Bret Pont, owner of Hobe Meats shows off a rack of dry-aged tomahawk steaks and two of his sandwiches (photo by Darryl Webb for North Central News).

One well-known fast-food chain advertises that they have the “meats,” but at Hobe Meats on 16th Street just north of Bethany Home Road, owner Bret Pont really means it.

At his old-style butcher shop, with a counter brimming with prime cuts, Pont has created a magnet for cooks who want the best or the most exotic.

Looking for Japanese wagyu? It’s there, almost creamy, with so much marbling it’s almost impossible to tell where the fat ends and the beef begins. Bring a fat wallet though — one steak runs more than $100.

Planning something special for a family celebration? There’s a wide array, including prime beef tenderloins and steaks and roasts dry-aged to order.

Camel? Kangaroo? Bison? Elk? Alligator? It’s all there, and more.

Hobe is the place to go when you can’t get what you want anyplace else, Pont said. “I’ve got the weirdest, wildest — anything you can think of is there. This is Arizona’s largest retail selection of wild game items.”

On a homelier note, if you’re simmering chicken stock, there’s nothing like chicken feet to give the stock that unctuous texture you’ll never find in a can.

And it’s one of the few spots in the Valley where you’ll find enough chicken livers to whirl into a pâté, veal shanks for osso buco and marrow bones for roasting.

Those bones and chicken livers, gizzards and hearts are popular among dog owners as well — folks who come to the shop to buy raw dog food. He sells 3,000 to 4,000 pounds a week.

Pont, who started out in the lumber business in Oregon, moved to Arizona after one too many wet, cold winters.

“I’m watching the Fiesta Bowl and I see these girls in bikinis and guys with their shirts off and having fun, and I’m thinking, that’s where I’m moving,” he said. “Two months later, I moved down here, $500 to my name.”

He found a job in a butcher shop and learned the trade.

In 2009, Pont realized his dream of owning his own place and bought Hobe Meats, a Valley institution since 1962.

About 10 years ago, he bought the vacant store next door, cut openings in the connecting walls, and opened a deli. In addition to the usual cold meat and sides fare, customers can order house-smoked brisket and customer-favorite hot sandwiches: the Hobe Signature Smash with pulled pork, brisket and chicken, and the Reuben, with thinly sliced corned beef on marble rye with Swiss cheese.

On Saturdays, there’s a barbecue, with grilled burgers, ribs and hot dogs, where a main, side and drink go for about $10. Call ahead to see if they’re serving corn dogs, two for $5.

Opening his own place allowed Pont to practice his profession and run a shop the way he thought it should be done.

Real butchery “is almost non-existent in grocery stores,” Pont said. “It’s all centrally located and packed. I understand why they do it, it saves on labor and insurance costs.

“I’ve lived by three rules since I started working,” he said. “Customer service is the number-one thing in the world. Buy the very best products you can get ahold of — don’t be average. And then be fair-priced; don’t be the highest and don’t be the lowest.”

Pont has seen customer tastes change and culinary traditions fade.

Today, tenderloins and rib roasts are favored for holidays and celebrations, despite their hefty cost.

And for folks who really want to splurge, there are steaks and roasts dry aging in an air cooler at the front of the shop — including a seven-rib “tomahawk” rib roast. That’s a rib-eye roast with the rib ends trimmed so they’re bare.

The dry-aged cuts look a bit mangy — the surface dry and leathery —  but once they’re trimmed, they’re gorgeous, with incomparable taste and texture.

In addition to quality and variety, places like Hobe serve up knowledge. A good butcher can advise customers about lesser-known cuts and how to cook them, Pont said.

These days, people are asking for what butchers call the “thin meats” or “middle meats.”

“Hanger steaks and skirt steaks are big movers,” Pont said. “Another big favorite is sirloin flat meat. I call it gaucho steak. It’s right off the sirloin, with the texture of a skirt steak but thicker.

“These are things people used to just throw in the grinder for hamburger. Or the butcher — knowing a good thing when he saw it — would take them home for the family table. In fact, they were called “butcher’s cuts.”

Hobe also sells 17 varieties of sausage, all made locally, along with marinades, rubs, barbecue and pasta sauces (don’t miss the bourbon peppercorn steak slather), pickled vegetables and salsas.

While Pont takes obvious pride in his shop, he has another accomplishment that makes him even prouder, helping other butchers — most of them women — start their own businesses.

“I took seven other people who were punching the corporate clock, and I was able to show them a better way of life,” he said. “I tell them, ‘You get to do what you do best, sell the best quality, give the best customer service, and you get to put your name on it and own it.’ Hopefully, they’re creating a generation of new business owners, their kids who will carry on in the business.”

A new shop is scheduled to open later this year at 59th Avenue and Thunderbird Road.

Hobe Meats, at 6044 N. 16th St., is open Monday through Saturday, from 7 a.m., to 6 p.m. For more information, contact or call 602-604-2333.


  • Marjorie Rice

    Marjorie Rice is an award-winning journalist, newspaper food editor, travel editor and cookbook editor with more than three decades' experience writing about the culinary industry.

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