13 Of The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwiches In LA
Sandwiches don't get more basic than cheese and bread yet a grilled cheese sandwich is much more than the sum of its parts. There's the choice of cheese, of bread, of butter. How much of each item do you use? Do you grill or toast it? For how long? What about condiments? And soups? And sides?
For some of us, grilled cheese is more than a nostalgic childhood staple or a quickie meal -- it offers solace. It smoothes out the indignities of a bad workday and soothes the sting of unwelcome news. It's the ultimate comfort food, simple enough to be made by a child and universal enough you can find the ingredients almost anywhere.
It's also a modern Los Angeles classic, made with all kinds of intentions and iterations.
For 19 years, long before grilled cheese sammies became a gourmet staple, chef Annie Miler has spent every April celebrating Grilled Cheese Month. This year, the menu will feature a custom grilled cheese sandwich for each of the twelve zodiac signs. Year-round, Clementine has a build-your-own grilled cheese option that allows you to get creative with six types of cheese (one is vegan), veggies and proteins. Sandwiches start at $9.50 and are available at both locations. Don't want to overthink it? Their classic -- made with crunchy, buttery La Brea Bakery country white bread, gooey Tillamook cheddar crisped along the edges and out-of-this-world pickles -- is always a good choice.
1751 Ensley Ave., Century City. 310-552-1080.
9346 Civic Center Dr., Beverly Hills. 310-461-0600.
Grub, created by Denise DeCarlo and Betty Fraser, offers the After-School Special featuring golden sourdough, sharp cheddar, Swiss cheese and fragrant dill butter. Served with their hint-of-tarragon tomato soup, the combo costs $14.50. Make sure to try the Fosse Cookie, a chocolate and potato chip treat made from general manager Libby Fosse-Dunne's family recipe.
911 N. Seward St., Hollywood. 323-461-3663.
The Apple Pan
The $7 grilled cheese at the Apple Pan serves as a reminder not to underestimate the power of basic ingredients. Choose between Swiss or Tillamook cheddar and white, wheat or rye bread. If you don't specify, you'll get melted-to-perfection cheddar on white bread with a side of black olives and crinkle-cut, cinnamon-tinged pickle coins. It's fast, no-frills diner food. Save room for one of the housemade pies (we vote for banana cream).
10801 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A. 310-475-3585.
Esters Wine Shop & Bar
Provolone, Reggiano and Reading cheese are blended with béchamel that oozes out from slices of salted pain de mie baked at Milo + Olive, Esters Wine Shop & Bar's sister spot. On first bite, you'll understand why the sandwich -- the first recipe in chef Jeremy Fox's cookbook On Vegetables -- costs $17. It's paired with cornichons and a spicy red pepper jam made by the mother of a former server. (They still source the jam from Shelley Kusch of Garden Junkie in Napa Valley.)
1314 Seventh St., Santa Monica. 310-899-6900.
The Melt's $5.99 best-seller places muenster, fontina and sharp cheddar between slices of French bread. But you could argue that the $6.79 Mac Daddy grilled cheese -- creamy mac 'n' cheese with flawlessly cooked noodles (not too soft, not too al dente), sharp and medium cheddar, smoked bacon and crisp onions -- is what makes the Melt stand out (vegetarians can order it without bacon). It's a comfort food collision in the best way.
735 S. Figueroa St., downtown L.A. 213-344-4903.
The Hat is best known for its pastrami sandwiches but it also makes a killer grilled cheese. The bread is so crunchy you'll think it was dipped in butter. The cheese is as gooey and as American as it gets. Together, they create a simple, nostalgic sammie that costs only $4.29. Staffers are happy to customize it with add-ons and your choice of bread. In a world that can be overwhelming, the Hat makes a classic sandwich, done right.
5505 N. Rosemead Blvd., Temple City. 636-292-1000.
2300 S. Atlantic Blvd., Monterey Park. 323-721-3656.
611 W. Route 66, Glendora. 626-857-0017.
1 W. Valley Blvd., Alhambra. 626-282-0140.
491 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena. 626-449-1844.
