Steak your claim
MoB | 10 Mail-Order Beef Companies, A Survey
You can purchase nearly anything online in the year 2012. Jeans and vintage watches, virtual assistants, unicorn head costumes for Halloween (a guy we know) — even brides, though it’s a rather complicated transaction (again, a guy we know). Beef is no exception. From traditional mail-order companies like Omaha Steaks to farm-direct sellers like Crystal River meats, the digital beef bazaar is an option-rich environment.
Since there’s nothing like coming home to a beautiful wife and a box of USDA prime after a long day at the office, we’ve graciously rounded up the top steak shippers as part of our Month of Beef series to help you — at least on the beef front — discover the best cuts and deals for your kitchen.
Check out our selections on the next page and make sure you bring a napkin to clean up the drool.
Editor’s Note: Follow us throughout the MoB as we test beef from these mail-order companies.
Meat of it: An industry stalwart, Omaha Steaks has been slinging beef for almost a century. The mail order biz started in the middle of the 20th century after the company found success selling steaks on the Union Pacific Railroad.
Cut to the Chase: All manner of grain-fed steaks, especially filet mignon. Pick up some lobster tails, cheddar cheese, hash browns and carrot cake while you’re at it.
Buy Now: omahasteaks.com
Crystal River Meats
Meat of it: The inverse of big box beef outfits, Colorado-based Crystal River Meats is a vehemently local operation. Everything from breeding the animals to growing the hay to processing and packaging the beef happens within a 200 mile radius of the HQ in Carbondale. They’re also upping the local meat game by supplying ground beef to the RE-1 school district in Colorado.
Cut to the Chase: It’s all grass-fed, antibiotic- and hormone-free, Hereford-Angus beef. Try the NY strip, rib steaks, and the ground beef… all the kids are doing it.
Buy Now: crystalrivermeats.com
Meat of it: Niman was one of the original name-brand ranches to appear on locavore restaurant menus. It was originally 11 acres just north of the Bay Area; now it’s a network of more than 700 farms and ranches throughout the States. All of the beef is 100% Angus, free of hormones and antibiotics, and raised on a vegetarian diet.
Cut to the Chase: Top sirloin, strips and rib-eyes. Niman is also known for its superior pork and lamb, so don’t be shy about the non-beef products.
Buy Now: nimanranch.com
La Cense Beef
Meat of it: We first heard about La Cense Beef when they introduced a burger truck to the streets of Manhattan. It turns out LCB is more than burgers on wheels: It’s grass-fed beef direct from the farm in Dillon, Montana.
Cut to the Chase: 16-ounch cowboy steaks. The bone hangs off the plate.
Buy Now: lacensebeef.com
Meat of it: DeBragga is a member of the old guard of New York butcher shops, around since the 1920s. Their business was solely butchering and supplying high-end restaurants in the tri-state area with meat until 2007, when they launched an online store. DeBragga carries all the good stuff, from dry-aged American Wagyu to grass-fed ground beef to marrow bones (we’ll show you how to use those next week).
Cut to the Chase: American Wagyu dry-aged rib chops, dry-aged prime rib roasts, Wagyu brisket.
Buy Now: debragga.com
Meat of it: Allen Brothers is HQ’d in America’s other great steak city: Chicago. They’ve been running their wholesale operation there since 1893, dealing largely in USDA prime grade beef and supplying restaurants like Morton’s and Lawry’s with their Prime Rib. The mail-order biz also includes pork, game and other products, but the main draw is beef — dry-aged, wet-aged, Wagyu.
Cut to the Chase: Tenderloin roasts, Wagyu rib-eye, prime strip steaks.
Buy Now: allenbrothers.com
Heritage Foods USA
Meat of it: You know a bit about Heritage Foods USA from our profile of their butcher shop in Manhattan. HFUSA deals exclusively in meat from heritage breed animals — Wagyu, Piedmontese, Dexter — all of which comes from a network of small American farms. Online you’ll find a unique selection of pasture-raised beef, along with detailed information about where it came from. Follow along with their “American Beef Road Trip” to sample a variety breeds from different parts of the country every three months.
Cut to the Chase: Piedmontese whole boneless rib-eye roasts, Wagyu burgers, Akaushi strip steaks.
Buy Now: heritagefoodsusa.com
Kansas City Steaks
Meat of it: A classic mail-order company in the biz since the 1930s — we place them in the same category as Omaha Steaks.
Cut to the Chase: Applewood bacon-wrapped filet mignon, super-trimmed filet mignon with hickory bacon, rubbed filet mignon wrapped in bacon.
Buy Now: kansascitysteaks.com
Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors
Meat of it: LaFrieda is the “it” meat purveyor at the moment. They’ve got a Food Network TV show, Meat Men, restaurateurs name-drop them frequently, and they’re the guys who cooked a 1,000 pound steer at Meatopia. The family-owned business has been selling tier-1 meat for the better part of a century, and now it’s available online.
Cut to the Chase: Famous for their original blend burgers. Stay tuned for the recipe.
Buy Now: lafrieda.com
Meat of it: The online flash sale site well-known for clothing, Gilt.com, also sells gourmet foods. The inventory changes frequently: on any given day you may find filet mignon from Omaha Steaks, skirt steaks from LaFrieda or Wagyu from Mishima Ranch.
Cut to the Chase: Discounted beef? Yes, sir.
Buy Now: gilttaste.com