Mail-order meat?
February 15, 2005 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone ever sent you really nice steaks in the mail? I have a coworker across the country I'd like to reward, and as he's on Adkins, my usual Belgian-brownie shipment isn't going to cut it. Any vendor recommendations based on experience?
posted by clever sheep to Shopping (30 answers total)
I have a friend that loves Omaha Steaks....
posted by keep it tight at 2:17 PM on February 15, 2005

Try Omaha Steaks. My former neighbor swore by their quality and service.
posted by onhazier at 2:17 PM on February 15, 2005

Somebody once sent me some Omaha Steaks that were pretty good.
posted by greasy_skillet at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2005

Omaha Steaks has been consistently delicious. Fast delivery, excellent quality. I can only vouch for their bovine products.
posted by Loser at 2:18 PM on February 15, 2005

Or consider any of the options that Google suggests as SIMILAR to
posted by spock at 2:26 PM on February 15, 2005

Yeah, you should go with Omaha Steaks. But avoid giving them your phone number when you order, as otherwise they'll call you and try to sell you stuff for years thereafter.
posted by bac at 2:26 PM on February 15, 2005

Pay attention to Omaha Steaks' special offers and combo packs to get a better deal. I've ordered them for us and for gifts. They are quite good and come vacuum in heavy plastic so they keep well.
posted by lobakgo at 2:27 PM on February 15, 2005

I had some Omaha filet mignons sent to me once. I wasn't impressed, really. Maybe try Lobel's?
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:37 PM on February 15, 2005

I get lovely steaks from Stock Yards from a vendor.

It's been years since I've received an Omaha delivery, but I have fewer fond memories of those steaks than the Stock Yards.
posted by Gucky at 3:07 PM on February 15, 2005

I have to second Omaha's. or you could send them a Legal Sea Foods lobster, lots of protein there too
posted by matteo at 3:11 PM on February 15, 2005

i can personally attest to the quality of Omaha Steaks which were sent to me by my good friends on IRC. YUM!
posted by quonsar at 3:17 PM on February 15, 2005

I tried Omaha Steaks four or five years ago and wasn't terribly impressed with the steaks, but the hamburger patties were to die for.
posted by briank at 3:33 PM on February 15, 2005

I'll pile on with another testament to Omaha Steaks. Plus he'll be able to play with any of the leftover dry ice! We put it in the sink and turned the warm water on to watch it bubble over for several minutes of entertainment.
posted by lynda at 3:42 PM on February 15, 2005

Omaha Steaks are, frankly, gross; they're frozen. They're quick-frozen so the quality is a bit finer than something that's been sitting in a bag in your freezer for a couple months, but still, any fresh (cheap) steak from your local grocery store is going to taste waaaay better than an Omaha Steak. You just can't freeze steak, in my opinion; after defrosting it, it loses a lot of its moisture, and when you sear it, it immediately loses the rest of it, and takes on a gamy flavor.

If you specify what city this person lives in, we could recommend our favorite local butcher, whom you could call and have something prepared or delivered.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:46 PM on February 15, 2005

The intended recipient lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.
posted by clever sheep at 3:48 PM on February 15, 2005

The frozen steaks from Omaha and others will usually beat the fresh steaks from your grocer. They are USDA Prime (not that hard to find at the grocer) and dry aged (almost impossible to find locally). If you can find a local butcher that has dry aged beef yet never frozen beef then it will likely taste better and perhaps be cheaper than mail order steaks. Dry aged beef is better, and not just a little bit better, much better. However, clever sheep's intended gift recipient lives across the country. I say go for the mail order steaks. Skip the filet mignon. They have little flavor and are mostly just tender. Dry aged beef is all about the flavor. Stick with NY strip, porterhouse etc. For a real treat send Wagyu.
posted by caddis at 4:12 PM on February 15, 2005

Omaha Steaks are never great, but they are consistently decent.
There's always Niman Ranch. Send some dry-aged cowboy steaks, it's a cut that you don't always find in a supermarket.
posted by madajb at 4:29 PM on February 15, 2005

I agree with madajb about Niman Ranch. Their quality is better than Omaha Steaks and many top restaurants also get their meats from them.
posted by gyc at 4:38 PM on February 15, 2005

Cooks Illustrated just reviewed mail order steaks. Their tasters gave the lowest ratings to the Omaha steaks. The highest rated - ifrc - were Lobel's then Niman Ranch. You have to pay to access content on their site or I'd search for a link to the article.
posted by Wolfie at 4:56 PM on February 15, 2005

I'll state the obvious and suggest Peter Luger, but you'll note that you're going to pay quite a bit for them. Of course, since their steaks rank in the top meals of my life, I'm pretty sure I'd pay that price for 'em...
posted by delfuego at 5:36 PM on February 15, 2005

I was going to post Omaha Steaks but it looks like everyone else did. :/
posted by Lizc at 5:54 PM on February 15, 2005

Avoid Omaha Steaks. They are the Microsoft of steaks: good marketing, lousy products. I'd suggest Niman Ranch, as they seem to care about making the life of the steak-donor a little nicer before the inevitable happens. If I can eat a steak knowing that the cow had a pretty good life before it was turned into steaks, that's well worth it, and the Japanese and Europeans have proven that a happy animal makes better meat, cheese, milk, etc.

