Top 50 local food shops
For a taste of the top delicacies being made in the West, check out these amazing places--and add a special touch to your table
La Jolla | Homegrown Meats. Owner Matt Rimel brought local beef back to San Diego by raising grass-fed cattle in the Palomar Mountains. At his shop, beef is dry-aged in-house. Choose any cut you like—plus wild game, pork, lamb, wild boar bacon, beef jerky, and chicken. Our pick: Juicy, housemade bratwurst, chorizo, or Italian sausage. 7660 Fay Ave.; 858/454-6328.
San Francisco | Avedano’s Holly Park Meat Market. This old-school butcher shop has been taken over by a trio of women with a serious commitment to local meat. The staff here breaks down whole animals several times a week and even offers classes in home butchering, should you be the DIY type. Our pick: A lesser-known cut like goat neck or bavette steak. 235 Cortland Ave.; 415/285-6328.
Sebastopol | Victorian Farmstead Meat Company. In 2009, Adam Parks came home to take over his parents’ 40-year-old Christmas tree farm. In the process, he turned an unassuming shack in front of those evergreens into a purveyor of some of the most coveted meats around. Chickens live on-site, while local farmers sustainably raise beef, pork, and lamb for Parks. Good news: A second, bigger shop and full butchery will be coming to downtown. Our pick: Victorian’s own Cabernet and roasted garlic marinade. 1220 Gravenstein Hwy. N.; vicfarmmeats.com
Seattle | Rain Shadow Meats. Plump sausages, meatballs, pâtés, and cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken—everything in this modern butcher shop is raised sustainably. The flavorful beef pho broth makes stirring up a pot of the Vietnamese soup a cinch. (Just add beef, noodles, Thai basil, and bean sprouts.) Our pick: The pumpkin sausage, with sage and molasses. 1531 Melrose Ave.; rainshadowmeats.com
Walla Walla | Blue Valley Meats. These butchers know the local ranches, which cuts are best, and they custom-slice. They use top-quality meat, like the Pure Country pork in their Toulouse-style Pine Street sausage, and the Waiilatpu Mission Farm beef in their Italian-style marinated chuck roast. Our pick: A sirloin cap steak, seasoned with the house grilling salt you jar at the seasonings counter. 1162 W. Pine St.; bluevalleymeats.com
Scottsdale | The Bull Market. In this honest-to-goodness butcher shop complete with a gleaming workspace and white-jacketed talent, the frozen meat is presented in a vacuum wrap that makes it glitter like jewelry. If you talk to the owners, they will have you drooling in anticipation of highly marbled, 21-day-aged beef; robust Chairman’s Reserve pork; and specialties like buffalo, quail, and elk. Our pick: The Scottsdale skirt steak, in a marinade of wine and the shop’s blend of zingy spices. 8763 E. Bell Rd.; 480/656-4777.
Los Angeles | Proof Bakery (pictured). This place feels likes the heart of the Atwater Village neighborhood. The morning rush comes for black sesame financiers; in the afternoon, it’s the flourless chocolate torte topped with cocoa nibs. Our pick: A buttery croque monsieur tartine on fresh-baked brioche. 3156 Glendale Blvd.; proofbakeryla.com
Pacific Beach | Sugar & Scribe Bakery. In a hipster-meets-surfer neighborhood, Maeve Schulz’s bakery is a charmingly Old World surprise. You’ll be greeted at the door by her pug before entering a haven of cupcakes and quiche, scones, and soda bread—served on delicate Irish dishes. Our pick: Schulz’s dense, buttery Guinness Porter Cake, spiced with cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, and packed with raisins and cherries. 1420 Garnet Ave.; sugarandscribe.com
Santa Monica | La Monarca Bakery. For real-deal Mexican sweet pan dulce, grab a metal tray and tongs and serve yourself the traditional way. Everything in the bakery—from dulce de leche–filled croissants to vegetarian chorizo molletes (open-face sandwiches)—is made with all-natural ingredi-ents, including dairy and eggs from California, and guava, agave nectar, and organic coffee from Mexico. Our pick: A light and creamy caramel flan. 1300 Wilshire Blvd. (also in Commerce and Huntington Park); lamonarcabakery.com
San Francisco | Craftsman and Wolves. In a former garage in the Mission District, pastry chef William Werner has opened one of the city’s most elegant patisseries. His cube cakes, stylish squares in flavors such as chocolate/caramel/Vietnamese cinnamon, are laid out like jewels in glass cases. Our pick: A Rebel Within, Werner’s signature savory sausage and green onion–studded muffin with a soft-cooked egg at its core. 746 Valencia St.; craftsman-wolves.com
(Pictured: Southern CA's Proof Bakery)
West Seattle | Bakery Nouveau (pictured). Sure, William Leaman has been crowned the best baker in the world (he led the team that won the gold medal at Europain’s 2005 Bakery World Cup). Still, when you walk into his little bakery for a pain au chocolat, it feels like a neighborhood joint. But the man has plans: He’s working on his own butter. And coming soon, he’s adding housemade sausages to his savory pastries, like croissants with duck sausage studding the dough. Our pick: An heirloom tomato pastry, made of croissant dough with Walla Walla onion confit and fromage blanc. 4737 California Ave. S.W.; 206/923-0534.
