Story by Dave Eckert | @eatsanddrinkswithdave
From the days when tens of thousands of cattle were brought to The Stockyards in the West Bottoms, to the origins of the local barbecue scene, to the many famous steakhouses that have populated the landscape, Kansas City has been known as a meat and potatoes city. While this image of Kansas City is both wildly narrow, and, in many cases, patently inaccurate, there is one area of modern K.C.’s food scene where the meat moniker fits like a glove. The metro is home to some of the finest meat markets in the country featuring high quality, locally sourced, and humanely handled products. The markets are thriving, and the products they offer are more diverse, distinctive, and delicious than ever.
Photos courtesy of Barham Family Farm
You will find all of the aforementioned attributes at Paradise Locker Meats, run by the Fantasma family for more than 25 years. What started as a meat processing facility has morphed into a processing/retail market combination. “We started a small retail operation when we were in the original location in Paradise, Missouri. We were able to significantly expand things when we built the new space after that plant burned down,” Nick Fantasma recalled. Paradise Locker Meats and Fantasma’s Finest Meats brands have been expanding ever since. The Fantasmas say the biggest challenge for the retail store is location. “We find that once people have had our product, they’re hooked. There’s just no comparison between what you will find in your local supermarket and what you will find here,” Louis Fantasma stated. To learn more, check out their website at paradisemeats.com.
Kenny Barham of Barham Family Farm in Kearney, Missouri started his beef business with a couple of heifers as a teenager. After working at a local farm at the tender age of 17, he knew he was going to raise cattle for a living. “We always rented our pastures. Then, we had the chance to buy part of my wife’s grandmother’s farm about 30 years ago. We were running cows, and then we had a rough winter, so we decided to diversify. We raised chickens, which were popular. Then, a local chef wanted ducks, so we raised them. When we went to the Liberty Farmer’s Market, we expanded to pork and lamb,” Barham said. Barham sells all of that and more in his farm store, which you will find on the property of his Kearney ranch. Barham Farm Store, which is open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, is just 15 minutes from my house, which is great. But, if you live at 135th and Antioch, not so much. So, Barham says he’s added home deliveries. “We do north of the river the first week of the month, south of the river the second week of the month, and Wyandotte and Johnson County, Kansas the third week of the month.” For more information, visit barhamfamilyfarm.com.
Photo courtesy of The Upper Cut KC
Even closer to my home, literally minutes, you will find The Upper Cut KC, a gourmet meat market run by owner and general manager, Mariah Kinkade. For the last five and a half years Kincade has gathered a loyal following of meat enthusiasts that has her business booming-doubling in just the past year! “It’s definitely the product. It’s all natural-no additives, antibiotics, or hormones, which makes a huge difference in the flavor profile. The beef is 100% ours, all prime, and we age it for a minimum of 21 days,” Kincade shared. Uppercut features two lines of beef – Angus, which everyone is familiar with, and Akaushi, a specific type of Wagyu that Kincade says is well-marbled but not as fatty as much of the Wagyu we generally see in the U.S. You can check out The Uppercut KC online at theuppercutkc.com.
Finally, a trip over the state line to Kansas City, Kansas, Strawberry Hill and Wells Locally Sourced Meats. Wells is another female-run meat market featuring their own, along with other locally sourced, meats and sundries. Kim Wells is the rancher supplying all the beef. Mother and daughter duo Claire Walker and Deborah Borel run the shop. “We’ve known Wells for years. She’s the meat lady, supplying incredible beef while our specialty is fresh produce, canned goods, and culinary items from our six-acre farm,” Walker told me. Wells built a customer base selling to shoppers at The River Market’s Farmer’s Market before opening her own shop there in 2016. Covid, and other factors, forced her to shutter the business. That’s when Walker and Borel stepped in with an offer to partner with her in a perfect little space in the Strawberry Hill neighborhood. Krizman’s Sausage is right down the street, and Bichelmeyer Meats, a KC tradition since 1946, is only blocks away. That legacy, the ethnic makeup of the neighborhood, and the central location of Strawberry Hill make up a perfect trifecta for Wells Locally Sourced Meats. “We really want people to know how easy it is to get here from anywhere in the metro. Kansas Citians joke that you are 20-minutes from everywhere in KC. Well, here in Strawberry Hill, that’s true,” Borel stated. Be sure to follow Wells on Facebook at facebook.com/LocallySourcedMeatsKC.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for some steak!