Friday, October 24, 2014Mostly Cloudy 14°C
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. Mouth watering yet? Well the staff at some of these shops can help you find exactly what you're looking for, even if you give them little beyond the vague description of, "that kind of piece-y crumbly mild kind."

Yes, if you're in the right place (and look desperate enough) you'll get it--trust me. Many of these shops also offer olive oils, crackers, deli meats and other prepared foods, and they'll help you put together the perfect combination to best experience that fine truffle brie. So whether you're looking for goat, sheep, or regular cow's milk cheese, here are some of the best cheese shops in Toronto.

Note: A previous version of this list was published on July 30, 2008. Comments below made up until June 6, 2011 are in reference to the old list. We've purposely kept the archived comments here because we believe they (mostly) add value to this topic. If you don't want to have to wade through all of them, simply hit the "sort by newest first" link at the top of the thread.

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

57 Comments

Eve / July 30, 2008 at 09:58 am
user-pic
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.
Chester Pape / July 30, 2008 at 10:24 am
user-pic
Good call on Monforte, Ruth is producing some really, really fine products. If you can't make it to some of the more "difficult" farmer's market stands they do have a stand at the Saturday north market at St. Lawrence.

I love the raw milk/washed rind cheeses as much as anyone but once made the mistake of traveling with cooler containing among other things a small wheel of L'ami du Chambertin and it's resulting pong. We ate a little of it but after three days in close quarters with the stuff we just couldn't take it anymore and had to toss it.
robyn / July 30, 2008 at 12:19 pm
user-pic
The dudes at Global always overcut the piece of cheese by a third. Great selection, but they're sneaky.
Jerrold / July 30, 2008 at 12:58 pm
user-pic
^^^ You can never have too much cheese :)
Betty / July 30, 2008 at 03:35 pm
user-pic
Can't imagine why anyone would shop at Global when Cheese Magic is just around the corner. As another commenter noted, Global gives you waaay more than you asked for, then barks out "And what else?" I prefer to give my business to the chill dudes at Magic who cut exactly what you want, give good advice and are cute to boot.
Jacob / July 30, 2008 at 05:34 pm
user-pic
I've been faithful to Mendels (the place next to Global) but I'm now tempted to give some of these other shops a try. Thanks!
Tim / July 31, 2008 at 07:16 am
user-pic
I find Cheese Magic has less selection and higher prices than Global.
giz / July 31, 2008 at 11:48 am
user-pic
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
user-pic
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
user-pic
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
user-pic
Olympic Cheese has the best selection and the best service....the best all around!
Chris / August 9, 2008 at 11:05 am
user-pic
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
user-pic
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!
Catherine / August 22, 2008 at 11:54 pm
user-pic
@Bridget -
You can always ask at your favourite cheese place. But you could try Leslieville Cheese Market and their <a href="http://leslievillecheese.com/school.php";>Night School for Cheese Fans</a>.
marty Chamberlain / September 2, 2008 at 02:04 am
user-pic
Olympic is the one I remember best, I am originally from Toronto, but now living in Spain. This blog makes me miss my home town. Sniff...
Sean / September 19, 2008 at 01:20 pm
user-pic
We switched allegiances from Global to their next door neighbour a while ago. The people who run Mendels are very nice and their prices are reasonable. But even though we don't frequent Global any more, we were saddened when the Ontario government forced the stacks of cheese to disappear from the counters. We live in the East end and were thrilled when the Leslieville Cheese Shop opened up but their prices drove us back to Kensington, which is thankfully close to work.
Jonathan / October 14, 2008 at 01:37 pm
user-pic
I've lived in Kensington for over two years and I know I'm not the only local that tends to shop at Global first and Cheese Magic or Mendel's second. They're all pretty good though. None has ever sold me past-expiry-date product to my knowledge/consumer experience. Never seen Global staff do the alleged "bait and switch" nor cut too large, though they do seem to love to offer samples. Then again, I generally go in knowing what I want. Global's prices are also the best at least nine times if not 10 times out of 10 in my experience.
Jonathan / October 14, 2008 at 01:41 pm
user-pic
Oh and re: Kensington Dweller's "anyone who knows shops at Cheese Magic" line --