I also have to disagree with the assessment that Omaha Steaks sells "prime" steaks. They are NOT prime steaks (meat grading is optional, and I don't believe that "branded meat" is allowed to be graded anyway), and they are NOT top quality meat. I live in Omaha, have had many chances to sample Omaha Steaks products, and from what I can tell, they are typically somewhere between Select and Choice. The Choice steaks that I purchase at the local grocery store and vacuum pack myself are a quantum leap ahead of what Omaha Steaks puts out.

YMMV, but I'd find another vendor for frozen steaks.
posted by ensign_ricky at 5:54 PM on February 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

Depending on your budget, and your willingness to try something other than cow-beef:

Jackson Hole Buffalo

We've had great success with their buffalo meat. It's wonderful stuff - you have to like your meat pretty rare, since it's really lean. I guy the combination package for my SO for Christmas every year. It comes in a cooler and the steaks are individually frozen, which is great.

Next year I think we'll try the elk.
posted by dpx.mfx at 7:13 PM on February 15, 2005

I am from Kansas City, home to the famous Kansas City Strip. If there are two foods I can claim to know a lot about, it is steak and barbeque. I like a really good steak, and I've tried them all at the fine hoity-toity places in New York, Dallas, LA, etc. but the best steak I've ever had --- McGonigle's. They ship them fresh and they are by far the best meat in town that knows meat.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and at least get one for yourself. It'll be one of those moments where you'll go "I can't believe meat tastes this good."
posted by geoff. at 8:10 PM on February 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'll second ensign_ricky's comment. Omaha Steaks aren't terrible, but IMO they're not equivalent to the prime grade beef you'll find in a top drawer steakhouse, and the whole frozen beef thing throws me off, even if it's flash frozen. Their hamburgers are pretty good, but you can get your butcher to make hamburger out of fatty sirloin and get similar results. (There is something special about a hamburger made with high quality meat though, it's quite a treat.)

I'm heavily biased in favor of Niman Ranch when it comes to steaks (although I have no personal/financial connection to them). They have excellent cuts, deliver their meat without needing to freeze it, and offer fresh and aged cuts.

You pay more than Omaha, but they have some terrific cuts. The aged featherbone new york strip is the quintessential steak IMO, it's not overkill like a porterhouse, has better flavor than a filet mignon, and has terrific taste and texture. The small amount of bone that is left in plus the aged beef makes for something really special. That said, it's around 50 bucks per steak. They have other cuts that are more affordable, and fresh is usually cheaper than aged, so it all depends what your budget is, but you can't go wrong with Niman. They have a storefront at where you can order steaks.
posted by beaverd at 8:21 PM on February 15, 2005

I got a tip about some incredible special at Omaha steaks and went for it - it was something like 60 bucks for 6 filets, 10 burgers, pork chops and stuffed salmon and hot dogs and, you get the picture. I was wholly unimpressed with everything except the price and the packaging (cooler, dry ice, etc.) and have no intention of ever ordering again. Try one of these other suggestions.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:37 PM on February 15, 2005

also, omaha are %!#$@ dirty spammers.

go for niman, they rock.
posted by dorian at 9:01 PM on February 15, 2005

I've sent a lot of Omaha Steaks in the past, but ever since they decided to start calling me at home to try and sell me even more steaks, I've vowed to never buy anything from them ever again.

The worst part was the rude sales-guy. It was like he thought he was doing me a favor or something.
posted by bshort at 10:50 PM on February 15, 2005

Thanks, everybody--I'll probably make the purchase from Niman today, though I'll also be keeping Lobel's and McGonigle's in mind for future gifts for big sis and brother-in-law. And my twin will probably get Jackson Hole buffalo for the birthday coming up!
posted by clever sheep at 8:07 AM on February 16, 2005

Well despite what EVERYONE seems to be saying, Omaha Steaks was rate the WORST possible source by Cook's Illustrated (Paid reg. req'd). ... just so you know.

IMO, the one time I tried their product, the meat was "tender" but overwhelmingly salty and unusually dry. And unbelievably overpriced
posted by fourstar at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2005

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