have their own storage area to dry age that'd be even better!

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  1. Call Sisel's or Iowa Meat Farms and talk to them about what you want. I know they both can get prime meat but I can't remember if either one of the dry ages or not. I think Sisel's might but not IMF.

    1. Seisel's does some dry aging, but I'd actually suggest checking out Whole Foods in La Jolla. They have a dry aging storage unit and you can see the slabs of beef in there as they age. It's expensive, but the meat looks incredible.

      1. Whole Foods and Bristol Farms have good meat departments, and Ralphs (at least in Del Mar) also carries prime beef. I wasn't too impressed with the selection last time I went to Iowa Meat Farms. I bought two rib eyes - they were stunningly expensive (about $60.00 total) and not all that fantastic.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Alice Q

          The downtown Ralphs also has Prime

          1. re: Alice Q

            I've been very happy with Ralph's prime beef whenever I shop there. These days, I typically buy meat from Costco, but if I'm at Ralph's and feel like a steak, I'll pick one up without hesitation. I shop at the one on Carmel Mtn.


          2. Woops one more reiteration, not a huge fan of whole food's steaks, their prime is low end prime so its really no better than Costco's choice (which is high end choice). (and 15$ cheaper per lb)

            where is Sisel's?
            I was looking for an actual butcher, not the market. Hard to guarantee quality of the Prime at markets, thanks for the market suggestions tho

            5 Replies
            1. re: clayfu

              Seisel's is in Bay Park, on Ashton St. just east of Morena Blvd. They are an actual butcher, and their prime beef is very good. Another nice thing they make in-house is rare roast beef, awesome quality.

              1. re: Josh

                so Morena and Ashton? cause tha'ts right next to me =P.
                i shall go soon!

                1. re: clayfu

                  Yes, right there. Has a giant fiberglass cow out front.

                  They make their own bacon and sausages. Bacon is great, sausages are often great, but not always. They have vacuum tumbled pre-marinated meats. I don't really like the steaks that way, but the pre-marinated tritip and London Broil are good stuff.

                  They have an absurd sirloin there called a Cattleman cut, which looks to be about 3-4 lbs. per steak.

                  I like Siesel's a lot, but since I've been focusing on eating lighter the past few months I haven't been there in a while. All their meat is much too well-marbled for my diet.

                  1. re: clayfu

                    Get a sandwich while you wait (just the small roast beef is perfect), and for a side, ask which of the potato salad or cole slaw is the house made one. Then there is that house made horseradish cheese dip in the refrigerator section.

                    Right across from the Fire Station...the cow in the parking lot...

                    1. re: Cathy

                      The horseradish cheese dip is an evil concoction. Tastes great, but probably a million calories per container.

              2. It's been a couple of years, but a group of friends and I did a "Rib Eye Taste Off" with contributions from Whole Foods, Iowa Meat Farms, Seisels, Jimbo's, Major Market and "hand-selected" Costco (i.e. someone went through all the Rib Eye's and picked the package that looked like Prime). The winner was Jimbo's with Costco a close second (and at about 1/2 to 1/3 the price...).

                If you go to Seisel's, talk to the guy at the counter, they usually have better stuff than what's available in the display case "in the back", but you have to know the double-secret handshake. Even using that, I've always been somewhat disappointed by both Seisel's and Iowa Meat Farms (which are now both owned by the Cohn Group), especially their prime and dry-aged prime.

                2 Replies
                1. re: mikec

                  Iowa Meats was David Cohen's first venture into the food business. It even predates the Corvette Diner. They're much better if you go at off hours when they aren't busy and you can talk to the meat cutters (their cutting primals, not butchering)

                  1. re: mikec

                    I've been very pleased with steaks, lamb, prime rib roasts, goose, etc., at Jimbos

                  2. The last time we were at Bisher's Meats in Poway (off Midland Road) we picked up some beef ribs that had just been placed out after they cut the ribeyes off it. Those were some pretty good ribs (we didn't think to get a ribeye). I don't know if they do any dry ageing, though. Their steaks are good, but for my money I'm happy going to Costco.


                    1. T&H Prime Meats in San Marcos is my favorite. Tip Top in Carlsbad also has decent meat.

                      1. I've bought quite a few Rib Eyes the past 6 months and finding a good one is really hit and miss. I've shopped Bristol Farms, Harvest Ranch, Whole Foods, Jimbo's, and Siesel's. I've bought prime, dry-aged, and choice. I've had wonderful steaks and tough tasteless steaks in all three categories from each of those markets. I can't see any consistent pattern, unfortunately. Other than looking for good marbling, it's pretty much the luck of the draw.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: JeffSD

                          I think you're right about this. Although, I think you can significantly improve your chances if you can chat up the butcher and ask if they have anything that looks better in the back. Usually a butcher will be more than happy to find a customer that appreciates a good steak.

                        2. I usually get pretty high quality turkeys for the holidays at Sisels. Last year I got a turducken and was it divine! Makes gravy to die for. Didn't have much luck with their brisket although a friend raved about hers. Costco is soooo convenient.

                          1. Siesel's hands down is one of the best. We may get in sparing fights about why they don't carry all natural or organic but that is another thread. They are the best butchers in town and they actually cut their own meat--which Whole Foods does not do (unless practices have recently changed.)
                            My grandfather was a butcher and owned his own shop in PB/LJ for 40 years--after he retired and the grocery stores stopped using real butchers he recommended Siesel's.
                            I bought the best Rib Eye from them a few weeks ago it fed three of us and was 15 bucks. It was like butter!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jturtle

                              Whole Foods definitely cuts at least *some* of their own meat. The dry aging locker in the La Jolla location has giant slabs of meat aging in there.