- I co-wrote the blogTO piece on Kensington in 2006.
http://www.blogto.com/city/2007/02/neighbourhood_watch_kensington_market_1_of_2/

- My former roommate works at a very high-end restaurant, has excellent food knowledge and buys his cheese at Global.
Andrew / November 7, 2008 at 01:52 pm
user-pic
Cheese Magic got a code red from DineSafe back in September - I know it's green now, but if a place gets a code red... I tend to not want to ever go back.
ECitizenToronto / January 23, 2009 at 06:12 pm
user-pic
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
user-pic
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
user-pic
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
user-pic
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.
Stacey / November 2, 2009 at 12:09 am
user-pic
Although I love Kensington Market, I really am not such a fan of their two cheese stores. After recently visiting Murray's in NYC, I have realized that your number one pick, Global Cheese, just doesn't even close to living up! Murray's was a sight (and smell) for sore eyes, it had enough cheese for me to eat a new one every day, plus condiments, crackers and chocolate galore! We need an equivalent. If anyone else has been there, what do you think the closest to an equivalent in Toronto is??

Cheers!
buddaluva / June 6, 2010 at 01:27 pm
user-pic
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...
DC / June 17, 2011 at 09:54 am
user-pic
Cheese Boutique is by far the best, but it's a little out of the way. Global Cheese is shitty shitty shitty. Yea it might be a little cheaper than Cheese Magic, but the staff are dicks, rush you in and out , and aren't very helpful when you have questions about a cheese.

I've been going to Cheese Magic for 10 years now and I've never had a problem. The reason why they had a Health violation is because they weren't refrigerating certain types of cheeses. This was because you really didn't need to, but the rules now say you have to....so they had to buy all new fridges and are still amazing.

The guys at Cheese Magic are always polite, happy, and never rush you in and out. They always give you what you want and never hesitate to give you samples of cheeses you haven't tried yet.

In my opinion, Cheese Magic is #1....
Aydin / June 17, 2011 at 10:14 am
user-pic
I'm surprised that Global Cheese scored so high. They've given me the old switcheroo too many times and my entire family stopped going there in protest. They had us taste a fresh sample, and then what we came home with was an older, rank piece of the same type of cheese. Now we only go to Cheese Magic when in Kensington.
Grande Cheese MUST be seen, especially if you love Mozzarella.
Alex Farms can be a bit overpriced, but you have to try their Alex Farms' Goat Cheese. It's possibly the creamiest, most delicious chevre I've ever tasted, and it's used in some of the top restaurants in the city. And it's not very expensive at all. Makes for fantastic scrambled eggs!
Leslieville's employees are the most friendly and the most knowledgeable of the stores that I've been to, and they're great at making recommendations, and keeping within your price range. And they have some of the lowest-priced Burrata I've seen in the city!
guest / June 17, 2011 at 10:25 am
user-pic
Maybe I had a bad experience with Global Cheese, but the first time I went there, the staff was incredibly unhelpful. I said was I usually like, and it seemed like they picked whatever was closest to them. The cheese was terrible on top of it. Overall it was a very "in and out" experience and I probably won't ever go back.
Pawtucket Pete / June 17, 2011 at 10:34 am
user-pic
Cheese Magic is the best in Kensington, hands down; good advice, good cheese, nice guys. Alex on Yonge is the best in Midtown as well, REALLY nice staff, very knowledgeable, beautiful and funny, they have a great selection of cheeses and some amazing Pates and Mousses too!
mikeb / June 17, 2011 at 10:55 am
user-pic
I don't buy cheese in Kensington any more. Cheese Boutique ($$$$) and those at the St Lawrence are much better except for Italian cheeses (Grande Cheese).

