Established traditions and fresh meat at Mike’s Butcher Shop


The meat sticks at Mike’s Butcher Shop are handmade by employees like longtime butcher Jason Squadrito.

Mike’s bone-in and bonelss ribeyes, with seasoning made up of a variety of smoked salts to add the finishing touch.

The shop offers traditional cuts of meat as well as special recipes, flavors and even complete take-home meals.

Mike’s new line of frozen pizzas features homemade pizza sauce and in-house meats.

West St. Paul fixture stays true to its roots while cooking up new ideas

 

Ham is ham is ham. Or is it? Leslie Carlson, owner of Mike’s Butcher Shop, would tell you that not all pigs are created equal. Without a doubt, the Iowa-raised ham sold at Mike’s at various holidays is the best she’s ever eaten. 

“I never would have said that until I was here,” she admits. “Try it. If you try it, chances are you’ll be back. It’ll be the ham you get.”

That ham has been around Mike’s for longer than Carlson has. The shop’s founder, Mike Quast, had been preparing for retirement when he passed away in 2015. Carlson, who has a background in food processing, bought the business with the intention of keeping Mike’s traditions alive while cooking up new traditions of her own. 

“Things that have been done here forever, we haven’t changed. Why change what’s been good?” asks Carlson. “It’s the same shredded beef, it’s the same recipe for wieners, the same recipe for summer sausage.”

Every morning, Carlson and her team grind fresh meat for their burger patties and fire up the smokers to make Mike’s famous jerky. Above the counter, a hand-painted sign advertises Mike’s classic shredded beef sandwich. Now, shredded pork and chicken are also on the menu. 

In addition to sandwiches, Carlson has started assembling complete take-home meals. Options include meatloaf, beef tips, pork loin and more, all served with sides and a sauce. They’ve also debuted frozen pizzas, making the sauce from scratch and using house-made Italian sausage and Canadian bacon for toppings.

“We’re preparing all of it here. You can take it home, microwave it and eat it. It’s ready in two or three minutes and it’s a complete meal,” Carlson says. “Mike’s is the Mike’s it always was, but Mike’s is also doing a lot more.”

In addition to take-home meals, the shop carries everything customers need to cook up a feast all their own. The shop stocks plenty of meal helpers — sauce kits, spice rubs, even vegetables and sides. For their famous burger patties, they have freshly baked buns. Indeed, most of the butchers are devoted foodies and home chefs. 

“That’s something else we can offer here when customers come in,” explains Carlson. “How do I fix this? Anyone here can tell you.”

It seems like Carlson knows everyone who walks through the door. The shop is punctuated with the frequent, “Hey, how are you?” or, “Take care!” Behind the counter, Carlson’s daughter talks shop with regulars browsing the immense glass case, asking questions and offering suggestions.

“This is sort of like the Cheers of meat markets,” Carlson jokes. “We make a real effort to get to know people and know what’s going on.”

As Carlson points out, Mike’s has been a family business since 1986 — it just spans two different families. Customers can count on the tried-and-true standards and personalized service. They can also try new things with each visit, maybe picking up a frozen pizza in addition to that famous Iowa ham. 

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