Best friends turned co-owners Dustin Dahlin and Karen Martin opened Underbelly Meat Co. in November 2022 to help familiarize customers with quality meat and where it comes from.
“We've met every rancher and farmer that we currently sell, that we currently represent. We've been to their farms and ranches, it's important for us to know that people are doing the right things, not just saying the right things,” Dahlin says. “We have a very strict set of quality standards we're looking for. And the most important ones are that the people who raise the animals are allowing the animals to do what comes naturally to them.”
“At the time, I didn't realize all of the sourcing portions that went into it, you know, finding the right people, and figuring out what's good and what's not good, and what's acceptable, but not exactly ideal. So when I got into butchery, it was because I wanted to do something meaningful, that was food-related,” Dahlin says.
Dahlin wants his customers to be really intentional when they make food decisions at the butcher shop, he says, so he provides information such as how an animal was raised, why some of his products are more expensive, and how to cook each item.
“There's a lot of education that's important to shopping in a place like this, it's not just hey, come buy your meat here. Good luck. See you later. You know, that's what you get at the grocery store. So that's one of the things that makes this place different,” Dahlin says.
Underbelly sees customers from all different kinds of backgrounds, Dahlin says, explaining that he's always eager to learn about the meat culture from other countries such as Brazil or Argentina. And all that experimentation doesn't have to come at a price. Typically many assume butcher shops are more expensive than buying from the grocery store. Dahlin explains that's not always the case.
"I was told that our oxtail is cheaper than Food City’s oxtail, which blew my mind,” Dahlin says.
Beef makes up half of the shop's sales, Dahlin says. The butcher shop also offers lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, and cold cuts among other options.
Nice Buns Bakery, and the team has made Chicago-style beef sandwiches, hot meatball sandwiches, and cold smoked chicken salad sandwiches.
“Making quality, affordable food is part of what we're here for," Dahlin says. "We want to feed people better."
Underbelly Meat Co.1605 North Seventh Avenue