We never met a cheese we didn’t like. (True story.) To mark National Cheese Lover’s Day on January 20, LawnStarter compared over 180 of the biggest U.S. cities based on cheese access, quality, and affordability, as well as local events.
So what are 2022’s best cities for cheese lovers?
1. Chicago, IL
2. Modesta, CA
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Jersey City, NJ
5. New York, NY
6. Boston, MA
7. Madison, WI
8. Los Angeles, CA
9. Washington, DC
10. Milwaukee, WI
Highlights and Lowlights
Windy Cheesy City: Sing the praises of Chicago’s deep-dish pizza all you want, but once you’ve sampled local Chi-Town cheese outside the pie, you’ll be chanting “Cheeses, Take the Wheel” instead. That’s because The Windy City has earned a new nickname as The Cheesiest City in America.
Oozing with high-quality queso and melting locals’ hearts with an abundance of cheesy events, Chicago is a true cheese lover’s paradise.
California Cheesin’ or Meltin’?: Three Golden State cities managed to find their way to LawnStarter’s top 10: Modesto at No. 2, followed by San Francisco in third place and Los Angeles in eighth. Zoom out, and you’ll find four other California cities in our top 20. This “grate” performance is no surprise when considering California is the second biggest producer of cheese among the states.
But not everything that glitters is gold in the Golden State. Salinas finished last in ranking, with Oxnard not far behind at No. 178. While these two cities offer plenty of cheesy events to entertain locals, regular access to high-quality cheese is lacking.
Gouda News for Wisconsin: No ranking of cheese heavens passes a “good taste” test without at least one city from America’s Dairyland in the top 10. Madison finished seventh, while Milwaukee placed 10th, thanks to high marks across the (charcuterie) board.
Green Bay didn’t make the cut because of its size, but if you’re a true Cheesehead, you know the city and state are packed with fans of the dairy products. Wisconsin is by far the largest manufacturer of cheese, producing more than a quarter of all of America’s cheese. It even beats out much larger states like California and Texas.
Not-So-Modest Queso in Modesto: Wisconsin might produce the most cheese of any state, but one Central California city’s winning strategy is quality over quantity.
Modesto, located 92 miles east of San Francisco, took the top spot in our Quality category, helping the city rise to second place overall. In fact, Modesto’s local cheese producers bagged more U.S. Championship Cheese Contest awards in 2019 — the most recent competition — than those of the other 180 cities in our ranking.