Despite growing up nearby and even having family in Watsonville, I’d never been to Freedom Meat Lockers until a couple weeks ago. This post from “toodie jane” on the pulled pork was the kick in the pants to check out the deli and butcher shop.
And it was not without some misgivings, as documented in my old post on the beef bacon and smoked kolbasa (thumbs down) I’d received previously as a gift.
Mom and I pulled up and couldn’t help but chuckle at these door handles mounted on the front entrance.
We ordered the pulled pork sandwich and the pastrami sandwich, both served warm, to share. The pulled pork came on flat round roll similar to a hamburger bun but had a bit more density. The smoked pork was a mix of outside brown combined in with the coarsely chopped and pulled apart hunks. Smoke notes were moderate and did not overwhelm the natural sweetness of the pig. Unlike most pulled pork sandwiches that are way overcooked and mushy, the meat still had its integrity and good bite. The warmed up sauce was served on the side, and I only drizzled a bit of it on to not mask the meat. A little tart, a little sweet, and somewhat spicy, the thinnish sauce set off the pork nicely.
Mom was not as taken with the pulled pork as I was. She much preferred the pastrami, served on a whole wheat bun with melted Swiss cheese, honey mustard, pickle, and onions (no mayo or lettuce by choice). The thinly shaved meat was moist and highly seasoned. Almost too much spicing, tasting more like the coriander and pickling spice of corned beef with little smoke influence.
In fact, my mother liked the pastrami so much, she asked me to take her back there for another the next day. I managed to put her off for a week, but we did go back and she asked me to order TWO pastrami sandos for her. Since each is big enough for two lunches, she was planning to make four meals of pastrami.
This gave me the chance to try the smoked brisket sandwich on Dutch crunch roll, $6.99. Also served hot, the tender meat was in chunks and thick slabs. Just a tad o the dry side, the smokiness harmonized well with the beef. The sauce on the brisket was thicker with more tomato and less tart than the dip for the pulled pork. It paired up nicely with the heartier taste of the beef.
I’d order all three sandwiches again, yet I’d say that the pork was my favorite of the trio. I also picked up a slice of Gizdich pumpkin pie, $1.75, here but I can’t recommend it.
Freedom Meat Lockers
160 Hi Grade Ln, Freedom, CA
55 Peckham Rd, Watsonville, CA