At this point in history, when people brag about how many grams of fat they’ve crammed into their day (because macros or something?) and avoid carbs as cautiously as we avoided fat in the ’90s, it’s a really good time to be a fan of cheese — nature’s power bar, loaded with fat, protein and minerals. But cheese is more than its calories — it’s fun, it’s tradition, and it’s connection. Mention cheese to most people, and their eyes will light up and their stomachs start rumbling. Throw a photo of cheese up on Instagram and you’ll be showered in likes. And, with so many independently owned cheese shops in L.A., staffed by earnest, cheerful cheese professionals (called mongers), there’s really never been a better time to run out for a cheese snack. Whether you want to call it your new keto diet, supporting local business or simply treating yourself, we support you wholeheartedly and offer five of our favorite cheese shops in Los Angeles County for your immediate pilgrimage.
14517 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 849-552, cheesemongersofshermanoaks.com.
Cheesemongers of Sherman Oaks owner Kia Burton has some pretty serious cheese chops — she started her cheese career at Cowgirl Creamery in San Francisco and interned at the famed Neal’s Yard Dairy in England. Even better, she brought all those cheese smarts back to our parts, running Cheesemongers of Sherman Oaks with her husband, Tyler. Their shop is stocked with over 80 artisan and farmstead cheeses and a beautifully curated selection of charcuterie, crackers, honey, jams, chocolate and more. Along with catering, sandwiches and custom boards for 2 to 20-plus people, they also offer after-hours Cheese 101 classes for curd nerds to get their fix. If you need more proof of cheese excellence, check out the store's Instagram account, featuring glamour shots of cheeses at their peak.
With several locations in Long Beach and one in Huntington Beach, Cheese Addiction lives up to its name, supplying dairy-dependent folks with their fix of artisan cheeses at reasonable prices. It offers platters, baskets, “Cheese Addict 101” classes, a helpful website with a very informative section called “Cheese Facts,” and a monthly cheese club with delightful themes like “May Flowers” (cheeses with flowers) or “German Delights.” If you’re getting married and looking for a trendy cheese wedding cake, you can get one here.
195 Claremont Ave., Long Beach, (562) 433-4986; and 4236 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach, (562) 424-2336; cheeseaddiction.com.
Milkfarm is known and loved by Eagle Rock locals, both for its stellar selection of artisan, sustainable cheeses and for its homey, rotating lunch offerings. Try the classic grilled cheese, based on one that owner Leah Park-Fierro (a former manager of the sadly shuttered Cheese Store of Silverlake) enjoyed at London’s Borough Market: a blend of three artisan American cheeses, onions, leeks and shallots, butter, olive oil and fresh cracked pepper on fresh-baked, stone-ground whole wheat bread. Even more popular is the house-made chocolate chip cookie with Maldon salt, which sells out daily. The shop itself is light-filled and offers beer and wine bottles either to drink there or take away. Its much-loved raclette night grew to be bigger than the shop's capacity, but is coming back for one night only on Oct. 6 for the Eagle Rock Music Festival.
2106 W. Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 892-1068, milkfarmla.com
Sister store to the better-known DTLA Cheese in Grand Central Market, Claremont’s Cheese Cave was opened in 2010 as the passion project of sisters Lydia and Marnie Clarke and chef Reed Herrick. You can feel the passion still pulsing in the store or while browsing its Instagram — there’s always something fun coming up, whether it’s a class with a visiting cheese or wine producer, a one-off summer barbecue or the very popular grilled cheese Fridays. In a hurry? Grab one of the many bottles of natural wine and one of its best-selling snack packs to go: three cheeses, plus a few pairing items.
325 Yale Ave., Claremont; (909) 625-7560, claremontcheese.com.
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Easily the most established shop on this list, the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills has been open since 1967 and has been known for its wide-ranging selection of cheese and other deliciousness — chocolate, caviar, pasta, etc. — ever since. With several hundred cheeses on offer from all over the world, it has classics like Brie and Gruyère, but also some that are nearly impossible to find elsewhere, such as the funky-as-all-get-out Torta del Casar, an Iberian sheep’s milk cheese curdled with thistle enzymes (try it with tomato jam to tame the funk and bring out flavors of green olive and chorizo). Along with a lovely wine selection, platters, corporate gifting options and a cheese-of-the-month club, it offers a range of classes with owner Norbert Wabnig for beginners and experts, such as “The Wines and Cheeses of the South of France” or “Wines of Volcanic Origin and the Cheeses That Love Them.” Can’t make it to a class? Never fear — they're all recorded for later listening (for free) on the shop's events page.
419 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; (310) 278-2855 or (800) 547-1515, cheesestorebh.com.