The best grilled cheese sandwich is the gooiest grilled cheese, says Laura Werlin, the James Beard Award-winning cookbook author behind Grilled Cheese, Please! "After you bite into it, the cheese should stretch out past your face as far as your arm will reach. Otherwise, it's just not right." While it's easy to achieve some level of crunchy, buttery excellence at home, chefs and restaurateurs are creating exceptional grilled cheese sandwiches across the country. Here, Food & Wine presents the Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S.
Perfect grilled cheese at Grahamwich in Chicago. Grahamwich
Graham Elliot Bowles is known for playful cuisine at Graham Elliot, and the sandwiches at his take-out joint, Grahamwich, are equally inventive. The grilled cheese on sliced Pullman loaf features Wisconsin cheddar, prosciutto, tomato marmalade and cheese curds, which, when melted, add an extra soft, gooey effect. Photo Courtesy of Grahamwich.
Gooey grilled cheese at The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in San Francisco. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
San Francisco, CA
Heidi Gibson was an engineer with degrees from MIT. Then she won the national Grilled Cheese Invitational and opened this shop in the city's multimedia gulch. Tech geeks come for well-constructed sandwiches like the Mousetrap, with cheddar, Havarti and Monterey Jack on artisanal sourdough. Photo © The Cooking Channel.
A grilled cheese sandwich at Roxy's Grilled Cheese in Boston. Roxy's Grilled Cheese
With respect to Boston baseball (and Fenway Park's famed left-field wall "The Green Monster"), Roxy's offers the Green Muenster, with guacamole and bacon. Here, too, mac and cheese is considered a sandwich filling for the Mac & Chorizo. In an ingenious twist, Roxy's brushes mayonnaise on the outside of sandwiches, rather than butter, before slapping them on the griddle. Photo © Zac Wolf.
Grilled cheese at Clementine in Los Angeles. Clementine
Los Angeles, CA
Chef-owner Annie Miler got so excited about her bakery-café's 10th Annual Celebration of Grilled Cheese Month in April 2011, she offered 10 variations each week. A year-round favorite: extra-sharp white Tillamook cheddar on country white with bacon or roasted cherry tomatoes. Photo Courtesy of Clementine.
Grilled cheese at Beecher's Handmade Cheese in Seattle. Beecher's Handmade Cheese
Seattle, WA and New York, NY
This Pike Place Market fixture recently expanded to New York with a big boutique and production facility. Each location grills its signature Flagship cheese-a slightly nutty blend of cheddar and Gruyère cultures-with fillings like tomato and basil. Each location also uses local bread: In Seattle, it's from Grand Central Bakery; Harlem nonprofit Hot Bread Kitchen provides excellent loaves in NYC. Photo © Andie Diemer.
Grilled cheese at Grilled Cheese & Co. in Catonsville, MD. Grilled Cheese & Co.
This mini-chain now has three locations in Maryland. Regional flavor comes through in a signature Crabby Melt with Jack cheese on top of homemade "crabby dip." Among the current specials is the Hermanator, designed by NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace: provolone, turkey breast and pickles with honey-mustard sauce. Photo Courtesy of Grilled Cheese & Co.
Grilled cheese at Artisanal in NYC. Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro and Wine Bar
New York, NY
Ever since Terrance Brennan met his first runny, robust Époisses in the early 1980s, he has dedicated himself to cooking with cheeses. During lunch at Artisanal, the menu highlights several in sandwiches like The Big Cheese, featuring Fontina, Taleggio, Gruyère and Emmenthaler, and the chichi Frenchie with Brie, mushrooms and black truffles. Photo © Sarah Lemoncelli.
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SUPPER CLUB PICK
My after-school snack was a sacred ritual. I sat on the carpet in my parents' bedroom at a low table, the television turned to "I Dream of Jeannie," and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich cut into neat squares. I wasn't fussy about crusts. I just loved the sticky pairing of creamy peanut butter with syrupy golden sweetness drizzled from a honey bear in diagonals across the soft white bread. Nothing else--save for maybe apples and peanut butter in a pinch--could have made for as sweet an