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What is it about grilled cheese that makes us swoon? Creamy, warm goodness overflowing from the sides of crisped buttered bread—you’d think it could not get much better than mom’s simple version with American sliced cheese. Oh, how wrong we were. These establishments across the United States have taken the grilled cheese game to the next level with artisanal cheeses, quirky local ingredients, and bread so good it puts the plain old sliced stuff to shame. If you have an affinity for grilled cheese, get packing, because you’re going to want to chow down at every single place on our list.
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Waffle Love in California began as a food truck and was even featured on a reality show. Given the name, you’re right to suspect their cheesy sandwich is a smash-up of crispy, savory garlic waffles and a mixture of artisan cheeses such as Muenster and Provolone. And what would any grilled cheese be without a side of tomato soup? Well, still a pretty darn delicious meal, but Waffle Love compliments their grilled cheese with a more robust tomato bisque that is a pleasant tangy addition.
Near the top attractions in Seattle, our number two on the list also began as a food truck, but now operates an actual cafe as well. You’ll find no shortage of ooey gooey cheese and bread selections on the menu. But the Harry Potter inspired food names really take the place over the top to something truly magical. Even the menu overflows with hilarious wizard-like jargon and fun puns. From the simple Cheese Wizard with Tillamook cheddar, Monterey Jack and buttered French bread to more complex choices like the Voldemortadella with Mortadella salami, Mozzarella, cream cheese, ham and an olive muffuletta, serious thought has been put into their versions. Tomato basil soup, bacon and a cheesy salad are tasty add-ons.
Want a grilled cheese with a burger patty smashed inside? Or maybe something a little less elaborate but with tons of flavor like the jalapeño popper sandwich infused with tortilla chips? Grilled Cheese Grill touts its name for a reason. The menu is chock full of melty goodness from basic sandwiches with more high-end cheeses than the processed slices you grew up with, to meat infused creations. Nestled in Portland, Oregon, the grill operates out of an airstream camper, beside an adorable converted school bus with charming seating. A clean-cut picnic area allows guests to enjoy those perfect weather days.
Of course Nashville would pull off two comfort classics at the same time. The Grilled Cheeserie Pimento Mac and “Chee” is piled with southern favorites such as Pimento cheese, local cheddar, a zingy slice of tomato and macaroni pasta! The country sourdough on which it sits pairs harmoniously. You can make your own grilled cheese creation by picking your cheese, a protein like free-range turkey or grass-fed beef, and lots of tasty extras like smoked jalapeño relish. Bonus, they have gluten-free bread.
The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is primarily a California operation, but folks can now dive into the out of the box concoctions in Ft. Myers Florida. A fun, chef created grilled cheese menu is accompanied by crazy good sides like a smoky tomato soup. But they’ve also got the breakfast game covered too, with cage free egg topped grilled cheeses, which are phenomenal with veggies like tomatoes, onions and arugula.
Beechers Handmade Cheese is located in Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, but there is also one in New York. It’s a cheese shop, featuring an outstanding selection of aged deliciousness, but you can also get these cheeses on a grilled cheese sandwich at the cafe! While known for the “world’s best Mac and cheese”, we’d be willing to bet their fresh made cheese on local organic bread could be one of the world’s best sandwiches too. You could add in some meat, or go for the tangy Kimchi melt, but the purity behind the cheese and bread makes a simple melt incredible.
Ms. Cheezious is the place to go when looking for indulgent eats in Miami, whether it be a savory, pork loaded grilled cheese, or a sweet dessert melt like ricotta and orange marmalade on toast, with silky chocolate sauce on the side, or the S’mores Melt. Savory selections are abundant and oh so perfectly executed, and in addition to classic flavor combinations like a buffalo chicken melt, you’ll find some pretty cool combos like organic BBQ tempeh, jack cheese, tomatoes and arugula on sourdough bread or fried Chicken and cheddar on house-made buttermilk waffles with country gravy and maple syrup.
A grilled cheese list would certainly not be complete without a Wisconsin mention, and as for the best grilled cheese in the state, it’s in Milwaukee at a restaurant in the Wisconsin Cheese Mart. Aside from all the drool-worthy cheese appetizers and boards, Brudd features a selection of grilled cheeses made from genuine Wisconsin cheese. Try the Gourmet Cheese with a bold five year aged cheddar and gruyere, or enjoy the robust and hearty BBQ Grilled Cheese with pepper jack, smoked Gouda and plenty of tangy pork. Add on some squeaky cheese curds for the ultimate cheese lover’s experience.