The Best Grilled Cheese in All 50 States
By Suzanne Raga
A warm, gooey grilled cheese is the ultimate comfort food. Heating bread and cheese may sound simple, but making the perfect grilled cheese can be an art form, requiring careful attention to ingredient ratios and temperature. But don’t blame us if you suddenly have a serious hankering for some melted cheese—try one of these top sandwiches.
1. ALABAMA // MELT
With a food truck affectionately called Matilda and a storefront in Avondale, Melt is Alabama’s top spot for grilled cheese. Served on thick Texas toast, the Classic Melt contains the perfect blend of American, Monterey Jack, and cheddar cheeses. To bring the decadence up a notch, get the Mac Melt, which has glorious mac-n-cheese inside a grilled cheese.
2. ALASKA // SPENARD ROADHOUSE
Head to this restaurant and bar for one of the best grilled cheeses in "The Last Frontier." Melted havarti and sharp cheddar are sandwiched between sourdough bread, and customers have the option to add grilled apple and bacon (do it!).
3. ARIZONA // TOASTED
Offering a dozen grilled cheese varieties, this gastropub is a grilled cheese lover’s dream. The traditional 'Merika is made with cheddar and American cheese, and the Fat Elvis comes with white cheddar, bacon, peanut butter, strawberry jelly, and a banana. You can substitute pretzel bread, vegan provolone, or vegan cheddar on any sandwich, and if you haven't had a dairy overload yet, add a side of Wisconsin fried cheese curds, or take an ice cream sandwich to go.
4. ARKANSAS // THE MAIN CHEESE
Little Rock, Arkansas
This spot in a West Little Rock shopping center offers gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches with a variety of optional add-ons, such as pickled peppers, avocado, corned beef, and pesto. Served on a wheat berry grain bread, the Main Cheese sandwich comes with a whopping six cheeses—Swiss, provolone, Muenster, aged cheddar, havarti, and pepper jack.
5. CALIFORNIA // SWEET BUTTER KITCHEN
Sherman Oaks, California
Started by a caterer and her husband, Sweet Butter Kitchen is acclaimed for its baked goods and cute patio herb garden. But the SB Grilled Cheese is in a class of its own. Served on rustic millstone bread, the sandwich comes with roasted cherry tomatoes, basil aioli, and a side of shoestring French fries.
6. COLORADO // TOM'S WATCH BAR
This Larimer Square eatery (there are also a few locations in other U.S. cities) doesn’t focus exclusively on grilled cheese, but that doesn't mean their Grilled Fig Jam and 3 Cheese isn’t the best in all of Colorado. A delectable combination of Brie, fontina, and havarti is melted with Croatian fig jam, and it’s all melted between buttered and toasted sourdough.
7. CONNECTICUT // BLEU SQUID BAKERY AND CHEESE SHOP
Bleu Squid is a cafe, bakery, and cheese shop all in one. While the cupcakes are heavenly, the cafe’s grilled cheese menu offers plenty of tempting options, from the Original Grown-up Grilled Cheese to the Lobster Grilled Cheese. Because the cheese shop has cheeses from around the world, customers who order a grilled cheese can enjoy everything from havarti, fontina, Muenster, mozzarella, and bleu cheese in their sandwiches.
8. DELAWARE // OLDBANKS CRAFT BISTRO
If you’re near Trolley Square and find yourself craving comfort food, the grilled cheese at Oldbanks Craft Bistro will hit the spot. The sourdough sandwich, with melted mozzarella and provolone, is extra scrumptious with the addition of grilled pepperoni and a tomato fondue, a playful twist on tomato soup.
9. FLORIDA // NEW YORK GRILLED CHEESE
Multiple locations, Florida
Despite its name, New York Grilled Cheese is strictly a Sunshine State institution. With locations in Wilton Manors and Boca Raton, the restaurant serves grilled cheeses made in a waffle press. Get the Broadway Classic, a baked sourdough grilled cheese brushed with garlic butter and filled with gooey American and Swiss cheese. Or, if you want to add some protein, the Brooklyn Porkster adds in slow-roasted barbeque pork.
10. GEORGIA // BUCKHEAD DINER
Buckhead Diner is an Atlanta favorite, and for good reason. The diner serves four grilled cheeses that come with delicious accouterments such as bacon, fried eggs, Granny Smith apples, and grilled vegetables. But the simplest—a Four Cheese Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup, served on parmesan crusted egg bread—is perfect for when you just need some classic southern comfort.
