Where can I buy better bacon?
June 1, 2012 11:38 AM   Subscribe

Where can I buy better bacon? I would be loathe to complain about any bacon, but let's be honest, grocery store bacon really pales in comparison to what you can get at good local restaurants. I'm in Sacramento.

I don't mind buying online if provisions are made for refrigeration during shipping. I'm also in the Bay Area often enough that I could likely buy there in bulk if it was a good option.

Trader Joes sells a tasty, brown sugar variety that I like, but it's the only grocery store variety I've found so far that I would classify as good. I am on a budget. I just can't buy $15 or $20 per pound bacon, and don't have the budget or space for a meat slicer. We're also thin on butcher shops here. Any ideas on where I can get the good stuff?
posted by cnc to Food & Drink (39 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
oddly, i like the applewood smoked bacon that they sell at costco, if you have a membership there. it's thick cut, it's something like $11 or $15 for 4 lbs, and the taste is good and it cooks up great.
posted by koroshiya at 11:40 AM on June 1, 2012

Have you tried your local farmer's market? That's where the best meat in my town is, by far.
posted by something something at 11:40 AM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Have you tried a butcher, or the butcher* of your local supermarket?

*And here I mean the actual butcher, the person who makes the various cuts of meat, not the kid weighing ground chuck behind the butcher counter.
posted by Sara C. at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2012

2nding the costco applewood smoked bacon. Delicious!
posted by Grither at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2012

What about Corti Brothers in East Sac? I've always gotten pretty good meats there and they have a better variety than a regular grocery store.

Also, someone got me some OUTSTANDING Sicilian bacon from a deli up in Grass Valley (or somewhere in the Foothills)...just texted them to get the name, so I'll let you know. It would be worth the trek up the hill.
posted by lovableiago at 11:46 AM on June 1, 2012

Corti Brothers in East Sac and Taylor's Market in Land Park.
posted by ad4pt at 11:47 AM on June 1, 2012

Are you unsatisfied with Whole Foods bacon?
posted by maryr at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Got a Whole Foods there? Grab some thick cut local bacon from the deli.
posted by Lieber Frau at 11:49 AM on June 1, 2012

I've had this problem for a very long time. Our household's solution has fallen firmly into the DIY camp. If you have an asian market around, you can usually get really nice cuts of pork belly frozen, and then you can make your own without too much trouble, and you don't need a smoker (sometimes we add in some liquid smoke to the cure though...).

Dollar for dollar, it turns out better than anything you can get in the store. And if you do it in large-ish batches to freeze some of it.

Just make sure your knives are sharp, then you don't need the meat slicer.
posted by furnace.heart at 11:50 AM on June 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Do you like smoky? Like, really smoky? Order from Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams
posted by shothotbot at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Avedano's is a San Francisco butcher shop. Their house bacon is $8 a pound - not cheap, but not unreasonable.

It blows Trader Joe's bacon out of the water.

However, I will note that it's a salty, porky style of bacon, not very smoky and not at all sweet. That may or may not be to your personal bacon preferences.
posted by psycheslamp at 12:00 PM on June 1, 2012

I had Wrights at a bed and breakfast in the Northern Catskills. I told the cook/owner it was the best I'd ever had. It was so good I thought it was from a local producer, but she told me they get it from a wholesale club.
posted by jgirl at 12:01 PM on June 1, 2012

OK the deli I was trying to remember above is Swingle's in Jackson. I'll say it again: Worth the trip.
posted by lovableiago at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can buy Irish bacon from Touch of Britain in North Highlands. It'll be 'back' bacon, which is meatier and generally superior to American streaky bacon.
posted by essexjan at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2012

Yeah, we like Whole Food's pepper bacon and the black forest bacon*. Bonus is that you can get an assortment if you want since it's from the butcher counter.

* Assuming Sac will be similar to Oakland in bacon offerings.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

What Oneirodynia said... the Black Forest Bacon at Whole Foods is AWESOME. It's the only bacon I buy, and to me it tastes about as good if not better than some locally produced bacon I got from my meat CSA...
posted by permiechickie at 12:29 PM on June 1, 2012

My favorite is the maple bacon at the Whole Foods meat counter. It's thick-cut and super flavorful.
posted by joan_holloway at 12:48 PM on June 1, 2012

shothotbot, Benton's is local to me and it is Pig Nirvana. I sent some to my mother as a gift and she called me in tears; she said it tasted just like her Daddy Doc (grandfather) used to make on their ranch outside Abilene.

