There are lots of great things to do in Salt Lake City. If you are a skier, you can use it as a base for a winter getaway and score a deal on discount ski tickets. You can follow my advice and take a great urban hike. You can see Temple Square, visit the zoo, hang out it Park City or use SLC as a gateway to the fabulous national parks in southern Utah. But what can a cheese-lover do in Salt Lake City? Lots, as it turns out.
On Being a Turophile and Cheese Tourist
Oenophiles (wine lovers) and bird lovers are known to travel great distances to seek out their beloved subject. And I also seek out my beloved subject…cheese. You see, I’m a turophile: a cheese lover, connoisseur and cheese tourist. The word turophile is derived from the greek word for cheese -“tyros”. Because I’m a turophile, whenever I visit a place, I always seek out cheese-friendly restaurants, farmer’s markets and cheese shops. I’ve been known to engage in long conversations with cheese mongers about origin and aging techniques. So when I recently had an extended visit in Salt Lake City Utah, I sought out places to go to support my cheese habit.
5 Tips for having a Cheesy Experience in Salt Lake City
#1 Visit Beehive Cheese Company
Beehive Cheese Company is located at the mouth of Weber Canyon about 40 minutes north of Salt Lake. They make delicious cows milk cheeses with locally sourced milk. They have won a ton of awards, most notably for their Barely Buzzed cheese, a cheddar style cheese rubbed and aged with coffee grounds. Consider it counter-programming given that the Mormons don’t drink coffee. I do drink coffee, but I actually prefer their Big John’s Cajun and Smoked Promentory. They both had a lot of flavor and were great with eggs.
You can visit the dairy and store Monday-Friday. I did just that and came away with a tasty bag of delights which I used throughout my two week visit in Utah.
#2 Shop Liberty Heights Fresh
Liberty Heights Fresh is a delightful jewelbox of a market located in the Sugarhouse neighborhood. Housed in a former gas station, their small space packs in a remarkable variety of quality foodstuffs. Steven Rosenberg founded the store with the intent of providing super fresh food from small producers. He really knows his producers. When I was in SLC last year, he and I had a long discussion on the quality of California olive oil producers and during the conversation he shared that he has visited and befriended many of them.
The store offers local meats, olive oils, local produce….and…tons of cheese. While there, their cheesemonger Lexy took me on a tour of their cheese case and I selected a very flavorful aged cheese from Neal’s Dairy Yard. Neal’s Dairy Yard, located in London is inarguably the best cheese shop in the world and they do a fine business by buying and aging local cheeses (Yes, I have been to Neal’s Dairy Yard, I take my cheese tourism very seriously). Their cheese are hard to find in the US and so I was happy to pick up a hunk along with some crackers.
#3 Cruise the Downtown Salt Lake Farmer’s Market
The downtown farmer’s market in Salt Lake City is quite an affair. Even in the winter, which is when I visited, there were food trucks, produce stands, meat, cheese, chocolate and bakers. In the summer months, the market overflows into a nearby park and also includes artisans such as jewelry makers and potters. While there, I ran into Steven from Liberty Heights selling oranges. Nearby was Epicurian Chefs, a catering outfit which also makes its own mozzarella. And next to them was Drake Family Farms which offers farmstead goat’s milk cheese made in the nearby suburb of West Jordan.
If you miss the farmer’s market, you can also get Drake Farm cheeses at Liberty Heights. Do you see how this cheese thing encourages a symbiotic community with all of the purveyors supporting one another?
#4 Shop Grocery Stores With Great Cheese Counters
Salt Lake City breweriesBeer and aged cheeses like cheddar pair very nicely. You can make your own pairing by checking out this guide to .
Harmons Grocery has a decent cheese selection in all of their stores, but their fancy downtown metro store really shines. This overhead view gives you a good sense of their selection and while taking the picture, I just wanted to bungee jump right into the cheese counter.
Salt Lake City also has a number of Whole Foods stores in the area. Whole Foods always has a good selection of cheese although I found their SLC staff to be a bit less knowledgeable than staff from my local store. But either of these stores would be convenient if you want to feed your cheese beast while also getting other grocery items.
#5 Eat, Shop and Drool at Tony Caputos Deli
Caputos is like a cross between the best Italian deli ever and the Italian-American version of Neal’s Dairy Yard. They have two cheese aging caves right in the store. One cave is used for aging beer-rubbed washed rind cheese (of the stinky soft variety that my husband won’t let me bring into the house) and the other is used for aging spice and herb rubbed goat cheeses and other non-stinky rounds of deliciousness.
I purchased a paprika rubbed young sheep’s milk cheese from Spain (thank you, Caputos for carrying something from Spain other than boring Manchego). I also scored an experimental aged goat cheese sourced from central Utah that is rubbed with an aromatic thicket of citrus hops, juniper, thyme, fennel pollen and orange zest. They were both sublime. The goat cheese is so new that they haven’t even named it yet. Shawn the cheesemonger calls it “Fleur de Mesa” but I suggested “Herbaceous Goat”.”
The cheese case at Caputos is extensive and offers not only their own cheese but a wide selection of local and international artisanal cheeses and you can finish up your fancy food shopping there by loading up on locally made salami, olive oil, vinegars and chocolates. The deli side of the store has fantastic sandwiches. My favorite is the feta and tomato but you can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches as they use the freshest bread imaginable.
Meet the Cheesemongers
I was in Salt Lake City for two weeks and had many occasions to have dinner with friends and family. At each occasion, I brought some of my cheese loot. My not-so-subtle goal was to convert my friends and family into turophiles. And I hope that I can convince you to become one as well. On your next visit to anywhere new, I would encourage you to seek out the farmer’s market and local shops and see what sort of cheesy bounty you can discover for yourself. Bon appetit and happy cheesing.