A cheesy summer meltdown
July 24th, 2011
10:30 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to get our grub on, we listen up.

When it gets so hot outside, everyone starts obsessing over ice cream sandwiches. Not me. Instead, I want to talk about savory, greasy, fried grilled cheese sandwiches.

Luckily for me, a lot of people are on my wavelength and they’re making terrific - or at least thought-provoking - versions.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, San Francisco
AGCK takes their grilled cheese seriously enough to have a breakfast menu: The Breakfast Piglet is filled with sharp Cheddar, ham, egg and apple mustard. At lunch, they serve a no-egg version of it, as well as the Mousetrap, made with cheddar, creamy Havarti and Monterey Jack on artisan sourdough. The place, nearby Candlestick Park, usually closes at 4 p.m. but they extend their hours to the first pitch for most Giants home night baseball games.

The Grilled Cheese Truck, Los Angeles

In most places, macaroni and cheese and house-smoked BBQ pork are side dishes. At the Grilled Cheese Truck, they’re the basis for the Cheesy Mac & Rib Sandwich. Likewise, the Pepperbelly Melt is filled with housemade chili and Fritos (served with habanero jack cheese on cheddar jalapeño bread). You can also design your own sandwich with both the BBQ pork and chili, but that may be getting a little crazy.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese, Boston
In keeping with the theme of grilled cheese places that respect their local baseball parks, Roxy’s offers the Green Muenster, an homage to Fenway Park’s famed left field wall. (It’s a mix of Muenster cheese, guacamole and bacon.) Here, too, mac & cheese is considered a sandwich filling: mixed with spicy sausage and caramelized onions - it's called Mac & Chorizo. Among Roxy’s ingenious inventions: they brush the bread with mayonnaise rather than butter before slapping it on the griddle.

Queens Kickshaw, Queens, NY
This new café uses the amazing ethnic diversity of its hometown Queens to inspire the menu. Sandwiches include the Greek-influenced feta with roasted red pepper spread, and the French-style Gruyère with pickled and caramelized onions. I’m not sure what country inspires the grilled cheese with gouda, black bean hummus and guava jam, but it sounds tasty.

Grilled Cheese & Co., Cantonsville, MD
This mini-chain now has three locations in Maryland. So, of course, they have the Crabby Melt: melted jack cheese on top of their homemade ‘crabby dip.’ Among their current specials is the Hermanator, designed by NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace: provolone, turkey breast, pickles with honey-mustard sauce.

More from Food & Wine

10 Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

America’s Wacky Fair Foods

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipes

Great Recipes with Cheese

Weirdest Regional Foods

Previously – "Grilled cheese tips from a sandwich master" and "Five tips for a not-so traditional grilled cheese"

© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.

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Filed under: Bite • Content Partner • Dishes • Food and Wine • Grilled Cheese • Sandwiches

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soundoff (76 Responses)
  1. Loopman

    I'm with all of you purists on the "simple" grilled cheese recipe. Slather some butter on a couple of slices of bread and slap on the cheese (whatever's your favorite) and cook to a toasty golden brown and slop it in some hot tomato soup. Meal fit for a King.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  2. Bailes

    Grilled cheese with a side of salsa for dunking, YUM, butter the pan not the bread for a seriously crunchy crust!

    July 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  3. Debbykm

    Try Tom + Chee in Cincinnati! 4 different kinds of tomato soup and any 4 different cheeses on your sandwich! Yum!

    July 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  4. happytam

    Bread, butter and cheese. The simple ingredients make the most delicious sandwich. I know what I'm having for dinner tonight. It will match perfectly with a bowl of tomato soup and some oyster crackers.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  5. Breaking News!

    Scientists at the CDC have discovered that cheese is the source for all diseases, ever. When reached for comment, cheese stated, "F@#& YOU CDC! YOU DON'T KNOW ME!"

    And now back to your regularly scheduled Eatocracy...

    July 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  6. I want da gold!

