A cheese shop is about to become your favorite kind of grocery store in NYC. Because being an adult is tough, but it’s easier to work a 60-hour work week and come home to an apartment share with two other twentysomethings when there’s a fridge full of cheese waiting for you. Instead of shrink-wrapped cheddar from Gristedes, treat yourself to a truffle-infused Gouda or a wonderfully stinky Stilton from the city’s best shops. (You can even add it to a bacon egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast perfection.) Or better yet, swing by a wine store and assemble an Avengers-level assortment for an impressive wine-and-cheese soiree. Sweet dreams are made of cheese—who are we to dis-a-Brie?
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Best cheese shops in NYC
Murray’s is basically the Willy Wonka’s candy store of cheese. The huge West Village shop is filled from floor to ceiling with everything you need for the perfect cheese plate, basket or late-night binge-eating session. The cheese case seems to stretch for miles and is filled with between 350 and 400 cheeses at any time. This goes from familiar clothbound cheddars to exclusive cheeses like the Annelies, an Alpine-style cheese that is cave-aged in the shop until it melts like a dream, and the Other Stephen, a funky beer-washed triple-cream cheese. Once you’ve worked with the friendly cheesemongers to find the best cheese and charcuterie, the rest of the shop has all the crackers, cheese tools (like knives, fondue pots and shirts with whey too many really-Gouda puns) beer and cider, honey and other condiments you need. Still not enough? Geez, you’re hard to please. There are also cheesemaking and wine-pairing classes, in-house sandwich shop Melts, a full restaurant, Murray’s Cheese Bar, next door and a second location in Grand Central Market.
You know you’re in a good place when the scent of melted cheese hits you the second you step inside. The NYC outpost of Seattle-based Beecher’s will change the way you look at cheese, because you can watch cheese being made, eat the youngest version of its Flagship Reserve Cheddar as you munch on squeaky fresh curds, see that cheese aged in its cellar and then taste the finished, super-sharp product. Even though it has a small case of cheese, there’s extra quality control—Beecher’s makes 14 of its 80 to 100 varietals, from a peppercorn-studded Marco Polo to a Will & Grace–inspired Just Jack. You can pick up a cup of creamy World’s Best mac n cheese or assorted salads and sandwiches upstairs in the cafe; impress a date with dinner, brunch or happy hour at the 21-and-over Cellar downstairs; or take a cheese-making class on its top floor. That’s three levels of fun before you even take home a basket full of cheese, bread and assorted unique condiments like caramel mustard and rosemary-pear jam.
Bedford Cheese Shop started in Williamsburg but has since expanded with an equally expansive, cheese-packed shop in Union Square. With 200 to 400 cheeses on average and a hearty charcuterie and pantry selection—from local chocolate to Italian pasta to all the pickles and olives you could ever want—it’s easy to assemble a gift for a friend or a smorgasbord for yourself. (If you can’t make decisions, it also offers platters, cheese-of-the-month clubs and pre-assembled baskets.) A handful of homemade spreads like hummus and addictive onion dip are also available to grab and go, plus sandwiches and house-made salads and roasted veggies. Some cheeses are cave-aged in house, and the shop specializes in fun yet detailed descriptions of cheese. (Example: Colston Bassett Stilton: “You would be a fool to let this buttery and warm-veined creation pass you by. Don’t be a fool. Really, it’s not charming at all.”)
The experience at Lucy’s Whey varies on what neighborhood you’re in. At the teeny-tiny Chelsea Market outpost, there are enough tourists crowded around the small case waiting for samples or an oversize—and totally worth the wait—pressed grilled cheese to give you a heart attack. But at the spacious Upper East Side location, you can chat with cheesemongers about its 100-plus cheeses—from familiar Manchegos and Goudas to the exclusive washed-rind, bark-wrapped Heinennellie hand-delivered from Vulto Creamery upstate—and pick up other cheese-plate favorites like assorted charcuterie, crackers and spreads. Attached is a farm-to-table restaurant that has seasonal fare plus staples like mac n cheese and chicken liver mousse, and a quick sandwich station for those looking for something on-the-go. If you do have time to stick around, it also has events like cider-pairing dinners and cheese classes, or you can bring the party to you with custom cheese platters.
Cheese and provisions—what more do you need? Bklyn Larder stocks around 50 cheeses, but that’s not all that you came for. It also makes its own desserts like gelato, sorbetto, babka, croissants, cakes and cookies, along with boar country pate, sandwiches and a Berkshire ham and Gruyere that will help you find god. It’s a lot to take in for such a cozy shop, but the friendly service and wide selection may make you want to move in. Since you can’t actually live there, take home a selection of cheeses, local honey and meat that you choose yourself, or have Bklyn Larder put together something special via catering, cheese-of-the-month club or ready-to-go party spreads.
Ideal Cheese Shop feels like a sweet local Jewish New York deli, but instead of smoked meats, there’s wall-to-wall cheese from around the world. More specifically, there are at least 200 cheeses from 17 different countries at the quaint Midtown East shop. Due to its close proximity to the U.N., Ideal Cheese Shop stocks heavily European cheeses, from rich, gooey, buttery Vacherin (a raw milk Swiss only available from October to March) to an unbelievable truffle Brie filled with mascarpone and summer truffles. Its meat selection is slimmer than other shops, but it gets exclusives like the Jamon Bayonne, a French version of prosciutto that is aged for about a year, and it also stocks high-end honeys and jams, lots of truffle products, artisanal beer and chocolate, Balthazar baguettes and much more. The most fun part of visiting is that everything is done old-school—yes, you can use a credit card, but everything is written by hand, totaled on a calculator and rung up on an old-fashioned register. Gift baskets and raclette machine rentals—individual fondues, basically—are available both online and in-store.
For times when you need to run in, grab cheese and host a party that same night, Stinky BKLYN has you covered. The small Chelsea outpost of the Brooklyn shop has a case of around 40 cheeses ready to grab and go, house-made candied maple-bacon peanuts, spicy jalapeño pimento cheese, bread and, most important, growlers of beer. You could ring ahead and have a platter made, but then you wouldn’t be able to try one of its dozens of sandwiches, including a taleggio-fig-speck one that’ll blow your mind, or discover its Rice Krispies Treats studded with Golden Grahams. The selection at the Brooklyn shop is a bit wider, but the vibe remains the same: relatable, comforting and welcoming. One pro tip for the Chelsea location: You get 10 percent off wine from next door when you purchase any cheese.
The hustle and bustle of the Essex Street Market can be daunting, but it’s worth weaving through the Lower East Side food mecca for Saxelby. The shop is dedicated solely to American farmstead and artisan cheese and stocks at least 100 at any given time, including a house-aged, bourbon-infused goat cheese called Sozzled Pearl. If you’re stocking up for your weekly grocery haul, it also has local fresh dairy like eggs, yogurt and milk, but if you’re hangry and in need of food ASAP, it also has incredible, Instagram-cheese-pull-ready grilled cheese.