By Elizabeth SanFilippo
Whether you have a hankering for a soft creamy cheese or something with a bit more bite, cheese shops abound in Chicago. Go sample the fare at these five locales, and then get some slices cut to order so you can celebrate National Cheese Lovers Day on January 20 with some of the best artisan cheese in town.
Fox & Obel
401 E. Illinois St.
Chicago, IL 60611
Known as a high-end gourmet grocery store that sells everything from fresh produce to prepared meals, Fox & Obel also prides itself on its vast array of cheeses from artisanal American cheeses to imported classic ones, such as the creamy taleggio from Italy. If you can’t decide among the amazing selection of both pasteurized and non-pasteurized cheeses, not only can you sample, but you can get the answers you’re looking for from the cheesemonger. With his wealth of knowledge of all things cheese, he’ll be sure to point you in the right direction. All cheeses are cut to order.
2947 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
Pastoral is one of the best-known cheese shops in Chicago and for good reason. While the artisan store — with four locations throughout Chicago — also offers wine and other gourmet goodies, the cheese selection here is absolutely immense. Grab everything from a simple mozzarella ($5.99) to the more pungent Bleu d’Auvergne ($7.99). For the cheese lover in us all, Pastoral also offers a cheese of the month club, prices of which start at $179.99.
Provenance Food & Wine
2312 W. Leland Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625
Every item offered in Provenance Food & Wine comes from artisans and growers, from the ice cream to the pickles to the pasture-raised meats. Of course, as the independent shop’s name implies, it also offers a selection of sustainably produced wines as well as beers. Many of its cheeses are imported and offer a limited but top-notch selection such as its superb Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese as well as its amazing Manchego cheese. In the Lincoln Square location on Leland, cheeses can be sampled and cut to order. Cheeses are pre-packaged in its other Logan Square location.
Publican Quality Meats
825 W. Fulton Market St.
Chicago, IL 60607
Don’t let Publican Quality Meat’s name fool you. This Paul Kahan shop and cafe offers house-made charcuterie aplenty, but it also has a nice selection of cheeses, both on its sandwiches and in its case available for purchase. While you can simply grab some artisan cheeses to go, don’t skip over Publican’s delicious pimento cheese dip. The sit-down menu also features a Butcher’s Daily cheese plate; get one cheese for $6 or three for $16.
2318 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Deli Boutique isn’t your regular deli. The Czech-born owner has stocked her shop with an array of gourmet treats, from marmalades to baked goods to delicious sandwiches. In fact, many of the cheeses in its case are also used in its sandwiches, so you can — if you’d like — recreate the sandwiches back home. Deli Boutique also offers an array of meats that perfectly complement all artisan cheeses, including Swiss cheese, sharp cheddar and muenster, among many others.
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Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer, who enjoys trying new foods from all over the world. But her favorite city for culinary treats will always be Chicago. When not writing about food, she’s scribbling novels, and TV show reviews and recaps. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.