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A pre-Costco discount retailer, Western Beef offers steep savings on large-quantity purchases, including sides of beef, vats of cranberry juice, and cases of paper goods. What the massive, 20,000-square-foot-plus stores lack in charm, they deliver in sheer volume and savvy neighborhood demographics; store-brand, mass-market and some imported groceries are on hand, along with specialty items like yucca and yampi, appio and ajicito. But the real story here is meat, of every size, source, cut, and preparation, from briefcase-sized racks of ribs and weighty, canvas-wrapped, country cured shoulder hams to chops, steaks, and roasts (of lamb, beef, and pork) and enough poultry to keep a medium-sized KFC busy for weeks. On-site butchers trim and prepare meat to order, including the pigs ears, cow feet, kidneys, tripe and other organs eager to satisfy an international palate. For less intrepid cooks, cold cuts and cured meats—sausages in long links or coiled in calico ropes, wursts both brat and knock, salamis, bolognas, and dozens of thin-sliced packaged lunch —promise weeks of sandwich variety. It's a far cry from Balducci's (no baby veggies, or photo-luscious dewy fruit) but a cut above other chains, and a carnivore's cornucopia of animal protein.Extra
Holidays: Western Beef's butchers take advance orders for holiday geese, game, roasts, and unusual preparations of meat, at rates well below boutique butcher prices.
Spice Market: Cooks with a heavy hand in the spice drawer stock up on Western Beef's pint- and quart-sized containers of herbs and spices, from basics like rosemary and garlic to Chinese star anise and imported Carib jerk seasoning.