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A Taste of Essex Street Market: Luis Meats

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luis meats

A historic culinary destination on the Lower East Side, Essex Street Market is home to more than 20 independent merchants. This series features the characters that make up the bustling corner of Delancey and Essex Street.

Looking for the perfect cut of meat?

Luis Meats, a long-standing butcher shop in Essex Street Market, can help. 

Since moving from the Dominican Republic almost 40 years ago, owner Luis Rodriguez has built his business from the ground up. Over the years, he's grown his staff and changed his booth location, but the 'prime' offering at Luis Meats has remained the same: succulent, tender, and absolutely delicious cuts of beef, pork, and poultry. (The Lo-Down reports that you'll find the perfect chicken here.) He also sells specialties that are hard to find elsewhere like rabbit, goat, and oxtail. 

Take it from Luis. He's witnessed a lot of change over the 17 years he's been in the market, but still loves coming to work everyday.

Owner: Mr. Luis Rodriguez (pictured at left with his wife)

 Business name: Luis Meats

 Market start: Since 1997

 Product sold: A variety of cuts of steaks, chicken, and pork 

Why did you start Luis Meats in Essex Street Market?

I learned to be a butcher in the meat market when I came to New York from the Dominican Republic in 1975. I worked all day every day and made $130/week. I lived on Allen Street and the rent was $90/month! Then I opened my own shop with my wife on Houston Street. It was called Los Cuñados, “the brothers-in-law.” 

Seventeen years ago, we moved to Essex Street Market because it was a great place to build the business. My shop was at the end of the market, where the seating area and Davidovich are now, but then we moved to our current location. Now my wife and I have five employees and we’re always busy. 

- Luis Rodriguez

What is your favorite memory at the market? 

I always enjoy the special events we have in the evenings when new people come to the market and there’s a lot of excitement.

What is Luis Meat's specialty?

I have a lot of specialties! Rib-eye, porterhouse, skirt, pork chops, natural chicken, oxtail.

Steak is new for us. We started selling it a few years ago because people started asking for it. Years ago, the customers were different, they didn’t ask for steak. And most of my customers were Hispanic. Back then, Hispanics bought from Hispanics and Chinese bought from Chinese. Now everyone buys from everyone.

I love having steak. That’s what I eat on the weekends—steak and vegetables. Delicious.

What is your favorite time of the week at the market and why?

I work seven days a week, so my favorite time of day is when I’m leaving! I go home to my dinner and my glass of wine and my music, Frank Sinatra, Barry White, that’s what I love in the evening.

Luis Meats is "all you'd ever want from a butcher." Head over to Essex Street Market for top-quality meats and inquire about the daily specials. Find more inspiration from our other Essex Street Market profiles and learn more about all of the market's offerings at the Essex Street Market website

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