Photo by Abigail Cerquitella
Photo by Adam Amengual
Los Angeles–based Now Serving provides cookbooks, cooking supplies, and a culinary community.
For the food-obsessed, these bookstores aren’t just places to buy the latest cookbook. They’re also community hubs, where you can meet with fellow food-lovers, learn a new cooking skill—or even meet your favorite chef.
Although recipes are readily available online and in magazines, culinary bookstores continue to be relevant for home cooks and industry folks alike. But where once these food-themed bookstores mostly sold cookbooks, today they are community spaces where readers can also attend a secret dinner or learn how to cook from one of their favorite reads. We rounded up of five of the best U.S. cookbook shops to experience food beyond the page.
Located in Seattle’s North Fremont neighborhood, Book Larder is the city’s only cookbook shop. Owner Lara Hamilton stocks the colorful space with all the trendy new titles, such as Ignacio Mattos’s Estela cookbook and Noma’s fermentation guide, as well as indie food mags like Put A Egg On It and Compound Butter. But she also brings those books to life via cooking classes that cover everything from handmade pasta to pistachio meringues, with recipes taken straight from the current titles sold in-store. 4252 Fremont Ave. N.
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New York City has no shortage of cookbook stores. Bonnie Slotnick, Kitchen Arts & Letters, and the just-opened LizzYoung Bookseller (which carries a vast selection of M.F.K. Fischer books) are all special places to buy food-focused literature. But Archestratus in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood expands what a cookbook shop can be. Walking into Archestratus, you encounter owner Paige Lipari’s well-curated collection of colorful vintage cookbooks, a psychedelic Campbell’s Soup Can poster, and puzzles shaped like papayas. Lipari commissioned a local artist to paint tangles of pasta on the walls, and all the playlists you’ll hear while perusing are food themed. In the back, Archestratus has a little-known Sicilian café that serves coffee and classic dishes such as green chili, garlic, and mozzarella arancini. At night, the store hosts secret pop-up dinners helmed by special guests, such as a Cambodian family-style meal with chef Chinchakriya Un or an LGBTQ-focused barbecue with Mouthfeel Magazine. 160 Huron St.
Now Serving, Los Angeles
Located in a mall in Chinatown, Now Serving launched last year and has quickly become the city’s best cookbook shop. Founded by chef Ken Concepcion and his wife, makeup artist Michelle Mungcal, Now Serving hosts tastings and author talks, featuring celebrity guests from the food world, such as comedian Eric Wareheim (owner of Las Jaras wine) and Jessica Koslow of Sqirl. Recent events included a launch party for the natural wine magazine Glou Glou and a Q&A with Alison Pearlman, the author of May We Suggest, a new book about the graphic design of restaurant menus. In addition to cookbooks, Now Serving also offers espresso mugs, knife rolls, and aprons from local makers, as well as sales on its extensive archive of food magazines. As development encroaches on Chinatown, Now Serving has made an effort to highlight lesser-known eateries via community events. One recent Thursday, the store featured Kurobuta pork chile verde with burnt onion crema and tortillas from beloved local market La Princesita. Far East Plaza 727 N. Broadway, Unit 133
Omnivore Books on Food, San Francisco
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Omnivore’s owner, Celia Sack, is an expert on food-related vintage and antiquarian ephemera (she carries 40 years of Chez Panisse menus as well as a cookbook from the epicurean intellectual Alice B. Toklas). But more than that, Omnivore is a place where the city’s top chefs gather. And although Sack specializes in food history, she keeps up with the times: A recent event for Stephanie Hua and Coreen Carrol, authors of the new Edibles: Small Bites for the Modern Cannabis Kitchen, included weed-laced treats because Sack is a trailblazer who blazes, too. Sack may also be one of the few cookbook shop owners to have published her own book. 3885 Cesar Chavez St.
Chef Barbara Lynch, a James Beard Award–winner and Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef, owns many restaurants throughout Boston: No 9 Park, B&G Oysters, The Butcher Shop, Drink, Sportello, and Menton. But Stir, a cookbook shop that also doubles as a restaurant and demonstration kitchen, is one of her most exciting endeavors. In addition to its impressive selection of cookbook titles, Stir boasts the city’s most exciting food pop-ups, with menus inspired by Lynch’s other eateries. Most recently, she introduced “Stir on the Road,” immersive culinary tours, such as a white truffle boot camp in Piedmont, Italy. 102 Waltham St.
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