If you ever get a chance to go to Benton's, bring a change of clothes or you will smell like a country ham for the rest of the day. NTTAWWT.
posted by workerant at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Taking another direction, have you asked any of the "good local restaurants" where they buy their bacon?
posted by randomnity at 1:07 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Honestly, Trader Joes seems to sell some of the blandest bacon out there. There's a molasses soaked bacon variety called "black forest bacon" sold at Whole Foods. Try that. I haven't yet found anything better than that from a grocery store.
posted by oceanjesse at 1:26 PM on June 1, 2012

Save Mart at leohmens plaza. on a end cap facing west (towards back of store) about 1/4th from the south end of store (left hand side of store) is like 3 pound flanks of good arse bacon. it is like 18 -20 bucks or something. Label is some kind of blah blah farms...but dude. its pretty good for sacto bacon. I buy it cut the flanks in half length wise and separate them into 2 inch chunks and wrap them up and freeze them, pulling one out of freezer when I use the one in the fridge.
posted by couchdive at 1:41 PM on June 1, 2012

post script. LQQk at all the sacto folks!
posted by couchdive at 1:43 PM on June 1, 2012

Have you considered making your own? Good Eats Scrap Iron Chef's Bacon recipe

Youtube: part 1 part 2
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 2:06 PM on June 1, 2012

If you find that restaurant bacon is better than yours, is it how you're cooking it? I put it in the oven, on a cookie sheet with parchment (foil should work too) and it completely kicks ass.
posted by in278s at 2:13 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's really more than I should be spending, but I can't help myself and keep reordering Nueske's bacon.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:29 PM on June 1, 2012

I'm fond of Applegate organic Sunday bacon, although some packs are better than others. I can get it at normal-to-better-than-average grocery stores, the kinds with organic produce and such.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:24 PM on June 1, 2012

If you want restaurant-style bacon, why not go to a restaurant supply store? I get my thick cut bacon at Cash 'n' Carry and it's about $15 for 5 pounds.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:33 PM on June 1, 2012

Via Craigslist:

We have 2 large breeding sows. They are high quality sows that we no longer want to breed. The first is a hampshire sow, she has had 3 litters and is 3 years old. She is a great mom but had difficulty with her large babies last fall, probably needs to be butchered. She is around 650 pounds. Iris is a blue butt sow also 3 years old from No-Limit Genetics. She has given us 3 beautiful litters and is a good mom but getting too big for our program, as these are our kids 4-H breeding projects. She is probably 650-700 pounds. We will sell them at $400.00 each ready to breed or butcher. If we can't sell these girls, they will go to butcher in 3 weeks and be sold as sausage, fresh ground pork, and bacon for $5.00 per pound.
posted by aniola at 4:36 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Came in to say, "Benton's", see that several others have already mentioned it.
posted by kovacs at 4:37 PM on June 1, 2012

Here's another one. In conclusion, I'd suggest keeping your eye on the farm and garden section of craigslist.
posted by aniola at 4:39 PM on June 1, 2012

I'm very satisfied with Burger's Smokehouse. Prices in the catalog already include shipping. Their thick cut bacon is wonderful and has been a staple for Bacon Day where I work. If that's not enough, they send you wonderful porknography every few months (NB: I coined that term).
posted by plinth at 4:45 PM on June 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did you miss out on Bacon Fest? For local, several friends swear by Testa Duro Salumi.
posted by gov_moonbeam at 6:34 PM on June 1, 2012

Also the food coop downtown is offering a Bacon Class later this month.
posted by gov_moonbeam at 6:48 PM on June 1, 2012

Response by poster: You people are amazing. Every last one. I now have huge (HUGE) list of bacon (and places) to try, and going the DIY route sounds a lot easier than I thought. This is such good information. Thank you!
posted by cnc at 8:37 PM on June 1, 2012

Bacon of the Month Club
posted by KRS at 6:43 AM on June 2, 2012

Forgot the other local option, Community Tap & Table has several bacon related classes.
posted by gov_moonbeam at 11:31 AM on June 2, 2012

If you're ever in Davis in the afternoon on a Thursday or a Friday you can drop by the UC Davis meat lab. They sell bacon at $6/pound.
posted by aniola at 9:15 PM on June 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seriously, make your own bacon. I have the misfortune of living in a country with sad, awful bacon that even cooked until black and shriveled is limp and has the mouthfeel of rubber bands. I started making my own, and aside from being surprisingly easily, I can honestly say that the bacon I make is the best I've ever had.

Check out Chacuterie by Ruhlman. If you have the space, smoking bacon is incredibly easy. You can try out different flavor combinations, different cures (I switch between black pepper and chipotle cures).
posted by Ghidorah at 6:47 AM on June 3, 2012

Just got back from savemart. Its called pacific coast selections. 4lbs on sale now for 16.99 total. bacon is like 1/5th" thick, pepper crusted, and applewood smoked (or not), depending on your taste.
posted by couchdive at 9:16 AM on June 4, 2012

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