    What's with some of you? Nuts, pears, blue cheese, etc.?

    Two slices of bread, good ole Kraft American processed cheese product, butter, and ketchup (or tomato soup) for dipping.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Steve-o

      Some of us are nuts.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  7. MATT


    July 25, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  8. Vegan for Life

    Teese in place of that nasty Kraft food product on Essene bread is the best ever!

    July 25, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  9. DD

    It ain't the sandwich or money it's the atmosphere people! Least for me. Of course you can make food cheaper at home, but that's not why I go out to eat. Even breakfast & lunch is worth going out if you can afford it & love the places you go to.

    July 25, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  10. ZJS


    July 25, 2011 at 9:12 am |
  11. dragonwife

    Multigrain bread with some good quality cheddar slices (heaven forbid the ugh-making "cheese food" slices), with pepperoni slices in between the cheese slices. Mmmmmmm..... now I might have to make 'em for dinner....

    July 25, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  12. Makin Bacon

    Gimme a BLT.

    July 25, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  13. Kimmy

    I prefer my grilled cheese the classic way- White bread, orange cheese, fried in butter but I do have one stipulation: a glass of chocolate milk for dunking! My ex boyfriend introduced me to the crazy combination in high school & I have yet to quit eating it.

    July 25, 2011 at 5:41 am |
  14. dsavio

    the Giants don't play in candlestick park anymore. I hope AGCK is not located near there, because it's at china point, nowhere near the heart of the city.

    July 25, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  15. Lindsey

    My heart is broken. I was so excited to come across this article because I was sure that my favorite and many other Chicagoans favorite grill cheese place, Cheesy's would be acknowledge. They keep it cheesy, my friend.

    July 25, 2011 at 3:40 am |
    • Lindsey

      I'm sorry that comment was super rude of me. I must admit that my rage got the best of me to the point that I even missed spelled Cheesie's name.

      July 25, 2011 at 3:42 am |
  16. Sherri

    OMG! I am so hungry now!!

    July 25, 2011 at 3:19 am |
  17. Sandwich Countess

    Using mayo as the fat on the bread instead of butter is a matter of taste. I heard about it years ago on Recipezaar, tried it, and had to throw the sandwich away. The texture of the grilled bread was gross, and while butter smells great melting in a hot pan, sizzling mayonnaise does not. I'd use olive oil if I had to, but never mayo. Never again.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:53 am |
  18. cUCurt

    I like to put that jalapeno cheese.. or it spicy, forget what its called in my grilled cheese.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:44 am |
  19. Steve M

    Dont know how you could possibly write a grilled cheese article without including Melt Bar and Grilled. Should be #1 on the list. Food network has covered it extensively and there is no grilled cheese even close to as good anywhere.

    July 25, 2011 at 2:18 am |
  20. ledzeppelinsux

    "nearby Candlestick Park", ahAHAHAH ahahah AHAHAH . Nice try.

    July 25, 2011 at 1:31 am |
  21. Ken in NC

    DAM.....All this cheese talk has made me hungry. Gotta go make me a grill cheese sandwich with bacon.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm |
  22. tokyo joe

    When I lived in New Zealand they served it with sweet corn kernels spread around in the cheese it was delicious!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  23. CHKY

    Bah.. George Foreman Grill, Kraft cheese and whole wheat bread is all I need. Don't even need butter.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  24. pjh1980

    You people realize there is only one grilled cheese recipe right? Two slices white bread spread with Country Crock, and a slice of American cheese. Anything else is a farce. Fancy it up all you want, and it might be delicious, but it won't be true grilled cheese.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
  25. eeek!

    Carbs fried in fat... yum...

    Never been a fan of grilled cheese. 9 times out of 10 it is way too greasy for me. Also, doesn't help too much that I'm lactose intolerant.

