There is so much more to cheese than the stuff many of us grew up with. San Francisco is a great city for exploring the world's and America's artisanal cheeses. The spots below offer some of the best cheeses for you to pick up for a cheese plate playdate with your kids. It's more of a food assembly kitchen project (versus cooking), and the kids will enjoy designing their cheese plates. Having your little one design the cheese plate will also help them be more involved if you are throwing a party.
Some of the shops below also have little cafés where you can partake in some of the cheeses if you choose to. Also, always remember to ask for samples—cheese-mongers love to give you a taste of their favorites. Are you ready to introduce your child to the great big world of cheese? Let's go!
Mission Cheese truly celebrates the best of American artisanal cheeses with offerings from all over the country. This is one of the spots where you can purchase cheese and also, if you feel so inclined, grab a seat at one of their tables and enjoy some cheese right there.
The space is airy and modern with an outdoor patio up front where you can people-watch. Aside from cheese platters from various regions in the US, Mission Cheese offers some unique grilled cheese sandwiches and probably one of the best mac-and-cheeses in the city. If your children are resistant to try their cheeses, the mac and cheese will be a hit for sure. A great fueling stop before or after a romp in Dolores Park's playground.
Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building
The Cowgirl Creamery at the Ferry Building in San Francisco offers a huge selection of cheeses and the store is often mobbed with customers on the weekends. Visiting during the slower morning and afternoon hours with your little ones is the way to go.
In addition, to the cheeses the Creamery makes in-house, which are Bay Area classics and absolutely creamy and delicious, they sell a wide range of cheeses from all over the world and America. If you can ever make it out there, the shop and creamery in Point Reyes Station does tours and cheese making demonstrations.
You cannot eat at the shop but right next door at the Sidekick Café and Milkbar (owned by the Cowgirl Creamery) you can sample things like fresh mozzarella, mac and cheese, and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup. After a delicious meal, run around outside the Ferry Building and watch the ferries arrive and leave.
Say Cheese in Cole Valley
Say Cheese in Cole Valley is well worth a visit. It is the quintessential neighborhood cheese shop that everyone should have down the street from their house. They also sell sandwiches, charcuterie and wine, making it the one-stop shop for all things good.
They offer over 300 domestic and imported cheeses and happily offer samples before your purchase. If you are interested, they also cater social events. Perhaps even a kid's birthday party that includes a cheese tasting. Since you are in Cole Valley, you might as well head to the The Ice Cream Bar for some refreshing and creamy delights.
Cheese Plus in Nob Hill
Cheese Plus is another neighborhood gem that offers premier cheese and foods, like sandwiches, salads, and spreads. Their space is larger than most cheese stores and that makes them more kid-friendly. If cheese is not enough, they also carry a selection of local charcuterie and chocolates. Cheese Plus also houses a Cheese School where the parents can take a cheese tasting or even cheese-making class. Another novel idea for a special date night for parents needing to take a break.
Bi-Rite Market in the Mission is a much-loved and very special grocery store that has a splendid offering of cheeses, both local and foreign. The cheeses they carry are either organic, from small farmhouse producers, or from cheese-makers that focus on sustainability (or sometimes all three attributes).
They try their best to carry unique cheeses that other shops may not carry and are happy to make suggestions and give you tastes. Some of the local cheese-makers they carry include Andante Dairy, Cowgirl Creamery, and Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company. The great thing about shopping at Bi-Rite Market, is that you can do all your other grocery shopping when you are done exploring, tasting and picking the cheeses with your little ones. When you are done do not forget to amble over to Bi-Rite Creamery for a cone of delicious salted caramel ice cream. If the children are being good, you can even stop for a little playground time at Dolores Park.
Stacie Dong and Simran Singh are the moms behind A Little Yumminess, a family food blog where they share easy, international recipes, and kid-friendly food adventures in the Bay Area and beyond. You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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