halal butcher on 24th st., mission
i was walking down to la palma today when i noticed a new butcher shop on 24th st., near folsom. please forgive the lack of concrete details, but i was suffering from the excesses of a project runway season premiere party the night before involving muddled berry and mint infused vodka cocktails topped off with champagne. and some cheese. anyways i believe it's called alhamra meat company. i did stare at the awning trying to commit the name to memory, but...cocktails. ow.
it's a halal shop, so obviously no pork. i don't really understand what makes meat "halal," in terms of laws regarding slaughter, cleaning, feeding, etc. there was a banner that advertised something about no hormones, no antibiotics, all natural, etc. there was a wide selection of beef, lamb, and chicken, as well as goat. and quite cheap, too. i remember that the ribeye steaks were $8.99 per pound, whole leg of lamb at $3.99 a pound. there were a number of steaks, as well as pounded thin cuts of chuck, eye of round, etc. ground chuck, ground lamb, lamb riblets, and much more. didn't pay too much attention to the poultry section. i'm intrigued by the goat, since i've only had it once in a pakistani curry, so i had trouble discerning the goat flavor in the midst of all those spices.
i picked up a few merguez sausages. i should've asked if they were made in house, but...fuzzy brain. i assume they are, but i haven't tasted them yet. they were $3.99 a pound. there is a freezer with packaged kibbeh patties, phyllo, and boxed commercially made frozen meals, ranging from kebabs to...i think pakistani dishes. i grabbed a pack of frozen, pre-sliced shawarma meat, thinking of steak-ums but oh so much better. we'll see. the ingredients list isn't scary. there is an olive bar and two fridge cases. one with beverages (grabbed some guava juice) and the other with cheeses, yoghurts, etc. there's a small stand of desserts and dates, and a small, limited produce case which i found negligible. oh, and a bunch of canned and dried goods. saw basmati rice, dried legumes, pomegranate molasses, things like that.
i'll let you know how the sausages and frozen shawarma turn out. anyone else checked this place out yet?
With your review and the 3 Yelp reviews so far, for me this place could rank as "godsend." I try not to buy much Safeway meat anymore and the other places (Bi-Rite, Avedano's, and occasionally I'll hold my nose and go to Drewes) are not really affordable for us at the moment. Seems like people really love the steaks.
Alhambra Halal Meat Company
3111 24th St, San Francisco, CA
great report! i love avedano's and won't go to drewes, so it's nice to know there's another option in the 'hood.
are merguez sausages usually a bit dry? i'm not very experienced with them, but when i cooked these up, they didn't seem to have any juiciness. the flavor was fine, but the texture a bit off. i don't think i overcooked them, though that is possible.
but i've talked to friends who really enjoyed the quality of the meat here. i think when i go back, i'll just buy meat, and not the sausages to gauge the quality better.
Lots of "merguez" uses pork fat in the mix to keep it moist and tasty regardless of how it's cooked, and many butchers that butcher grain-fed beef and pigs have an excess of fat laying around that ends up in the sausages, thus adjusting our American expectations for what a sausage should be.
Halal shops obviously aren't using any pig products, and grass-fed meat will be leaner to begin with so there's less in the way of fat scraps for them to use up in sausages.
One aspect of middle-eastern and Persian cooking is the use of tail fat from a special breed of fat-tailed sheep. It has a different melting temperature and supposedly a special flavor that's irreplaceable for certain dishes. You didn't happen to see tail fat in the butcher case, did you?
I just visited Alhambra Halal Meat Company on Monday to check the place out. I have to say I was very encouraged by what I saw. The store is of course brand new, everything very clean, nicely laid out, good prices. The owner said all the lamb is raised in Colorado but is slaughtered locally as is the beef but I believe the chicken is raised locally. Everything is touted as organic, natural, no antibiotics, no hormones, grass fed, pastured chickens. Prices are excellent. Since I had just walked in to check things out, I just bought a pound of ground chuck ($2.89/lb), and the owner gave me 4 links of the house made merguez sausages to try as a freebie. The ground chuck was good in the dish that I used it in, but very lean as one would expect grass fed beef to be, so if I were using it for burgers I might ask him to grind in a little fat. The merguez sausages were also very lean, so I did not pan fry them but poached them, and they stayed quite tender that way. You could definitely taste the lamb, but not a lot of spicing so we served them with some harissa.
This place is definitely a great addition to the Mission!
I tried all four merguez sausages - chicken, beef, lamb, spicy lamb.
Surpisingly the beef was the best. It had this excellent beef flavor, almost like meatloaf.
As others have mentioned the texture is on the dry side, but I didn't think in a bad way.
There wasn't much detectable spice in the beef ... very, very background. I'd buy this again because it was so deeply beefy. I liked the spicy lamb next which had a heat like that which comes from a powdered pepper such as cayanne.
The chicken had a medium spice and I wouldn't buy this again because mainly I don't really like any chicken sausage. It was ok though.
The regular lamb was fine and there really wasn't much if any spice to it. I was so hooked on the beef that I'd be unlikely to choose the plain lamb over it.
Great market. If I lived in the city i'd be there all the time.
I enjoyed the mild lamb merguez sausages and also noticed they were a bit dry -- may try poaching them next time. I thought they were $5.99/pound when I bought them, but I may be remembering incorrectly.