2201 Airline Dr.
Custom-cut Texas and American cheeses
Houston Dairymaids aren’t mere cheesemongers; they’re curators and advocates for little-known artisan cheese-makers. When you walk in the door, you’re greeted with six cheese samples along with a fascinating explanation of the spectrum of cheese styles represented—there are new ones featured every day. When the business began seven years ago, the founders traveled across Texas discovering great cheeses, selling them at farmers markets. These days, their brick-and-mortar shop on Airline is the best place in Houston to learn about Texas cheese, but the inventory has expanded to include great artisanal cheeses from all over the country. Nothing here is wrapped in plastic—it’s bespoke cheese, cut by hand, to order, and carefully wrapped in paper so it can breathe. Dairymaids also offers a small selection of handpicked wines.
Murray’s (at Kroger stores)
Selections from New York’s oldest cheese store
You’ll find more than 150 cheeses—some of them rare exclusives—at each of the Murray’s kiosks located inside eight Kroger stores in the Houston area, each with its own dedicated staff of trained experts who receive training at Murray’s headquarters in New York. The original Murray’s in Greenwich Village operates like a European affineur (cheese finisher), buying cheese from farmers and aging it. The company maintains extensive cheese caves of four different temperature and humidity types (warm for washed rinds, cool and dry for bloomy rinds, cold and humid for blue cheese, and warm and humid for giant wheels of slow-ripening Alpine cheeses). When they reach peak maturity, they’re distributed throughout the Murray’s chain.
Whole Foods Market
Custom-cut cheese from around the world
Check the blackboard for award-winning cheeses, new additions, and team-member suggestions. Any of the 250 or more varieties on hand at Whole Foods can be sliced to any size you request, from a sliver to a slab. You’ll find top cheeses from all over the world here and lots of accompanying wisdom—Whole Foods employs more American Cheese Society Certified Cheese Professionals than any other retailer in the world—along with recommended pairings from the store’s wine department.
The city’s largest cheese selection
The largest cheese case in the city features 600 hand-sliced varieties, including some European selections seldom found in Houston. Recommendations from employees are sometimes pedestrian, but the wine-pairing suggestions posted are always well thought-out—the union of dry Riesling and a gooey Petit Munster was a recent happy marriage.
2410 Smith St.
Alcohol isn’t the only area in which the downtown store excels. There’s a huge pile of wedges from all over the world in the cheese case, with plenty of bargains to be had. Just don’t expect much in the way of help or expertise.