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The Local Butcher - Excellent new butcher in Berkeley's Gourmet Ghetto

I've been waiting for months for this place to open and it's exceeded expectations.

Owned and run by Chez Panisse alums. Specializing in local, pastured meats. Staff of extremely knowledgeable and experienced butchers and chefs. Beautiful space. They buy whole animals break them down in-house, dry age their beef, make their own charcuterie.

Real differentiating factor is that they cut the meat to order. You can choose thickness and it means everything is incredibly fresh.

They sell beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, duck, chicken. Forgot to ask about goat.

We tried:

Lamb leg steak on the bone. The best lamb I've had from a butcher shop. Incredibly tender and clean tasting.

Pork ribs. Incredible. On par with Becker Lane. Better than Berkshire and Marin Sun Farm.

Since they only buy whole animals you can order just about any cut you like. I'm looking forward to trying Cosentino's recipe for lamb neck.

Prices are in line with other places that sell pastured meats: Marin Sun Farm, Cafe Rouge, Prather Ranch, etc.

The also offer a sandwich of the day ($8) which was very good, though the meat is the real draw.

Truly fabulous addition to the neighborhood. Check them out. You'll want to come back again and again.

Soft opening. I think they close at 6. They'll close at 7 weekdays/6 weekends when they move to regular hours. Close Monday. Located at Cedar and Shattuck, next to Barneys.


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  1. Thanks for reporting the opening. It sounds like the setup is such that you could get practically any cut to order in advance. Do you have any idea what the chances of, without reserving ahead of time, what the chances of getting what is to me a relatively normal, but oddly not easy to find whole pork belly or shoulder is on walk in?
    And I assume it is too early to tell, but based on the facebook page, the sandwich of the days are cooked fresh meats. Do you know what sort of curing they're going for?
    I'm intrigued and will probably stop by some time this weekend to find out (though I still love my nearby Maggiano's).

    1 Reply
    1. re: ...tm...

      They can basically get you anything if you pre-order, and they expect to have just about everything available when you walk in. I'd call ahead though - for example, they didn't have duck liver this week because they were using them all to make pate.

      I know they plan to do some charcuterie, but am unsure of the extent.

    2. They'll never replace Lenny's.

      4 Replies
      1. re: oldunc

        Lenny's was good, but this new place sounds promising.

        I still run into Lennie's younger butcher from time to time. He was the one that flirted with all the women.

        1. re: chocolatetartguy

          I stopped in - hadn't really thought about the place, and when I drove by to do other business, I saw it, and thought I'd check it out.

          The first thing I noticed in the case were the cross cut short ribs - "asado de tira" style. I never thought I'd see grass-fed asado de tira in a butcher case in the US. This is what I often order when I'm in Buenos Aires. The cut in the case was a standard asado cut, but I wanted to try my skills with a special (thicker) cut - so they cut some to order, I specified the thickness, and voila, it is now at home, awaiting to see if I have the skills of an Argentine parrilla-master.

          Also, not knowing what I was going to have for lunch, I bought the sandwich of the day (pork and melon on foccacia), which was tasty. $8.

          Meat pricing was interesting - it is based not on specific cut, but what portion of the animal it comes from (basically, in 1/3s).

          1. re: lmnopm

            Could you please enlighten us on what the 3 price levels were?

            1. re: tpc

              As of Sept 18th:

              Animal/lb: Front, middle, rear, ground
              Beef: $8, 16, 11, 7
              Pork: $6, 8, 7, 5.50
              Lamb: $16, 18, 16, 9
              Chicken: $5 whole or halved
              Turkey: $8, available ground too
              Duck: $8, available ground too
              Rabbit: $10
              Quail: $7
              Squab: $10.50

        1. re: arktos

          I'll be buying my meat there in the future. Everything is fresh and the people behind the counter really know their stuff. The priciness depends on the cut you're getting (front, middle, or back of animal). I got pork tenderloin for $8/lb. It's $10/lb at Berkeley Bowl and $4.49/lb at Safeway, and it was excellent quality, so I'm happy with the value.

