Grilled cheese is comforting perfection in only two or three ingredients. There are few things more satisfying than a ridiculously crispy, golden exterior that gives way to a molten core of pure, cheesy ooze. Hungry yet? Well, to satisfy your next craving we’re profiling 10 of the most delectable, most indulgent, most finger lickin’ good grilled cheese restaurants in America. Whether you like yours gussied up or as pure and simple as cheese-meets-bread, these 10 eateries turn out specimens that are so good you may just want to plan a road trip to try them all.
Earl’s Beer and Cheese, New York
Occupying a space on the Upper East Side that’s barely bigger than a closet, Earl’s Beer and Cheese does, well, beer and cheese. The New York State cheddar sandwich puts an over-the-top decadent, totally sloppy spin on grilled cheese, pairing braised pork belly chunks with melted cheese, a fried egg and even an nontraditional dollop of kimchi. It’s unbelievably good, particularly with a frothy pint of craft beer on the side.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Seattle and New York
Beecher’s is the destination in New York and Seattle for turophiles (that’s fancy-speak for “cheese lovers”). They’ve got cases full of tempting wheels, glassed-in cheese making facilities where you can watch the artisans in action, and a mac ’n cheese recipe that’s been called the world’s best. As much as we can go in for a cup of the stuff, their oozy sandwich, made with their flagship Gruyere-Cheddar hybrid cheese, is to die for.
The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles
What’s better than a grilled cheese kitchen on wheels? Seriously though, we cannot think of anything better than that. Bringing joy to Angelenos from Pasadena to Venice Beach, the sunny yellow truck slings sandwiches that range from the classic to the mind melting (think pretzel bread, a mac ’n cheese filling, and even dessert grilled cheese).
South Philadelphia Tap Room, Philadelphia
Philadelphia is a beer-loving town, so it’s only reasonable that there’s plenty of suds-absorbing food offered. The cheesesteak gets much of the press in this city, but the grilled cheese at South Philadelphia Tap Room, loaded up with three different kinds of curds, is king of this neck of the woods as far as we’re concerned. It comes with a cup of lager-dosed tomato soup, naturally.
American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, San Francisco
Before you even step in the door, you can tell that American Grilled Cheese Kitchen knows what to do when given slices of bread and a few slabs of cheese. There are 11 sandwiches on the all-day menu (try the Jalapeño Popper with chèvre and apricot-jalapeño relish), and even some breakfast options. And because this is San Francisco, sandwiches are served with tangerines and strawberries on the side. Pssh. You don’t have to eat them, though.
Milk Truck, New York
The Gotham equivalent of L.A.’s Grilled Cheese Truck, the Biggie to its Tupac, is Milk Truck — a cheery little vehicle that putters around the city. All of its sandwiches combine several different cheese varieties into a symphony of goo, and the “milk” in its name comes from the side menu of milkshakes – we recommend the crushed malt ball. Just don’t be one of those wimps who orders a side salad, or you’ll get some serious side-eye.
Readers of “Esquire Magazine” voted Cheesie’s the best grilled cheese venue in the country, and we’re not likely to ignore that kind of consensus. The sandwiches here are as cheesy as they come, and it’s open fittingly late for the fun-loving crowd. And if you really, really love grilled cheese, you can sign on for the Cheesie’s Challenge, which bets diners that they can’t wolf down an 8-pound stack of sandwiches in 45 minutes. We’ve got more faith in you than that.
Brunch Box, Portland, Ore.
Leave it to Portland to serve up grilled cheese with a side of whimsy. For instance: dinosaur-shaped sandwiches for the kids (and kids at heart). Otherwise, you can throw all caloric caution to the wind and order the Redonkadonk, a burger that uses two grilled cheese sandwiches in place of buns.
Cowgirl Creamery, San Francisco
In San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza, an indoor market and foodie dream destination, Cowgirl Creamery is renowned for serving up some of the best cheeses around (including its own award-winning wheels). However, there’s more to the venue than its cheese counter. Like Sidekick, its café next door which serves a rotating menu of grilled cheese, open-faced sandwiches, and flatbread cheese melts. Given the quality of the cheese being used, you can bet these are some special sandwiches.
Roxy’s in Boston has earned enough acclaim to win it a spot on The Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race,” but even when it’s not starring on the small screen, the food here is sure to please. Its sandwiches push the envelope on tradition – like the Mighty Rib Melt, which combines braised beef and caramelized onions with fontina. Pairings like Nutella hot cocoa and truffle fries come together to form the perfect meal.
Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to… whose guides cover all the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, sights, shops and spas.