Phoenix Meat and Produce Distributor Recommendations

There are two things I favor when it comes to meat and produce: local and sustainable. Sometimes these conflict, but I always try to do my best. The following is a list of places that have really high quality products that are accessible around the Phoenix metro area. I also try to highlight price because I know money doesn’t grow on trees. I hate overwhelming lists and options, so these are a few of my favorites.

The Meat Shop

202 E Buckeye Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85004

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This is, hands down, the best butcher shop I’ve ever used in my life. I’m going to say something crazy… I’m not sure it’s even worth eating bacon if it’s not from the meat shop. Apparently Phoenix Restaurants agree with me; the waiting list for pork belly from the meat shop is about 2 years long. Every “shipment” gets scooped up by the best restaurants in Phoenix in advance orders.

Everything from The Meat Shop is locally sourced (<150 mile radius I believe), butchered in house, and packed with butchering dates on labels. The staff is super friendly and knowledgeable. It’s a family run business with incredible pricing; you can often find the whole beef tenderloin (a.k.a., filet mignon) at $6/lb and hunk bacon at <$2/lb. They’re not asking that you buy a lot either. Most packaging is around a lb a piece. No need for bulk here unless you want it. They also do larger meat boxes and will prepare specialty items and orders if you call in advance. They have dozens of in-house made cased and loose sausages and their burgers (especially steak burgers!) are out of control good. They do mostly pork and beef, but also have chicken and turkey as well as wild game when it’s in season. Recently, I’ve seen a lot of lamb around the shop and it’s tasty as hell.

As you drive to the meat shop, you might be wondering if you’re in the right place. You are. The shop itself is in the hood and looks like a bit of a dive, but looks are deceiving here. The meat is just incredible.

Nelson’s Meat and Fish

2415 E Indian School Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85016

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Nelson’s is a small, local shop in metro Phoenix with seasonably super fresh seafood brought in daily from all over the globe. There’s a lot of chatter about Chula or Nelson’s, which is better. The answer is Nelson’s. I know we live in Phoenix, but I’d put this place up against anywhere, and I’ve lived in Philadelphia, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Obviously, fish in Phoenix isn’t going to be sourced locally, but at least it can be super fresh, sourced sustainably, and by people who care.

The fish selection is incredible and varies with the season, but the staples – tuna, salmon, yellowtail, halibut, etc. – are almost always in the case in abundance. The fish is sustainably line caught and flown in fresh each day, so it is definitely on the more expensive side, ranging from $20 – $40 per pound for common items and up to around $100/lb for things like urchin and lobster meat. They also feature in-house made ceviche, crab cakes, shrimp cocktails, and other treats everyday. The staff is incredibly helpful; they’ll tell you how much to buy and how to best cook the different seafood without ever pressuring you into spending too much money. They’ll skin your fish before packing if you ask them to. On occasion, they’ve actually given us a few ingredients we needed absolutely for free upon mentioning a recipe: things like panko and seasoning. It makes Nelson’s a great place to shop.

Nelson’s is called “Nelson’s Meat and Fish” and they also feature an array other other high end meats and luxury goods such as duck, steak, quail, caviar, eggs, etc. They have in house made sauces and marinades as well. They run a daily prepared special almost everyday, from shucked oysters to clam chowder and smoked salmon bagels. However, the ultimate in luxury food experience are the Nelson’s proper Lobstah Rolls on buttered Noble bread. Oh. Em. Gee. The dent they’ll put in your wallet is definitely worth it. They’re pretty big, so share one with a friend!

Chula Seafood

100 E Camelback Rd #172, Phoenix, AZ 85012

8015 E Roosevelt St, Scottsdale, AZ 85257

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No knocks on Chula; they’re ALSO incredible. Chula Seafood is a family run business between a father and son who fish everyday in San Diego and then send the catch over in refrigerated trucks to Phoenix. Most of what’s served in Phoenix is butchered locally right in the shop when it arrives. It’s not a full local operation, but it’s a local business and really relies on old school practices that I love. There are 2 locations in Phoenix, one right in midtown in the Camelback shopping center at Central and Camelback and the other in South Scottsdale.

