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Aug 29, 2008 11:09 PM

Avedanos vs Drewes?

Here's the reason for my question... I am in a baby back ribs, um, phase?, and... I found the ribs at Drewes to be more delicious. It was shocking, I am a total fan of avedanos, but... after 2 tries at Avedanos - the Drewes ribs were just much meatier and just right.

At both places I have generally had great experiences with service, product and selection. Also, although I'd heard Drewes was expensive, i found it totally reasonable ( disclaimer: i relocated from NYC/BK a year ago so affordable is relative) - as I did Avedanos.

So - I started to wonder if each one had certain things - cuts or types of meat/fish - that was noticeably better than the other. I still shop at both, just curious if other people have noticed something like this

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  1. Have you ever been to the Bryan's meat market in the middle of the Laurel Heights shopping ctr? Calif/Laurel? I went in and out of both Avedano and Drewes w/out buying anything. The only place I buy meat, chicken, fish is Bryan's. I like their baby backs. They are not inexpensive but I have not found fresher in SF. They have some prepared food and the rotisserie chicken is really excellent.

    7 Replies
    1. re: walker

      hm... cant say I have been to Bryans, but will give it a shot next time i'm nearby. thanks!

      why do you think theirs is fresher than the others? do they do more volume?

      1. re: BoomerCB

        Maybe they throw out old. Go see, you'll understand what I mean. Just remember not to lean against cases, especially the chicken one. It sweats -- he needs to buy new cases. They are closed Sun and lots of holidays, will be closed Labor Day. I love their potato-leek soup, it's better than what I make. (There's a big Bryan's near the corner of Laurel but the meat shop is about in the middle of the shopping strip, with Cal-Mart at the Spruce end of street.)

        1. re: walker

          I'd be interested in giving Bryan's a try, but do you know if 1) the meat comes from grass fed stock, and 2) does any of it come locally?

          Wouldn't be worth paying a premium for industrialized horomone infused meat. Mind you, doesn't have to be certified organic, but small farm, naturally raised.

          For my two cents worth, I prefer Avedano even though the selection changes and my initial choice of cuts isn't always available. They have some fantastic local beef, some nice kobe cuts for special occasions and really nice service if you need them to customize a cut.

          As for fish, I suggest you go to a fishmonger anyways. Don't see fish places selling meats, don't know why butchers somehow think they should be selling fish. One of life's great mysteries.

          1. re: brrruce

            I don't think the beef is grass fed but I think it all comes from nearby, like Petaluma; just ask, they'll tell you. They have Kobe but I have never bought it. They will do special orders.
            The fish is the freshest I've seen, better than Whole Foods. The prepared food section, including spinach salad, is excellent.

            1. re: walker

              "What you won't find at [Bryan's] is grass-fed beef. Many old-school butchers like Flannery say they don't like the taste and that it costs more than customers are willing to pay. But he says he buys his traditional beef from smaller-scale purveyors and can vouch for its quality."


              Presumably most of their beef is not local, as there's very little local beef available and most of what there is is grass-fed.

              1. re: walker

                I stopped by Bryan's today per your recommendation as I greatly miss my Boston butcher. While their butchery was masterful in terms of trimming and cutting, their sourcing was appalling. Their meat comes from "the largest meat packer in Nebraska that gets their steers from hundreds of ranches." The clerk went on to proudly say that "they spend 3-4 months on the lot getting fat on corn."

                The only thing that comes from Petaluma at Bryan's is the chicken and the lamb comes from Sonoma.

                Also in their store were many endangered fish including monkfish, swordfish, etc.

                These guys don't give a rat's ass about sustainability or health concerns about cattle raised in feedlots. The butchery at Avedanos or B--Rite may not be that good, but at least the meet is not contributing to many health and ecological problems. Also the fish at the SF Fish company in the Ferry Plaza looked 100 times fresher.

                1. re: Amy G

                  Have you eaten fish from SF Fish or Bryan's? In my experience, the 3 things I've gotten at SF Fish were OK or actually bad, and the fish I've been getting from Bryan's for years has been uniformly excellent.

