From pressed-flat, wafer-thin, white-bread-and-Velveeta cooked on a lunch-counter flattop to effulgent bouquets of imported cheese melted between halves of an artisan bun, the best grilled cheese sandwiches have countless personalities. Some have regional character, such as pimento cheese in the South, the Frenchie of Omaha, the grated hot cheese of Fall River, Massachusetts, and the cheese crisp of southern Arizona (which tests the definition of grilled cheese). They can be comfort food, health food, or a challenge to the mightiest appetite. Here are 14 of our favorite Roadfood grilled cheese destinations around the U.S.
Oregon, Idaho and Arizona
- Grilled cheese sandwiches don’t always have to be savory meals, the Grilled Cheese Grill in Portland, Oregon took this to heart when creating the “Jamie”. The “Jaime” is made with marscapone, Nutella and sautéed banana, all grilled between two slices of cinnamon swirl bread. Also offered is the “Cheesus Burger,” a classic hamburger sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches, the top made with American cheese and pickles while the bottom has Colby cheese and grilled onions.
- The specialty at Meltz is the “Korean Krazy.” This sandwich is made from provolone and peperjack cheese, barbecue beef, kimchi, krushed sesame sticks, scallions, hot pepper ketchup and cilantro. We got one served on sourdough, boy was it good. It is no surprise that this sandwich earned a first-place trophy in the 2014 National Grilled Cheese competition.
- Mi Nidito puts a Mexican spin on a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, so much so that we were unsure if it should be on the list, but it tastes too good to pass up. A tortilla is baked to a crisp and then covered in melted cheese with an option to add chilies, guacamole or carne asada on top. It is a great dish to share at the beginning of your meal.
Nebraska and Missouri
- Although Shirley’s Diner does not strictly serve grilled cheese sandwiches, they do sell cheese frenchees. A cheese frenchee is a grilled cheese sandwich that is dipped in a cornflake batter and deep-fried. Shriley’s offers some of the best cheese frenchees we have had.
- Being a vegan-friendly restaurant, Eden Alley doesn’t serve your ordinary grilled cheese sandwich. Called the “Ultimate Garlic Grilled Cheese” this open-faced sandwich is made on a slice of garlic bread. Cumin aioli, pickles, onions, and tomatoes are all added to the bread prior to the cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, blue and parmesan, that is all melted down in an oven.
Michigan and Ohio
- Zingerman’s Deli is not your ordinary sandwich shop. Primarily a retail space, it may be difficult for a newcomer to figure out the system, once you do, you will learn that their sandwiches are unmatched. Sandwiches do cost close to $20 but are well worth it.
- Melt Bar & Grilled is not messing around when they make a grilled cheese sandwich. One item on the menu, “The Godfather” is made with three-cheese lasagna, read sauce and provolone, all sandwiched between garlic-spiked bread. Another sandwich is “The Parmageddon” which is filled with potato and onion pierogies, vodka sauerkraut, sautéed onions and cheddar cheese.
- When looking through the menu at J.J.’s Coney Island you will not find an item on the menu labeled “grilled cheese”. What you will find is a “Hot Cheese Sandwich.” These are a Fall River specialty, made by placing a large scoop of warm hashed cheddar cheese onto a hamburger bun and adding a smaller scoop of meat sauce.
- Operating on the backside of a cheese shop, Rubi’s Coffee & Sandwiches serves up excellent grilled cheese sandwiches. We ordered one with tomato and, although the sandwich was cooked in a grill press, the bread maintained its integrity as the cheese melted, resulting in a fantastic sandwich.
Pimento Cheese in South Carolina
- The “Pimento Cheese and Bacon Sandwich” sold at Betsy’s on the Corner is a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. Alongside the cheese is bacon and tomatoes, once grilled the sandwich is so oozy that we had to use a fork and knife to get it from the plate to our mouths.
- Known for their excellent desserts, and grilled meats, Red Shed Diner & Produce also has a fantastic grilled cheese sandwich. Called “Skip,” these Red Shed pimento cheese sandwiches come with tomatoes, bacon, lettuce and, of course, melted pimento cheese.
- The Feel Good Food Truck was opened by a husband and wife duo who worked at a local pub for over a decade. After bringing on a new chef, Jim Darby, the truck has shifted focus to grilled cheese sandwiches and burgers. Our favorite sandwich was the “Peachy Cheese Melt,” a combination of melted boursin and brie along with onions and jalapeno peach chutney sauce on the side.
Louisiana and Florida
- Cuchon Butcher is a popular place to eat in New Orleans, they serve a variety of meats and desserts, the key lime pie is excellent. We enjoyed the pimento cheese sliders, a set of four triangular grilled cheese sandwiches that are simply made but taste delicious.
- Also operating in New Orleans, the Camellia Grill serves a traditional grilled cheese sandwich that is elevated by strips of bacon. This dish is excellent, especially when paired with an order of chili cheese fries.
- The signature sandwich at Toasted consists of figs and both Havarti and goat cheese expertly melted down between two slices of bread. Also offered is a classic grilled cheese, made with cheddar and tomato, called “The 101” and the “Braised Brisket” that is made with fontina, brisket, BBQ sauce and caramelized onions. Bacon or a fried egg can be added for an extra $1.
Kansas City's superb vegetarian restaurant, Eden Alley is a big, open dining room (& outdoor patio) staffed with people for whom The Right Food is a mission.
Zingerman's of Ann Arbor is one of America's great delicatessens, serving terrific sandwiches made of world-class ingredients on Zingerman's-baked bread.
Melt's over-the-top grilled cheese sandwiches include the "Parmageddon" filled with potato and cheese pierogies, Napa vodka kraut, grilled onions and cheddar.
A colorful roadside restaurant & produce stand, Graniteville's Red Shed serves hearty cafe meals and blue ribbon pies & cakes. A Roadfood favorite! *CLOSED*
Feel Good Food Truck is a high-spirited enterprise serving spectacular hamburgers, outlandish grilled cheese and beer-battered French fries. Seats outside & in.