30 Awesome Grilled Cheese Sandwiches Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  November 4, 2013

As temperatures start to drop, we're reaching for our favorite cold-weather comfort foods, and that most certainly includes the classic grilled cheese. Chefs around the U.S. are getting creative with the childhood staple, and below we've rounded up some of our favorites from our 12 city markets that are turning up the dial on the traditional American snack. Check them out in the slide show, and then tell us your favorite gourmet grilled cheese in the comments.

  • Los Angeles: Heywood: A Grilled Cheese Shop

    Although you can't go wrong with just about anything on the menu, we recommend something like the Game Changer (English double-gloucester with homemade habanero jam on sourdough) or the Italian Bleu Jeans (fresh mozzarella, creamy blue cheese, walnut pesto and sun-dried tomatoes). Or create your own Heywood from all the choices of cheese and bread whenever the craving strikes - the Silver Lake spot is open till 3 AM on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

  • Boston: Croque Magret at Aquitaine

    To call the croque magret from the modern French bistro a "grilled cheese" is sort of like calling a Rolex "a watch." The pressed sandwich of confit and Gruyère cheese, with a hint of country mustard. It's served with watercress salad and housemade potato cheese. It's fabulous fromage.

  • Seattle: Dahlia Lounge

    The fab potato bread is a big part of the wow factor for Dahlia Lounge's terrific grilled cheese, offered at lunch. It's rustic and flavorful, made by the Dahlia Bakery's stellar bread team. Plus, it comes with a cup of Tom's Tasty Tomato Soup, named for the restaurant's big cheese, Tom Douglas.

  • San Francisco: The Melt

    Call it one of the great American comfort-food mash-up ideas: The Melt has an interesting solution for those who might simultaneously crave a grilled cheese sandwich and some mac 'n' cheese. The Mac Daddy brings them both together between two slices of white bread. Aged white cheddar is used both as a melting agent on the bread and in the sauce for the macaroni. The concoction is available at the quickly growing company's Bay Area brick-and-mortar locations as well as the Melt Bus, which makes stops in San Francisco, Corte Madera, San Ramon and Lafayette.

  • NYC: Croque Monsieur at DBGB Kitchen & Bar

    Daniel Boulud's downtown favorite serves their Frenchified take on the grilled cheese sandwich - a croque monsieur is stuffed with ham and Gruyère and served warm. Turn it into a croque madame with a fried egg for an additional $3.

  • Austin: Burro Cheese Kitchen

    We’ve already waxed poetic about the croque madame from this South Congress trailer/shipping container: the Gruyère, Serrano ham, pesto aïoli and fried egg on Easy Tiger sourdough had us drooling at first sight. With artisanal ingredients like apricot fig sauce and lavender cheddar, the other sandwiches on the menu are a dream too. Burro has also partnered with other local restaurants to bring you sandwiches like the La Barbecue brisket grilled cheese and the CroBrio grilled cheese.

  • Boston: Mighty Rib Melt at Roxy's Grilled Cheese

    Grilled cheese is pretty perfectly suited to the food truck movement. It doesn't require a ton of prep, it's easy to eat on the go and, like food trucks themselves, a lowbrow reputation belies what is frequently gourmet goodness. Roxy's Grilled Cheese is arguably one of the most popular mobile deliciousness dispensaries to emerge from the last few years of Boston's food truck movement. The rotating varieties are pretty infallible, but we consider ourselves especially partial to the Mighty Rib Melt: fontina, BBQ braised beef and caramelized onion.

  • San Francisco: Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen

    Grilled cheese is one of the most popular items at Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen for lunch and dinner, and it may be for a bit of a naughty reason. For an extra $4, many people opt to add a generous helping of pork belly to the sandwich that, with its whole wheat sourdough bread, is admittedly a bit too puritanical without it. Roasted garlic and tomato jam up the umami factor and really help make this a memorable grilled cheese with or without the meat.

  • Philadelphia: MeltKraft

    Great dairy is one of the major keys to a great grilled cheese, and that’s a given when your sandwich-makers also run a dairy farm. The owners of Valley Shepherd Creamery operate stands at Reading Terminal Market and Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, where you’ll find choices like the “Valley Thunder,” a combo of 12-month-aged cheddar, brisket and baked mac ‘n’ cheese.

  • Miami: Haven

    Chef Todd Erickson plays on the all-American classic comfort food with his unique interpretation of a grilled cheese skewer. Marinated in a sherry, black pepper, olive oil and fresh thyme mixture, the skewer of halloumi cheese is then grilled and placed on top of a buttered brioche baton, garnished with micro basil, the Japanese spice togarashi and served with a tomato-parmesan bisque shot that is poured tableside by the server.

  • Credit: Clementine

    Los Angeles: Clementine

    Honestly, any one of Annie Miler’s grilled cheese sandwiches makes us pretty darn happy. And luckily you don’t have to wait until National Grilled Cheese month (April), when she goes all out with a monthlong celebration, to have one. You’ll always find a classic grilled cheese on the menu or you can choose from an array of cheeses, toppings and breads to build your own. There’s enough choice to make something new every day for at least a month.

  • Seattle: SODO Kitchen

    Behold this beauty, hot off the grill at the SODO Kitchen, the corporate cafeteria at Starbucks HQ. This state-of-the-art kitchen is open to the public, serving a global menu that includes this gooey comfort food featuring four cheeses on sourdough. Now, if we could only get that amazing sandwich at every Starbucks...

  • Chicago: Bar Pastoral

    The wine bar sister of the artisanal bread and cheese shop shows off its goods in a seasonal grilled cheese sandwich. Cow and raw sheep’s cheese are served with raisin chutney and apples on sourdough bread.