                  They do sell plenty of seafood that is local, sustainable, or both.

                  You must have missed the fresh rabbit from Jones Rabbit Farm in Santa Rosa, and the stunning looking Wagyu beef.

                  Yes, they carry some products from big farming operations and some seafood that is unsustainable, but they also carry plenty of other options, and I've found the quality to be uniformly high. Quality elsewhere can be so hit or miss that more often than not, if I'm going to invest the time in preparing a nice piece of protein, I want it to be of dependable quality and I go to Bryan's. It's still cheaper than eating out in a restaurant.

      2. At Drewes, you can usually (not always) count on what they're going to have day to day, same items almost all the time. At Avedano's, the stock changes so frequently. What you get one day might not be available again for a while. Sometimes the offerings are more sparse; sometimes the display is quite full. They often have things in the back that they haven't portioned yet (I've had this experience with their fish--not on display yet, but they offered it and were very happy to clean and portion it for me).

        Avedano's is for the most part a real butcher. As I understand it, Drewes doesn't really buy primals. I think they're like the meat department at Safeway, just with better quality (mostly Niman Ranch). I've had terrible service at Drewes many times, consistently from one particular guy as well as one of the owners, who is seemingly on his goddam Bluetooth 24/7, even when "helping" customers (thus, he gets orders wrong, which you discover only when you get home).

        I do not like they way Drewes rings things up at all. You can't see what they're plugging into the register and you don't get an itemized receipt.

        One thing I do appreciate at Drewes is the small (half pound) bags of frozen ground veal, pork, and beef. That makes shopping for meatball making very easy.

        You should check out Bi-Rite for yet another alternative.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Atomica

          I agree with everything Atomica said. Until recently I lived about halfway between Drewes and Avedano's, and after a few negative experiences with Drewes similar to the ones Atomica identified, I gave up on Drewes.

          At Avedano's, the quality and selection are great, and I like that the stock rotates: I get to experiment with new things all the time, and if I see some cut or type of meat I'm unfamiliar with, the chef who is a part-owner can explain how to cook and serve the meat.

          For much lower prices but still good quality, I like the Halal butcher on 24th as well. I've had a few of their types of lamb and enjoyed them; recently I bought a chicken there to cook Zuni-style and the outcome was great. But, unlike Avedano's, you don't know the exact ranch the meat came from and how the animal was treated (other than it is halal).

          1. re: Atomica

            Thanks for the Bi-Rite suggestion... I love the market but usually just run in for sandwiches and snacks.

          2. I once ordered caul fat from Drewes (to make crepinettes) and when I went to pick it up what they had was a big slab of beef fat. OK place but not very sophisticated.

            "Best butcher in SF" topic from February:


            Drewes Brothers Meats
            1706 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94131

            235 Cortland Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110

            Bryan's Quality Meats
            3473 California St, San Francisco, CA

            3 Replies
            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              I had my worst customer experience ever there--I ordered a Thanksgiving turkey weeks in advance and the one they plopped on the counter was double the size I requested and the wrong brand. He refused to apologize, claimed I placed the wrong order, and then informed me I could return 8 hours later at close to see if they had anything left. I ended up returning (everyone else was sold out) and they gave me an over-large bird at full price. That was the last time I went.

              The people at Avedano's are both more welcoming and simply know more about food and the principles of butchering (my grandpa was a butcher, so I know a bit). I like that they break down from large cuts and are happy to special order, so if I find some weird recipe from a traditional cookbook or Saveur, I can get it from them.

              1. re: pane

                For anyone who sometimes shops at Drewes or is thinking about it, do not let the older, very short, very gruff guy wait on you. He has never gotten an order right. He doesn't remember your order 10 seconds after you've said what you want and often has to ask 2 or 3 times, and then still it isn't correct. I did complain to one of the owners at one point (the one with the very obnoxious phone addiction), and he acknowledged it was a huge problem that was addressed with the employee every few months, but that he could not be fired because he had "become family."

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Pasted the wrong link, here's the "Best Butcher in SF" topic from a few months ago: