Top 5 Cheese Cities in the U.S.A.

Time to start scoping out your next vacation spot

Americans love cheese, and always have. But in the last decade especially, specialty cheese has emerged as one of the country's rapidly growing food trends, bringing with it a slew of specialty cheese shops, creameries, and even competitions. Here we celebrate our top five cities in the U.S. to enjoy cheese in all of its amazing incarnations. 

5. New Orleans

5. New Orleans

While New Orleans is certainly under the radar as a cheese destination, it is slowly making a name for itself. Cheesemakers are popping up all over the Southeastern portion of our nation, and St. James Cheese Company has been around since 2006 to represent these pioneers. Now with two locations in NOLA, they are really making an impact in the Big Easy. With a multitude of cheeses, meats and the usual accompaniments to choose from, they are also very popular for their sandwiches and “ploughman’s lunch.”

While indulging in all of the debauchery that can be found in this great city, pop into St. James to clean up your act and refine your palate.

4. Madison

4. Madison

This traditional dairying state can claim a city that represents the fruits of labor justly. Wisconsin has historically been known for commercial cheese making in the US. Recently, however, the state has also produced some of the finest cheesemakers in the country. Uplands Cheese Company, Bleu Mont Dairy, Roelli and Holland's Family Cheese are just a few of the state’s cheese crafters.

Fromagination is not only a kitschy name but also a great cheese shop on the Capitol Square that is loved by the city. The shop strives to highlight the state’s cheeses as well as European and other American favorites.

For a high-end tasting menu finished with a beautiful Wisconsin cheese-pairing, try L’Etoile restaurant. It's been a Madison mainstay since 1976 and has supported Wisconsin farmers and producers since day one.

3. Philadelphia

3. Philadelphia

Philadelphia is most synonymous with the word “cheese” when it is followed by the word “steak.” That’s exciting for the processed cheese set, but not for us. Thankfully, Philly actually has a ton of history when it comes to real cheese. The DiBruno Brothers set up shop in 1939, and have been showing the rest of the country how it’s done ever since. Now with six locations in and around Philadelphia, the specialty food purveyors offer everything from cheese to sandwiches to coffee. Additionally, with a multitude of CCP (Certified Cheese Professionals) on staff they take pride in knowing their cheese.

The Reading Terminal Market has also become quite the hotbed for cheesy options. The Market contains three different stops for cheese procurement: Downtown Cheese, Salumeria and Valley Shepherd Creamery. Valley Shepherd has also opened MeltKraft, which specializes in grilled cheeses.

Go to Tria for a glass of wine and cheese plate and stay for dinner if you so choose! The original Tria Café started as a wine, beer and cheese bar and has now expanded with four locations, including Tria Taproom, which specializes in pizza and beer. Stop by any of their non-Taproom locations for “Sunday School” for a great deal on a selected unique beer, wine and cheese.

2. San Francisco

2. San Francisco
Credit:Dirk Beyer

The Cheesemonger Invitational expanded to our next cheese city on the list two years ago. This West Coast destination for cheeses has so much to offer, and it was a clear choice for the CMI organizers. Top-notch shops like Bi-Rite and Say Cheese, and gems like 24th Street Cheese and Little Vine make this hilly city a cheese lover’s heaven. Mission Cheese is a newcomer to the field and is a refreshing mix of retail shop and cheese bar.

Adding the allure of access to some of the best cheesemakers in the world makes San Francisco hard to beat. Cowgirl Creamery not only has an outpost in the Ferry building on the Embarcadero, but is additionally only an hour-long scenic drive to the actual creamery that houses a superb retail shop. Surrounding primo cheesemakers include Andante Dairy, Bellwether Farms, and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company.

The Cheese School of San Francisco is really what sets San Francisco apart from our other cheese cities on the list. The school was founded in 2006 and is the only one of its kind in the nation. Its roster of instructors is incredibly impressive and its mission statement of “eating is learning” is what any cheese-head wants to hear on their first day of school.

1. New York

1. New York

They might as well call it the "Big Cheese" instead of the Big Apple. This city is teeming with cheese history and simultaneously growing its cheese wheels per capita all the time. The sheer number of places to procure cheese makes competition fierce.

Of course, there’s Murray’s- there will always be Murray’s. This cheese goliath just keeps growing, and their selection, history and cheese-nerdery can't be beat. Other Manhattan big dogs include Eataly, Bedford Cheese Shop, and Saxelby Cheesemongers. If you are looking for quality in the outer boroughs, you can’t beat Bklyn Larder on Flatbush Avenue, or newly opened Foster Sundry in Bushwick.

Destinations such as Casellula, CorkbuzzABC Beer (and its lil’ sis’ wine bar, Lois) keep cheese plates sexy in the city that never sleeps.  This is all epitomized with the establishment of the Cheesemonger Invitational in Long Island City, an annual event that you'll only believe when you see it; this extravaganza incarnates all things cheese in a city that just oozes it.

The Guide

New York
Murray’s Cheese: 254 Bleecker Street, (212)243-3289
Eataly: 200 5th Avenue, (212) 229-2560
Bedford Cheese Shop: 67 Irving Place, (718) 599-7588
Saxelby Cheesemongers: 120 Essex St (inside of the Essex Market), (212) 228-8204
Bklyn Larder: 228 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, (718)783-1250
Foster Sundry: 215 Knickerbocker Avenue, Brooklyn, (718) 569-8426
Casellula: 401 W 52nd St, (212) 247-8137
Corkbuzz: 13 East 13th Street, (646) 873-6071
ABC Beer: 96 Avenue C, (646) 422-7103
Lois: 98 Avenue C, (212) 475-1400
Cheesemonger Invitational

San Francisco
Cheesemonger Invitational
Bi-Rite: 3639 18th Street, (415) 241-9760
Say Cheese: 856 Cole Street, (415) 665-5020
24th Street Cheese Shop: 3893 24th Street, (415) 821-6658
Little Vine: 1541 Grant Avenue, (415) 738-2221
Mission Cheese: 736 Valencia Street, (415) 553-8667
Cowgirl Creamery: Cowgirl Creamery at The Ferry Plaza-
One Embarcadero, No. 17, (415) 362-9354. Creamery- 80 4th Street Point Reyes Station, (415) 663 9335
Andante Dairy
Bellwether Farms
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company
The Cheese School of San Francisco: 2124 Folsom Street, (415) 346-7530

DiBruno Brothers: original location at 930 S. 9th Street, (215) 922-2876, see website for many more.
Reading Terminal Market: 12th & Arch Streets, (215)922-2317
Tria: original location at 123 S. 18th Street, (215) 972-8742, see website for other addresses.

Uplands Cheese Company
Bleu Mont Dairy: no website
Hollands Family Cheese
Fromagination: 12 South Carroll Street, (608) 255- 2430
L’Etoile: 1 South Pinckney Street, (608) 251-0500

New Orleans
St. James Cheese Company: 5004 Prytania Street, (504) 899-4737

Top 5 Cheese Cities in the U.S.A.