Jerky is making the move from a lowly gas-station snack to a trendy, gourmet bar bite as chefs across the country create their own artisanal variations in-house. The savory-and-often-spicy dehydrated meat is a cost-effective way to stem rising food costs, as it can be made from carcass trim and scraps. Jerky also appeals to myriad diners—including those with dietary restrictions, such as gluten intolerances and low-carb lifestyles—positioning the snack as an easy add-on with drink orders.
San Francisco bar Third Rail is so confident in jerky that it’s the only food on offer. But it’s not your everyday jerky; the menu lists nine varieties, including a jerk jerky made with Scotch bonnet peppers, a cowboy jerky made with pineapple juice and even a Vadouvan Vegetable Jerky made from carrots or trumpet mushrooms. While not the case at Third Rail, ingredients needed to make jerky are often already in stock. And, the drying, curing and seasoning technique is similar to that used for charcuterie, something more chefs are learning nowadays. Here’s a sampling of operators upgrading jerky in-house:
New York City
Today’s house-made jerky selection; $8
Gin Joint Style Jerky; $1.50
Jerky & Nuts, house-cured beef, roasted almonds; $7
Hayden’s Post Restaurant & Bar
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Smoked jerky bites, buffalo and venison; $6
Wagyu beef jerky; $7
House BBQ Beef Jerky; $5