  • NYC: Truffle Grilled Cheese at LAVO

    The childhood favorite gets an upscale slant at LAVO, where executive chef/partner Ralph Scamardella combines his truffled grilled cheese with Applewood bacon and a creamy tomato soup in the "Back To School." Yes, please.

  • Philadelphia: Metropolitan Cafe

    It’s a good thing the wheat/white/rye blend from the bakery next door is hearty enough to stand up to the Taleggio grilled cheese at Metropolitan Cafe in Philadelphia. Along with the oozing cheese between the bread are pickles, pulled short rib and caramelized onion, making a sandwich that’s as filling as it is flavorful.

  • Austin: Henri’s Cheese and Wine

    The day we visited the charming cheese and charcuterie shop on South Lamar, we feasted on a daily special - a cheddar, onion and apple sandwich - and made our mother proud with a tasty kale and beet salad. Also try the Parrano, with caramelized onions, roasted tomatoes and thick sourdough. Take note that the sandwiches are only available for lunch, since at dinnertime they only provide cheese and charcuterie, no entrees.

  • Washington, DC: Central

    At Central Michel Richard, the grilled cheese served at lunch is a study in more is more. The kitchen presses a rich mushroom duxelle plus roasted Vidalia onion and garlic between Swiss cheese and serves it with a four-cheese dipping sauce.

  • Miami: Ms. Cheezios

    As Miami's Best Food Truck, this mobile vendor is known to offer tons of exceptional, gooey cheesy options that can be custom built with the cheese, meat and specialty additions of your choice. You can also have it their way if you order from a variety of menu signatures that include the grilled blue and bacon made with crispy bacon, blue cheese and green onion all wedged between two slices of sourdough. 

  • Houston: The Golden Grill Food Truck

    Expect much more than the usual cheese and bread selections here at this mobile grilled cheese dispensary. A popular specialty is their Kimcheese, a bundle of oozy cheddar, kimchi and a fried egg.

  • Dallas: Ruthie’s Rolling Café

    No discussion of grilled cheese sandwiches can begin or end without a nod to Ruthie’s Rolling Café. The food truck makes them however you like, including brisket, ham and original varieties. We’re partial to the spicy Buffalo Soldier, featuring pulled chicken breast with buffalo sauce and blue cheese. Locations vary; see website for truck schedule. 

  • Credit: Jonathan Horowitz

    Houston: Max's Wine Dive

    Finally a brick-and-mortar spot taking the grilled cheese by storm. Aptly, it's Max's Wine Dive - a concept known for taking comfort food to the next level - with its brioche Texas toast version that oozes with Gruyère, provolone and roasted red bell pepper pimiento cheese. It comes with a cup of tomato soup for your dipping pleasure.

  • Chicago: Cheesie’s

    With two stores and a truck, the grilled cheese train is not slowing down anytime soon. Its menu includes classics with two types of cheese on Texas toast, as well as the extreme mac 'n' cheese grilled cheese sandwich, inspired by jalapeño poppers.

  • Washington, DC: Ripple

    You know a place is dedicated to the art of the grilled cheese when they have a grilled cheese bar. Such is the case at Ripple, where happy hour and late-night hours bring options like the Rich E Rich melted with hand-sliced prosciutto, Caciocavallo and truffle butter or the Infidel composed of pork rillettes, Surryano ham, Mahón and pickles.

  • Dallas: Asador

    The farm-to-table hotel restaurant throws quite a few curveballs into the traditional grilled cheese mix. Brie cheese is melted alongside truffle, mango and vanilla marmalade, and the finished sandwich is set atop a pool of sriracha sauce. So many layered flavors, and somehow it all works!

  • Los Angeles: Short Order

    There is so much more than burgers at the Farmers Market restaurant. Case in point: the grilled cheese with cheddar, Romano and Landaff cheeses starts out pretty innocently, but when you add things like bacon and chiles - and you'll want to - it becomes positively decadent.

  • Miami: Daily Melt

    James Beard Award-winning chef Allen Susser creates some of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in town starting with his staple three-cheese dish made with mozzarella, provolone and cheddar smothered between two crunchy pieces of bread. However, if you’re in the mood for a grilled cheese in the morning, his recent breakfast melts are worth trying too, especially the turkey bacon with egg and mozzarella sandwiched between whole wheat bread.

  • Washington, DC: Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

    Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery smartly employs New Orleanian chef-owner David Guas’ pimiento cheese for his Southern-style grilled cheese. For this irresistible sandwich, he blends domestic sharp cheddars with housemade cream cheese and bookends it all with buttery Texas toast.

  • Seattle: Beecher's Handmade Cheese

    Pioneering cheese maker Beecher's uses its distinctive Flagship on its toasty cheese, complementing its slightly nutty character with sliced tomatoes and basil, a playful take on a caprese. This sandwich is available at its flagship store in Pike Place Market, as well as on the C concourse of SeaTac airport and in its cafe in the Flatiron in NYC.

  • Boston: Dante

    Variety is the spice of life. And "inexpensive"? Well, we like the taste of that too. So a tip of the toque to chef Dante de Magistris, who indulges us with a different $2 grilled cheese every Tuesday at his Dante. Greatest hits include one sammie with roasted peppers, charred onions and sharp cheddar cheese; and another (seen here) of mortadella and caciotta di bufala, a buffalo milk-produced cheese. Whatever's between the bread, expect one thing: yum.

  • Chicago: The Fat Shallot

    During its first summer on the road, the team perfected its signature grilled cheese sandwich. They use Muenster cheese that melts with caramelized onions and sautéed spinach in between crunchy sourdough bread.