    Every so often I'll make up a sandwhich with some turkey or a chicken breast with some fresh veggies and a slice or two of lactose free white cheddar or pepperjack and grill it in a pan to get the bread crispy and the cheese melted. That's pretty good and the closest thing I get to grilled cheese.

    July 24, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  26. Opinionated

    I like my plain jane grilled cheese dipped in Tabasco!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  27. marty

    No, No. Go the whole way and get a cheese frenchee.. Start with a cheese sandwich with mayo, then batter it and deep fry it. Mmmmmm. Comfort food. Not for everyday, but a great treat.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
  28. bajadelmar

    This idiot writer has never eaten at the AGCK otherwise she would know that it's near downtown SF by the baseball park and the bay bridge. The Stick is about 10 miles South of downtown close to Brisbane, right next to the bay. How can you trust anything they say when they have not even been there?

    July 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  29. Pablo

    Fattest nation on Earth...and an ode to fried cheese sandwiches.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Humor

      Oh please, not everyone is fat in the US, and by the way, all the other modern countries are catching up. So grab a griddle and enjoy.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
  30. julie

    And don't forget, The Grilled Cheeserie in Nashville food truck!

    July 24, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Clockworktomato

      Yes! Love The Grilled Cheeserie and their Croque Madame!

      July 24, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  31. Fifi

    Sliced Gala apples, Dijon or rough German mustard, extra sharp Tillamook cheese (grated), on sliced whole grain bread, grilled in plenty of butter.

    Any cheese or mixture thereof, a generous dollop of adjvar, on rough bread.

    Blue cheese and Bosc pears on walnut bread.

    Bosc pears and Manchego cheese on French bread with (if you eat meat...I don't) Spanish ham.

    I love grilled cheese.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  32. cpc65

    The sandwich in the photo looks like it was made with Velveta. That's not real cheese! Land O' Lakes white American cheese is the way to go for your basic grilled cheese delicacy. Best on seedless rye or pumpernickel YUM!!!!

    July 24, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Aubrey

      That sounds majorly YUCK!

      July 25, 2011 at 4:49 am |
  33. Karen

    Catonsville, MD. TYPO! This is a suburb of Baltimore.

    July 24, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  34. Leivan

    I'll be sure to check these locales out next time I'm in NY, LA, and Boston!

    July 24, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  35. Marie

    Some things are best left alone – I'm happy with my childhood version of plain old Kraft slices on white bread, with Campbell's tomato soup for dunking. No way am I paying money in a restaurant for a grilled cheese sandwich, no matter how froo-froo it is....

    July 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Heather

      Thank you! I agree 100% Plain old orange cheese on buttery white bread with a piping hot bowl of tomato soup to dip it. Anything else feels like putting a chrome spoiler on a model T.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Humor

      Switch the Kraft to sharp cheddar, but the tomato soup is a must.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Kelly

      While I agree with you that the best grilled cheese sandwich is the childhood Kraft 7 white bread classic, there is nothing "frou frou" about having other kids of grilled cheese sandwiches. Sometimes people are just in the mood for something different.

      July 25, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • Bill Sargent

      Well, I agree with what people say here about sometimes wanting something different.... but most of the stuff these restaurants are making can be made at home and very cheap. Spending tons of money on a couple of slices of bread and some cheese is stupid when you can do it at home for pennies.

      July 25, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Ms. Grammar

      Agree. The most frou-frou I'll go is making one with pimento cheese. Cream of tomato soup is the only soup with a grilled cheese. Like chicken noodle soup with PBJ sandwich.

      July 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
      • RichardHead@Ms.Grammar

        You forgot the iced cold chocolate milk. It does the trick when fighting a cold.

        July 26, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  36. michelle

    Love the article. Mayo on grilled cheeses isn't an invention from a food truck – it's been around for many many years. Even your linked article mentions it.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
  37. Jamie

    Seriously no Grilled Cheese Grill? What is wrong with you CNN? In addition to the school bus they have a second location in a double decker bus. Check it out... http://grilledcheesegrill.com/

    July 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  38. Nathan

    I'm shocked that The Grilled Cheese Grill in Portland, OR is not on this list. They have the Cheesus and it's in an old school bus. What more do you want?!

