Meat Matters

What’s a summer without a grill, and what’s a grill without a flame-licked steak or sausage? In South Lake Tahoe, we are fortunate to have among us one of those rare specimens, the traditional butcher shop. Overland Meat & Seafood Co. has been family owned for over 30 years, and, while you could fetch a filet at any grocery store, at Overland you get the full hometown experience.

A family business

Overland is owned and operated by Brian Cohen, who grew up helping his parents from behind the counter of their butcher shop as early as age seven. In November of 1987, just as Cohen was graduating from high school, his parents moved to South Lake Tahoe and bought the struggling butcher shop that once occupied the premises. They renamed it and turned it into a thriving business. Cohen took over in 2005, and he has been serving the South Lake Tahoe community ever since.

Keeping the bar high

“We are definitely a hands-on butcher shop, meaning that we do a lot of homemade items here that you’re not going to find in the grocery stores,” says Cohen.

They feature beef, pork, chicken and turkey that are grass fed, grass or grain finished, humanely raised, and hormone and antibiotic free. They also grind their meat daily and make homemade sausage, jerky and marinated items right in house. They’ve recently added products to their selection from right down the hill, with ground beef, ribeyes, and New York steaks out of Bentley Ranchin Minden.

“We want to keep it local as much as we can,” Cohen explains. “I believe in networking with other local businesses … When you come on vacation and you see local products available, you’re going to be bound to pick one of those up rather than some other item.” Their shelves are stocked with local wares including Alpen Sierra Coffee, Sonney’s Barbecue Sauce, and the famous Swiss Chalet;

Bringing them back for more

Cohen has a knack for generating loyal customers. During my visit with him, everyone who walked in was on a first-named basis (now I am too), and they picked up their conversations with the staff right were they had left off from a previous visit. Customers come from all over the region, including Placerville and Dayton, to stock up at Overland.

It’s the locals that keep his doors open, but it’s the visitors that help him thrive. So why would someone coming to Tahoe to see the mountains and the lake visit the local butcher shop?

“Because who wouldn’t want to have a nice custom porterhouse or fresh fish filet when you’re on vacation?” as Cohen points out. Many visitors have access to a kitchen or grill, and cooking outdoors is part and parcel of summer at Lake Tahoe (please grill responsibly). Visitors who have gone to Overland in the past usually make it a point to stop in on a return visit.

Overland is a part of the South Lake Tahoe Experience as much as any bike or hiking trail. Sure, you can char just about anything over an open flame, but if you want to eat as the locals do (and eat well), be sure to stop in at Overland Meat & Seafood Co. And tell Brian I said hello.


By: Rae Matthews, Elevations Eats