A wise scholar once said: If God didn’t want us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat? A profound question, indeed. I write this guide because as carnivores, we need to become more serious about keeping historical accounts of the most life changing meats we’ve encountered on our personal journeys. These are some of the meat treasures I’ve found in Philadelphia, ranging from South Philly hole-in-the-walls to fine dining restaurants appropriate for observing anniversaries — like the first time you fell in love with your favorite burger.
1109 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107
What they’ve got: Unexpected burgers. Bison, elk, wild boar, duck, turkey. They have vegetarian burgers too, but I won’t insult you by mentioning them. To get their beef burger just right, they tried over 30 different beef blends and grinds before carefully selecting the one on their menu.
What you’re getting: The Wiki Wiki ($12.65). Wild boar, gouda, duck bacon, chickpea onions, pineapple relish, brioche bun.
1310 Frankford Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125
What they’ve got: The feel of a butcher shop placed in a repurposed warehouse with simple wood tables and industrial style decor. Ignore all of the menu items that don’t contain meat. This is a butcher shop. Go straight to the “Grill” section of the menu and browse your mouthwatering options.
What you’re getting: Mixed Grill ($100) and splitting it with one to three friends. Or don’t split. There’s no judgment here. Spicy beef, smoked kielbasa, Hungarian sausage, duck breast, pork shoulder, pork chop, NY Strip.
South Philly Barbacoa
1703 S 11th St, Philadelphia, PA 19148
What they’ve got: The magic of making you feel like you’re sitting in a grandmother’s kitchen as she carves tender slices of lamb and pork barbacoa with a butcher knife, and places them on a hot fresh pressed tortilla for you. You then go to work at the best condiment station your eyes have ever seen, teeming with lime, onion, spicy carrots, radishes, cilantro, salsas, and hot sauces.
What you’re getting: Three tacos ($12). One lamb, one pork, and then the third based on which one you like better of the two. They’ll let you try a sample of each in line, but don’t expect it to make the decision any easier.
2034 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
What they’ve got: Your chance to meat, drink, and be merry with a selection of dishes butchered in-house and a whiskey focused bar menu. Rotisserie game hen, grilled Spanish rock octopus, smoked wild boar ribs, and Lafrienda bone in ribeye to take you to carnivorous bliss.
What you’re getting: The Trough ($250). This requires 24 hours notice which makes it feel exclusive, doesn’t it? They need a full day to get ready for you. Rotisserie chicken, assorted house-made sausages, grilled skirt steak, rack of ribs, kabobs, house smoked bacon, bone in short ribs, house-cut fries, grilled pita. Feeds 4.
El Camino Real
1040 N 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
What they’ve got: Great Texas barbecue in a town that’s usually too transfixed on roast pork and cheesesteaks to get their barbecue game going strong. El Camino Real is the exception. Solid Mexican comida. Tacos with 8 different meats to choose from, house smoked meat sandwiches, pig wings, and legit ribs.
What you’re getting: Smoked brisket tacos ($12). Their best barbecued meat served on a tortilla with guacamole, caramelized onions, and smoked cotija.
237 S. 18th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
What they’ve got: Aged steaks served by tuxedoed waiters in what looks like a Mad Men era library. A raw bar with creatures that have swam in all the world’s oceans. $11 tater tots.
What you’re getting: The $120 cheesesteak. For the story. Or if you’re on a wild expense account. Or if you need the reassurance that you’ve arrived. It has wagyu ribeye, foie gras, truffled cheese whiz on a fresh baked sesame roll and comes with a ½ bottle of champagne.