11. HAWAII // THE NOOK
At this neighborhood bistro, the Roasted Mushroom Grilled Cheese gives hungry customers a true taste of paradise. Cheddar, smoked Gouda, and fontina are melted on a baguette and served with Ali'i mushrooms, bacon, caramelized onions, and mushroom au jus. To round out your meal, order a side of the polenta fries, which come with a blue cheese and balsamic aioli or a spicy Sriracha aioli.
12. IDAHO // BLEUBIRD
Owned by a husband and wife duo, Bleubird has a menu that changes seasonally. But the grilled cheese is a favorite that’s thankfully available year round. Made with melted Brie, Gruyere, and cheddar, the sandwich will rock your taste buds with the addition of fig preserves, caramelized onion, and Dijon aioli.
13. ILLINOIS // BIG & LITTLE'S
With restaurants in River North, Wicker Park, and Lakeview, Big & Little’s has a strong presence in the Windy City. While their variety of fish tacos are great, their real gem is the Deep Fried Grilled Cheese, a beer-battered grilled cheese sandwich made with your choice of American or Swiss cheese.
14. INDIANA // MILKTOOTH
This superb fine diner in Fletcher Place serves unique brunch dishes made with the freshest ingredients. The cranberry walnut and Caerphilly cheddar grilled cheese, served with black truffle honey and a local sunny duck egg, is truly a work of art.
15. IOWA // THE CHEESE SHOP OF DES MOINES
Des Moines, Iowa
This mecca for fromage lovers offers customers more than 100 artisan and farmhouse cheeses. While the cheese shop caters events and makes gift boxes, head to the café for a Classic Toastie, a grilled cheese made with Milton Creamery quark and Prairie Breeze & Frisian Farms Gouda. Optional add-ons are creative and include pickled shallots, arugula pesto, quince paste, almond butter, and olive tapenade.
16. KANSAS // MONARCH
Next to the Delano District’s big clock tower, Monarch has an extensive bourbon menu and a Gold Rush Grilled Cheese worth its weight in gold. Made with smoked provolone and cheddar on baked focaccia, the sandwich comes with your choice of meat (smoked in-house every day) and side (we recommend the BBQ potato chips).
17. KENTUCKY // TOAST ON MARKET
This breakfast and lunch spot offers four inventive grilled cheeses, all served with a bowl of roasted tomato soup. If you’re a grilled cheese purist, opt for the simple Three Cheese sandwich, with melted mozzarella, baby Swiss, and provolone. If you want a kick of heat, though, get the Spicy Chipotle, which is made with sharp cheddar, red onions, chipotle, and molasses.
18. LOUISIANA // COWBELL
New Orleans, Louisiana
At Cowbell, the Adult Style Grilled Cheese is perfectly crispy on the outside and exquisitely gooey on the inside. Goat cheese is melted on rustic Italian country bread, and asparagus spears are so long that they stick out of the sandwich. A house-made tomato jam nicely rounds out the dish.
19. MAINE // THE GREAT LOST BEAR
The impressive selection of craft beers at this bar and grill may attract some first-timers, but the grilled cheese turns them into loyal customers. The Almighty Cheesus Burger, sans bun, consists of a half pound of char-grilled Angus beef served between two grilled cheese sandwiches. Pickles, lettuce, and tomatoes add some much needed crunch.
20. MARYLAND // PAPERMOON DINER
At Papermoon Diner, the vibe is eccentric and the menu is eclectic. Served on grilled multigrain seed bread, the grilled cheese comes with arugula, a savory artichoke and Asiago cheese spread, and French fries. The diner has such devoted fans that it sells merchandise such as T-shirts, hats, and bumper stickers.
21. MASSACHUSETTS // THE NEW WORLD TAVERN
This gastropub will open up your taste buds to a whole new world. Sip one of their hundreds of craft beers while you wait for your New World Grilled Cheese, an upscale Gouda and Gruyere combination with apple onion spread and quince paste on brioche with a side of honey truffle dipping sauce.
22. MICHIGAN // THE GRILLCHEEZERIE
Ann Arbor, Michigan
If you ever wonder how to make a grilled cheese even cheesier, look no further than the S’mac and Cheese at this family-run sandwich shop. Artisan white bread envelopes a mass of melted aged cheddar and three-cheese macaroni. For a lighter option, go with The Shroom, a whole-wheat sandwich with an herbed goat cheese spread, Muenster, roasted wild mushrooms, and parsley pesto.
