Cheese plates are becoming a more popular item on Bay Area menus, whether served as an appetizer or dessert. But what if a restaurant focused entirely on cheese? That’s the idea behind Mission Cheese on Valencia Street.
Owner Sarah Dvorak moved from the home of cheese, Wisconsin, and opened up her very own restaurant in the Mission District. She never realized her true love of cheese until she left Wisconsin for California. Her passion was stoked even further after she took a cross-country cheese tour, covering 13 states in 2009.
Mission Cheese opened in April with plenty of fanfare and has been busy ever since. It features a wide variety of cheese dishes from cheese flights to hot pressed sandwiches and smaller dishes. The flights include the milder California cheeses to the more flavorful varieties of the Midwest and East Coast. Everything is very reasonably priced and if you like cheese, it is like heaven. The portions are perfectly matched, it doesn’t leave you starving but also, won’t fill you to full capacity.
There is also a really terrific wine list (lots of Santa Barbara wines) and plenty of locally brewed beers to choose from, including several options from North Coast Brewing Company.
The entire design fits the scope of the restaurant to a T. In total, including the bar and outdoor seating, the restaurant can probably fit a max of 30-35 people. It is meant for people looking to grab a quick bite and a drink in a relaxed, non-pretentious setting. From ordering off a chalkboard to the self-serve utensils and the mason jars as beer glasses, Mission Cheese has that feel of down-home comfort with an ode to the Midwest.
Mission Cheese has quickly become one of my favorite places to get grab a small meal. There is a real neighborhood feel to the restaurant, like it was always meant for the Mission. Service is always pleasant and Sarah is always willing to answer questions. I may have some underlying bias because I lived with roommates from the Midwest, Wisconsin in particular, but people from that part of the country are generally friendlier than from other areas. And she brings that Midwest charm to Mission Cheese.
Mission Cheese is located at 736 Valencia Street. The restaurant is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11-8.