7 Best Cheese Plates in Chicago

By Sarah Freeman  |  November 24, 2014

Whether you like it mild or funky, hard or creamy, there are few things more satisfying than a top-notch cheese — especially around the holidays, when an overflowing cheese plate puts everyone in the festive mood. From imported varieties to more homegrown slices, these cheese plates are a cut above the rest.

  • Acanto

    This is the only restaurant outside of California that carries Bohemian Creamery’s (located in Sebastopol, California) selection of small-batch cheeses. The unique partnership was a result of chef Chris Gawronski working directly with the creamery to select 10 different cheeses on the menu, which are broken down by category — Classics, Playful and For the Aficionado. Guests can order à la carte or opt for the chef's selection, which includes four.

    Price: $21

  • Bar Pastoral

    Cheesemonger and 30 Under 30 honoree Bryan Bland curates an impressive selection of nearly 20 soft, washed rind, semi-firm, firm and blue cheeses for the wine bar. Sit at the bar to consult with Bland about the likes of Fleur du Maquis soft cheese and Mountain Gorgonzola. Each board is served with seasonal accompaniments and a warm baguette.

    Price: $6 each, three for $16 or five for $25

  • Café des Architects

    In the past year, chef Greg Biggers and pastry chef Leigh Omilinsky have revolutionized Sofitel’s cheese program by becoming the first hotel in the state to secure a certified dairy license. With it, they are ripening over 80 wheels of cheese in their in-house cheese cave. The first to make it onto the cheese plate under the Chestnut Provisions umbrella are Brie, tomme and chèvre. Tallegio will be added to the menu next, followed by cow’s-milk cheddar, which has been aged for six months on pine boards.

    Price: $4 each, three for $10, five for $14 or seven for $20

  • Eataly

    This Italian food hall has plenty of cheese to go around, from The Piazza, where fresh mozzarella is pulled daily and a full Formaggi serves an endless selection of imported options, to the Birreria, which offers a cheese board served with housemade mostarda and infused honey.

    Price: $13 to $19

  • Ruxbin

    This “new-age” cheese board combines two after-dinner staples — the cheese plate and the pastry. The main component of the dish, served on a wooden board, is a pear tarte tatin. The flaky pastry is served with Carre Valley penta crème (essentially blue cheese) ice cream, seasonal fruit, candied walnuts and fried arugula.

    Price: $11

  • Sepia

    This cellar’s selection focuses on domestic cheeses, largely from the Midwest. The current lineup includes a raw goat’s-milk cheese from LaClare Farms as well as a pasteurized sheep’s-milk cheese from Hidden Spring Creamery, both in Wisconsin. It also showcases Big Woods Blue from Minnesota as well as Cabra Blanca from Colorado.

    Price: 3 for $12 or 6 for $20

  • Vera

    This wine bar’s cheese program focuses on the offerings of Europe with one local selection to present a diverse selection of flavors and textures, according to owner Liz Mendez. Currently, the plate is made of one-year-aged Manchego, queso Iberico (a mix of goat, sheep and cow cheeses) and Hook's seven-year-aged cheddar. The bar also serves one seasonal cheese special, such as Rush Creek Reserve, before the laws changed prohibiting it from being produced or served. Accompaniments include housemade Mick Klug Farm jam and marcona almonds, with an optional half-glass-of-wine pairing.

    Price: $15