          Berkeley Bowl
          2020 Oregon St, Berkeley, CA 94703

          1. re: hyperbowler

            The Local Butcher Shop

            Shop Information
            Monday: CLOSED
            Tuesday – Friday: 10:00am – 7:00pm
            Saturday and Sunday: 10:00am – 6:00pm

            Phone Number:
            510-845-6328 (MEAT)

            1600 Shattuck Ave. Ste. 120
            Berkeley, CA 94611

            The Local Butcher Shop
            1600 Shattuck Ave #120, Berkeley, CA 94709

        2. This is definitively the best food establishment to open in Berkeley in the past decade. Possibly the best East Bay establishment to open in the past decade. Possibly the best place to buy meat in the entire Bay Area (I certainly haven't been somewhere better).

          The Mrs. and I have been shopping here 2-3 times a week since it opened. Quality of the meat is incredible. The beef, lamb, pork, goat, and duck is all high-end restaurant quality and impeccably fresh. Nobody else has this selectionof of cuts - since they buy whole animals you can get whatever you want. The butchers are truly masters of their craft and they take customer service very seriously.

          The charcuterie is wonderful - selection has expanded since they open. They poached the charcuterie chef from Oenotri in Napa. I'm particularly fond of the chicken giblet confit - sauteed with some broccoli or haricot verts makes for a fabulous side dish. Head cheese is spectacular. And I love the little touches like the fact that I can buy a jar of delicious, frozen demi-glace for $3. Better than the Dopo stand at the farmers' market? I dunno. Different, and very, very, good.

          I find the pricing to be perfectly reasonable. Yes, you can find cheaper meat elsewhere. But there are plenty of places selling meat of a lower caliber for a similar or higher price.

          I expect them to be open for a long, long time. They have filled a gap in the Berkeley food scene that we have all been begging for. For anyone who is serious about meat, it will only take one visit to make this a regular stop in your shopping routine.

          12 Replies
          1. re: Morton the Mousse

            Do they have any extraordinary minced or ground meats?

            I would imagine they would.

            1. re: Mission

              I expect they will grind anything to order for you. They're super customer focused and they have the equipment.

              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                morton, is sketch ice cream still around?

                where do you hit up now since socca is gone and a couple others for restaurant eats?

                also, is their anywhere to get decent fried chicken and waffles in berkeley, and is that place in berkeley that serves TV Dinners retro style but made more delicious still around?


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Thank you Robert. So i'm thinking Sketch is no longer around when I did a control F on the ice cream favorites link?

                    1. re: kevin

                      Pho Bar on Euclid has Sketch tart fro-yo

                      1. re: drewskiSF

                        wow, cool, they just dole that one flavor out over there???


                        1. re: kevin

                          yep. with or without fruit. the menu says it's a "TPB Exclusive!"

                      1. re: wolfe

                        No longer relevant since RL corrected his Morton the Moose comment.

                    2. re: kevin

                      You're thinking of 900 Grayson. Still around serving fried chicken and waffles and the food hasn't changed.

                      900 Grayson
                      900 Grayson St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  The headcheese did turn out to be excellent. WHat I liked about it is it wasn't salty. Too much just tastes of salt. What was spectacular was that despite my complaint that I was told it couldn;'t be sliced in the slicer, the butcher hand-sliced it. That was the most impressive thing I've ever seen ... thin, even hand-hewn slices.

                  If people like the texture of Vietnamese headcheese it reminded me of that due to more crunch.

                2. Wow, amazing place. We asked for suet to make mincemeat, the butcher came back with a whole piece with a gorgeous kidney still attached, so I got that too. Also got a couple of perfect-looking pig spleens, which I've been trying to find for ages to make a recipe that Fergus Henderson enthuses about in his first book. The spleens had the caul fat still attached, so I guess I'll make some crepinettes or something.

                  They're taking orders for Thanksgiving turkeys from BN Ranch. I asked about mutton, he said they can special-order it but it's a hard sell so one would have to get the whole thing.

                  If you walk down the little hall on the side there's a window into the walk-in.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Did you happen to catch the price on the Turkeys?

