11 Culinary Bookstores You Need To Visit Across The US

Love food, cooking, and cookbooks? Whether you're planning a big old bucket list trip, a one-time destination visit, or you happen to live nearby a place on this list, we've got you covered for all the biggest culinary bookstores and gastronomical antiques in the country. We're talking more cookbooks, vintage housewares, and hand-written recipes than you can shake a spatula at. Fast-paced, digital, and untouchable are the antithesis of what we're looking for here. Your journey might encompass more than the US, but we're using it as a starting point before you set off to discover cookbooks elsewhere, like La Librairie Gourmande, the beautiful Paris culinary bookstore.

Since 2012, the number of bookstores in the US has dropped from 16,454 to 7,173 in 2020, the pandemic's peak. As of 2022, the number has rebounded slightly to 9,865 (as per IBIS World.) However, this statistic only considers bookstores as a whole; the numbers for culinary specialty stores across the country are likely much lower. In recent years, cookbook-only bookstores have decreased, leaving us struggling to find more than 10 left across the country. Covid, the possibility of buying anything and everything online, and the advent of questionable influencer recipes on social media have made us less than likely to leave our cozy abodes in search of culinary artifacts. But, at the same time, it's given us a reason to go back to our old-school roots. Hands-on, printed cookbooks are back in vogue, baby.

Archestratus Books - Brooklyn, NY

Located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Archestratus Books combines a few elements, all tied together under one culinary umbrella. Opening in 2014 and adding an adjoining cafe a year later, owner Paige Lipari relates everything back to that superb theme — food. Carrying a variety of genres beyond cookbooks, the shop is filled with more than 4,500 fiction and nonfiction works, travel guides, business texts, and graphic novels, all centering around gustatory delights. 

Named for Sicilian poet Archestratus who is thought to have authored the first cookbook, the store encompasses everything to do with eating and preparing food, from hosting tasting parties and book clubs to selling traditional homemade Sicilian pastries. In-person events are a huge part of the bookstore, including making cinnamon buns with Swedish illustrator and cook Johanna Kindvall, as well as the incredibly popular rainbow cookie workshops. Lipari's own family background has inspired much of the Sicilian food and drink that she stocks in both the bookstore and cafe sections of the space, per Broadway Stages, and the grocery section that stocks the incredibly tempting Tote of Ecstatic Experience gift set. Lipari is also intent on building community through regular pop-up dinners that feature inexpensive Sicilian food intended to bring customers together.

Ben Kinmont Books - Sebastopol, CA

Specializing in antique culinary books and gastronomical writings, Ben Kinmont opened Kinmont Books in 1998 as an art project that examined typical art gallery structures and how it affects artists' financial independence — as he himself needed a way to support his family as a working artist. He found that antique books were the answer. Even if you're not necessarily into the intersection of the arts and economics, this bookstore is still a treasure trove for anyone looking for rare culinary works and the occasional interesting artifact, like a 15th-century Scottish spurtle utensil.

Having moved the shop from New York City to Sebastopol, California, in 2003, Kinmont Books continues to operate as an extension of Ben Kinmont's art practice (as per Les Presses Du Réel) but is also a legitimately knowledgable dealer of hard-to-find tomes on food and wine from the 15th to 19th centuries. A brighter and more airy space than many on the list, it isn't cramped with floor-to-ceiling stacks of books. Rather, Kinmont's art background definitely gives the shop a gallery-like quality. And much like any art gallery worth its salt, visits are by appointment only.

Bold Fork Books - Washington DC

Clementine Thomas, a self-confessed cookbook obsessive, cites "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" as the book that permanently changed her eating trajectory and made her fall in love with all things food (via the Washingtonian). So it isn't a surprise that, like many of us, she truly loves pouring over cookbooks. Thomas and husband Sam Vasfi stock Bold Fork Books in Mount Pleasant, Washington, DC, with an awe-inspiring selection of mostly modern gastro-texts (although the art and design section is pretty stunning, too) that will inspire you to feel the same way. Thomas makes sure to stock books that will inspire both novice and old-hand cooks alike (per Washington City Paper) to encourage all levels of customer experience.

