L.A.'s top cheese shops
Welcome to dairy heaven. Rounds, slabs, wheels, slices and wedges of cheese fill the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills, a mecca for those who need to find a last-minute dinner party gift or hard-to-find cheese type. And if you want to taste, CSBH's twice-monthly cheese tastings are firsthand proof that epicurean culture exists in Los Angeles—you simply have to know where to find it. The shop feels like a secret room, fit with French windows and a retractable roof; decades ago the space was home to a fine dining establishment, but now it serves as a charming locale for the gourmet cheese shop's luxe events. Each CSBH tasting is themed regionally (Southern Italy, Bordeaux, Spain—essentially any place you'd want to honeymoon), and features two delicately selected flights of seven wines and 10 cheeses. Throughout the tasting, a cheese pundit and a sommelier will briefly describe each selection as it's presented, before allowing attendees to chat, eat and drink like 19th century European nobility. After two hours or so, properly wined and stuffed with Comtés, Gruyeres and Asiagos, guests are invited next door to the cheese shop for an after party, complete with discounted prices on cheese (there are upwards of 400 available) and another popped bottle or two.
Tucked into Grand Central Market is this little full-service, cut-to-order cheese counter and eatery owned by sisters Lydia and Marnie Clarke (they also own the Cheese Cave in Claremont, and a love of dairy runs in the family—their father founded Alta Dena Dairy). In addition to a delicious selection of more than 100 cheeses, DTLA Cheese offers limited baked goods from Nicole Rucker, plus made-to-order plates and a menu of sandwiches and other cheesy offerings from chef-partner Reed Herrick.
Milkfarm specializes in small-batch cheeses, charcuterie and other handmade food products mostly from L.A.-based, independent producers. Each cheese is selected, taste-tested and curated to build the shop's extensive collection. You can also find made-to-order sandwiches here, in addition to cheese and charcuterie plates, freshly baked bread, pastries and other small bites. Grab a bottle of beer or wine and order a few things to eat right in the shop at the communal table. You can also sign up for tastings, raclette nights, classes, "Meet the Maker" events and wine and cheese pairings.
Chef-owner Glenn Harrell is one of the nicest men you'll ever meet behind a cheese counter. He knows his stuff and wants you to learn, too—stop in to pick something up for a dinner party or picnic and you'll likely walk out with lots of newfound knowledge (and a few extra rounds of cheese). The experience isn't rushed here—you'll be asked where you're going, what you like, and get into discussions about consistency and odor. The shop has run smoothly for just over 35 years—an impressive feat in such a fast-changing neighborhood, and a testament to Harrell's dedication to (the cheese lovers of) the community.
This bright, sleek, newbie cheese shop and homeware store stocks cookbooks, spices, dishware, specialty foods, crackers, tinned goods and wine—basically everything you need to throw a killer party. The cheeses run the gamut and the globe, and if you try something you love, you can even order a cheese plate for one (you know, to nosh and refuel so you can keep shopping). Looking for more substantial fare? KUSTAA offers daily, full-size cheese and charcuterie plates, plus a selection of gourmet sandwiches that often include, you guessed it, lots of cheese. Snag a plate and a glass of wine, then make your way to the patio, for best results.
If you've passed by the storefronts of the many cheese shops in L.A. and looked upon their dairy-filled interiors with longing because you're vegan (or lactose intolerant)–rejoice! Vromage is L.A.'s only fully vegan cheese shop. Yep, you read that right. Owner Youssef Fahouri makes and stocks a variety of "cheeses" made from nuts and seeds, and they're aged to perfection. No animal products here, just cashews, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, pistachios, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Whew! Fahouri also offers a variety of salads, gluten-free, open-faced sandwiches and Crunch Pizzas (a vegan cheese and cracker-combo 'za creation), all using the shop's signature cheeses.
This Sherman Oaks shop offers a large selection of handmade cheeses from around the world, plus a comprehensive collection of charcuterie (prosciutto, jamon, speck, pâté and salumi) and accompaniments like honey, jam, olives, chocolates and more. Their picnic boards are a thing of beauty (and don't even need to be ordered in advance!), and they'll use the same ingredients to whip up a killer, daily menu of cheesy $8 sandwiches. Want to take a class? Not only is there a rotating list of classes beyond just Cheese 101 (Goudas and Blues, anyone?), but you can also join the cheese club, which gets you over pound of selected cheeses at the top of every month.
Pick up artisanal cheeses at this small, specialty shop, a decade-plus mecca for local cheese lovers. (The motto of the store? "This Place Stinks!" Har har.) Find spreads, jams, tapenades and roasted macadamia nuts made in-house for the perfect accompaniments. The staff, including Andrew himself, is on hand to answer any questions and help you find your favorite cheeses. Be sure to check their website for a schedule of nightly events, including classes and the popular grilled-cheese-and-beer night; and don't be suprised if Andrew has serious thoughts on your cheese preferences—they're notoriously opinionated and have bones to pick with a number of otherwise-beloved creameries.
Restaurant, bakery and market, Brentwood Country Mart's Farmshop is the one-stop shop for Angelenos with an expense account—from local Brentwood moms to all of Hollywood. The chef-owner is Thomas Keller's ex-right hand man, Jeffrey Cerciello, who never fires a misstep—and always focuses on seasonal, local ingredients. The market side is a gourmand's dream come true, an ample spread of cheese wedges, crackers, locally- and house-made jarred goods, pantry staples, fresh produce and wine (so much wine).
Cheese Cave is owned by sisters Lydia and Marnie Clarke, they of DTLA Cheese fame. But the Cave is their original shop, and is known for its strong selection of notable, award-winning cheeses, along with boutique wines, local beers and artisan salumi. Grab a hunk of something to go, or create the cheese board of your dreams—if you have another cheese lover in your life, you can get them a gift card and give them the joy of picking out (and tasting) these delicious options themselves.
This well-stocked cheese and wine shop also offers a full cafeé slinging freshly-made sandwiches, soups and small plates, all featuring premium domestic and imported cheese—and often including house-made pestos, aioli and dressings. On Friday and Saturday nights, you can even stop by for fondue for two, and on Sundays, for brunch. While the cheese selection here is impressive, more folks stop by for the freshly-made eats to enjoy in-house; that being said, if you're looking for a wedge of something tasty for a party or picnic, Artisan Cheese has you covered.
Tucked inside this well-stocked wine store is a larder that sells an assortment of artisan-made cheeses from across the world, plus salumi and the area's best sandwiches. Line up with the lunch crowd for an Italian deli-style sandwich and stock up on European candies and old-fashioned sodas like Dublin Original Dr. Pepper. You can also stock up on everything necessary for a home-cooked meal or night of entertaining, including imported oils, vinegars, and condiments, candies and chocolates, caviar, crackers, chips and dips. Watch out for store hours: closed Sundays, and sandwiches served only from 11am to 5pm.