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        The broad breast white turkeys are $8 lb
                        The heritage black turkeys are $12 lb

                        1. re: rworange

                          "Broad breast" are not modern Frankenturkeys, they're heritage breeds with somewhat bigger breasts.

                          1. re: rworange

                            That's pretty expensive, Marin Sun Farms has heritage birds from BN Ranch for $7/lb - nearly half the price.

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Heritage to Heritage is 7/12

                                That is, if you get one on the upper end of the weight range.

                                MSF's prices
                                Heritage Turkey, 20 lb. + $195.72
                                Heritage Turkey, 15-20 lb. $139.79 20lb = $7/lb
                                Heritage Turkey, 10-15 lb. $104.85 15lb = $7/lb
                                Heritage Turkey, 7-10 lb. $69.90 10lb = $7/lb

                                1. re: drewskiSF

                                  Wow, I'll have to verify TLBS's prices. If you hover your mouse over the ?, MSF's heritage birds are all $7 a pound:


                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                    I had the butcher write the prices down at the TLBS and they are exactly as stated

                                    $8 lb for the white turkey

                                    $12 lb for the black turkey

                                    They didn't say anything about a discount based on weight, but you might inquire about that.

                    1. These fellows are a pleasure to deal with, professional, friendly etc.

                      Roast beef sandos arent my favorite, but their's was very, very good. I think their sandos are also a less "cynical" and more honest than GRGOIRE ... G has a number of offering which taste great, but often they're essentially throwning fat at the problem (I like GREGOIRE, although I wont pay out of pocket for their $5 potato items).

                      The two or three others sandos I've had from them were good too, but the RB was the best.

                      I've tried a couple of types of sausage from them but I havent loved them ... they were fine but not enough better to pay the premium ... in contrast with say the SMOKED SAUSAGE from LA BEDAINE ... those really are awesome. I havent tried the other charcuterie, but am looking forward to trying various ... they are more convenient for me than CAFE ROUGE, which would be a reasonable place to compare to.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: psb

                        They make sandwiches at this buthcher shoppe?

                        1. re: kevin

                          See OP.
                          "The also offer a sandwich of the day ($8) which was very good, though the meat is the real draw."

                      2. They post the daily sandwich online.

                        A friend asked for tripe and they said they don't carry it as the slaughterhouse couldn't guarantee it came from the particular animals they buy.

                        4 Replies
                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                            on the pizza tip, im presuming hounds don't find Zachary's to be good at all?


                            also, is chez panisse open for lunch, or only at dinner hours?

                            and is Sketch ice cream still around?

                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                Thanks. Oh, man, I really liked Sketch too, though the prices were high, and I loved their chocolate pudding cake too. Oh, well.

                          2. I see they're doing 'sando's' today. What other kinds of daily sandwiches do they serve??

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: arktos

                              You can see the daily sandwich archive on their twitter feed. It's always just one sandwich per day. The tallow chips are awesome.


                                1. re: Robert Lauriston


                                  'LocalButchers TheLocalButcherShop:
                                  You need today's sando! Harissa Roasted Pork woth harissa lemon aioli, cucumbers, mint, basil, and greens on an ACME torpedo roll. No joke
                                  23 Sep'

                                  HOLY MOLY!! That sounds delicious.

                              1. how would you compare it to Ver Brugge...

                                9 Replies
                                1. re: Dawgmommy

                                  TLBS is in a class by itself. I've never seen as beautiful a selection of meat even in France.

                                  Found out today they smoke their own bacon.

                                  Verbrugge Meat-Fish Poultry
                                  6321 College Ave, Oakland, CA

                                  1. re: Dawgmommy

                                    IMHO, these guys are a "cut" above the other high standard places ... sort of like Blue Bottle upping the game.

                                    1. re: psb

                                      Thanks to both, I went by there and checked out their stocks and suaces. Got sauce charcuterie (reduced pork stock, shallots and other stuff I couldn't remember), was told that it went well with pork. Tried it last night and it was excellent. It was very thick, jello like (due to natural collegen, no doubt) so I only used about a 1/3 of it from a 4 oz jar on 2 pork chops. Definitely see a lot of other uses for it and looking forward to trying some of their other sauces.