Logan, UT | Crumb Brothers Artisan Bread. In the college town’s historic granary district, Crumb Brothers offers its organic breads and pastries made on-site. Once a month, the location is home to the Bridger Folk Music Society Bakery Concert (Justin Roth on October 27). Our pick: The Decker 5 Seed—an earthy, chewy levain loaf coated in sunflower, flax, poppy, sesame, and pumpkin seeds. 291 South 300 West; crumbbrothers.com
Phoenix | The Baker’s Daughter. The father implied in the name is Karl, of the legendary Karl’s Quality Bakery right next door. Christine Boerner is doing something fancier, with her Swiss-style petite patisserie. Cases are filled with dinner-party-ready shortbreads, up to 30 assorted truffles, elaborate gâteaux, whimsical cookies, and cupcakes. Our pick: A caramel–sea salt truffle. 8847 N. Seventh Ave.; thebakersdaughter.net
San Francisco | Boccalone. Chris Cosentino has built a national reputation by promoting an appetite for offal. At his shop—where the tagline reads TASTY SALTED PIG PARTS—you can sample the chef’s extensive collection of salumi, fresh sausages, and ham. Our pick: Nduja, a spicy, spreadable salami that’s delicious on just about anything. Add it to a sandwich or melt a generous dollop with some warm pasta and chopped green olives. Ferry Building Marketplace; boccalone.com
Seattle | Salumi (pictured). Lines often snake out the door for the pan-cetta, salami, and piled-high sandwiches made by the family of star chef Mario Batali. On Fresh Sausage Fridays, they also sell links to take home to cook, like ginger-chili salumi sausage, luganega with vermouth, and fennel sausage. Our pick: A hunk of salt-and-pepper guanciale, pork jowl cured for 70 days. 309 Third Ave. S.; salumicuredmeats.com
San Diego | Catalina Offshore Products. This thriving wholesaler welcomes walk-ins seeking sustainable black cod, tender grouper, California spiny lobster, or sea bass caught in local waters by longtime San Diego or Baja anglers. Ask for Tommy Gomes: Son of a Portuguese fisherman, he knows all and happily shares tips. On Fridays and Saturdays, there are free cooking demos. Our pick: Fresh uni (sea urchin). A slurpy mouthful is a taste of the briny Pacific. 5202 Lovelock St.; catalinaop.com
Santa Monica | Santa Monica Seafood. Above a massive horseshoe display case bursting with bright, fresh seafood, a huge sign lists what’s in stock and, of course, where it’s from. If you’re lucky, they’ll have spot prawns from Santa Barbara. Pick up a whole whitefish and let the fishmongers fillet or butterfly it for you. Starving? Sit down for a bowl of cioppino. Our pick: Indian Candy, salmon covered in brown sugar and smoked over hardwood. 1000 Wilshire Blvd. (also in Costa Mesa); santamonicaseafood.com
Salt Lake City | Aquarius Fish Co. This tiny store is the landlocked food-lover’s link to the ocean. Manned by sassy guys who know their stuff, it’s as fragrant as a pier, with just enough elbow room to point toward the changing showcase of wild-caught tuna and fresh mollusks, all expertly cut and packed with ice. Our pick: Housemade fish pâté for your weekend brunch. 314 West 300 South; 801/533-5653.
