A grilled cheese is often one of our very first sandwiches, one that carries on into adulthood as one of the best treats, lunches, or midnight snacks imaginable — a salty, buttery, gooey, crispy, creamy, comfort-food favorite.
The question to ask any self-respecting grilled cheese connoisseur: Does it have the right amount of ooze? Is the bread thick and toasty and baked to a golden brown? Does the butter leave your fingers greasy but not too greasy? Will this be worth the calories and cholesterol? I mean, you're an adult now, and a couple of slices of American cheese slapped between white bread just isn't going to cut it anymore.
You need more. Specifically, you need it on Tuesday, April 12 — also known as National Grilled Cheese Day. So here you go: A list of the best spots to grab a grilled cheese sandwich on this dairy-licious food holiday.
6. Big City Tavern
609 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-727-0307, or visit bigcitylasolas.com.
Bacon makes everything better, right? Throw in a sunny-side-up egg and Big City Tavern's Bacon Marmalade Grilled Cheese is a dream come true. With melted Havarti cheese on fresh-baked sourdough bread and served with a side of waffle chips, this over-the-top version of the classic sandwich is a surefire hit on National Grilled Cheese Day (and every other day). Available for lunch only.
5. Grease Burger Beer & Whiskey Bar
213 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Call 561-651-1075, or visit greasewpb.com.
Grease Burger Beer & Whiskey Bar might be best-known for its burgers, but the Triple Decker Grilled Cheese sandwich is worth raving about too. It packs a triple-cheese punch not just on National Grilled Cheese Day but every day of the year, thanks to a combination of Muenster, American, and queso blanco melted into an oozy-gooey mess on thick slices of buttered and toasted country white bread. Wash it down with one of Grease Burger's 100-plus beers on draft or in the bottle and you'll have plenty of reason to celebrate this holiday every day.
4. Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar & Pizzeria
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-356-6699, or visit louiebossi.com.
Not all grilled cheese sandwiches are true-blue American. In Fort Lauderdale, Louie Bossi's Ristorante puts an Italian spin on the sandwich staple with its Quattro Fromaggi Panini. A melty mix of Provolone, mozzarella, parmigiano reggiano, and fontina is pressed to perfection and topped with a runny fried egg. Fair warning: Extra napkins may be required. Just be sure to get there during the day — this dish is available for lunch only.
3. Hardy Park Bistro
21 SW Seventh St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-652-1475, or visit hardyparkbistro.com.
One of chef-owner Philip Darmon's favorite breakfast indulgences on his Fort Lauderdale bistro's menu isn't the huevos rancheros or French toast with homemade apple compote but instead his take on the grilled cheese sandwich. And this is one such sandwich that should come with a warning: Not for the lactose-intolerant. Let's start with the bread, two fat slices of fresh-baked white bread hand-cut and delivered fresh daily from a Hallandale bakery. It's toasted in the pan with a thin spread of butter until it's seared to the perfect doneness. Next, the cheese, that same bread stuffed with what seems like a half-pound of pungent raclette, sharp cheddar, and smooth Gruyère. There's so much that it oozes out the edges and onto the plate, providing a hefty weight that settles in your belly before sending you into a dairy-induced coma. A finishing touch adds the perfect balance to the dairy-rich dish, a mass of caramelized onions baked into the cheese, lending their sweet and savory flavor to the trio of cheeses.
2. The Grilled Cheese Gallery
430 Northwood Road, West Palm Beach. Call 561-628-2466.
According to owner Jeff Thompson, the idea to open a restaurant dedicated to cheese and bread came to him when he began serving over-the-top versions of the sandwich as a drink-topper for a brunch-time bloody mary served at his nearby restaurant, O-BO. The Grilled Cheese Gallery menu offers several varieties to choose from, as well as a daily special or two, all grilled up into toasty, cheesy perfection between two slices of your choice of thick-cut white bread, sourdough, ciabatta, wheat, or challah. That includes more than a dozen grilled cheese sandwiches, starting with the Classic — hearty, thick-cut white bread layered with melted cheddar. Or the Chesterfield, a marriage of pulled pork, caramelized onions, and house-made hickory barbecue sauce. Or the Mondial, a pile of prosciutto with mozzarella and fig jam on fluffy ciabatta bread. There's even a cheesier version of the cheese steak — dubbed the Gallery Steak Melt — that combines grilled hanger steak with a cheddar-Gruyère blend, caramelized onion, and kimchi.
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1. New York Grilled Cheese Co.
2207 Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors. Call 954-564-6887, or visit newyorkgrilledcheese.com.
The three things most needed after a long night out are grease, carbs, and comfort. This Wilton Manors eatery serves all three in one scrumptious handheld bite, offering a plethora of grilled-cheese sandwiches that will blow your inner-child's mind. Of the many creations, its latest addition is the vegetarian-friendly Midtown Truffle Shuffle, a melding of mushrooms roasted with butter, garlic, and herbs and covered with caramelized onions, savory Provolone cheese, and fresh cheese morsels — all of it drizzled with New York Grilled Cheese Co.'s homemade truffle aioli — on thick-cut country loaf bread. Of course, the only way to really savor one of these heaps of melty goodness is with a side of the homemade tomato bisque, perfect for dipping any one of the restaurant's many grilled cheese sandwiches.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.