Lunchtime Snob: Bolner’s Meat Market

Jessica Elizarraras

When you want to learn more about cabrito, you go straight to one of the most prolific and longtime meat suppliers in the area. It also works out that it was close to lunchtime, and I had a hankering for brisket—a classic case of two birds, one stone, indeed.

For those unfamiliar with Southtown’s go-to butcher, here’s a quick recap: Bolner’s has been providing quality cuts since 1914 at the corner of South Flores and West Mitchell. A deli came along in the 1980s along with barbecued meats for a quick, hearty lunch. Make sure to pick up steaks or fajita meats on your way out.

The operation is simple enough, and service couldn’t be more efficient or friendly (one of the gals behind the counter even helped carry my plate to the table, as I was carrying one too many beef sticks from the adjacent case). Lunch options include specialty items, such as the smoked chicken salad, burgers, sandwiches and chopped barbecue, but I was there for the whole shebang—the ’cue in all its glory. Plates are available at one, two and three meat levels, priced at $9.49, $13.99 and $18.49, respectively. Because I had reached hangry levels of hunger and crankiness, I opted for the two-meat plate with brisket (with choice of regular or marbled) and chicken (again, more choices between breast or leg quarter).

As the menu denotes, sides vary daily. We happened upon pinto beans, green beans, mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet potatoes, creamed corn, Spanish rice, and broccoli and cheese with cold sides available through the macaroni salad and coleslaw. The mac looked too good and too creamy to pass up (although my waistline will hate me for it later), and once again the helpful señoras behind the counter helped me choose a second side—the sweet potato casserole with fluffy marshmallows. Not too shabby.

The cafeteria-style setup works smoothly, and since we’d arrived a few minutes past the rush, we had our pick of seats from the dining room where tables of business dudes congregated. Although our serving came with a side of at least two ounces of tangy ‘cue sauce, each table was also equipped with a 32-ounce bottle of even more sauce.

But my marbled brisket needed no added tang or sweetness. The slices, all quarter-pound of them, were tender, moist and—dare I say—almost too much? My well-seasoned chicken leg quarter fell off the bone and remained moist with the exception of one teensy bite. Bolner’s, which strives to separate itself from other meat markets through education, also sets itself apart with thick cut, sweet dill pickles. It’s safe to say I’m a fan.

We would have been in and out in a snap, a pre-requisite for any Lunchtime Snob spot, had we not sat down with market manager Joe Doria to talk about all manners of goat. If you’re aching for ’cue, ambiance and history, a trip to Bolner’s is definitely in order.

Bolner’s Meat Market

2900 S Flores
(210) 533-5112