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Best of Toronto

The Best Cheese Shops in Toronto

Posted by Robyn Urback / June 17, 2011

cheese torontoThe Best Cheese Shops in Toronto typically look like some sort of coagulated wonderland. There are cheeses of all sorts of shapes, sizes and colours, stacked on shelves, resting in buckets, or hanging gingerly from the ceiling. Many of these shops also offer olive oils, crackers, deli meats and other prepared foods.

Here are the best cheese shops in Toronto.

Global Cheese

Global Cheese

Global Cheese in Kensington Market simply has one of the best selections around for very reasonable prices. The key is to get one of its friendly staff members to help you carefully craft a cheese platter, after which you can impress your friends with your impeccable, uh, borrowed cheese knowledge. More »

Cheese Boutique

Cheese Boutique

Cheese Boutique has hefty rounds of every cheese imaginable, as well as lots of prepared foods to make a perfect pairing. The people here are so into cheese that they'll actually make you a multi-tiered cheese wedding cake, designed on Ripley Avenue amid hanging prosciutto and trays of olives. Check out their cheese cave. More »

International Cheese

International Cheese

International Cheese stocks restaurants, deli counters, and grocery stores around the city, and as anyone who has tasted its cheese can confirm, it's for very good reason. But ground zero for International Cheese is its factory store near Keele and St. Clair, where a tub of its fresh, warm ricotta is a practical must. More »

Olympic Cheese Mart

Olympic Cheese Mart

The real serious cheese-lover is devoted to the recently renovated Olympic Cheese for its collection of 400 cheeses from around the world, which includes a healthy variety of goat and sheep cheeses. In the St. Lawrence Market, Olympic Cheese Mart also offers farm fresh eggs and butter, as well as homemade dips and organic olive oils. More »

Grande Cheese Factory Outlet

Grande Cheese Factory Outlet

Grande Cheese Factory Outlet on Orfus Road offers more than just cheese, but of course, its cheese is its specialty. Balls of fette, provolone, friulano and more hang from racks scattered throughout the store, interrupted by buckets of bocconcini and $100 bricks of parmesan. Factory outlet, indeed. More »

Alex Farm Products

Alex Farm Products

Look for the blue cow. There you'll find Alex Farm, on Queen East in the Beaches, St. Lawrence Market, the Danforth, Bayview plus other locations. Alex Farm boasts over 500 varieties of cheeses including sheep, goat, and cow cheeses. The staff is quite knowledge about the merits of, say, a four-year-old gouda, and will help you to pick out perfect pairings. More »

Cheese Emporium

Cheese Emporium

It's common knowledge that anything with the word "emporium" must be good. The Cheese Emporium is, of course, no exception, with two locations in Toronto; one on Eglinton East, and one on Avenue Road. Stocked with cheeses from all different regions, the fresh olive bar adds another hard-to-resist element. More »

Leslieville Cheese Market

Leslieville Cheese Market

My favourite thing about the Leslieville Cheese Market is that its second location on Queen West is still called the "Leslieville Cheese Market." Well, that and its famous grilled sandwiches. Besides picking up some fresh cheeses to work with for supper, you can also take beer and cheese classes at any of its (now three) locations. More »

Pasquale Bros

Pasquale Bros

This one could definitely be considered "well-aged." Pasquale Bros has been around since 1917, originally created to give Italian immigrants a little taste of home. Now on Goodrich Avenue in Etobicoke, Pasquale offers French, Dutch, Spanish, Danish cheeses and more--but you can certainly still get your provolone piccante and ricotta salate here too. The biggest drag? The shop is closed on weekends. More »

Discussion

20 Comments

Eve / July 30, 2008 at 09:58 am
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I love Global Cheese. I get a bit flustered by the crowd in there sometimes but it's worth it. It's inexpensive and the people are always happy to help you, no matter how busy they are.
giz / July 31, 2008 at 11:48 am
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I'm a hardcore fan of Global - but have realized that some of their product is not 100% - you just have to know what to order and what to avoid (be wary of those usually expensive cheeses on sale. .). Shopping here can get daunting sometimes, but their cheese "wisdom" is superb and their selection is usually fantastic.

Cheese Magic, on the other hand, always has my "extra vecchio Piave" whereas Global doesn't carry it. They're a bit friendly and less "trying to get you through the line and to the checkout" - but seem like they smoke too much weed.

Cheese Emporium staff are like the waiters at Splendido and aren't as friendly with samples or patient when you're trying to figure out what you want.

Cheese Boutique & Olympic are working their way up to being my favourites because they actually do a lot of aging themselves. They're friendly, have a good selection and have lots of other specialty foods which is a huge plus.

Alex Farms is okay but I find they have "safe" cheeses.
fergy / July 31, 2008 at 12:20 pm
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The best thing about Cheese Magic (other than the cheese) is the fact that everyone that works there is gorgeous, and also very nice!
michael / August 3, 2008 at 02:45 am
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I have been an ongoing customer of Olympic Cheese for the past 7yrs. I have explored all the other cheese boutiques and find olympic to be the one with the best quality and outstanding service. Their location in Markham has the warmest and friendliest staff I have ever encountered. The girls there always make sure I taste before I buy to guarantee satisfaction. Outstanding!
Penny / August 4, 2008 at 12:37 pm
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Olympic Cheese has the best selection and the best service....the best all around!
Chris / August 9, 2008 at 11:05 am
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I live in the West end of Toronto.