                                      1. re: Dawgmommy

                                        I tried their Pâté de Campagne the other day and it was fantastic ... may be my fav item there [$8/lb]. I picked up a lamb sausage too, but havent tried it yet ... but I expect I'll continue to prefer the sausage from La Bedaine. I mostly got it just to try a different item.

                                        I think for a $8 lunch, I'd prefer a Cheeseboard baguette and the pate over an $8 sando. In the same area/same price: I've had some fantastic Gregoire sandos, but my ability to guess how much I'll like something based on the description is pretty spotty.

                                        La Bedaine
                                        1585 Solano Ave, Berkeley, CA 94706

                                        1. re: psb

                                          The PORK LIVER PATE WITH CHERRY is really good. I had one other coarse type of pate which was so-so (not the Pâté de Campagne which is also coarse, but good).

                                          1. re: psb

                                            Seriously ... seriously?

                                            Did you buy it today? See my link below. The most memorably bad thing I have bought in a long time and that includes the moldy artisan sausage I bought a few years back.

                                            I'm hoping this was just a bad batch, but a store in this class should not be making mistakes like this.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              Uh I bought one piece earlier this week ... maybe Wed or Thr ... that was awesome.

                                              I havent tried the piece I bought on Fri.

                                              Uh, it may be a 'win' if the piece was that bad: "Two hours later and my eyes are still watery" ... since it's ostensibly clear it wasnt just a subjective matter of taste but clearly an error ... and presumably you can take it back, if worth your while.

                                              I'd rather deal with a place which makes a clear error 1% of the time rather than a place with flakey quality control or a place that just doesnt get it and the product is only good say 40-60% of the time [e.g. I rarely go to ARINELL because they are so flakey, even though I (used to) like their conception of a NY cheese/pep slice ... similarly I probably wont keep eating their somewhat expensive sausage since I we have a different subjective conception there].

                                              It's possible if you got say -2standard dev worth of cherries, that suggests a mixing problem [salt not mixed? although i didnt think pate had much salt] ... you can ask David Farris ... he is an expert on mathematical models of mixing.

                                              1. re: psb

                                                Well, considering this was the first thing I tried, so far my personal error rate is 100% and I wouldn't call anyone who made this mistake an expert. Never had an error like that at La Bedane so my success rate there is 100%.

                                                You know, I am hoping this turns out well with this place and is not a case of a shop that dazzles people with method and show rather than taste. Those costumes they wear are on the edge of precious. Yeah, I get it ... an homage to old time butchers.

                                                It may be a case of a place to stick to the meat and leave the prepared products alone, though seriously I wouldn't come to that conclusion yet based on one purchase. You wrote you didn't love the sausages.

                                                Morton is a reliable poster for me and my taste often matches his ... as well as other posters in this thread. However, had I not had the benefit of Chowhounds opinions, I'd be a lot more likely to be skeptical. As I said, a place like this can't make mistakes, especially at start up.

                                                1. re: rworange

                                                  The fact that I dont like the sausages doesnt matter. So I wont buy them. That is a difference in taste. The problems are places which *randomly* make (expensive) errors.

                                                  (* technically, i dont mean a truly random process. i mean one you or i cant predict, so we act as if random. an insider may very well know 'when alice makes the pate, it is good, when bob makes it, it sucks'. an interesting variant of this is a place with good barista and bad barista ... maybe you even know how is good/bad, but it is hard to select a particular barista ... so the whole ex ante/ex post probabilities kinda shift around. i have at times 'not heard' my number being called at CHEESEBAORD because i wanted to deal with a different CHEESEMONGER)

                                                  And it's not that I dont like the sausages, they just dont work for me in price-perf terms ... there are sausages I can get at half the price at Safetyway I can do more with, or if the spendy realm, I'll go to La Bedaine. i could see many people saying the LA BED ones are too smokey, but i like them ... i dont think anybody would claim they were screwed up in production because their mouth felt like they'd swallowed a lump of charcoal a hour later].