                            2. We like to go to Ibis Market in Mission Hills. They have dry-aged prime and you can get it cut to order. Hadn't been in a while and went a few weeks ago and it was fantastic. Their prime is cheaper than Whole Foods' choice!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: mimosa

                                It's a bit off the SD beaten path, but Mike's Choice Meats in Oceanside is the best service and quality I've gotten in California. He deals in prime and wagyu, and has gotten me a bit more exotic stuff to use, like elk and antelope. He opened another branch, but I think he's at 1638 Ord Way, in Oceanside.

                              2. I've been to most of these places, I'm a big fan of Seisels/Iowa, and Mimosa's right , Ibis has the best dry-aged in town. But, when I have the time, I buy the Costco and age it myself. It's not tough- just buy it several days in advance (even 1 or 2 will help), take it out of the package, give it a quick rinse and pat them dry. Place the steaks on a plate without covering them and put them in the fridge. I turn mine whenever I go in the fridge for the next few days- if they're filet mignons, I put them on edge.

                                After a few days, the outside gets that dry-ish dark red-ish color and texture. It means the meat is giving up some of it's moisture- NOT it's fat, though.

                                Works great, very tasty.

                                Josh- the feta cheese dip is my weakness- I've been known to hide the containers and use it at foodie dinner parties..shh!

                                1. On a historical and nostalgic note, does anyone remember Ron Keifer's on Ft. Stockton Dr. in Mission Hills?

                                  His butcher shop was widely considered the best in San Diego, until he retired and closed his business in 1995 or 1996. Ron himself was usually there to give advice or take special requests and the beef was consistently outstanding. When he closed, he advised his customers to go to Harvest Ranch and Siesel's.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: JeffSD

                                    That was how I learned about Siesel's.

                                    1. re: Josh

                                      "When he closed, he advised his customers to go to Harvest Ranch and Siesel's."

                                      Was a long time ago when 'Old Man Seisel' (I can't recall his name but have always heard him referred to this way - tho not in his presence) was still there. It's not the same quality now, IMO, nor the same level of expertise. And as long as it's just Iowa Meat Farms with another name, Iowa's closer so there's no need to drive all the way to Bay Park.

                                      1. re: mimosa

                                        The sandwiches and that wonderful (Josh called it an evil concotion and Fake Name said it is his weakness..our little secret) cheese dip with horseradish are not at Iowa Meat Farms.

                                        They are the same ownership, but a little different... It is a nice drive.

                                        Plus, the OP lives closer to Seisels and technically, we are answering His question.

                                        1. re: Cathy

                                          Cathy, sometimes IMF *does* have the evil concoction. It comes and goes, but I've seen it a few times. They have the rest of the Sisel dips and spreads more regularly. The feta dip is pretty good too, if you like feta.

                                          1. re: DiningDiva

                                            Oh. My. Never had the feta. Never saw most of the dips and spreads at IMF. We don't want the most wonderful snack in the world [and work of the devil] within a few miles of my house, straight down Mission Gorge Road...That would be too tempting. Too easy.

                                            But now I know I can look when I am in that area. Thanks.

                                  2. Well, i went to Siesel's on friday.

                                    conversation with the butcher went like this
                                    me: "hi, do you have any dry aged usda prime?"
                                    butcher: "no, just choice ribeye"
                                    me: "hum... lemme get the usda prime strip"
                                    butcher: "why do you say usda"
                                    me: "um.. i'm just reading off the label, i fumble less with my words"
                                    another butcher: "sir do you know what USDA stands for"
                                    me: "(ready for a joke) you tell me"
                                    butcher #2: "united states department of agriculture *looks smug and walks away*"
                                    me: "uh... okay. i thought you were going to tell me a joke"

                                    I buy the NY steak (Nebraska raised)( and a couple of other choice steaks), i match it up with my Bryan Flannery NY strip (brandt farms cali). 15 oz's 1.5inches each. Both were $29.99 (flannery is 24.99 for 30 day aged Midwest beef).

                                    Grilled it/popped in the oven. Cut up each into four served it to my brother and two of my friends. General consensus was Flannery for the win. By a large margin. My brother actually left a piece of the Siesel on the plate. And to boot, the Flannery was in the freezer for 4 days and then defrosted so it wasn't nearly as fresh.

                                    *sigh* too bad, i thought i could find a good butcher next to me =(

                                    The choice steaks weren't bad, i just wasn't happy paying 15-16$ for the steak when Costco has some pretty decent Choice strips for $8 a pound. And the Prime was pretty expensive for what you get, $30 for non aged Midwest beef. I think i'll try the La Jolla Whole Foods this weekend.

                                    If any steak-philes want to try Flannery's i have his cell phone/email i'll email it to you. He doesn't have an online ordering system yet.

                                    5 Replies
                                        1. re: clayfu

                                          No, the guy sounds like he used to work at Bronx. I hate condescension...as well as not good meat from a meat store.

                                          The sandwiches are great though...really.

                                      1. re: clayfu

                                        That sounds a lot like my last conversation with the butcher at Iowa Meat Farms. I have no plans to go back. The quality just isn't there for the price, IMO.

                                        1. re: clayfu

                                          You might also go to Jonathan in LJ. They have a pretty good butcher and have often some unusual cuts for me (e.g. Kassler etc.). Another possibility is Major Market in Escondido.