By Joanne Sasvari
Here on Vancouver’s North Shore, you could say the meat is, well, a cut above. North and West Vancouver are home to a number of butchers, meat shops and sausage makers who’ve carved out a high-quality niche, often specializing in local, organic, antibiotic-free, chemical-free and humanely raised products.
Two Rivers Specialty Meats
Technically, Two Rivers Specialty Meats is a North Vancouver-based wholesale distributor that sells meat throughout the Lower Mainland. But they’re much more than that. They’re a force for good – after all, they’ve done more than just about anyone to make local, ethically raised meats the popular choice for diners in Vancouver.
You’ll find their products – from highly respected producers like Sloping Hills pork, Thiessen Farms chickens and Pemberton Meadows natural beef – on the best restaurant menus in Vancouver as well as in boxes from the SPUD organic food delivery service.
Now Two Rivers has gotten into charcuterie in a big way. Chef Owen Foster is the in-house charcutier making everything from fresh sausages to cured guanciale and fermented salamis. It’s a “charcuterie dream world,” says his boss, Jason Pleym, who owns Two Rivers. One of the best places to find their cured meats is on meat and cheese boards at the province’s wineries, Pleym says, adding, “The Okanagan’s been crazy for us.”
Next up for Two Rivers is an expansion and, excitingly, a much-anticipated retail store, which is set to open in spring 2016. We can hardly wait.
180 Donaghy Ave., North Vancouver, 604-990-5288
Sebastian & Co. Fine Meats
Meanwhile, North Shore residents have Sebastian & Co. Fine Meats. Sebastian is Sebastian Cortez, a Chilean chef who decided to get out of the kitchen and sharpen his carving knives instead. He specializes in organic, free-range, grass-fed and ethically raised meats and is on a mission to raise the profile of humble beef cuts like skirt steak and vacio. His friendly little shop in West Vancouver’s Dundarave Village is part of a community of charming shops, cafés and restaurants. “I like the neighbourhood sense of it,” he says, “everywhere I go on the North Shore, everyone knows me. It’s like a small community.”
425 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-925-1636
The British Butcher Shoppe
For years, The British Butcher Shoppe was North Vancouver’s best-kept secret, a celebration of sausagey goodness tucked into a residential neighbourhood near Grand Boulevard. Now they’ve opened a second location in West Vancouver and the secret’s out. This butcher shop carries top quality locally raised meats, but also specializes in traditional UK-style sausages – think Cumberland, Epping, Lincolnshire, steak & Guinness – as well as irresistible meat pies, sausage rolls and a wide range of British imports. This is the place to stock up on your Branston pickle and Walker’s crisps.
703 Queensbury Ave, North Vancouver, 604-985-2444
1531 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, 604-925-2224
Jolly Meats & Fine Foods
If you didn’t know about Jolly Meats & Fine Foods, chances are pretty good you’d never find it, given that it’s hidden away in an industrial park off Dollarton Highway. And that would be too bad, because this is a real find. It’s a Scandinavian-style butcher shop that’s been in business for over 40 years, offering fine cuts of locally sourced, hormone-and antibiotic-free meat as well as pâtés, terrines and deli items from their three smokehouses. In fact, their smoked pork chops have been named one of Vancouver’s best things to eat before you die. Plus you can pick up pickled herring, salted licorice and other Nordic treats when you swing by.
111 Charles St., North Vancouver, 604-929-7937
Head to Central Lonsdale Avenue and you’ll find yourself in the heart of Little Persia, where Middle Eastern markets abound amid the kebab shops and travel agents specializing in trips to Tehran. Several of the markets offer halal meats and Middle Eastern deli foods, as well as fresh produce and exotic imported products. It can be a chaotic shopping experience, but a tasty one. Two shops to check out are Vanak Market and Deli (1860 Lonsdale Ave., 604-770-2121) and the straightforwardly named Meat Shop & Deli (1346 Lonsdale Ave., 604-983-2020).