Back in April, I asked about Freedom Meat Lockers (160 Hi Grade Ln., Freedom) after seeing a blurb about them in the Mercury News. For those who don't know the area, Freedom is a small town that abuts the north side of Watsonville. It's about a 15-20 min. drive south from Santa Cruz. See link to my old post w/ a rave response by chardgirl. Thanks, chardgirl, you were right on!
Y and I finally made it out there after the Aptos farmer's market today and were not disappointed. The BBQ emitting impressive billows of smoke outside their front doors seemed like a good sign. The front house was much smaller than I anticipated, as they allot a good amount of square footage for work and storage space in back. Clearly a serious butcher shop w/ a small-town, retro charm.
Front house is L-shaped w/ freezers wrapping around the left side and meat cases on the right. The first case was devoted to all of their housemade sausages, what looked like 15 or so varieties. One can also order cold or hot sandwiches to take home or eat on one of their few picnic tables outside. The second meat case is filled w/ glistening red cuts of beef, as well as bags of pre-marinated meats like chicken. Freezer cases were randomly filled w/ ham, hard salami, lamb parts, etc.
We sniffed around for a while and ended up buying a beautiful ribeye steak ($10.88/lb), ground beef that the butcher said was about 15% fat (~$2.60/lb), cured smoked bratwurst (~$4.50/lb), a grab bag of smoked pork parts for cooking, and a tri-tip sandwich to go ($6.50).
The warm sandwich is pictured below and was so amazingly tasty. Meatgasm #1. Best eaten on the premises me thinks, as the sauce had slightly sogged the bottom piece of bread by the time we got home. For the tri-tip, one can choose 1 of 3 marinades. We chose the original BBQ w/ jack cheese w/ everything except lettuce. The meat was succulent and tender, consisting of all good pieces...no gristley or mangey parts. Not doused in a gloppy BBQ sauce, but infused w/ tons of flavor via the marinade. Pepperoncinis and other fixins' made for a nice balance of flavors, and the bread was very good (probably from Sumano's or Golden Sheaf?). For just $1 more, one can add on chips and a soda for a well-balanced BBQ joint meal.
Service was great. Prices were reasonable given quality of products. Kind of place where I would call first for a special meat order. Hours are Tues.-Sat. from 9-6. While they are known for their Bavarian cheese sausage and pre-marinated chicken and tri-tip, they just weren't as appealing to me since I like to design my own marinade. See follow-up post for details on the ribeye...meatgasm #2.