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Grass-Fed Goodness: Homegrown Meats

Homegrown Meats/La Jolla Butcher Shop is an upscale meat boutique and a connoisseur's paradise in the heart of the village of La Jolla. From the stuffed trophy heads on the walls—boar, deer and moose— to the butcher cases filled with high-quality cuts of locally grown steak, this place is a carnivore’s heaven.

Homegrown Meats.

Courtesy photo

The owners are Matt Rimel, Peter Morris, Dan Snyder and Jay Rehm, all San Diegans, and the kind of So Cal boys who grew up in flip flops and board shorts and haven’t felt the need to change. The idea for Homegrown Meats was born of Morris and Rimel’s frequent hunting trips to secret locations in northern California and Baja. Sitting around a campfire, enjoying amazing dinners of wild meat, they hatched a plan to bring the same kind of authentic flavors to the rest of us.

You might know Rimel from his other eateries, Zenbu, a Japanese restaurant, and Rimel’s of La Jolla and Cardiff, which feature more relaxed fare.

Morris’ interest in grass-fed beef began when he started buying beef in bulk for himself from Joel “The Rancher” at Mendenhall Ranch--a fifth-generation cattle operation on San Diego's Mt. Palomar. Morris loved the taste of the meat. “I just felt better eating it,” he says. “So I went to my buddies and said we should use this phenomenal local treasure and open our own butcher shop.” The dudes agreed, and the Homegrown partnership was born.

All Homegrown Meat begins at Mendenhall Ranch, where the grass-fed calves graze lazily in open, cottonwood-shaded meadows. Munching on protein rich squirrel and bronco grasses at 4,500 feet above sea level, these cows, a mixed breed of Angus and Aberdeen, have a happy and long life growing slowly and steadily until they achieve the appropriate weight and size.

Traditionally-farmed cattle start their lives eating grass, too, but in order to speed their growth, the cattle are quickly transferred to feed lots, where they are “corn-finished,” meaning they are given a diet of hay, corn, sorghum, molasses, soybean meal, animal byproducts or cottonseed meal in order to quickly fatten them up and get them to market. Because of the crowded conditions, feedlot animals are given antibiotics, something many health experts believe could lead to antibiotic resistance in people.

Mendenhall Ranch on Mt. Palomar.

Courtesy photo

Some of the benefits of eating grass-fed beef are that it’s lower in fat and calories, it’s rich in Omega-3 acids (which are linked to blood-pressure reduction) and it’s filled with CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid), a fat that shows promise as a cancer-fighter.

The beef at Homegrown is not only slow-grown, its also dry-aged in a refrigerated storage room visible to customers. The beef is hung to dry for several weeks at near freezing temperatures, which helps moisture evaporate from the muscle. This creates a greater concentration of beef flavor and taste. Also, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the connective tissue which leads to a more tender beef.

You might find grass-fed steak a little more chewy than regular steak due to less fat and marbling, but most people will chew a little more for the incomparable taste and health benefits of grass-fed beef.

Details »
  • City: La Jolla
  • Phone: 858- 454-6328
  • Name: Homegrown Meats/La Jolla Butcher Shop
  • Address: 7660 Fay Avenue