Outfit your holiday table with fresh cuts from these butcher shops
Wheaton Meat Co.
First opened in downtown Wheaton in 1940 and operated by the Joseph family since 1983, this local butcher shop is a go-to for home cooks and professional chefs alike. “Steaks, we cut to order. They are not precut or prepackaged; they’re cut right in front of you,” says owner Brett Joseph, who took over the business from his parents a decade ago, after growing up waiting on customers in the shop. “And ground meats, we grind every single morning and we sell to a lot of local restaurants as well.” Choose from a variety of beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, veal, and seafood. “We get fresh salmon every single day, and we have a little deli section for sandwich meats.” A few side dishes—potato salad, coleslaw, caprese salmon, seafood salad—are also available, along with a hand-picked selection of spice rubs, marinades, and sauces.
Good to know: Join the shop’s text club for news about weekly specials and discounts by texting “MEAT” to 321-306-3026. 310 S. Main St., Wheaton
Leffelman Meat Center
A fourth-generation butcher, Jake Leffelman has roots in the meat industry stretching back to his great-grandfather, who operated shops and a processing plant of the same name in western Illinois starting in the 1950s. “I try and keep the feel of a neighborhood butcher shop, where you can stop in every day and see what’s fresh in the case,” says Leffelman, who opened this petite storefront just steps from the Downers Grove Main Street Metra station in September 2022. He stocks beef, pork, and poultry and can order lamb and veal by request. “I really try and play around with cuts,” he says. “This week I might have flat irons; next week, I might have hanger steak or teres major. I like to have odds-and-ends cuts that are interesting and provide more value that you don’t see everywhere else.” Look for rotating flavors of breakfast sausage and bratwurst, including beer brats made with lager from Goldfinger, a Downers Grove brewery.
Good to know: In addition to fresh whole turkeys for Thanksgiving this year, Leffelman offers side dishes prepared by a local caterer. Keep an eye out for the return of the holiday gift box, which was a hit last year. “It was a box with two different flavors of bratwurst, rib-eye fillets, and barbecue butterflied pork chops that you could give as a gift,” he says. 4952 Main St., Downers Grove
Rick Tischler spent his childhood in his family’s grocery business, which inspired him to open this meat market in 2004—though perhaps not in the way you’d assume. “I just didn’t find any love in the grocery business,” he says. “It’s humdrum. Most people don’t like grocery shopping.” A visit to a high-end meat market, on the other hand? “It’s an event,” he says. “When they come in here, they know it’s a service market—they can chat, there’s time to ask questions.” He specializes in certified Angus beef, and meat and poultry across the board are raised without antibiotics and growth hormones. “I want to give a better experience to people who are looking for better quality,” he says. You can choose your own cuts of steak, pork, or chicken, or shop oven- and grill-ready items such as specialty burgers, kebobs, meatloaf, meatballs, and crab cakes. “We have probably eight to 10 different varieties of stuffed chicken breast, some marinated steaks like tri-tip, and we make our chimichurri in here for skirt steak and hanger steaks,” he says. “We also smoke our own beef sticks and bacon, and ham for our deli, and it’s all nitrate free.” For Thanksgiving, fresh Rosebud Farms turkeys are available for preorder.
Good to know: Looking to up your meat IQ? The shop hosts occasional classes with seasonal topics, such as barbecue how-to in the summer, tailgating 101 in the fall, and brisket prep for the holidays. Visit the shop’s website for the latest sign-up info. 15412 S. Rte. 59, Plainfield
Photos: Wheaton Meat Co.; Leffelman Meat Center; Tischler’s Market