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Feb 11, 2006 02:28 PM

best cheese shop in sf;, excluding the ferry bldg

  • t

can anyone suggest a great cheese/fancy food shop that might compare to say, Murray's in NYC?

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  1. i like cole street cheese store, whole foods (of course but not as specialized), cheese plus (on polk) - looking forward to hearing other suggestions!!!

    2 Replies
    1. re: alison

      I second Just Cheese on Cole. Good selection of French cheeses - Epoisees and Brin d'Amour included.

      1. re: mc

        Whoops! Sorry, it is called Say Cheese.

    2. "24th Street Cheese Company" near Sanchez in Noe valley.
      Great selection of cheeses & olive oils etc.
      Pricy, and the staff lean toward pretentious, but always a great selection.

      4 Replies
      1. re: david p
        Robert Lauriston

        Second on them. I think they have the best selection in town. The owner takes good care of his stock.

        1. re: david p

          This is my favorite too. Their selection is more focused on imported cheeses, versus Cow Girl which has a much better selection of domestic cheese.

          1. re: david p

            I was on Chestnut St. yesterday and wandered into Lucca's - they a small, but very nice cheese selection. Also, there is/was a nice cheese shop on Divisidero near Oak. I wonder if it's still there?

            1. re: sf

              Country Cheese is on Divisadero St. near selection, really nice people...and, they have a goat milk, I'm happy.

          2. m
            Morton the Mousse

            Take a trip across the bridge and come to the Cheeseboard in Berkeley - arguably, the best cheese shop on the West Coast. The carry over 300 cheeses with an emphasis on artisinal and foreign chheses, store them well and turn them over fast and let you sample everything.


            1. On the corner of Polk and I think Pacific there is a store I pop into. It might be Lombardi Cheese, but it is close to Lombardi Sports (I don't know if I have some weird random word association going on). I like them because they always have a bunch of samples and they have a small pieces bin where you can buy small "leftover" odd sized chunks at very reasonable prices. This works great for a cheese sampler for 1 or 2 people, or just to stop in for a snack!

              Can anyone confirm the name & location?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Lauren

                The shop you are referring to is Cheese Plus. And it is on Polk & Pacific, kitty corner from the Jus Shop. It used to be Leonard's 2001 but was sold. Great shop, nice people, and though parking is tricky, worth it. Also the former cheese shop owner of Creigton's on Portola gives classes there on cheese and pairings if anyone is looking for something like that.

              2. Rainbow Grocery is my choice over both Cowgirls, Say Cheese, 24th St. Cheese, Leonards (haven't been in since it was sold), Lucca's, Cooper's, etc.

                Cheeseboard is only slightly better value than Rainbow. Although it's easier to get them to taste you on things.

                Beverly Hills is better than Cheeseboard and both are arguably better than Murray's.

                6 Replies
                1. re: peeder

                  Beverly Hills Cheese shop is way pricier than Cheeseboard and yeah the selection can be good but overall I prefer Cheeseboard. also staff at Cheeseboard generally nicer and more knowledgeable (unless you get the owner at BHCS).

                  1. re: peeder

                    Rainbow does have a good selection, but you've got to be very careful of what you buy there. I've had many pieces of rotten cheese from that place. 24th tastes, cuts and wraps to order so that's never a problem.

                    1. re: nja

                      I beg to differ.

                      I bought some Reggiano at 24th after tasting a sample, and what they sold me was not fresh.

                      I brought it back and they were quite nasty, but eventually cut me a new (and good) piece.

                      Rainbow will let you taste things and will cut and re-wrap cheese, so you can be sure you like it before buying.

                      Also, they are very knowledgable and friendly.

                      1. re: Syre

                        I have never bought a cheese at 24th St that I haven't tasted first, except for the goat cheeses that are sold as whole pieces only. At Rainbow, I have asked details about specific cheeses and was not offered a taste, I had to just trust them and buy a precut and wrapped piece. It's usually fine, though I have at times been disappointed.

                        Cheeseboard is clearly the best cheese shop in the Bay Area (for quality, selection and pricing), but 24th St is my favorite in San Francisco. Cowgirl is also good, but their selection of imported cheeses, especially soft ones, is not great. I find Say Cheese to be a bit overpriced, though I do like their selection.

                      2. re: nja

                        Unlike virtually everywhere, Rainbow prints the pack date on the labels on each piece. So you have one check there.

                        You can also gain experience in selecting; not just visually, but you can press lightly and smell and that sort of thing.

                        I've bought overripe and ammoniated cheeses at every store (yes even BHCS) before I learned better.

                        1. re: peeder

                          And the most important thing is that most places the cheeses smell and taste like refrigeration if they've been in stock for a week. Rainbow never has that problem, I don't know how they figured it out. Special equipment? Turnover?

                          24th and Say Cheese can have that problem; Cheeseboard and BHCS do not.

                          The smell of refrigerant or whatever it is is just as destructive as "rot" in my book. I've tried to burn it off (leaving it open to air) in the past with limited success. Ammonia can be burned off however.