                                                  If we're trying to figure out 'how often does the chef's vision overlap with my taste' [say when to come in for a tasting menu where you dont know what will be served], it makes sense to just trust your own experience and those with whom you have a high correlation. But if you are trying to sample 'how often do they make objective error X' ... say 'what time does BSB run out of thier FRIED CHICKEN SANDO", you might as well go with the large sampling.

                                                  But yes, most people dont factor in DEGREES OF FREEDOM very well.

                                  2. Have been in to browse three times, but only purchased something this past weekend .... four dry-aged rib steaks @$22/lb. Gotta say they were nothing special ... at least, based on my non-exhaustive but frequent-enough excursions into retail aged beef over the past couple of years. I'll stick with the meat counter at Cafe Rouge for now, I believe.
                                    I do plan to go back for other cuts, though ... everything looks great. I'm especially impressed by the wide selection of meat broths, stocks, and glaces in the standing cooler/freezer thingy by the door. I make my own lamb stock when I can, but might pop for theirs in a pinch just 'cos they took the trouble to make it!

                                    Cafe Rouge
                                    1782 Fourth St, Berkeley, CA 94710

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: jonking

                                      I've found most dry-aged grass-fed beef not as much to my taste as the grain-finished beef I get from Rouge.

                                    2. Just thought I'd mention here that Kitchen on Fire is offering a poultry butchery workshop with Aaron Rocchino from the Local Butcher Shop on 10/23:


                                      1. Nice people and knowledgable. Unfortunately, the first item I bought there was a total disaser. It was five pork (?) pate with cherries. I have to assume someone made a mistake and dropped in a box of salt. It was inedible. So salty ... and this has never happened before ... my eyes started tearing involuntarily. Two hours later and my eyes are still watery and nothing is removing the burning salt taste from my mouth. Nice texture so it is really a shame.

                                        And ... my slice had exactly one tiny diced piece of cherry ... so don't know what that was about.

                                        This annoys me though when an upscale joint like this puts on a product this bad. It just reminds me of all those artisan local sausage makers practicing on my dime. I have no problem throwing bucks at something, but I have to have an edible product in return.

                                        Stopped by La Bedaine and didn't buy anything because I had this pate. So I'm regretting that decision.

                                        I bought a piece of headcheese. I haven't tried it yet ... but ... here again ... they couldn't slice it. It is just a chunk. Headcheese for me needs to be thin sliced.

                                        Has anyone tried the pastrami?

                                        I also bought a piece of lovely Lunga di Napoli squash. I'm looking forward to that. Searching on the web that seems to be the squash of the moment with it being on menus such as Ubuntu and La Toque. Pretty looking. This photo picks up the intense orange color.


                                        It was HUGE. They can be up to 50 lbs.

                                        Anyway, will try the shop again. I like all those stocks and other stuff such as containers of Sloppy Joe filling. Nice selection of Rancho Gordo beans. But seriously ... one or two more items like that pate and this place gets written off totally by me.

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: rworange

                                          They won't grind your coffee beans either.....

                                          1. re: rworange

                                            Next time just ask for a sample before you buy.

                                            1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                              Thanks for the tip. I might do that on the pates. Have you tried the pastrami?

                                              Yeah, Robert, the bacon looked good. It looked really lean though, all meat. Was I looking at the right thing?

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                I don't know. The bacon I got was maybe 50-50 fat and meat.

                                            2. re: rworange

                                              The bacon and sausages were really good.

                                              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                The service was friendly. I purchased three pounds of pork belly last week. Having never either bought or cooked this cut before, I was relying on the butcher to help me. He said I will give you the meaty end and I thought great! I bought three pounds and it cooked down to about 3/4 lb. I expected lots of fat to melt out but wow! Just on Wednesday there was a photo of pork belly in the NYT and then my memory of having it is restaurants did not coincide with what I got at the Local Butcher Shop. I don't know if I got a inferior piece of pork belly or the recipe I used was off. A friend that gave me the recipe had no problem. So, I have some reservations about this new shop.

                                                The Local Butcher Shop
                                                1600 Shattuck Ave #120, Berkeley, CA 94709

                                                1. re: zinfanatic

                                                  What recipe did you use and what was the result like? it's an easy thing to get wrong. Sounds like maybe you overcooked it.