The Stuffed Grilled Cheese ($12.25) at Swingers houses jack and cheddar cheese, guacamole, sliced tomatoes and grilled onions. Imagine an In-N-Out grilled cheese but bigger, more aggro and with a California diner twist. The creaminess of the mashed avocado is perfect with the sharpness of the cheese while the tomatoes add acidity and the grilled onions bring sweetness. Swingers stays open late and this is an ideal way to fill your stomach after a night out.
8020 Beverly Blvd., Beverly Grove. 323-653-5858.
802 Broadway, Santa Monica. 310-393-9793.
The Bombay Grilled Cheese on Badmaash's DTLA brunch menu (served on weekends from noon to 3 p.m.) is the Mahendro family's take on Indian gastropub fare. The $12 sandwich stars white cheddar, serrano chilies, onions and cilantro on a buttery sourdough. It's not extremely spicy but it has enough kick to make it stand out amid blander offerings in the world of grilled cheese. It also comes with a side of Maggi sauce, a flavor-amplifying seasoning that has the consistency of soy sauce.
108 W. 2nd St., downtown L.A. 213-221-7466.
418 N. Fairfax Ave., Fairfax. 213-281-5185.
Post & Beam
Chef John Cleveland offers a hidden gem during Post & Beam's happy hour, which occurs Tuesday through Friday, from 4 to 7 p.m. It's their pressed grilled cheese sandwich made with smoked mozzarella, braised oxtail and onion chutney served on crusty ciabatta. The cheese and meat bring depth and smokiness while the onion chutney adds acidity to the collision of flavors.
3767 Santa Rosalia Dr., Crenshaw. 323-299-5599.
The Carving Board
David and Yoav Adir's the Carving Board embraces the spectrum of grilled cheese with five different sandwiches that'll run you $6.50 to $10.50. The mozzarella and cheddar is simple yet finger-licking good while the French onion features slow-cooked sweet onions. The crab cake, served with mozzarella and cheddar, is accompanied by roasted garlic mustard aioli. The margarita pairs fresh mozzarella with grilled tomato and sweet basil while the buffalo chicken marries mozzarella and aged blue cheese. All sandwiches are served on toasty pain de mie.
18607 Ventura Blvd., Ste. #100, Tarzana. 818-342-3200.
216 E. Olive Ave., Burbank. 818-563-6799.
7300 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. 323-845-4550.
11676 Gateway Blvd., West L.A. 310-478-7500.
When a waffle meets a grilled cheese, what do you get? A sandwich that delights in texture as much as it does in taste. Stuffed with muenster, provolone and a tart garlic butter, Waffle Love's $11 croissant-waffle sandwich brings sweetness to a savory meal. Paired with tomato bisque, it's a model brunch food for those times when you can't decide whether you want breakfast or lunch.
9411 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. 747-206-5047.
3768 Long Beach Blvd., Long Beach. 562-336-1215.
If you want a diner-style grilled cheese, look no further. Cassell's beautifully buttered $7 sandwich is filled with cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella that oozes out from between the bread and turns crisp. Imagine a grilled cheese studded with flecks of Cheez-Its and served with a side of "tomato jam" (i.e. fancy ketchup that may spoil your love for Heinz). Definitely get an order of their Kennebec or sweet potato waffle fries.
3600 W. 6th St., Koreatown. 213-387-5502.
421 W. 8th St., downtown L.A. 213-372-5601.
LAX: Terminal 1 - Southwest Airlines, 1 World Way.
The Original Grilled Cheese Truck
The Original Grilled Cheese Truck is like a rainbow of grilled cheese sandwiches. With sweet and savory options, 14 add-ons and three types of crusts, chef David Danhi isn't messing around. The melt that started it all, the $9 Cheesy Mac & Rib, delights with sharp cheddar cheese, smoky barbecued pork, carmelized onions and creamy mac and cheese. If you have room, follow it with a $6 PB Banana Melt, which layers sliced bananas and salty potato chips onto peanut butter mascarpone.
Surrounding L.A. area. 818-345-1875.