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Sep 4, 2008 12:45 PM

Save on Meats - Vancouver

I saw Save on Meats on West Hastings Street, featured in Bourdain's No Reservations episode on Vancouver. I've walked the general vicinity once without knowing any better, so I'm aware that it isn't a great area for a visitor. But the burgers served looked pretty good and I'm wondering if it would be worth a trip over for lunch. How are the steaks there? Any comments from Vancouver hounds? Thanks for your help.

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  1. i shop there ALL the time as for pure value its pretty hard to beat if you aren't buying in Costco portions, the snack bar is also pretty good and really cheap, i think alot of people look at the area its in and assume the product must be bad

    10 Replies
    1. re: vandan

      I haven't been but it's not because of the area. That 'hood is much less intimidating in the daytime anyway. I've heard from enough people I trust that it's worth a trip that it is on my list. I hear most about the burgers, although the fact that you can pick out your steak, buy it and have them grill it for a nominal charge gets good reviews too. If you do make it down there and are in the mood for some food porn, the Gourmet Warehouse is also on Hastings and would be worth a visit. Fujiya Japanese Foods is also not too far away...

      1. re: grayelf

        The burger hunt continues... After hearing much talk about Save On Meats and after Bourdain took a visit there, I quickly had to sweet talk a friend into joining me for a burger. Bourdain didn't really describe the taste burger so I wanted to try it out and review it.

        We walked into East Vancouver hungry but after walking the atmosphere of East Hastings we slowly became less hungry. I used to volunteer on Columbia and Hastings , so the site wasn't new to me but it is still not very comforting. This area at night reminds me of playing the video game Resident Evil.

        We sat down at the counter in Save On Meats and there were two other people eating burgers there. The service was friendly and very attentive. We opened the menu and ordered, I had the burger with cheese, bacon and mushrooms ($6.50), and my partner had the buffalo/bison burger ($7.00). It took about five minutes for our burgers to be ready.

        The burgers were made from ground beef, not frozen patties and the fries were fresh cut . The fries were great, fresh cut with potato skin on the sides, and none were hard in the middle. We ordered a side of gravy which was also tasty, thick with a peppercorn taste to it, really enjoyable.

        The burgers were a little greasy but really good. The crazy thing is that you get double patties, so two burger patties between your toasted bun. I recommend the buffalo burger because it was a leaner meat and had a better taste. Both burgers are really solid, a bit greasy but sits high on the burger rankings in this city. They could use a little more lettuce but the mustard and the onions really add a nice taste to the burger. The atmosphere in Save On Meats is tolerable but the walk outside can be difficult for someone who is not used to East Van.

        Save on Meats
        43 West Hastings St, Vancouver
        Tel: 604-683-7761

        It is not just a cheap burger it is a dam good burger.

        pictures available on

        1. re: tom_edo

          I am going to drag my hubby there for sure!

          1. re: tom_edo

            $6.50 for a burger (with cheese, bacon, mushrooms and fresh beef ) ... I am definitely going when I am in town in a few weeks.

            I lived in Atlanta, GA most of my life - I think I can handle it. :-)

            Thanks for the post!!

            (LOL! When I first read your post I thought you said it WASN'T cheap. I was going to call you crazy, but I read it again. HaHa!!

            1. re: tom_edo

              I've never actually eaten at Save On Meats...I've shopped there many times, though. I should try their burgers...and I hear their steaks are good too.

              1. re: fmed

                yeah, you can buy a steak in the meat retail section and then pay the chef in the back 5 bucks and he will cook it and add fries and vegetables. That is what I am going to do next time.

       - updated daily

                1. re: tom_edo

                  Thanks for your review. More informative than Bourdain (or anyone else) on Save On.

                  1. re: tom_edo

                    Yes, thanks for the review, and your always enjoyable blog!

                    Can't wait for fmed to try it either. The more pictures of your vancouver joints the better for an Edmonton guy like me.

                2. re: tom_edo

                  I noticed from your pic of the menu that they have "liver and onions" ... I didn't even know I was craving that until I saw they had it! I think I am going to have to go twice now. Once for a burger and another time for liver. Mmmm!!!

                  1. re: boisenewbie

                    Good spotting, boisenewbie, the SO is a fiend for liver and onions (born in England) and I could only ever bring myself to make it for him once -- I occasionally have liver-related nightmares after being fed it for years by the parentals :-). Sounds like yet another reason to get us hence to Save On Meats.

