The grilled cheese sandwich, traditional and classic, is one of the most delicious and perfect foods on earth. But some restaurants and food trucks are proving that you can improve on perfection, and making some absolutely wild grilled cheeses.
Yelp/ Aubrey W.
This Nashville truck and restaurant lets you create your own grilled cheese from a massive variety of meats and cheeses, but specialty melts include The B&B of Tennessee (buttermilk Cheddar, heritage bacon, and caramelized apple jam); Buffalo South (Pepper Jack, pulled chicken, Buffalo sauce, pickled celery, and blue cheese aioli); and their most legendary offering, the Pimento Mac & Chee (mac and cheese made with housemade pimento cheese and local cheddar, Benton’s bacon bits, and sliced tomato on country white bread.
Yelp/ Ashley K.
Meltkraft is run by Valley Shepherd Creamery, and they’re using their high-end cheeses to turn out some astounding creations. There’s the Melter Skelter (three month raclette, pickled green tomatoes, jalapenos, barbecue potato chips, and watercress) and the Somerset (12-18 month Gruyere, cured ham, cornichons, and whole grain mustard), but the Valley Thunder is the real scene-stealer: 12-month Cheddar, beef brisket, and baked macaroni and cheese.
This legendary Cleveland spot offers a mind-blowing selection of nearly 30 grilled cheeses, divided into six different categories: Classics, Beef, Pork, Poultry, Seafood, and Veggie. Some of the most outrageous offerings are the Parmageddon (pierogis, sauerkraut, sautéed onions, and sharp Cheddar); Mighty Macaroni (homemade deep-fried mac and cheese, cheese sauce, and melted cheese); The Dude Abides (homemade meatballs, fried mozzarella wedges, marinara, roasted garlic, provolone, and Romano); Korean War Pig (Korean BBQ glazed pulled pork, seared pork belly, kimchi slaw, pear onion cilantro relish, and Muenster cheese); Chicken & Waffles (fried chicken, Belgian waffle, sriracha butter, pepper Jack cheese, and maple syrup); and Big Popper (jalapeno poppers, Cheddar, and herb cream cheese, deep fried and topped with powdered sugar and berry preserves). If you’re feeling especially gluttonous, you can also take the famous Melt Challenge, with three slices of grilled bread and an insane 12 different types of cheese.
Yelp/ Jill O.
There are 12 grilled cheeses on the menu at this Chicago favorite. The most outrageous offerings include The Mac (American and Cheddar cheese, homemade macaroni and cheese); The Tenderizer (Cheddar, mozzarella, hot sauce, bacon, fried chicken tenders, barbecue sauce); and The Edgar (pulled pork, barbecue sauce, coleslaw, fried onion strings, provolone, and white Cheddar).
Miami’s best food truck now also has two locations in the city. You can build your own grilled cheese, or choose one of their “Must Haves.” The most popular gutbombs include Frito Pie Melt (chili, American cheese, jalapenos, onions, and Fritos); Mackin Melt (creamy gouda mac and cheese with house cured bacon); Southern Fried Chicken & Waffle Melt (fried chicken and Cheddar housemade waffles, country gravy, syrup); and S’Mores Melt (roasted marshmallows, salted chocolate hazelnut spread, Graham cracker crumble on sourdough).
Grilled Cheese & Co. has four Maryland locations, and their signature sandwich is the Crabby Melt, which sandwiches a heaping portion of crab dip and Monterey Jack cheese between two slices of grilled ciabatta. Other favorites include Smashed Meatball (provolone cheese, meatballs, marinara, and Parmesan) and Sweetest Thing (brie, raspberry mascarpone spread, and chocolate chips).
Yelp/ Randy V.
This legendary food truck has spawned four Boston restaurants, and they’re all serving some of the best grilled cheeses in the city. Favorites include the Green Muenster (Muenster, bacon, and housemade guacamole); the Hot Honey Bacon (Vermont Cheddar, Muenster, fontina, bacon, and spicy honey); and the super-popular Mighty Rib Melt (BBQ braised short rib, fontina, and caramelized onion).