Seattle | Taylor Shellfish at Melrose Market. No one knows oysters like Taylor, Washington’s premier producer. At the Seattle storefront, which doubles as an oyster bar, shopping is often more show-and-taste than pick-and-pay. They also carry live mussels, scallops, clams, and crabs. Our pick: A few dozen small, jewel-like Kumamotos. That gorgeous frilly edge makes them the perfect appetizer. 1521 Melrose Ave.; taylormelrose.com
Santa Monica | Farmshop Cheesemonger. Emiliano Lee believes cheeses are like babies: They can’t talk but need to be cared for. That’s why he spends 85 percent of his time cleaning, drying—even doing triage—on the ones in his case. Lee is cozy with small producers in the West who allow him to offer such standouts as Rogue River Creamery’s crumbly raw-milk blue from Central Oregon. Our pick: A jar of quince paste from L.A. jam maker Sqirl, perfect with sheep’s-milk cheese. 225 26th St.; farmshopla.com
Sonoma | The Epicurean Connection (pictured). A few steps from the Sonoma Square, this market/cafe run by cheesemaker Sheana Davis brims with her hand-chosen small-batch selections. It’s a task she’s well suited for, as Davis knows not only the local creamery owners but also the goats, cows, and sheep. Our pick: Davis’s own Crème de Fromage, drizzled in local honey and homemade raspberry–rose petal jam. 122 W. Napa St.; 707/935-7960.
Seattle | The Calf & Kid (pictured). To fill her shop in Capitol Hill’s Melrose Market, Sheri LaVigne sniffs out great Washington-made cheese, like Yarmuth Farms’ Dylan, a floral, ash-rinded raw goat’s-milk. And the only way to improve on gooey mac ’n’ cheese is to make it with something she chooses. Our pick: Black Sheep Creamery’s Queso de Oveja, a sharp Spanish-style cheese that’s nutty and sweet, with a grassy finish. 1531 Melrose Ave.; 206/467-5447.
Denver | The Truffle Cheese Shop (pictured). Don’t be bummed if there’s a line. It’ll give you the time to take in the pungent funk and the chance to see what others are ordering. When it’s your turn, let owners Rob and Karin Lawler lead you to a small-batch cheese you’d be unlikely to find elsewhere. Our pick: Avalanche Cheese Company’s Lamborn Bloomers, a creamy robbiola-style cheese made from the milk of goats raised in nearby Paonia. 2906 E. Sixth Ave.; denvertruffle.com
San Francisco | Bi-Rite Market (pictured). The grandpappy of this type of store, and prototype for many out-of-state chains and new local stores. A whiz at ice cream—it sells its own brand here. Popular local brands: Chocolate made a block away at Dandelion Chocolate; produce from Bi-Rite’s own Sonoma farm; cheeses from Petaluma’s Andante Dairy. 3639 18th St.; biritemarket.com
San Diego | SOL Bistro & Market. A remodeled historic fire station that’s both bistro and store (so you can shop with a glass of wine in hand). Popular local brands: The MeatMen’s soppressata; chicken and rabbits from Da-Le Ranch. 2855 Perry Rd.; solmarkets.com
Portland | Woodsman Market (pictured). An offshoot of the exceedingly popular Woodsman Tavern next door, it channels old-school stores perfectly. Popular local brands: Jacobsen sea salt; Freddy Guys hazelnut oil; Choi’s small-batch kimchi. 4529 S.E. Division St.; woodsmantavern.com/market
Seattle | Picnic. Stocked with the things that make a great picnic, including their own preserved Meyer lemons. Popular local brands: Deluxe’s peach jam with vanilla and bourbon; hazelnut–cacao nib granola from Marge. 6801 Greenwood Ave. N.; picnicseattle.com
Denver | In Season Local Market. A creative use of 550 square feet, with all goods sourced from within 250 miles. Popular local brands: Almost everything is local--hot sauce, tapenade, eggs, mushrooms. Then there’s bison pastrami, blackberry cider, and Beeyond the Hive’s decadent, eat-it-with-a-spoon whipped honey peanut butter. 3210 Wyandot St.; inseasonlocalmarket.com
Salt Lake City | Liberty Heights Fresh. Housed in an old gas station, with a garage door that rolls up to reveal flowers, produce, and meats. Popular local brands: Redmond Real Salt; Desert Red Feta from micro dairy Rockhill Creamery. 1290 South 1100 East; libertyheightsfresh.com
Salt Lake City | Tony Caputo’s Market & Deli. A bona fide cheese cave and a butcher that sells only sustainable meats. Cheese and chocolate classes taught by the proprietor’s son Matt Slide. Popular local brands: Ridge Honey Wine Vinegar; Snowy Mountain Sheep Creamery’s Ben Lomond Peak cheese. 314 West 300 South; caputosdeli.com