Global always overcut. They have been doing it for decades. Cheese Magic is a pretty store, but they got in trouble three years ago because they didn't refrigerate as required AND Toronto Health also cited them for selling cheese with listeria.

http://wx.toronto.ca/inter/it/newsrel.nsf/0/d5f2f1b501814167852574bf006c5ea9?OpenDocument
Cindy replying to a comment from Aydin / June 17, 2011 at 11:06 am
user-pic
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
user-pic
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
user-pic
For sheer passion, knowledge and artistry it's Cheese Boutique. By a mile. Not even close.
ct / June 17, 2011 at 11:42 am
user-pic
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!
Jackie / June 17, 2011 at 01:44 pm
user-pic
How is About Cheese not on here?

By far, best cheese shop in the city with the most superior service I've ever had in a cheese shop.

Global Cheese??? Not great.
DC / June 17, 2011 at 02:34 pm
user-pic
How did About Cheese on Church St not make this list?
Stephanie / June 17, 2011 at 06:06 pm
user-pic
I seems that year after year people simply vote for the same shops they remember being on this list previously. Of all the shops on the list above I would only venture to Cheese Boutique. They are beyond knowledgable and have the best selection. But what about the smaller shops that really do deserve to be on this list for their personalized service, vast knowledge as quality of their unique selections. I'm talking about Grain, Curd & Bean, The Village Cheese Monger or Taste of Quebec. I guarantee you will leave happy with a great stash, a little more knowledgable and no one would have barked "ANYTHING ELSE" at you or purposely over cut your order. On another note, isn't it also nice to know your products came from a clean cheese store? Seriously take a good look around in some of these places on your next visit. Maybe next year you will vote differently.
Veronica / June 17, 2011 at 11:41 pm
user-pic
I'd like to add my voice to the where-is-About-Cheese outrage. Any list that doesn't include them is simply not legit.
Trotsky / June 18, 2011 at 06:28 am
user-pic
I am very surprised that the Int'l Cheese factory outlet on Mulock didn't make this list. Their fresh ricotta is so good it cannot be described with words!!!
Dinkus replying to a comment from Trotsky / June 18, 2011 at 03:31 pm
user-pic
Hey Trotsky, check out # 3 to see International Cheese.
Gill replying to a comment from DC / June 21, 2011 at 12:55 am
user-pic
Second this! They have a better selection than quite a few of these cheese stores, and they specialize in local cheeses no less. Plus, the staff there are awesome and always friendly. Oh and their cheese experiments (blue cheese cookies? friggin delicious) are really fun too. I'm disappointed they aren't on here.
Ryan L. / June 21, 2011 at 08:38 am
user-pic
I'm still not sure about the method of overwriting the old list with the new one. It seems odd that you are now no longer able to view the old rankings
JK / June 24, 2011 at 03:06 pm
user-pic
Glad to see an updated list finally, but Global Cheese at #1 and no easy way to see the change in rankings makes me one sad panda.
Jerry replying to a comment from Ryan L. / July 16, 2011 at 07:10 pm
user-pic
I agree, this is lazy reporting. For the most part it is the same article and the rankings are questionable.
dan / August 20, 2011 at 07:38 pm
user-pic
Ricotta :)
windows xp buy oem / November 12, 2011 at 03:12 am
user-pic
I’m a long time watcher and I just believed I’d drop by and say hello there for your very first time.
I seriously enjoy your posts. Thanks
You are my role models. Thanks for the article
thank you for helpful tips and simply good info
i can agree with the article
r u sure that is true?
Not so bad. Interesting things here
really good things here, just thanks
hey buddy, this is a very interesting article
Read it, liked it, thanks for it
I am looking for a competent writer, long time in this area. Excellent article!
I have read not one article on your blog. You're a big lad
This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks
Thank you for your work. Article helped me a lot
Really worthwhile article. Pay attention
Hey, buddy, I have not figured out how to subscribe
I am a long time ago I read your blog and has long been saying that you're a great writer
Say "thanks" you to your parents that they gave you the world
It's super blog, I want to be like you