I go to the Alex Farm cheese shop in the Humbertown Shopping Centre around the Kingsway area. The stuff there is always fresh, never had an issue and the service has always been great...plus they have these frozen pies and gourmet pizzas i really like.
John / August 10, 2008 at 11:28 am
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I am a big fan of the cheese provided at the Lesliville Cheese Market. A great place to be educated about cheese and a hip young crew behind the counter who know their stuff! Highly recommended!
ECitizenToronto / January 23, 2009 at 06:12 pm
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Alex Farm Cheese at the St. Lawrence Market and on the Danforth. Great selections and informed staff!
Mick / February 1, 2009 at 11:27 pm
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I've been buying cheese from Global for the past 12 years, and anyone who says they don't overcut simply isn't paying attention. They're famous for it, especially with those patrons who don't know their way around a cheese shop (or who are intimidated by their pressure tactics/strange system of selling cheese).

I also know Global tends to bait & switch, but not as described above (I've never known them to give me another kind of cheese than the one sampled). But what they will do (far-too often) is cut your sample from the tasty solid side, then load up your order with the mushy/dried/crusty/or just plain "off" side. Nothing worse than getting home and finding the snack you've anticipated the entire way is wet and blobby. So know going in that it's buyer beware.

Why do I keep going, then? Well, because Global has good cheeses at reasonable prices. I tend to buy a lot of cheese and, unfortunately, Cheese Magic's cheese tends to be a bit pricey (of course, you get what you pay for --Cheese Magic sells GREAT cheese!). Also, I go to Global because they do so much volume that they usually have a good selection, which is nice when you're in the mood for something new and tasty. So not is all lost by going to Global, you just have to hold them to account.

If you go, don't let them rush you. If the person serving you is getting impatient, let someone else serve you. When you find someone you like, always try to have them serve you. Building up a relationship with 'your cheese guy/gal' at any cheese shop will help ensure your transactions go more smoothly.

More importantly at Global, always make a point to say "400g (for example)or LESS, please". That way, if they say after cutting and weighing they say to you: "how about 450g instead of 400g?" (which they inevitably will), then you tell them "no, I only need 400g, thanks".

Also, by ordering in round numbers (100s of grams instead of fractions), you can much more easily figure out how much it costs. Unfortunately, I've also had several visits where their math was as "off" as the cheese.

Lastly, after you pay, take your cheese off to the side out of the way and review your purchases. If any of it is off, take it back immediately. Don't be a dick about it, because they'll just treat you badly later. But it only takes a few times of returning cheese before they realize you're not someone that's going to take getting scammed with sub-par cheese.
Denise / May 5, 2009 at 02:04 pm
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I've been given straight-up rotten cheese at Global more than once. Cheese Magic is more expensive because you get what you pay for. Mick, your instructions are thorough and pretty humorous, but really, should someone need a tip sheet on how to shop at a cheese store?
Todd / September 15, 2009 at 07:31 pm
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Leslieville Cheese Market is overpriced and their produce looks as though its been there for weeks. Try out St. Lawrence Market for good cheese at reasonable prices. 2nd floor very south end of the building.
buddaluva / June 6, 2010 at 01:27 pm
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The only reason Cheese Boutique is not #1 is because of its out of the way location...

Cheese Boutique is the only cheese store that has an affinage (cheese aging) program... which means that you will not be offered wedges of hardened ammonia-milk (my last experience at Global), but rather cheeses in their prime...

And chefs agree... as can be seen in the Cheese Boutique's cheese cave where wheels of parm tagged by their owners (Canoe, etc) rest until taste, texture, etc are at their peak...
Cindy replying to a comment from Aydin / June 17, 2011 at 11:06 am
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Really, I find the customer service at Leslieville Cheese Market Queen West to be some of the worst. The staff is generally unfriendly and seems to always be busy and/or away from the counter. Selection is slimmer than most, overpriced and staff needs a lesson on customer service, i.e. if the store is empty you don't leave a customer waiting at the cash for more than a minute.
nancy / June 17, 2011 at 11:21 am
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Agreed. I've been a few times and each time, felt like i was "putting staff out" by buying something. Each time I've had to wait a while to pay, which is fine, but combined with being made to feel like a pain in the ass for buying something is a bit much.
Bill / June 17, 2011 at 11:34 am
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For sheer passion, knowledge and artistry it's Cheese Boutique. By a mile. Not even close.
ct / June 17, 2011 at 11:42 am
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For anyone in the West end who's interested :
Global Cheese also has a shop on Norseman (by Kipling) in Etobicoke.
Limited but free parking too!
Andrew / March 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm
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I'm partial, but I'd say that Chris Cheesemongers at the St.Lawrence is by far one of the best shops in the city. Most of the staff have worked directly with cheese makers, and distributors in the city, along with putting on cheese educational events at the St.Lawrence Market.
Shanondoah / August 27, 2015 at 10:26 pm
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I was introduced to "the art of cheese" on Kingston in the upper beach tonight,cute shop and enthusiastic owner!
philip / August 27, 2015 at 10:36 pm
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Where is Pantry Fine Cheese on this list? It's a newer shop on Gerrard East. They have a great selection of local cheeses and the prices are great! Fantastic service all around
ryan / August 28, 2015 at 09:33 pm
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You haven't tried the Pantry Fine Cheese on Gerrard str east then.

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