Thomas and Vasfi actually opened the brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic, at the height of the 2020 baking boom. While other independent businesses were suffering, Bold Fork Books figured out how to take advantage of the upswing in home cooking. The website also has online shopping, but for those of you in the neighborhood, the in-store book club offerings look awfully appealing, too. Meeting and greeting with some of today's top cookbook writers in an intimate setting? Yes, please. 

Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks - Manhattan, NY

Are you looking for something a little homier? Maybe someplace cozy, with walls filled with spiral-bound, community fundraising cookbooks, or a place that Atlas Obscura describes as housing entire volumes on 70's canapes and even everything fondue? Bonnie Slotnick Books opened in 1997 and has spent the last 25 years collecting out-of-print or retro cookbooks that, frankly, remind us of our youth. Slotnick also carries modern works that she picks up through customers, estate sales, and other large-volume purchases, as the majority of the stock is second-hand.

The small shop, located in New York's East Village, is also lovingly packed with all sorts of homewares that continue the kitschy and charming theme; much of it is sweetly nostalgia-inducing. And as we've said before, you shouldn't discredit older cookbooks, especially if you're a new cook; those heavy tomes cover more of the basics than most more recent books. Slotnick cherishes the interaction between her customers and her wares, seeing the excitement at finding something forgotten. The joy of finding a particularly nostalgic cookbook for a customer is what matters most to her, adding that the human connection can't be found on Amazon (via Thrillist.) 

Book Larder - Seattle, WA

If you're only interested in the newest of the new releases, Seattle's North Fremont neighborhood Book Larder is probably high on your list of must-visits. Since 2011, it has been a destination for cookbook lovers, cookbook authors, and those who associate a community with food. This community-focused thinking is apparent in the care put into the selection of AAPI, diaspora, and BIPOC writers, who make up a large percentage of the stock. Carrying up to 1,200 titles in the relatively small space means that owner Lara Hamilton stays on top of food trends, like the pandemic sourdough and fermenting booms, in order to carry what customers are currently seeking, including indie food mags, pantry items, and gastro-related gifts (via The Seattle Times).

Book Larder is also a terrific spot for anyone looking for cooking classes aimed at eaters interested in trying something new or improving their skills. The bright, colorful shop is perfect for gathering around a luxe kitchen counter and engaging your senses. The meet-the-author nights are so successful that they're often moved to a larger space, so keep that in mind and book ahead! 

Kitchen Arts & Letters - Manhattan, NY

Often cited as the first culinary bookstore in the US, Manhattan's Kitchen Arts & Letters was, and still is, thought of as the center of the American cookbook universe. Opened by Nach Waxman in 1983, the philosophy has been cooks first, publishers second. The bookstore asserts that the employees will always tell customers the truth about the books carried in the store rather than appeasing publishers, accomplishing this with aplomb and good-natured humor. And unlike many of the entries on this list, Kitchen Arts & Letters focuses on just one thing, books. There's no bar — espresso, cocktail, snack, or otherwise. Shelf after shelf of meticulously organized cookbooks and tomes on food culture is the aesthetic here.

Waxman's love for food history and culture, carried on by his family and staff after his passing in 2021, is showcased in the stacks of books available in the store. One of the larger entries on the list, this Lexington avenue institution is known for the great care taken in helping customers find exactly what they're looking for, often disappearing into the cavernous basement to look for something specific. The shop is especially adored by food service professionals for practical information as well as stunning inspiration (as per Total Food).

Lizzyoung Bookseller - Newport, RI

A bookseller that mostly stocks rare releases (a few thousand, according to the L.A.Times) and a couple of hundred new books, Lizzy Young is a lot more than just cookbooks. After leaving the rare book world, she opened this shop for collectors of food and social history, politics, and culture. This means you won't find just piles of the newest, shiniest releases in this cute little Newport, Rhode Island location. Rather, the proprietor stocks vintage cookbooks, out-of-print exclusives, rare foodie writings, and everything you could ever want to know about M.F.K. Fisher. Young acquired the writer's complete archives during her time in rare books and is just waiting for the right enthusiast to come along.

