Orange County has plenty of supermarkets where you could buy your Thanksgiving turkey, but if you want real flavor and a chance to support local businesses, you know you have to venture out a bit. These are the best places to get your Thanksgiving turkey — and even a few sides — without having to go to a supermarket.
El Toro Gourmet Meats
23522 El Toro Road
Lake Forest, CA 92630
For the past 10 years, El Toro carries free-range turkeys from Shelton’s Poultry, a Pomona farm that has been in business more than 80 years. The turkeys arrive in the store fresh a week before Thanksgiving, but you can start placing your order two to three weeks in advance. Preparation of these turkeys is easy; just remove the giblets and give the bird a brief wash. Whole turkeys are roughly $3.49 per pound and breasts are $3.99 per pound. The rest of the year, come here for the extensive meat selection. While navigating all of those choices can be difficult, finding El Toro isn’t, just look for the big red barn.
11877 Valley View St.
Garden Grove, CA 92845
There’s no better place than a full-service meat market to get your Thanksgiving turkey. You’ll pay a little more than you would at the grocery store (the prices are comparable to Gelson’s or Whole Foods), but you’ll be able to get whatever size turkey you need, and customers rave about the helpfulness of the staff. Keep in mind this is a meat market, so you’ll have to get the trimmings elsewhere, but you will undoubtedly find a good bird to put on the table. While you’re at it, stop at the store’s build-your-own sandwich bar for a delicious lunch of your own design.
Celestino’s Meats, Inc.
270 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Celestino’s has been in business for 45 years, so you know they must be doing something right. For 35 of those years, the store has carried Diestel free-range turkeys from the High Sierras. These turkeys are lean and cook more quickly than the turkeys you can buy at the supermarket. You’ll pay a little more (approximately $3.99 to $4.29 per pound), but it will be worth it for the moist bird you’ll get. Plus, customers swear by the knowledge of the store’s friendly owner and staff.
Gem Gourmet Choice Meats
3125 Yorba Linda Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
Gem Gourmet Choice Meats carries naturally grown turkeys from Harmony Farms in La Crescenta. That means your turkey doesn’t have far to travel before it is in the store, where it is not frozen. Take the bird home and season it however you like, or have the folks at Gem season it with a house seasoning. They will not put oil or butter on it. The price for turkeys last year was $2.99 per pound, and should remain close to that this year. Customers rave about the store’s extensive selection of other meats, so stop by anytime of year.
The Meat House
103 E. 17th St.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
You know you’re getting a quality turkey if you go to The Meat House. The shop carries all-natural turkeys, which means no antibiotics or hormones are administered, and the staff members behind the meat counter are happy to answer questions. In addition to meats, the store also sells other high-quality food items perfect for special occasions. Plus, if you want all the flavors of Thanksgiving, but don’t want to do all the work, The Meat House can prepare your entire Thanksgiving dinner for you. Prices for turkey here are roughly $2.49 to $3.99 per pound.
Gary Schwind is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. His work can be found on Examiner.com.