            2. Save on Meats is a curiously fun place to go! There's a lot of different items you can get there if you're looking for average, everyday quality. Agreed - greasy, but good fresh burgers. We've always hit that joint prior to crab fishing for salmon heads (cheap and always available!).

              1. After all the hype I'm interested in Save On Meats but was wondering first if they sell anything that was pasture-raised (grass-finished). I don't buy grain-fed meat.
                If not, is there any shop in town that is recommended?

                4 Replies
                1. re: sophie.

                  i would think that would be a bit on the "exotic" side for save on, it is what it is, a place that sells pretty basic staple cuts of meat at a great price

                  1. re: vandan

                    I just called them, and no grass fed meat at Save On.

                    1. re: vandan

                      For some reason that line of yours, "a place that sells pretty basic staple cuts of meat at a great price" really makes me happy. Sometimes these are some of the best places to get what you want. Although I've never been, this post just keeps me excited to go next time I'm in Van.

                      1. re: raidar

                        i have been shopiing there almost everyday for about 5 years plus and can't ever remember being dissapointed, i pretty much can't see any reason to shop anywhere else, unless thery don't carry it, but my needs are pretty simple so its a perfect fit for me

                  2. Get it while you can. Save On Meats is closing.

                    Al Des Lauriers, the 77-year-old man who has owned Save-on-Meats at 43 West Hastings since 1957, has told the Georgia Straight that he plans to close his business next year. Today, Des Lauriers still works six days a week, 12 hours a day, which he claims makes him “semi-retired”.

                    His announcement follows the September 2008 closure of Vancouver’s last Jackson’s Meats store at 2717 Granville. The Jackson family was in the butcher business for 150 years.

                    Des Lauriers said he’s closing Save-on-Meats for three reasons. First, he would like to retire. Second, he doesn’t think anyone would be interested in buying the business, just the building. And third, the fresh-grocery business has changed. “It’s been 52 years so it’s about time we packed it up,” he said. “It [food] is changing. The people are different shoppers now than even 10 years ago. Most people want things ready to eat. Hot. Nobody wants to cook. I think pretty soon they’ll be building suites and apartments with no stoves in them. They’re not going to need them.”

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: fmed

                      ya i'd heard something to that effect, plus look at whats closed right around there, s.f pawn shop and i hear funky winker bean's ( best dive bar name ever!!)will soon be toast

                      1. re: fmed

                        oh - that's sad. Save On Meats is an institution down there. It won't be as interesting of a visit to Vancouver without their bright neon sign on that strip. I hope someone steps up and purchases the business from Des Lauriers.

                        1. re: morefuuud

                          heres an update was there today and the whole fish counter is empty, not a single prawn... i kind of wondered when one of their fish display cases was supposedly broken a month or 2 back but they never got it fixed

                          1. re: vandan

                            It doesn't look good for Save-On. That is a tough area to be doing any kind of (legitimate) business. A pic from a couple of nights ago:

                            1. re: fmed

                              ya supposedly if they haven't found a new ownwer by March 15 they are kaputsky

                              1. re: vandan

                                sad news, s.o.m is closing a week today

                      2. I was able to check out Save On Meats before I headed back to Calgary for the, um, spring (very cold back here- you really do have it lucky Vancouver). It was creepy. It smelled like death- the smell at any butcher I guess. A less pungent Steve Kulash Taxidermy smell. I had memories of a friend telling me they bought pigs from Pickton. That shouldn't be an indictment of them- if it's true it just means they buy from local producers, normally a good thing. I had the burger. It was huge and great, and very inexpensive. The service was kind of nice. The sound of saws cutting through bones and that smell made me feel like turning vegetarian. I feel that four of the six of us sitting there either had or would have benefitted from a stint in an asylum. Being in the heart of Canada's Skid Row (or is Skid Row the U.S.'s East Hastings?) and the end of an old bad memory- with that giant flying happy neon pig as sort of a junkie disneyland welcome sign- it was sort of emotional and uncomfortable. I wish it weren't getting torn down so I could bring people there and talk about it with them for hours.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Mawson Plan

                          d-day today and a weird sidenote, the son of the ppl who run the cafe, told me tha they are staying open as well as the grocery part, and he said maybe even part of the d eli counter, just the part that serves cold cuts, not the cheese or rib eyes