You are my role models. Thanks for the article
Beautiful essay, got the pleasure of reading
I found what I was looking for. great article, thanks
Subscribed to your blog, thanks
I can not figure out how do I subscribe to your blog
Thank you for what you have. This is the best post I've read
I will not talk about your competence, the article simply disgusting
You just copied someone else's story
All material copied from another source
I'll complain that you have copied material from another source
This is the worst article of all, I've read
You are the worst writer
Thank you, this is the worst thing I've read
Reading this article - the gift of your time
Learn to write himself, the article from another source
I would like to uslysht a little more on this topic
I have not found what I wanted
This is a set of words, not an essay. you are incompetent
if you want, I'll write you articles. Copywriter looking for work
I have a few question to you, write to those I do not e-mail
I can not subscribe to your channel
Blog moved out in chrome
Hi! Your article rocks as well as being a legitimate wonderful understand!??
I can??t really help but admire your blog site, your site is adorable and nice
My spouse and I stumbled over here different website and thought I should check things out.
I like what I see so i am just following you. Look forward to exploring your web page yet again.
There is noticeably a bundle to comprehend this. I assume you have made specific nice points in features also.
Lately, I didn’t give lots of consideration to leaving feedback on blog page posts and have placed comments even much less.
Reading by way of your nice content, will help me to do so sometimes.
J / April 20, 2012 at 04:19 pm
user-pic
Have shopped here often and am a very happy camper, but for two oversights on the part of the management:
1. customers do call your store seeking information. It is helpful if you answer your phone some time, if for even every 5th caller,
2. Why not make it easier for your customers by posting the times of opening and closing on your website?
A mouses Friend / July 3, 2012 at 07:59 pm
user-pic
Why does everyone say this cheese cave at cheese boutique is amazing, its a fridge. The wheels are there so the restaurants get them at a better price and they hold them. I have asked a lot of Chefs why they buy from CB and its bc of the marketing if people only knew. As for the other places i haven't been but from comments i should try them out.
I will stick to where i go for now.
Cosplay / September 26, 2012 at 09:56 pm
user-pic
I'm still not sure about the method of overwriting the old list with the new one. It seems odd that you are now no longer able to view the old rankings
Kyong Sanson / November 16, 2012 at 01:21 am
user-pic
Very good write-up. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!
Leila / January 22, 2013 at 10:20 am
user-pic
I agree with previous posters, ABOUT CHEESE!!! By far the best i've experienced in the city for selection, quality and service - really really great. C'mon BlogTO, get with it!
gerrard / March 6, 2013 at 03:27 pm
user-pic
This list really needs to be updated, there are far better cheese shops in Toronto than what are shown on this list. Also, just because something has been around for a long time does not make it good. blogto, you are doing a terrible job in this category!
Jasa Beli Barang / March 23, 2013 at 03:27 am
user-pic
Greate article. Keep posting such kind of information on your page. Im really impressed by it.
financial / March 23, 2013 at 10:10 am
user-pic
Hello, of course this article is really nice and I have learned lot of things from it about blogging. thanks.%7
Steve / December 20, 2013 at 10:58 pm
user-pic
Global Cheese? Come on. Bait and switch, over cut, crap fake this and fake that. Who has time for this kind of dishonesty? So annoying.
Andrew / March 28, 2014 at 11:01 pm
user-pic
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.
whiskybaker / April 4, 2014 at 02:35 pm
user-pic
we were at Kensington Market this weekend. No way will we be going back to Global Cheese. We were passed off from one person to another to a third behind the counter - there were only 4 customers in the shop. My husband asked the guy "what's your favourite cheese that you carry?" The guy literally looked down, picked up the pre-packaged cheese right beside him and said "this is pretty good." My husband asked "Where's it from?" The guy "Uhm, France I think."

Add a Comment

Other Cities: Montreal