Editor’s Note: This post has been updated to reflect our selections for 2016.
It’s 2016. You have Internet access and a mailbox. There’s no longer any excuse to be dining on anything but the highest-quality meat you can find. Wagyu beef, local goat, French-style chicken, grass-fed lamb, woodland-raised pigs, roast duck, double-smoked Danish salmon, whole lobes of foie gras, elk…it’s all within reach. Avoid restaurant prices, fire up the grill and cook yourself a steak or a slab of ribs worthy of the price of shipping and handling. Here are our 10 favorite online purveyors of high-quality meat.
Heritage Foods USA
Best for Goat: Heritage Foods USA is a Brooklyn-based purveyor of all types of mail-order meat, from pork to beef to poultry. But their most interesting product comes backed with a surprising mission: with “No Goat Left Behind,” Heritage is trying to keep goat kids (often viewed as an unfortunate byproduct of goat milk) alive long enough to grow into full-sized, edible goats. The result is a fantastic mail-order meat that tastes a bit more delicate and grassy than lamb and amounts to a surprising addition to your dinner menu.
Rare Gourmet Meats
Best for Dry-Aged Beef: Founded with the noble philosophy of bringing restaurant-quality meats to everyone, anywhere, this California-based farm served up the best steak one of our staffers had ever eaten. Run by Debbie Rocker, whose family has been delivering meat to L.A.’s best chefs for 50 years, and Shelly Youree, a rancher turned lawyer turned meat aficionado, this is among the best places to go for everything from dry-aged porterhouse steaks to buttery Wagyu, including poultry and pork add-ons, just in case. Just expect to pay handsomely for it.
Best for Chicken: Compared to Belcampo’s shock-and-awe campaigns, Joyce Farms offers a much more nuanced approach to delivering the goods. The Poulet Rouge Fermier chicken, the breed that led French poultry to the world-renowned status it has today, is their weapon of choice. Joyce Farms’s North Carolina-raised Poulet Rouge is hailed for its excellent meat texture and thinner skin than traditional birds, and thanks to Joyce’s strict quality standards, you can be sure the chickens only had one unhappy day in their lives.
Best for the Luxurious: If you’re looking for a more luxurious mail-order meat company and hoping to supplement your delivery of pre-peeled grapes, look no further than D’Artagnan’s impressive selection of all that’s good in the world. They’ve got the “traditional” Wagyu beef and lamb racks, but the real treasure is their massive assortment of foie gras, duck, upland birds and game meat. Fill out the order with some duck fat, truffles and caviar, and you’ll be all set for your normal Thursday Night Football game dinner.
Snake River Farms
Best for Pork: One of Oliver Cromwell’s few redeeming acts while marauding his way across the British Isles is the claimed discovery of the best pork in history: the Berkshire Hog. The superior texture and taste of this king of other white meats was eventually given to the Japanese as a diplomatic gift and dubbed “Kurobuta.” Luckily for us Yankees, mail-order Kurobuta pork and ham can be found stateside courtesy of Idaho’s Snake River Farms, a small network of family farms devoted bringing the best meat Japan has to offer across the Pacific.
A CSA is one of the best, and sadly one of the only, good ways to support young local farms. Customers pay for “subscriptions” to the farm, and the farm provides a varied assortment of produce, meat or dairy, depending on their seasonal output. The concept works well to land fresh meat, and the following are some of the best. Although by virtue of being so localized, you may have to do a little digging to find a CSA in your area.
Brandon Natural Beef: More established than some of the other CSAs on this list, this farm delivers 100 percent grass-fed beef to the Bay Area, California, with the option to ship out of state. Learn More
Catoctin Mountain Farm: Two friends, on a farm high in the mountains of Maryland, produce the best woodland-raised pork, along with the occasional batch of duck eggs, we’ve ever tasted. They provide monthly deliveries to Frederick, Baltimore, and D.C. Learn More
Green Gate Farms: Since 2006, this certified organic farm, located near Austin, Texas, produces a large range of meats: chicken, rare-breed pork, beef, bison, duck, goat, lamb and mutton. Learn More
Maple Wind Farm: Since 1999, Maple Wind Farm has supplied pork, poultry and beef to northern Vermont. Orders can be customized. Learn More
Mint Creek Farm: The Carr family started their farm in 1992 with 50 acres, and have steadily grown to over 220 Certified-Organic-producing acres. Their CSA, available from their Illinois farm, includes cuts of lamb, pork, beef, goat and poultry. Learn More
Belcampo Meat Co.
Best for Big Appetites: If you’re the kind of person who regularly hosts bovine bacchanalia or puts their hamburgers inside a bun of two strip steaks, Belcampo Meat Co. has you covered. Among a mail-order selection of poultry and various cuts of beef, you’ll find the “40/40 Steer” package. Pull the trigger and (after talking with Belcampo’s butcher to customize your order) you’ll receive more than 40 pounds of 40-month-old, 40-day-aged, organic and humane certified beef. How quickly it’s consumed is entirely up to you.
Best for Game Meat: If you’ve grown tired of traditional meat arriving at your door then you’d best consult Fossil Farms’ awe-inspiring selection of game and exotic meats. Choose from high-quality cuts of kangaroo, alligator, yak and rattlesnake, among many others, to diversify your dinner.
Shepherd Song Farm
Best for Lamb: Looking for a more Shari Lewis take on dinner? Some of the best lamb in the country can be delivered to your doorstep by Shepherd Song Farm. A family farm based in Downing, WI, Shepherd Song focuses entirely on raising free-range, 100 percent grass-fed lambs and goats. Largely unrelated to the quality of the meat but incredibly cool nonetheless, Shepherd Song uses llamas to protect and guide their flock.
Russ & Daughters
Best for Smoked Fish: There are a handful of things that New Yorkers hold very, very dear: pizza, urban planning and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, among others. And when it comes to smoked whitefish and salmon, they’re like a city of Charlton Hestons: you’ll have to pry those fish out of their cold, dead hands. Luckily, there’s plenty of the stuff to go around, and NYC institution Russ & Daughters will export it anywhere your heart desires. Pair it with some of their bagels and a schmear or two of cream cheese and you’ve got a
slam dunk skyhook meal.
Best for Spanish Ham: Importing the best Spain has to offer since 1996, La Tienda is the only company you’ll need if you’re looking for a taste of the Iberian stateside. Their hallmark Jamón Ibérico is sourced from a pig that’s only found on the Iberian peninsula and is cured for four years. The result is a fantastically tender, nutty, flavorful meat that might be the best thing on earth. Get it bone-in if you want to win the kitchen decor arms race.
Additional contribution by J. Travis Smith.