Chicago Pack up that Smokey Joe -- it’s the 4th of July, which means it’s time for some serious grilling, which means... it's time to unpack that Smokey Joe and hope some good meats offset your grilling deficiencies. Here're the five best butcher shops in Chi to head to today.

Publican Quality Meats

Publican Quality Meats: While the rest of America is stockpiling bottle rockets, this Paul Kahan-backed, open-on-the-actual-4th-of-July butchery is breaking down house-made, Publican-marinated chicken, country ribs, dry-aged beef, and lobster rolls on special for the 4th, as well as craft beers from Half Acre and Revolution to-go. Just walk in and place your order that day. Continue Reading

The Butcher & Larder

The Butcher & Larder: You want specials? This sustainable, whole-animal butcher shop’s got specials: jalapeño/cheddar sausage, spicy Italian sausage, Asian beef kebabs, smoked pig head baked beans, and roasted red pepper Andouille dip. However, it’s first-come, first-served, so better sharpen those elbows.

Paulina Meat Market

Paulina Meat Market: Life’s a meat market, and so is this place. On special for the 4th is its Italian combo brat, which, like Sasquatch, is hard to fathom until you actually come in contact with it yourself. It’s an all-pork brat, but it tastes like a beef and sausage combo sandwich. Go figure.

Gepperth’s Market

Gepperth’s Market: You wanna get weird? It’s time to get weird. Like, really weird. As in, alligator sausage, elk patties, kangaroo, ostrich burgers, grilled liver and oxtail, and some cooked goose. Ready to get boring now? Sweet, they've got that, too: black and blue burgers and Black Angus New York strip steaks.

Peoria Packing

Peoria Packing: With spare ribs on special for $1.99/lb and rib tips going for $1.19/lb, this is the place to go if you want to do 4th of July on the cheap. They’re also not kidding around when it comes to chicken wings, selling them in boxes by the 40lb case. The only thing more American than that? BBQ sauce by the gallon.

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1. Publican Quality Meats 825 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Publican Quality Meats is something of a triple threat: equal parts butcher shop, café, and boutique grocery store. Aptly located in Chicago's meatpacking district, the shop's acclaim comes mainly from its selection of sausages and cured charcuterie meats, all of which are prepared in the attached whole-animal butcher shop. The café branch of the urban eatery features a full-service barista, an impressive selection of house pastries, and shelves stacked with fresh-baked bread (on which the PQM chefs layer hefty portions of their hand-cured meat for sandwich orders). In addition to staffing both butchers and bakers, the eclectic shop sells a battery of specialty grocery items from artisanal olive oils and spice blends to craft beers and old world wines. Whether searching for a smoked Spanish chorizo, a prosciutto-stuffed sandwich, or jars of preserved tomatoes, PQM has you covered.

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2. Paulina Meat Market 3501 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60657 (Lakeview)

A carnivore's dream, Paulina has nearly every smoked sausage imaginable: knackwurst, bockwurst, goat brats, jalapeno pepper jack brats, and even turducken brats, to save you the trouble of Frankenstein-ing three birds together.

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3. The Butcher & Larder 1026 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60642 (West Town)

From the man who used to run the meat-centric kitchen at Mado, B&L is a boutique whole-animal butcher procuring all of its product -- from T-bones & tenderloins to obscure cuts & offal -- from local farms, also using them in soups, charcuterie, and more.

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4. Gepperth's Meat Market 1964 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614 (Lincoln Park)

Gepperth's is the place to go when pork chops just aren't wild enough for you -- stock up on alligator sausage, elk patties, kangaroo, ostrich burgers, grilled liver and oxtail, and some cooked goose.

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5. Peoria Packing 1300 W Lake St, Chicago, IL 60607 (West Loop)

Peoria Packing is ready to hook you up with all of your favorites at a super-reasonable cost. Keep an eye out for their specials, or just buy in bulk -- they've got chicken wings by the 40lb case and BBQ sauce by the gallon.