The Best Places to Buy Wagyu Beef in the San Francisco Bay Area

As a hardcore foodie living in the San Francisco Bay Area I’m always on the hunt for the best quality ingredients. And when it comes to incredible beef, Wagyu tops my list. The buttery texture and rich flavor of highly marbled Wagyu is an unmatched eating experience that every carnivore should try.

Luckily for those of us in the Bay Area, it’s getting easier to source authentic Japanese Wagyu beef locally Specialty grocers and butchers now carry this decadent delicacy, making it convenient to enjoy one of the world’s finest meats

Here is my guide to finding the best places to buy mouthwatering Wagyu beef in the San Francisco Bay Area:

What Exactly is Wagyu Beef?

Wagyu refers to four breeds of cattle native to Japan- Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, and Japanese Shorthorn. The name breaks down to “Wa” meaning Japanese and “gyu” meaning cow.

True Wagyu cattle are prized for their unique genetics that result in exceptionally flavorful beef with a high percentage of monounsaturated fats. This fat marbling achieves the ideal ratio of meat to fat, creating Wagyu’s signature tenderness, succulence and richness.

The most coveted variety of Wagyu is Kobe beef from Hyogo prefecture in Japan. To qualify as genuine Kobe, the cattle must be purebred Wagyu raised only in Hyogo. Kobe Wagyu represents the pinnacle of quality and commands prices over $200 per pound.

Why Buy Wagyu Beef in the Bay Area?

For local food enthusiasts, the Bay Area offers a prime opportunity to taste this luxury ingredient without flying to Japan. Specialty shops here source authentic Japanese Wagyu, and it’s produced in limited amounts worldwide.

Buying Wagyu beef in the Bay Area means you can recreate top-notch restaurant experiences at home. When cooked properly, the extraordinarily tender and well-marbled Wagyu literally melts in your mouth. It’s a treat for beef aficionados.

Top Spots to Buy Wagyu Beef in the Bay Area

Belcampo Meat Co.

With locations in Larkspur, Santa Monica and downtown LA, Belcampo sells humanely raised, certified organic grass-fed beef. Their Wagyu beef from Imperial Ranch in California is available in New York strip, ribeye, tenderloin, chuck rolls, ground beef and more. Belcampo Wagyu has beautiful marbling resulting in incredibly succulent and rich flavor.

Draeger’s Market

This upscale grocery chain has prime butcher shops in San Mateo, Menlo Park, Danville and elsewhere in the Bay Area. Draeger’s stocks authentic Japanese Wagyu imported from Miyazaki Prefecture. You’ll find tenderloin, ribeye, strip loin and brisket from A5 Kuroge cattle. Draeger’s also carries Kobe strip loin and tenderloin from Hyogo.

The Pasta Shop

With locations in Oakland, Berkeley and Marin, The Pasta Shop is a great local source for Wagyu beef. Their butcher case includes Wagyu New York strip, ribeye, tenderloin, and ground beef from Snake River Farms. The marble scores on these American Wagyu cuts range from 5-9, delivering superb flavor and tenderness.

Fatted Calf

This revered Bay Area butcher shop offers mail order Wagyu beef nationwide. Available cuts include bone-in and boneless ribeye, chuck roll, Denver steak, short ribs and ground beef from Wagyu cattle raised in Washington state. Fatted Calf’s Wagyu has beautiful marbling resulting in rich, buttery texture.

Eat Real Festival

The annual Eat Real food festival in Oakland brings together top local food purveyors. Vendors like belcampo and Marin Sun Farms often sell limited quantity Wagyu samples. It’s a chance to taste excellent rare cuts of Wagyu beef all in one place. The next Eat Real Fest is slated for September 2023 at Jack London Square.

Farmers’ Markets

Occasionally, vendors at Bay Area farmers markets will offer Wagyu beef for sale. Rancho San Julian from Santa Barbara brings their certified organic Wagyu to the Ferry Plaza market. Keep an eye out for rare appearances from San Mateo’s Kowase Wagyu at markets like Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

Crowd Cow

This online butcher partners with independent farms to deliver premium craft meat nationwide. Crowd Cow’s offerings include American Wagyu from Snake River Farms with ample marbling. The Crowd Cow app makes it easy to ordertenderloin, ribeye, NY strip, ground beef and Wagyu beef gift boxes.

Pacific Meat Company

With stores in San Francisco and San Rafael, Pacific Meat carries Certified Kobe Beef (CKB) from Tajima cattle in Hyogo, Japan. Cuts available include boneless short rib, tenderloin, ribeye and strip loin. As one of the few certified retailers, Pacific Meat offers access to genuine Kobe beef.

Local Restaurants

Some Bay Area restaurants and pop-ups occasionally sell raw Wagyu beef. Chef Anthony Strong of Prairie has sold Snake River Farms Wagyu through his Reservation Relief program. Follow chefs on social media to snag limited time Wagyu offerings.

What to Look for When Buying Wagyu

With so many types of Wagyu now available, here are some tips on selecting the best quality:

  • Check for A5 grade – This is only designated for the finest Japanese Wagyu implying rich marbling.

  • Confirm certifications – Real Japanese Wagyu will have a 10-11 digit code verifying authenticity.

  • Seek out Kobe from Hyogo or Tajima bloodline – These are elite genetic strains known for extensive marbling.

  • Know the cuts – Ribeye, tenderloin and strip have more marbling while brisket and chuck offer bold beefiness.

  • Evaluate marbling – More web-like fat equals more succulence, tenderness and flavor.

  • Look for fullblood or 100% fullblood – This indicates pure Wagyu genetics without crossbreeding.

How to Cook Wagyu Beef

To appreciate Wagyu’s exquisite marbling and delicate flavor, adhere to these simple rules:

  • Use dry-heat methods only like grilling, broiling or pan-searing.

  • Cook low and slow over medium-low heat – high heat toughens the fat.

  • Cook until medium-rare at most to keep the meat tender.

  • Allow meat to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing to redistribute juices.

  • Season simply – just salt and pepper are needed to let the flavors shine.

  • For burgers, blend in 20% Wagyu beef and 80% conventional ground chuck or sirloin.

Indulge in the World’s Most Luxurious Beef

Treat yourself by cooking perfect pan-seared Wagyu steaks or richly marbled burgers at home. Or impress your friends with a dinner party featuring the ultimate splurge ingredient. However you choose to enjoy it, savoring perfectly prepared Wagyu beef is a carnivorous delight like no other.

Where to Buy Japanese Wagyu Beef in the USA

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