story

10 Best Cheese Plates in Denver

From earthy to funky, here's where to get your fromage fix
February 10, 2016
·
by Lori Midson

There's so much to love about cheese, and in Denver, a dedicated universe of cheese worshipers, there's a dairy dreamland of simple spreads, elaborate displays and everything in between. Here are 10 of our favorite places to indulge in the cream of the crop.

Black Pearl

Seven truly delicious cheeses, ranging from the exuberant petit agour, a sheep's-milk cheese from France, to the cow's-milk memoire truffle from Holland, grace the menu at Black Pearl. The kitchen arranges each on wooden slabs stamped with lovely accoutrements, including dried fruits, peanut brittle, a threesome of housemade mustards, dried cranberries, a puddle of honey, almonds, figs, duck cracklings and a heap of fantastic homemade giardiniera. The cheeses are $5 each, and while you can stop at just one, we highly recommend ordering the chef's board ($35), which arrives with liberal tastes of every cheese, coupled with five meats: duck prosciutto, beef bresaola, duck pâté, rillettes and a chef's choice, most recently duck pastrami. A basket of sweet potato chips and crackers accompany the fromage feast.

1529 S. Pearl St.; 303-777-0500

Truffle Table

Last year, Karin and Rob Lawler, who own the beloved Truffle Cheese Shop, opened the Truffle Table, a cheese-centric citadel in LoHi that lures fromage lovers with a beautifully curated list of rotating selections. Let the extremely knowledgeable cheesemongers craft a three-, five- or seven-wedge plate ($14, $24 and $32, respectively) of their personal picks from the restaurant's top-notch roster of local, domestic and international creameries, and indulge in a board that's also dotted with nuts and dried fruits, swiped with a swirl of stone-ground mustard and finished with a mix of olives.

2556 15th St.; 303-455-9463

Caveau Wine Bar

While Uptown's Caveau Wine Bar may be best known for its vast syllabus of vino, there's no shortage of stinky, mellow or moldy cheeses to pair with an old-world red, a new-world white or a flute of effervescent bubbles. Nine cheeses, including the triple-cream Brillat-Savarin, StraCapra, a goat's-milk cheese similar to Taleggio and a wine-soaked Basajo blue, are $4 each, or you can choose any three cheeses for $11, five for $18 or seven for $24. Accompaniments include toasted ciabatta and fig preserves.

450 E. 17th Ave.; 303-861-3747

Vesta Dipping Grill

No scroll of Denver's best cheese boards would be worth its weight in cream without a nod to Vesta Dipping Grill's divine feast of dairy-driven cheese needs. For $18, the kitchen displays five cheeses — Cana de Cabra, Black Butte Reserve, aged sheep's-milk Gouda, Fourme d'Ambert and an herb-specked housemade mozzarella — on a rustic wooden board that's punctuated with enticing flourishes: house-crafted mustards, pickled vegetables, sliced fruits, candied walnuts and truffled honey specked with black pepper. For $12 more, you can turn the board into a full-blown dinner with the addition of Vesta's cured meats, including duck rillettes, salami, lonza, prosciutto and sausage coins.

1822 Blake St.; 303-296-1970

Osteria Marco

Frank Bonanno's insatiably popular Larimer Square hangout boasts a dedicated section of the menu to — what else? — cheeses, some of which are handcrafted in-house, while others are imported. Homemade ricotta and mozzarella, two to three additional Italian cheeses and sidekicks of grilled ciabatta and mixed berry mostarda highlight the cheese plate ($15), which can also be supplemented with terrific meats, including pistachio-studded mortadella, prosciutto and speck. Bonanno's superlative burrata is the best in Denver, and while it's not part of the designated cheese feast, it's worth the additional $10 price tag.

1453 Larimer St.; 303-534-5855

Mercantile Dining & Provision

The market at Mercantile Dining & Provision, Alex Seidel's alluring new restaurant in Union Station, champions nearly 30 cheeses, several of which are handcrafted at the chef's nearby creamery and farm. There's no dedicated cheese board, but the vast number of cheeses, coupled with a seemingly endless exhibition of provisions (think hot peppers, bread-and-butter pickles, apple butter, mustards, cinnamon-poached peaches and Riesling-poached pears) give cheese nerds the opportunity to pick and choose an original plate that's as simple or elaborate as they want to make it. Cheeses are sold by the ounce, and the fromagers behind the display cases are happy to curate a board that satisfies every obsession.

1701 Wynkoop St.; 720-460-3733

Rioja

Just about everything Rioja chef Jennifer Jasinski touches turns to gold, and her cheese plate ($15.50) is no exception. Seasonal cheeses are the primary attraction, and the choices and accompaniments change with the wind, but they're all treated with the same degree of respect that Jasinski lavishes on all of her ingredients. The current lineup of cheeses showcases an Italian cave-aged Tronchetto al Miele paired with strawberry rhubarb jam; a Spanish Oriol de Montbrú matched with a fennel and tarragon salad; a washed-rind Puigpedrós sided with Castelvetrano olives; and a funky Schnebelhorn united with a black trumpet–shallot mustard.

1431 Larimer St.; 303-820-2282

Mell's Cheese

There's a refreshing absence of pretense at this lovely wine bar and cheese emporium in LoHi, where locals converge to unwind. The eye-catching space, a mix of rustic dark woods, high ceilings, large windows, flowers and a gorgeous splay of cheeses, all available for retail purchase, is ideal for an early evening out with girlfriends. Sip a glass of wine or a Scottish ale, and pair your liquid asset with a customizable cheese tray from the dozens of hard, soft, washed rind, blue and fresh cheeses, or indulge in the fromage fort, a fonduelike blend of melted cheeses, fresh garlic, white wine and bread for dipping.

3000 Zuni St.; 303-455-9555

Cheese + Provisions

More than 125 seasonal cheeses — most of which are American — hold court at this beautifully curated cheese, charcuterie and upscale sundries shop in Sunnyside. The cheese plates are $5 per setup (each plate incudes bread, crackers, dried fruit and nuts), and guests then choose which cheeses and/or meats they'd like to add; all of the cheeses and meats (think pancetta, porchetta, lomo Serrano and prosciutto) are priced per pound.

2432 W. 44th Ave.; 303-455-2221

Postino

While Postino has received major props for its bruschetta plates (the accolades are justified), its cheese board ($14.50) is nothing to sneer at. Propped with three artisanal cheeses (the current trio includes a French triple cream, an Italian cow's milk rustico with black peppercorns and the Beemster, a Dutch Gouda), is joined by all the proper sidekicks, including fruit, nuts and toasted bread.

2715 17th St.; 303-433-6363

cheesemongers
cheese boards
cheese plates
fromage