There’s an essential question the world should ask itself about mail-order meat: why order it, especially when it’s almost lways more expensive than meat you’ll find at a local grocer or butcher shop?

Truth is, online-facing meat purveyors do have a place. Where does the intrepid cook whose town doesn’t have a proper butcher get their hands on heritage chickens? Or aged Osso Buco? Or internationally-renowned country ham and bacon? Or just a steady stream of meat to put on the table that’s better than whatever is available to them?

The answer is nowhere without these companies. No, it may not make sense to source a run-of-the-mill weekday dinner from an online retailer, but when the need for real quality outweighs the need to maintain a perfectly balanced budget, you’ll be glad they’re open. These are the 10 best places to buy meat online in 2019.

Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors

Must Try: Dry-Aged Burger Blend ($29)

There is little fame to be had in the world of meat production. Unless you’re Pat LaFrieda, who’s been called “the Magician of Meat.” His company supplies beef to some of the best restaurants in the country and just so happens to offer a good portion of its protein online. LaFrieda’s client list speaks to the quality, but if you’re going to try the marquis meat purveyor of almost 100 years, you’d be wise to steer toward the burger mixes, which are equal parts revolutionary and plain delicious.

Porter Road

Must Try: Loose Chorizo Sausage ($8)

Porter Road started because chefs James Peisker and Chris Carter were annoyed with a lack of truly good meat for their newborn catering business. That frustration turned into a full-service butcher shop, which has since evolved into a sizeable online collection of beef, chicken, lamb and pork. All of Porter Road’s meats are raised sans antibiotics or filler feed. They’re also priced moderately and arrive (unfrozen) within two days of ordering. As an added bonus, the cooling foam inside the packaging can be disposed of by running it under the sink for a few seconds.

Benton’s Country Ham

Must Try: Benton’s Bacon ($32)

Allan Benton was a high school guidance counselor. Now, his name is on menus at some of the best restaurants in the country. Benton’s Bacon, which by sheer prestige has made itself a proper noun, is prized by chefs and pork lovers across the country. What’s available on his web store changes with regularity (peak holiday season will see less of the good stuff available as demand eclipses a limited supply), so bookmark and wait for what you want.

D’Artagnan

Must Try: Terrine of Foie Gras ($50)

As the name might imply, D’Artagnan is luxurious. Its store is filled to the brim with game birds, duck fat, foie gras, wagyu beef, lamb racks and all other things that trigger thoughts drooling and thoughts of bank accounts past. The outlet partners with local farms and farmers with tight ethical and quality standards.

Snake River Farms

Must Try: Kurobuta Pork Chops ($16+)

Founded in 1968, Idaho’s Snake River Farms produces a lot of headliners — American wagyu, dry-aged tomahawk steaks, huge hams among them. But the crowd-favorite is the Kurobuta pork, which is often described as the Kobe beef of pork, and Snake River Farms is one of few to carry it, much less sell it online.

Peter Luger Butcher Shop

Must Try: Porterhouse Steaks ($215)

Peter Luger Steakhouse may be shorter on hype and blog posts than the small plate restaurants that pepper the surrounding neighborhood, but it does not need those things. Named best steakhouse in New York since 1984, the restaurant famous for its porterhouses, sky-high prices and a prickly wait staff was good enough to earn a Michelin star in 2006. It is a destination restaurant for anyone with a taste for steaks, and nowadays a load of its house-aged beef is available online.

Holy Grail Steak

Must Try: Certified A5 Kobe Wagyu Filet Mignon ($299)

Holy Grail Steak operates under what it calls the the Golden Rule of the Cow, which dictates that a steak only tastes as good as it was raised. This mantra led the mail-order meat outlet to become one of six retailers of certified Kobe beef, and the only official online retailer of Kobe beef, what’s widely considered the most sought after meat in the world.

Heritage Foods

Must Try: Goat Shanks ($99)

Heritage Foods ethically sources, butchers and sells a wide variety of meats — turkey, chicken, beef, pork and so on. But the Brooklyn-based company is perhaps most notable for its treatment of goat through its “No Goat Left Behind” program, which supports farms that allow goats to mature more before heading to the abattoir. The result is a meat that’s lighter than lamb and carries a naturally herbacious flavor.

Smoking Goose

Must Try: Stagberry Salame ($16)

The defining qualities of former chef and Smoking Goose founder Chris Eley’s butcher shop and online meat store are two-fold: smoked meat, and the variety therin. Yes, there’s sausages and bacons and other classics available, but there’s also gin and juice salami, lamb bacon and an incredible-sounding sausage mixture of duck, pear and port. This is not a place with words like tradition, multi-generation or historic imprinted into its identity, and in this case that is a very good thing.

Crowd Cow

Must Try: Beef ($30+)

Crowd Cow was founded when its founders caught wind that their friends were all going in on a cow from a local ranch. They thought that this practice could be streamlined and simplified, so they created Crowd Cow, which essentially acts as crowdfunding for the purchasing of beef. Instead of calling up a dozen ranches, coordinating shipping and storing what is frankly way too much meat, Crowd Cow allows you to buy high-quality meats (it’s not just beef) from local ranchers at fairer prices.

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