Nothing says, “I have good taste, but I also like to party” like a proper cheeseboard. Sure, we’ve all picked up whatever looks good last-minute from the Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s cheese section (no judgment; our love for TJ’s Honey Jalapeño Chevre is strong), but if you’re ready for a deeper, cheesier cut, venture through (or past) your grocery store before plating your next party cheese and charcuterie.
Arcadia Premium Beer, Wine & More5618 East Thomas Road, #100
Our recommendation: The ColoRouge made by MouCo Cheese Company. Washed rind and creamy center.
Sure, they offer a delivery service, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a trip inside. The owners of Arcadia Premium Beer, Wine & More put a lot of love into their small, but interesting, cheese collection. You can choose from a rotating selection of American cheese and charcuterie, as well as cocktail mixers, hot sauces, chocolates, and beer and wine galore.
Duck and Decanter1651 East Camelback Road
Our recommendation: Derby with sage. Nutty, herbaceous, and (dare we say?) festive.
It’s easy to get lost in the loose-leaf tea and coffee selections, but the real heart of this quirky grocery is the cheese window. Semi-hard cheeses, like manchegos and cheddars, seem to reign supreme here. You can easily fill out the rest of your cheeseboard at Duck and Decanter, too: Think Marcona almonds, charcuterie, and locally made fruit spreads.
Milk 'n More2008 South Hardy Drive, Tempe
Our recommendation: Actually, after you buy your cheese, check out the east wall for a quick history on the United Dairymen of Arizona.
Found on the United Dairymen of Arizona campus facing Broadway Road, Milk 'n More is a combination convenience and dairy store. Walk in, take a right, and you're faced with a wide array of locally made milk and dairy products, including an entire line of Arizona Farms Cheese. It also carries local cheeses like Carolyn’s Classics, Urban Oven, Rovey Dairy Sheep Cheese, Shamrock Farms, Green Valley Pecan Company, and more. You're also welcome to grab a coffee or made-to-order sandwich while you're there, too.
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Murray’s Cheese inside Fry’s GroceryMultiple Locations
Our recommendation: Rogue Creamery Rogue River Blue. Cave-aged while wrapped in brandy-soaked grape leaves from the creamery’s neighboring vineyard.
Okay, we just told you to branch outside of your grocery store, but this is special. The iconic New York City cheese shop Murray’s partnered with Kroger — i.e. Fry's — to put Murray’s-curated cheese kiosks inside groceries across the U.S. – and that includes about 14 Fry’s locations across greater Phoenix. Overwhelmed by the variety? The cheese-savvy folks behind the counter will point you in the right direction.
Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market721 North Central Avenue
Our recommendation: Goat cheese from Chile Acre Farm. Tangy, soft, and uniquely Arizonan.
No cheese counter here, but it’s worthwhile to check out the goods of some of Arizona’s local cheese makers on Saturday mornings vending at the Open Air Market at the Phoenix Public Market. You can get a fresh selection from Fiscalini Cheese Company, or just peruse the market for other cheeses and needed items for your charcuterie board. Many of the other Phoenix-area farmers markets carry local cheeses as well.
Editor's note: This story was originally published on November 26, 2016. It was updated on June 4, 2020.