The Boston Phoenix

food & drink

Best meat in a tube

For 42 years, Karl's Sausage Kitchen has occupied the same lot on Route 1, but many commuters just pass it by, not exactly sure what it is -- could it be a 1950s burger joint? Those in the know, however, can hardly bear to pass by without stopping in for some one-of-a-kind carnivorous delights. Now run by Michael Engel, son of the eponymous Karl, the crowded shop carries 30 kinds of homemade sausage, cold cuts, and smoked meats.

With its own smokehouse fueled by hard maple chips (in contrast to the liquid faux-smoke process favored by many store brands), Karl's knocks our socks off with a German bratwurst of intense woody flavor -- not to mention a hot-selling smoked bacon and a "rost" bratwurst, made with whole caraway seeds, intended for grilling. Engel makes no bones about the quality of his products: "You just can't compare commercial sausage to what we do. A home-cooked meal is a home-cooked meal." The walls are lined with imported goodies to round out the meal -- from sauerkraut to candy -- but the heart of the store is a glass case full of the sausages that have been the family's labor of love for all these years.

Karl's Sausage Kitchen, 142 Broadway (Route 1), Saugus, (781) 233-3099.

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