Photo Courtesy of Jennie Tai
For this installment, we survey the best specialty cheese shops in the area. Whether you’re looking for locally produced chèvre or the finest fromage that France has to offer, these stores have it all and much, much more.So many choices, so little time. The Ten is your guide to the best of the best that D.C. has to offer.
If you’re seeking something classier than falafel or Jumbo Slice to nibble on in AdMo, stop by this thoughtfully stocked boutique to grab a few selections from the curated cheese case, some charcuterie, and, of course, a bottle of vino (or two).
Bowers Fancy Dairy Products
Located inside Eastern Market, the oldest cheese shop in D.C. features regional favorites – such as Galax, Va.’s Mountaineer and Boyds, Md.’s Monocacy Ash – alongside international classics like Spanish Cabrales and English Stilton. You can also find a well-stocked dairy case featuring locally sourced cream and butter.
With locations in Alexandria and Shirlington, Cheesetique highlights raw milk cheese alongside a hearty selection of gourmet goodies like crackers, chocolates, and honeys. There’s also a small restaurant where one can graze on flatbreads, mac ‘n’ cheeses of all kinds, and pressed-to-order panini sandwiches.
Stop by this 14th Street favorite on a Sunday so you can enjoy fresh fried doughnuts while you browse the blocks, wheels, and hunks of hand-selected cheeses. An excellent selection of wine, artful sandwiches, and impossible to resist desserts will also vie for a spot in your shopping basket, so save room (or grab a second basket).
There are always 80-100 cheeses on hand at this Penn Quarter mainstay, including Chesapeake watershed faves like Mountain Top Bleu from Maryland’s Firefly Farms and Grayson from Virginia’s Meadow Creek Dairy. Get there early enough in the morning and you may be able to score the best sticky bun in D.C., too (Warning: they go quickly).
American farmstead cheeses are in the spotlight at this Old Town gem. Around 80 varieties are available, including those from Virginia’s Meadow Creek Dairy and Chapel’s Country Creamery in Maryland, alongside an impressive selection of house-made charcuterie. If you have the time, take a break from browsing to enjoy a salad or a sandwich in the small café area.
As the name implies, this deftly stocked boutique specializes in American artisan cheeses, which are a perfect complement to the 500 wines and 300 craft beers that line the shelves and refrigerated cases. Stop by on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night and you’ll get a chance to sample some of the vinos at free tastings.
Cheese connoisseur Carolyn Stromberg will open her first shop this fall in the newly revamped Union Market in the Eckington neighborhood. Customers will be able to grab ‘n’ go or – if they can score one of the 10 seats at the bar – sit down for a tasting paired with wine or beer.
Each month, this Arlington boutique focuses on a new wine region by offering classes, tasting flights, and cheese courses based around it. Even if they’re concentrating on a faraway land though, there are always plenty of local cheeses on hand, like Marshall Farms’ bacon cheddar and Our Lady of the Angels’ Gouda.
Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong’s latest venture combines a butchery, bakery, wine bar, market, and demo kitchen. If you can tear yourself away from the stunning pastry selection, pick up some house-made yogurt or ricotta, or fresh curds and whey.