You can credit the area’s rich history of German, Hungarian, Austrian, and Italian immigrants for bringing to Lehigh Valley the craft of butchery. These four operations are all a cut above what the supermarket meat counter—and well worth the trip. Just don’t forget to bring a cooler.
Saylor’s & Co.1105 Main St, Hellertown and Easton Public Market
Creekstone Farms beef, Leidy’s pork, Bell and Evans chicken, artisanal sausages, and family-recipe smoked meats—“My husband takes enormous care in the sourcing of our products and pride in what he does,” says Maria Verzino, co-owner, of her husband, Tim Mease. Mease’s grandfather started the local butchery operation in 1942, and, in 2006, the family expanded their offerings to include imported pantry items and prepared foods at their current location in Hellertown. In August of 2020, they opened another location at Easton Public Market.
Ehmer’s Quality Meats1645 Union Blvd, Allentown
Beyond the fresh cuts of meat you’ll find at this Allentown shop, you’ll also discover imported breads, noodles, preserves, herring, and so much more. “You’ll see a lot of things here you wouldn’t find in a regular supermarket,” says Leo Osanitsch Jr., Ehmer’s owner. “Things like jagerwurst, headcheese, liverwurst.” The operation has been around since 1975, is now under third-generation family ownership, and has stuck to its German, Austrian, and Hungarian influences. Whatever you order, don’t miss their bratwurst.
Nello’s Specialty Meats500 Schoeneck Ave, Nazareth
Based in Nazareth, Sebastian Loiacono (“Nello”) started his business as a deer processor in 1991. Then Nello used his training from a German butcher and knowledge growing up in Sicily to start offering more products. Today he sells fresh, cured, and smoked meats, including 65 (yes, 65) varieties of sausage. If you’re stymied by what to try first, Nello says he always saves a little mortadella for himself. But you “also can’t go wrong with some nice sharp provolone, some good green olives, and salami,” he says. “Give me that and I’m happy.”
Baringer Brothers Meats560 Richlandtown Pike, Richlandtown and Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market
Though this family-owned operation started in Richlandtown in 1947, they’ve operated an outpost within the Allentown Fairgrounds Farmers Market for nearly as long. And the fourth-generation butcher shop quality-controls every step of the process. “We slaughter, we age, we have a smokehouse,” says Marsha Mease, a Baringer Brothers Meats employee. “And we do everything the old-fashioned way—which also takes longer.” Just one taste of their bacon or ring bologna, and you’ll know what Mease means. The smokiness is natural and balances the deeply savory flavors of the meat. And then you’ll realize that it’s impossible to have just one taste.