The Grilled Cheese Grill will do it up simply for you (The Pre-Schooler, with white bread and American cheese, with the crusts cut off) or go downright insane (The Cheesus, with two grilled cheeses sandwiching a fully dressed burger). In between, there are favorites like The Moondog (provolone, hard salami, pepperoni, and chopped olives); The Jalapeno Popper (grilled jalapenos, Colby Jack, cream cheese, and corn tortilla chips); and The Jaime (grilled banana, Nutella, and cream cheese on cinnamon swirl bread).
Yelp/ Tabitha W.
This new fast casual concept offers some outrageous grilled cheeses, including ones that replace the bread with doughnuts and ones crusted with Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. But if you’re in the mood for something less gimmicky, go for the Grilled Mac & Chee (mac and cheese, Cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, and crispy onions); Brisket & BBQ (Cheddar, smoked brisket, onion, pickles, and barbecue sauce); and Chicken Bacon Ranch (Cheddar, chicken breast, bacon, tomatoes, greens, and ranch).
Yelp/ Howie C.
At this popular truck, you’ll find a wide variety of creative grilled cheeses, including the Pepperbelly Melt (chili, habanero Jack cheese, cilantro-lime sour cream, tomato salsa, and Fritos); Cheesy Mac ‘n’ Rib (mac and cheese, smoked barbecue pork, barbecue sauce, caramelized onions, and sharp Cheddar); and Brie Melt (brie, sliced pears, fresh thyme, toasted almonds, and honey). There are also a ton of add-ons available, including chili, Fritos, caramelized onions, brown butter apples, and peanut butter available.
Yelp/ Carissa K.
This cozy restaurant serves 14 elevated grilled cheese sandwiches, in varieties including Hangover (black truffle mac and cheese); Don Quixote (Gouda, caramelized onions, sautéed oyster mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and olive tapenade); Giuseppe (melon, prosciutto, basil, local honey, balsamic, mozzarella, and fontina); El Cubano (Cuban roast pork, chorizo, fried pickles, mustard, and Swiss); and The Big O (French toast with peanut butter, Nutella, banana, bacon, and mascarpone).
This New York-based grilled cheese shop also has locations in Woodbury, King of Prussia, and the Mall of America, picking up legions of fans along the way. Specialties include the Maple Bacon (aged Cheddar, cheese spread, and maple glazed bacon); Fried Chicken (fried chicken, pepper Jack, red cabbage slaw, and cheese sauce); and the Burger Melt (burger patty, pepper Jack, caramelized onions, cheese sauce, and burger sauce).
Yelp/ Mallory C.
This Astoria cult favorite is a haven for those who love grilled cheese sandwiches and craft beer. Six grilled cheese sandwiches are on the menu, and they’re all decidedly gourmet: offerings include Cheddar with garlic and shallot puree on pan de mie; Gouda with pickled jalapenos, guava jam, and black bean hummus on brioche; triple cream brie with goat butter, fig jam, and baby arugula on baguette; and egg, ricotta, thyme, and maple hot sauce on brioche.
Yelp/ Emily C.
This local favorite offers eight specialty grilled cheeses, including Casey Snowcap (roast beef and fresh mozzarella on a garlic butter baguette); Triple Lindy (Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, fresh spinach, bacon, and butter); and Philipo’s Pepperoni Strips (pepperoni and mozzarella grilled on flatbread, cut into strips and served with a shot of tomato soup for dipping). Be sure to drop by on Tuesdays, when the daily special is Taylor ham, American cheese, and honey barbecue chips on country white bread.
This popular juice bar and sandwich shop has a section of their menu devoted to “melts,” but we’re going to call them what they are: awesome, elevated grilled cheeses. They all start with a base of Tillamook Cheddar, pepper Jack, grilled onions, grilled bell peppers, and cilantro aioli, and you can add on chicken, steak, bacon, or fresh avocado. An egg doesn’t hurt, either! They’re also selling a completely absurd creation that’s perfect for the LA Instagram crowd: the rainbow-colored Unicorn Melt.