Alameda, California: Farmstead Cheeses & Wines
Tucked into a cozy space in the Alameda Marketplace, Farmstead Cheeses & Wines offers a small but mighty selection of well-chosen cheeses, from regional favorites like Humboldt Fog to Italy's finest Parmiggiano-Reggiano. Farmstead keeps relatively small quantities of cheeses on hand, which means that products are always fresh, including can't-miss favorites like the milky burrata and bufala mozzarella.
Center City, Minnesota: Eichten's Hidden Acres
You'll know Eichten's Hidden Acres by the giant mouse-and-cheese statue out front, which is a popular local tourist attraction. Step inside the cheese shop to taste Eichten's specialty, a true Dutch Gouda handmade in small batches. Choose from a wide array of Gouda flavored with chipotle and peppers, caraway seeds, or flax seeds. Try a bowl of their famous house-made bison chili, topped with your favorite cheeses and fixin's.
Philadelphia: Wedge + Fig
Most of Philadelphia's cheese shops are old-school places, featuring giant stacks of Italian wax-rind wedges, large salamis hanging from the rafters, and barrel after barrel of olive oil. But Wedge + Fig is decidedly new-school. Part retail cheese shop, part café, it offers a strictly curated assortment of cheeses that mixes global and local, big names and small-batch producers. There are a few small tables in the shop where you can enjoy your selections with crusty bread and condiments to match, such as chutneys, jams, and truffled honey. For heartier fare, head out back to the cobblestone patio to order from a cheese-centric menu featuring omelets, salads, panini, gratins, and their signature chèvre tuffet (goat cheesecake cupcake).
Salt Lake City: Caputo's
Caputo's family-owned market is not just a deli with a whole lot of heart, it's also the place to go in Salt Lake City for quality cheeses. Your selection of slices and wedges is wrapped up and handed over along with endless ideas for how to enjoy each cheese or specialty ingredient. Don't miss the house-smoked speck and fresh mozzarella, a simple yet perfect pairing.
San Diego: La Jolla Cheese Shop
Head just north of downtown San Diego to the sandy beaches of La Jolla, a small town that's home to a 40-year-old cheese institution: the La Jolla Cheese Shop. What began as a cheese-only storefront has since morphed into one of the best places in town for classic sandwiches like ham and Swiss and gourmet subs with your choice of roast pork, beef, or leg of lamb. Don't miss the most popular sandwich, which features turkey breast, Jack cheese, and Hass avocado, or any of their vegetarian sandwiches starring thick slices of Cheddar, Havarti, Jarlsberg, pepper Jack, and more.
Scarborough, Maine: The Cheese Iron
The Cheese Iron has exposed beams, a farmhouse table, and all the good things in life: wine, salami, pasta, tomato sauces, pressed oils, baked goods, and, of course, cheese. While you may come for the cheese, you won't want to miss the Cuban sandwich, which layers smoky ham, thick slices of Taleggio, sweet chutney, and fresh basil atop a crusty baguette that's grilled until golden.
Los Angeles, California: The Cheese Store of Silverlake
The Cheese Store of Silverlake is a tiny shop packed floor to ceiling with cheese and all of its accompaniments, including artisanal jams, crackers, pastas, olives, and wine. Amid the wide array of extras, the cheese takes center stage, piled high atop and inside a horseshoe-shaped cold case. Cheeses from Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and the U.S. are on display, including goat, sheep, and cow's-milk varieties. Two of my favorites include the aged Manchego from Spain and the Humboldt Fog from Cypress Grove Chevre, which is just up the coast in Humboldt County.