Cheese plates are great when you want to be refined, or nibble a snack with a glass of wine, but this time of year calls for something more decadent. When you’re looking for an oozing, melting, ultrasatisfying snack, look no further than these 20 cheesiest dishes in Philly.
1. Adult Grilled Cheese at 2nd Story Brewing
This one’s not kidding around, with fontina, Manchego and cheddar dripping over smoky applewood bacon and crisp apple slices, all laid between toasted Le Bus sourdough ($12).
2. Cardoon Gratin at Petruce et al
Discover the unique flavor of this hearty winter vegetable, a spicy-artichoke taste that stands up to the rich sauce of béchamel and Parmesan ($13).
3. Welsh Rarebit at The Victoria Freehouse
British take cheese on toast so seriously they gave the dish its own special name, and once you bite into the open-faced melt of English cheddar and ale sauce, you’ll understand why ($5).
4. Baked Cambozola at City Tap House Logan Square
Halfway between Brie and Gorgonzola, this German cheese melts into a perfect spread for sides of grilled bread, especially matched with roasted garlic and sweet, sticky walnuts ($10).
5. Poutine at The Blind Pig
Maybe its because Wholesome Dairy Farms creates these curds especially for the restaurant, but the chef manages to tuck more curds than you’d believe among this haystack of gravy fries ($9).
6. Baked Lasagna at Dante & Luigi’s
Housemade ribbons of pasta barely hold together the piping-hot ricotta and oozing béchamel that surrounds the rich Bolognese sauce woven throughout the square ($18.95).
7. Pizza Fritta at Brigantessa
Like pop-able pizza bites, these semolina dumplings are filled with sheep’s-milk ricotta and then deep-fried before being served with hot bagna cauda dipping sauce ($11).
8. Short-Rib Tots at North Bowl
Can you make tots better than they already are? Yes, and cheese is the answer — in this case, fontina, melted over the top with braised short rib and caramelized onions ($5.95).
9. Mac ‘n’ Cheese at The Dandelion
Huge shreds of braised ham hock poke out of the bubbling crock of melted Quickes English cheddar tossed with toothy penne pasta ($12).
10. Eggplant Parmesan at Little Nonna’s
The Japanese eggplant used here is slim and delicate, serving mostly as a welcome carrier for the red-white-green trio of marinara, basil pesto and rich, creamy burrata ($11).
11. Fried Mozzarella at Lo Spiedo
Had one mozzarella stick, had them all? Not at Vetri’s Navy Yard spot, where it’s quarter-rounds of fresh mozz that get battered and fried to order ($8).
12. Quattro Formaggi at Nomad Pizza
It would be hard to fit any more cheese atop this thin Neapolitan crust, which serves as base for melting grand cru Gruyère, caciocavallo, Parmesan and buffalo mozzarella, along with basil, caramelized onions and garlic ($16).
13. Seared Halloumi at Audrey Claire
This Mediterranean cheese has a high melting point, so it holds its form when fried, letting the outside crisp up while the inside melts, waiting to be scooped up with sesame-fig compote and candied dates ($10).
14. BBQ Fries at Percy Street Barbecue
The cheddar sauce that smothers the basket of fries here is good enough that you don’t need anything else, but who’d complain about a generous scattering of Erin O’Shea’s smoked brisket? ($9)
15. French Onion Soup at Paris Bistro
Is there actually soup in the crock? It hardly matters, since the main event is the crunchy, melty layer upon layer of Gruyère, and the toasted brioche hidden beneath it ($8).
16. Meatloaf Parmesan Hoagie at Paesano’s
Italian-style meatloaf is fried to a crisp, smothered in red sauce and covered with melted mozzarella — putting this classic between bread just allows extra cheese to be piled on top ($9).
17. Baked Brie at Valanni
Melting cheese overflows its petite crock in this dish, dripping onto toasted baguette and swirling with Grand Marnier-soaked cranberries, pears and hazelnuts ($12).
18. Chorizo Fundido at La Calaca Feliz
That lovely Mexican creation called queso mixto surrounds chunks of housemade chorizo and bits of poblano and red bell peppers. Fork or spoon ($8.95)?
19. Mac ‘n’ Cheese Croquettes at The Industry
If you’d been wondering, yes, it is possible to make mac ‘n’ cheese even more decadent, as evidenced by these pasta and Cabot cheddar fritters, served with a spicy side of kimchi purée ($6).
20. Nachos at Iron Hill Brewery
One of the most classic cheese delivery methods around, these corn chips are loaded with plenty of Monterey Jack and cheddar, along with black beans and fresh jalapeños ($9.95 small; $12.95 large).