    July 24, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • PDxer

      I don't think the Grilled Cheese Grill is that great. I ordered the cheesus burger and wasn't impressed. It was okay but I definitely would not put in on a list of 'best' places for a grilled cheese.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • MA in Atlanta

      Grilled Cheese Grill at 10th and Alberta, behind the Bye and Bye in Portland is fantastic!!!!!!!! The theme of the old school bus and picnic tables is perfect. Haven't seen the doubledecker bus yet....can't wait til I do....and have the "Toddler."

      July 25, 2011 at 5:45 am |
  39. Rabbi Green

    I prefer jersey style, with a slice of tomato and some black pepper.

    July 24, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • ledzeppelinsux

      Have a generous side of guacamole, put some on each bite.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:37 am |
      • Robert Plant

        your screen name sux

        July 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
  40. Anna

    An entire article about awesome grilled cheese restaurants and there's no mention of Melt Bar and Grilled in Cleveland?! They have the best grilled cheese sandwiches and many variations of it! http://www.meltbarandgrilled.com

    July 24, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Anna

      BTW, Adam Richman of Man VS. Food and Guy Fieri from Food Network have visited Melt.

      July 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • LJPIII

      I know!!!! Melt is awesome!

      July 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • mophattio

      good call Anna! anyone who is nearby should visit Melt!

      July 24, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • lisbet

      Serioussssly. I was just going to comment the exact same thing. What a travesty. Melt is the best.

      July 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
    • Gabe

      I was gonna say! How can this list leave out Melt Bar & Grilled in Cleveland, OH?!? Shame on you Kate Krader! You're missing out a gem!

      July 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm |
  41. SFer

    The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is situated right next to AT&T Ballpark (home of the SF Giants). Candlestick park, home of the SF 49'ers, is quite a few miles away.

    July 24, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • TexasRanger@SFer

      We will be back this year to do a little shaving if ya know what I mean. :)

      July 24, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
      • james

        Got HEEEEM!

        July 24, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • JustMitch

      Also they close at 3pm most days, not 4.

      July 25, 2011 at 1:20 am |
      • AO

        JustMitch do you not read?
        "The place, nearby Candlestick Park, usually closes at 4 p.m. but they extend their hours to the first pitch for most Giants home night baseball games."

        July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
      • AO

        Never mind JustMitch I apparently didn't read. My bad. Sorry. Carry on.

        July 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  42. Mildred

    Ok, the next time I'm in SF or Queens I know where I need to check out.

    July 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • debi

      ANY food at the Breakfast Piglet/SF is so worth the wait.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
  43. Mare

    The absolute best grilled cheese sandwich. Roasted garlic and EVOO rustic bread with whole garlic cloves baked into the bread, and an aged smoked Gouda with bacon right in the cheese. If you want, a smear of a good mustard. Fried up GBD in real butter.


    July 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • MNinGA

      That sounds sooooo good!

      July 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • Herro!

      HERRO Mare dat comment makes my stomach growl.

      July 25, 2011 at 2:09 am |
    • Caroline

      Yum indeed, made me hungry just reading.

      July 25, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • dnfromge

      YUM, I'm going to have to try that!!

      July 25, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  44. Chester Cheetah

    It ain't easy being CHEESY !!

    July 24, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • AL

      My favorite grilled cheese: Marble bread, two slices of cheese on each side, crispy bacon in the middle, and tomato slices. Grill that sucker well done (I prefer my bread burnt...as in BLACK BURNT) but obviously have it to taste. Drink that with a Latte and it is total awesomeness. On occasion I will have a little bit of mustard with it, but that's on occasion.

      July 24, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
      • Locode

        I have pretty much the same as a fave, only with sourdough bread. Great stuff.

        July 25, 2011 at 2:57 am |
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