McKinnon’s: A Carnivore’s Carnival


McKinnon's Meat Market at The Hungry Mouse

If you know me at all, you know one thing: I’m a huge carnivore. So is my husband, the Angry Chef. So is (understandably so) our beast, Dexter the Barking Sous Chef. So, it will probably come as no surprise that we tend to seek out the best—and best priced—meat we can find locally.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Beef short ribs

These days, that means heading to McKinnon’s in Somerville’s Davis Square. Their high-quality meats are remarkably fresh—and fantastically cheap for what you get.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Lamb Shanks

Allow me to set the scene

When I was just a little mouse, my mother used to take with her to run errands, which often included hitting one or more butcher shops.

The one I remember most vividly was Fairway Beef, which sadly burned down in the ’80s. It was a tiny market with something that made quite an impression on me: a walk-in refrigerated butcher section that took up at least half the store.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Pork Loin

Possibly, that was the beginning of my great love of steak—and just about every other meat that walks around on four feet.

Now, McKinnon’s is just this kind of old-fashioned butcher shop.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Beef Back Ribs

The white-jacketed butchers are frequently out on the floor. They’re mainly older men and they’re nice as pie to you if you have any questions—provided, of course, that you’re polite (this is Boston, after all).

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Bone-In Pork Shoulder

They’ll help you choose a cut, then give you advice for how to cook it. The cash registers are run by at least one sweet old lady and a rotating flock of very agreeable high-school girls.

It even has that unmistakable butcher-shop smell. While I know that this puts some folks off, in my mind, it’s the mark of a true butcher shop that turns over a lot of meat.

McKinnon’s in Davis Square: Meat & produce selection

McKinnon’s has a surprisingly good selection of barbecue sauces, and a small section of Italian specialties.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Lamb Rib Chops

Their deli counter features almost everything you can think of—all at a cut below what you’ll pay at any of the bigger chains in the area. You’ll find everything from imported prosciutto and mortadella and salamis to provolone and domestic cheeses. There’s a fair selection of rolls and breads from local bakeries. They also have a little produce section, stuffed with all the basic fruits and veggies.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Beef Eye of the Round

But that’s not why you go there. You go for the meat.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Lamb Loin Chops

If there ever was such a thing, McKinnon’s is a carnivore’s playground.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Veal Flank

Multiple cuts of lamb, from lollipop chops to whole legs, both Australian and domestic. Pre-marinated pork loin roasts. Ribs galore, including beef spare ribs, short ribs, and whole racks of pork baby back ribs. Familiar and hard-to-find cuts of beef. Don’t even get me going on the homemade sausage and hot dog selection.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Pork Butt, Bone In

Their boneless club sirloin steaks sell for $5.99-$6.99 per pound, which is dollars less than I’ve seen elsewhere.

McKinnon's Meat Market at The Hungry Mouse

Their boneless, skinless chicken breast is always about $1.99 per pound. Retail average at the big stores around Boston is $3.99 per pound, or more. Their chicken wings tend to be about 99 cents per pound.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Chicken Leg Quarters

Other butcher shops in the Boston area

We used to go to Hilltop Butcher Shop in Saugus, MA. Nestled behind the Hilltop Steakhouse on Route-1’s Las Vegas-esque strip, their entire market is refrigerated.

The walls of the meat section are lined with tall, stainless steel carts that are piled high with beautiful roasts, chops, and steaks. Their selection is great, but it’s a haul from where we live, which makes it impractical for day-to-day shopping.

McKinnon’s is nearby and always fresh. I know where our steaks are coming from tonight.

Somerville's McKinnon's Meat Market: A Carnivore's Carnival

Beef Filet Mignon

But how about you? Tell me about your favorite local butcher.


Copyright 2008 The Hungry Mouse/Jessica B. Konopa. All rights reserved.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. I have three trustworthy butchers close by:
    Caronna’s Market, on Pearl Street in Enfield CT is a small neighborhood grocery store that has, improbably, withstood the competition from three national supermarket chains and has been open for over 75 years, run by the same family. The young man behind the meat/deli case is the third generation butcher.

    Arnold’s Meats, on Shaker Road in East Longmeadow MA is a wholesale/retail operation with quality and prices comparable to McKinnon’s. They’re happy to special-order hard-to-find or special cuts, and give instructions and advice for those who want to try cutting down their own primals and subprimals at home.

    90 Meat Market in West Springfield MA is a huge wholesale/retail operation with a very busy butchery. A friendly staff of meat cutters and butchers are available, but if you’re there on a Saturday you should know what you’re after ahead of time – customers are shoulder-to-shoulder and the staff doesn’t always have time for a lot of individual attention. Still, it’s the best place in the area for me to get whole pig bellies for home-curing bacon.

  2. Wow! What a list. Thanks for sharing. You know, I may just drive west one weekend based on your recommendations. That’s fantastic. What is it about butcher shops that are so bloody (pardon me) glorious?

    I’m particularly interested in the pig bellies for home-cured bacon. I’ve never done that, but would love to give it a shot. Have any tips?

  3. I hope you didn’t pay for baby backs, because the picture is clearly spare ribs (better anyway, IMHO). Nevermind the blurry label, the bones are pretty flat. Ergo, Spares, not backs.

    Good butcher is right up there with good Italian grocery. Still working on both her in Chicago.

  4. Ha! Excellent catch, sir. (And corrected!) Be careful, The Hungry Mouse may try to press you into service in our editorial department. 😉

    And you’re so right about finding a good Italian grocer. Give a shout if you uncover any promising spots in your neck of the woods.


  5. Jessie,

    I just discovered your site today, and I absolutely love it!! I was just wondering if you ever go to McKinnon’s in Everett? Is it pretty much the same as the one in Somerville? I’va never been there myself, but it’s closer to me than Somerville.