Both locations have amazing prepared food menus as well as a variety of fresh fish you can buy right out of the front case. Chula uptown has wine and beer as well to supplement their wide menu of items. If you’re looking for a seafood dinner; go no further! The platters are incredible. They also sell bread and hot sauce and sides to-go for assembling your perfect feast at home.

Chula is a bit expensive, though for raw ingredients it’s a bit cheaper than Nelson’s. I do think that fish at Nelson’s is a bit fresher and more true to flavor, but I’ve never been disappointed in the quality of either place. It’s like deciding between Harvard and Yale.

One thing I like in particular about Chula are the hours. While other shops tend to close doors around 4 or 5p, Chula is a restaurant and stays open until around 8p every night. So if you’re looking to pick up some fish to cook for dinner after the work day ends, head over to either location!

Uptown Farmer’s Market

5757 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012

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What CAN’T you find here?! I love this farmer’s market and I think you should too. It’s in the big mega-church parking lot on the corner of Central and Bethany Home. There are heaps of food trucks to appease your Saturday morning cravings or make your Wednesday just a bit brighter. But the best part is all the locally sourced produce and meat that’s available at the market from a wide range of distributors. Below are a few of my favorites.

  • JH Grassfed Beef (Facebook) – A local family-owned operation offering grass fed and grass finished beef, lamb, and pork. I love grass fed and grass finished meat since I really enjoy a lean steak with an almost game-y flavor. Just a note, if you’re used to grocery store steak or love a good marbling, you probably won’t like this. Just a note: The meat shop does grass-fed and grass-finished for most of their steaks but does grass-fed and grain-finished for their whole tenderloin (which is why they claim it’s so cheap). Since the tenderloin is a lean steak, this worked super well for most people.
  • Alaskan Pride Seafoods (Facebook) – A family operation in Phoenix that has old family ties to Alaska fishing. All the fish here is frozen, but it’s SUPER SUPER fresh and I love it. They butcher and flash freeze the fish as soon as it’s caught, which has been shown to do better than freezing and shipping later or even sometimes shipping unfrozen. When you defrost and cook their fish, you’ll see what I mean! They also offer repeat customer discounts, I think it’s $10 off after purchasing $100 or more.
  • Noble Bread (Facebook | Instagram) – Noble Bread is a relatively small, local bakery featuring old world bread-making techniques, a stone hearth, and naturally leavened bread. Noble bread puts the time and care into every loaf, taking 36 hours a piece. Their quality speaks for itself around Phoenix; they’re used by just about every critically acclaimed restaurant and eatery including other purveyors on this list!
  • McClendon’s Farms (Facebook | Instagram) – A rather larger organic farm run out of Peoria, Az. An amazing and wide selection of fresh, seasonal fruits and veggies. They’re a little expensive relative to the grocery store, but they’re produce is SUPER good. I particularly love spring for peaches and stone fruit, summer for tomatoes and peppers (awesome peppers all year!), and fall/winter for their gourds and squashes.
  • Blue Sky Organic Farms (Facebook | Instagram) – Another rather large organic farm out of Litchfield, Az. Everything they sell comes directly from their farm. Their produce is seasonal and beautiful and they also have AMAZING organic eggs that sell out pretty much every week by around 11 or noon.

Two things to remember here. First, it’s a farmer’s market. Not everywhere takes credit card and so sometimes you have to go to the front and exchange money for tokens. This is super annoying. Second, it’s only on certain days of the week, so you have to plan meals around it. For this reason, it rings in lower on my list, but the fact that I can grab everything all at once is a winner.

Saturday Market Vendors | Wednesday Market Vendors

Buck & Rider

4225 E Camelback Rd, Phoenix, AZ 85018

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OK, this is a bit of a weird one, but Buck & Rider actually sells seafood to go and by the pound. And it’s GOOD! I oscillate on this place as a restaurant, but as a seafood purveyor I like them a lot. And, since they keep restaurant hours, they’re super good late at night and on weekends if you’re looking for a last minute fish to sear at home. You can also order online for curbside pick up. They also have a great happy hour for reduced price super fresh seafood if you wanna sit for 30 minutes before picking up your dinner catch!

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