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Ranking High on the Cheese Meter

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Cheeseboards can present many options Cheeseboards can present many options Photo: Engin Akyurt from Pexels

Editor’s Note: For a while now, Our publication has been receiving rankings in all sorts of curious categories from a business called LawnStarter.

To our knowledge, this company has no particular connection to any of the cities mentioned in their surveys, but their research seems more thorough than we might have first thought. These reports have caught the eye of your TASTE editor and likely are noticed by other editors, too. Beow is their latest:


2022’s Best Cities for Cheese Lovers

Americans have a fondue-ness for cheese — whether layered on pizza, smothered over nachos, or laid temptingly on a charcuterie board.

But cheese love isn't spread evenly across this vast country, so what are 2022's Best Cities for Cheese Lovers?

To mark National Cheese Lover's Day on Jan. 20, LawnStarter compared over 180 of the biggest U.S. cities based on cheese access, quality, and affordability, as well as local events.

Now let's cut to the "cheese" and see which cities took the cheddar in our ranking, followed by some creamy highlights and lowlights.


Say Cheese! It Doesn't Get Any Cheddar Than Here

Rank      City

1              Chicago, IL

2              Modesto, 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


Cheese It! You're Cheddar Off Elsewhere Than Here

Rank      City

172         Honolulu, HI

173         El Paso, TX

174         Vancouver, WA

175         Kansas City, KS

176         Jackson, MS

177         Lincoln, NE

178         Oxnard, CA

179         Amarillo, TX

180         Anchorage, AK

181         Salinas, CA


Highlights and Lowlights:

Parmesan wheel castorly PicmonkeySection of Parmesan wheel captureed by Castorly Stock from Pexels

  • Chicago: The 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 our 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 our 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. And we're happy to report that both Wisconsin cities in our ranking form part of that elite group: Madison finished seventh, while Milwaukee placed 10th, thanks to high marks across the (charcuterie) board.

Green Bay didn't make our 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.

Our full ranking and analysis can be found here:

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