There's nothing quite like a bite of warm grilled cheese to remind us of childhood memories - and this weekend is an especially good time since this Saturday is National Grilled Cheese Day. Many chefs around the city are putting their own unique touches on the classic comfort food to expand our horizons - and perhaps the definition of what exactly falls under the category of "grilled cheese sandwich." While we contemplate this question, here's a look at five particularly appealing new candidates that have hit the city.
Little Muenster: Grown Up Cuban
When the name of a store incorporates cheese, it's a solid bet they've got the basic ingredients covered. So it's no surprise that for Saturday, this growing chain is offering a brand new selection that will undoubtedly give customers confusion about which sandwich to order. Cuban sandwiches by default required melted cheese on warm pressed bread, so we're inclined to include it as part of the greater grilled cheese family. This version comes with traditional slow roasted pork along with Virginia ham, Emmental, pickles, and a maple dijon mustard. Ownership will also unveiled a second new sandwich Saturday, and is also offering anyone who stops in for a sandwich on Saturday receives a free bowl of tomato soup with a purchase.
100 Stanton St.; 212-203-7197
Empire Diner: Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Amanda Freitag's refurbishment of an iconic Manhattan diner car wouldn't be complete without a grilled cheese on the menu. The Chopped judge's version is a mix of fontina and cheddar with roasted tomato on toast, a well-executed combination that displays Freitag's appreciation for the fine details. There's something special about the ambiance of eating grilled cheese in a diner setting, which is why we're thankful we can order it here any time of the day.
210 Tenth Ave.; 212-596-7523
The Pullman Kitchen: The Oxtail
This grilled cheese shop has a full line up of artfully-named sandwiches, including one named The Beast of Midtown East. However, we're particularly fond of a version known simply as The Oxtail. The beer braised beef is placed between two slices of crispy sourdough and topped with horseradish cheddar, bourbon bread and butter pickles, and chipotle ketchup. We're particularly impressed with the use of oxtail instead of traditional add-ons like bacon, and the spicy kick from the horseradish, chipotle, and bourbon flavors leaves a lasting impression.
959 Second Ave.; 212-888-7404
The East Pole: Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Grilled Cheese on regular toast is fine. Grilled cheese on Texas Toast? Everything, especially the taste, is bigger as they say when it comes to Texas. Vermont cheddar is melted alongside pickles and root vegetables marinated in sugar, which gives the sandwich a sweet finish.
133 E 65 Street; 212-249-2222
The 5 oz. Factory: Smokey and the Meatball
Although we love local offerings, when we stumble across cheese from Wisconsin, we're bound to take notice. This shop's homage to Burt Reynolds includes three types of cheeses - provolone, mascarpone, and gouda. Covering a mix of beef meatballs, tomato basil, and home made pesto sauce, we think it gives any melted cheese sandwich a run for it money.
24 W 8 St.; 212-777-6455