If you’ve ever traveled between the Twin Cities and Iowa along I-35, you may have noticed the Faribault Cheese Cave billboard. One thing that you should know before you run to the Cave O’ Cheese, is that there isn’t a cave made of cheese and you can’t actually go into the cave. It does exist, though.
Caves of Faribault cheese is truly aged in caves located in a sandstone bluff within the city. Tours of the caves are no longer allowed due to federal regulations but you can peek inside via a video tour.
The original cave was created in 1805 by Fleckenstein Brewing (no longer operating) and utilized until the prohibition. In the 1930’s, cheesemaker Felix Frederiksen began using the caves to produce the Amablue blue cheese. And our first domestic cave-aged blue cheese was born. Another company moved cheese production to another site in the 90’s until the Caves of Faribault/Faribault Dairy brought it back into the caves.
The Cheese Cave is a petite storefront and restaurant in Faribault’s main street area downtown. It’s probably a seven-minute drive from the exit off of I-35. The store offers a selection of products such as honey, specialty pantry items, cheese serving tools (like graters, cutters, etc), coolers with that include their cheese, and their cheeses, of course.
Guests can sample the cheeses at the deli case. The shop manager used the spatula-like cheese slicer to cut perfect, ribbons of their goudas and swisses for sampling.
Growing up in the south suburbs of the Twin Cities, going out to eat at Bonanza was a treat. I loved their giant salad bar buffet. Near the end of the buffet, they laid out a giant brick of cheddar along with one of those spatula cheese slicers. I loved shaving off razor-thin slices from the brick.
The cheese that surprised me the most was the swiss. Swiss is typically not my favorite cheese. I find it waxy and bland. The manager sampled their version of this sandwich swiss along with two additional varieties. They tasted sharper in flavor with a surprising creamy texture.
My Faribault guide Kelly made sure I tried one of her favorites, the savory Cocoa Cave Aged gouda. She also shared how much she loves the fresh cheese curds. These are only produced on certain days. Faribault cheese enthusiasts seem to know which days are the cheese curds arrive and buy them quickly. Throughout the rest of the trip, I noticed Caves of Faribault cheese featured on almost every menu.
A big bar and dining area are located behind the retail space and deli counter. From the bar you can watch the staff and chefs in action. I ordered the AmaBlue Gorgonzola salad. The mound of fresh greens is topped with pear, bacon, creamy gorgonzola crumbles, candied pecans, and homemade red wine vinaigrette.
I watched the chef remove sizzling pizzas from the oven. They are made with cracker-thin crusts and include the local cheese. Dishes hover around the $10 range. Cheesecake, beer and cider + wine are available, too.
If you visit, make time to taste some of the cheeses. Don’t be timid to ask if you can try them. And even if you don’t love blue cheese, there are so many other types, you’re bound to find something you like.
The Cheese Cave
318 Central Ave N # 6,
Faribault, MN 55021
Phone: (507) 334-3988
- Minnesota Prairie Roots’ fantastic post about Faribault highlights including the Cheese Cave
- Heavy Table’s post about the Cheese Cave’s Amablueberry cheesecake (2012)
- Heavy Table’s 2009 piece about the Cheese Caves which includes fascinating information about how the chemistry and climate of the limestone caves effect cheese production, bringing production back to the caves, etc.
- Blog post from blogger Small Town Washington (2016) who took the Minneroadtrip after TBEX. She visits The Cheese Cave and features a photo of eating the Faribault Dairy fried cheese curds served at The Depot.