Not to be left behind in the competitive online gastro market, there's also a selection of historical ephemera and the occasional vintage kitchen hardware that might appeal to the collector in you. While the store doesn't appear to have many events, it has absolute mountains of vintage cookery photography, writing, and women's history.

Now Serving - Los Angeles, CA

Chef Ken Concepcion and makeup artist Michelle Mungcal own Now Serving, a small but gorgeous storefront in LA's Chinatown's Far East Plaza. Since 2018, the two have stocked a venerable selection of cookbooks, independent food magazines, and superb specialty food items. And not to take away from the cookbook theme, but the ceramics Now Serving offers are out of this world stunning; Mungcal takes credit for making sure the bookstore doesn't look "too much like a library" (via The LA Times). But their specialty is absolutely food and cookbooks — looking for something out of print? This store can help with that, too. Book signings and author conversations also happen on a regular basis.

Concepcion left fine dining to open the shop when he and Mungcal decided to start a family, and a specialty bookstore allowed them to stay in the culinary world while leaving behind the stress of chef life. According to LA Downtowner, it was important to the couple to fill in the gap in the market — LA hasn't had a dedicated cookbook shop since 2009. Concepcion taught himself everything he knew about cooking by reading cookbooks rather than attending culinary school. He wanted to help others in the same situation by stocking all the texts that helped him succeed.

Omnivore Books on Food - San Francisco, CA

Omnivore Books on Food brilliantly straddles the line between modern and vintage food writing, offering all sorts of works focusing on cooking and growing and raising your own comestibles. And you can find nearly any cookbook from any country you desire — owner Celia Sack is adamant that food will bring us together and that cookbooks from other cultures are the place to start because the love of food is a global phenomenon. If she doesn't have a particular title, she can very likely find it for you. And antique books? She has those, too, including a first edition 1931 copy of The Joy of Cooking (now sold). But seriously ... this store has the goods. 

The Noe Valley, San Francisco shop was opened by Sack and her partner, Paula Harris, in a vacant space next to the pet store they owned (per Shelf Awareness) on the corner of Church and Cesar Chavez streets. The 600-square-foot shop is a gorgeous example of what happens when someone follows their passion. A relatively small space, it remains open and cheery while stocking loads of well-organized books and objects.

Rabelais Books - Biddeford, ME

Another antiquarian entry, Rabelais Books in Biddeford, Maine, is owned by Don Lindgren. The work isn't just collecting and selling books and ephemera; it's also to help consumers understand how these works contribute to society at large, as per Life and Thyme. Rabelais mostly caters to individuals looking to expand their culinary knowledge. Still, the store also works with academic institutions to help support the idea that our culinary history is aligned with our cultural history. Don't sweat it if you're not a scholar or historian, though. Rabelais is a font of culinary knowledge for even the beginner cook or bartender. 

Rabelais Books carries more than cookbooks, stocking piles of photographs, prints, and other "expressions of the culture of food." The store is also heavily targeted to everything cocktail-related, selling all sorts of writing and ephemera relating to winemaking, soda fountains, home brewing, and cocktail culture. Stop in to learn about vintage foodstuffs. If you're lucky, you might even have a conversation about Lindgren's beloved chickens, as the owner is a very knowledgeable gentleman farmer (via Instagram).

Vivienne Kitchen and Pantry - Portland, OR

Portland, Oregon's Vivienne rounds out this list with a veritable banger of a bookstore. Recently converting the space from a full-time cafe to a cookbook shop with a daily wine bar (cheekily called The Secret Bar), with the help of a successful community-backed fundraiser, owner Robin Wheelright wanted to transform the space into a more interactive culinary experience. Serving fresh afternoon pastries, bar snacks, and vermouth cocktails, according to Bridgetown Bites, the space is now stocked with linens, vintage cookware, and, of course, stacks of tomes about anything and everything food. Woman-owned and operated, Vivienne also supports other local female-owned businesses, including small producers and natural winemakers that stock the bar. 

The renovated space makes Vivienne perfect for loads of incredible cooking classes (like this mouthwatering and super trendy chili crunch class). The shop also offers the occasional small-capacity chef's counter lunch seatings — where a lucky few get to watch (and, yes, eat!) cookbook authors prepare dishes from their newest releases.