11 Hot, Crispy, Melty, Just-Get-In-Our-Bellies Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

10/08/2013 at 02:26 PM ET
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Our mission: To track down some of the most creative and delicious grilled cheese creations in the country. Did your favorite make our list? Check out our superior sandwich picks—and then tell us where to find your go-to melts.

Courtesy Two Sparrows

It’s all about radical purity at Two Sparrows in Chicago, where their toasty sandwiches are piled high with cheese, cheese and more cheese! Chef Greg Ellis fills a fresh baguette with thick slabs of goat cheese, Gruyere and cheddar, and then griddles it until each layer bubbles and melts together. Not decadent enough? Diners can order their sandwich topped with a fried egg and strips of crispy bacon.

Courtesy Beauty & Essex

At first glance, this may look more like a fancy appetizer than an old-school comfort food, but look—and taste—again. At Beauty & Essex in N.Y.C., classic grilled cheese and tomato soup inspired chef Chris Santos to create a dish that has “those two great tastes that go great together in one bite,” he says of his Grilled Cheese, Smoked Bacon & Tomato Soup Dumplings. The secret to its flavor? It’s packed with a secret blend of five different cheeses “for maximum melty cheese goodness.”

Courtesy Pepe

Need a grilled cheese fix on the go? If you’re in Washington, D.C. track down Pepe, the Spanish sandwich food truck from legendary chef José Andrés. There’s a reason lines form early in front of his meals on wheels: The grilled cheese comes on fresh ficelle bread (a thin baguette) with a blend of aged manchego, Murcia goat cheese, chèvre, blue cheese and a smear of membrillo (a quince marmalade) for a touch of sweetness. A quick stop in the panini press gives each sandwich a golden brown crust and ooey-gooey center.

Courtesy Tupelo Honey Cafe

You’ll love eating the Shoo Grill Cheese, Have Mercy at Tupelo Honey Café in Asheville, N.C. as much as you’ll love ordering it. (The owners say this sandwich is so delicious and filling that it makes diners exclaim, “shoo mercy!”) We’re inclined to believe them: Havarti and pimento cheeses, caramelized onions, maple-peppered bacon, ham, fried green tomatoes and fresh basil are packed between housemade sourdough slices, and heated to melty perfection.

Courtesy Brick Lane Curry House

The grilled cheese takes a trip to south Asia at Brick Lane Curry House, a popular Indian restaurant chain in New York and New Jersey. On the menu: paneer-stuffed paratha, a whole-wheat Indian flatbread filled with spiced paneer (and fresh curd cheese), cooked on a hot griddle until it’s brown and bubbly, and served piping hot.

Courtesy Proof on Main

The childhood favorite is all grown up at Proof on Main in Louisville, K.Y., where you can order the Bourbon Bacon Grilled Cheese stuffed with sliced heirloom tomato, arugula, melted cheddar and a thick smear of housemade bourbon-bacon marmalade. But why stop there? Executive chef Levon Wallace coats the exterior of the bread with butter and grated parmesan cheese to give the sandwich an extra-cheesy crust.

Courtesy Melt Shop

With a name like Melt Shop, the grilled cheese expectations are high—and the Buttermilk Fried Chicken sandwich at this N.Y.C. spot does not disappoint. Country white bread is filled with spicy pepper jack cheese, creamy red cabbage slaw and their signature “melt sauce” (a chile pepper mayo). Oh, and then there are the strips of buttermilk-marinated, freshly fried chicken layered in between to give each bite a salty, juicy crunch.

Courtesy Tavernita

Stop by Chicago’s Tavernita for lunch because that’s the only time you’ll find chef Ryan Poli’s grilled cheese sandwich on the menu. Poli starts with thick slabs of Texas Toast and piles on sharp cheddar, provolone and strips of crispy bacon, before slathering it in a sweet-and-savory tomato jam. A quick sear gives each sandwich a golden, crispy crunch and a soft, melty middle.

Courtesy LAVO Las Vegas

Move over, ants on a log—there’s a new after-school snack we’re after. At LAVO at The Palazzo in Las Vegas, chef Marc Marrone serves a souped up ‘After School Special’: a truffled grilled cheese sandwich made with crucolo (a buttery, cow’s milk cheese) and American cheese, strips of cherrywood bacon and herb-roasted tomatoes, and served alongside a bowl of chili tomato soup. Ah, just like Mom used to make (in our dreams).

Courtesy Bell Book & Candle

For most grilled cheeses, it’s all about what’s inside the bread that counts. At Bell Book & Candle in N.Y.C., the exterior is just as intriguing. Each tangy sourdough sandwich is filled with thick slices of melty raclette cheese (a raw cow’s milk cheese), and topped with a slow-poached egg, chopped chives and truffle shavings. When broken, the runny yolk will slowly spread over the sandwich, giving it a creamy, buttery finish.

Courtesy Little Dom’s

Save room for dessert because the grilled sandwich at Little Dom’s in L.A. is meant to be eaten at the end of your meal. Chef Brandon Boudet’s Nutella Mascarpone panino is made with two slices of country white bread filled with smears of hazelnut Nutella and tangy mascarpone cheese. After a stop in the hot panini press, the sandwich is melty, gooey and ready to be devoured. —Sonal Dutt

FILED UNDER: Food , Recipes , Restaurants , Sandwiches

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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