23. MINNESOTA // THE LOWBROW
There’s nothing lowbrow about the grilled cheese at this neighborhood restaurant, which specializes in cooking comfort food from scratch. The sandwich’s combination of aged Wisconsin cheddar and Swiss provides the perfect filling, which you can supplement with anything from bacon and avocado to red onions and jalapeño.
24. MISSISSIPPI // THE CAMP
Spending time in The Camp’s outdoor beer garden or on the porch overlooking the Mississippi River is blissful and relaxing. And the restaurant’s Grilled Cheese, with melted provolone and American on homemade bread, adds to the heavenly experience. For a slightly less traditional grilled cheese, get the Pimento Grilled Cheese, which comes with crab-boil seasoned fried onions.
25. MISSOURI // THE ROYALE
St. Louis, Missouri
This neighborhood restaurant and bar in South City serves a Top Shelf Grilled Cheese that will make you feel like royalty. Provolone and cheddar combine with tomatoes and pesto to make a mouthwatering sandwich filling, which is served on white bread from a local bakery.
26. MONTANA // THE GARAGE SOUP SHACK & MESQUITE GRILL
Housed in a former auto mechanic garage, The Garage Soup Shack & Mesquite Grill is a local favorite for its friendly service and tasty food. The Ultimate Grilled Cheese is a three cheese sandwich that comes with tomato and bacon, and you can choose between Texas toast and ciabatta for your bread.
27. NEBRASKA // BLOCK 16
This spot in downtown Omaha makes street-style food from quality, locally sourced ingredients. Each day, the chef offers a special grilled cheese sandwich, which includes combinations of cheeses such as Muenster, garlic herb Boursin, Gouda, provolone, and local white cheddar. Depending on the day, the sandwich might be loaded with rhubarb jam, house pickles, or thick cut bacon.
28. NEVADA // FAT CHOY
Las Vegas, Nevada
Located inside the Eureka Casino, Fat Choy is an Asian-American diner that serves comfort food in the desert. The Shortrib Grilled Cheese—with onion jam, cheddar, provolone, and tomato dip—is savory, creamy, and decadent.
29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // THE FRIENDLY TOAST
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Once you see the bright green walls and eclectic artwork on the walls of The Friendly Toast, you know you’re somewhere special. Get the spicy D.G.G.C. (damn good grilled cheese), a cheddar and American sandwich on cayenne-cheddar bread that comes with an olive-garlic spread and a side of strawberry habanero sauce.
30. NEW JERSEY // THIRD & VINE
Jersey City, New Jersey
This cheese and wine tavern is the real deal. A chef and fromager oversee the Hot Cheese Sandwiches, which range from the American (a blend of four domestic cheeses) to the Croque Madame (Gruyere, Mortadella, Béchamel, egg, and truffle). Stinky cheese lovers should order The Stinker, a grilled cheese made with Taleggio, Grayson, onions, and English mustard.
31. NEW MEXICO // STANDARD DINER
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Founded by three brothers in 2006, downtown Albuquerque’s Standard Diner is the best place for a modern take on comfort food. Their grilled cheese is made with melted white cheddar, smoked Gouda, and Gruyere, and a bourbon-bacon marmalade adds sweet, savory notes to the gooey cheese.
32. NEW YORK // LITTLE MUENSTER
New York, New York
With a store in downtown Manhattan and a small takeout-only spot in Brooklyn, Little Muenster is a grilled cheese haven for New Yorkers craving some melted cheese goodness. Choose between five grilled cheese sandwiches, from the classic (with white American or cheddar) to the extravagant (with Maine Lobster). Don’t miss the perfectly balanced French Onion grilled cheese, which features Gruyere aged in a cave, caramelized onions, and arugula.
33. NORTH CAROLINA // DISH
Charlotte, North Carolina
Dish proves that down-home southern comfort food is simply the best. Because the restaurant lets customers choose their bread and cheese, there’s a grilled cheese to match whatever mood you’re in. We suggest getting a sandwich on marble rye or multi-grain bread with Monterey Jack or Swiss cheese.
34. NORTH DAKOTA // PEACOCK ALLEY
Bismarck, North Dakota
Opened in 1933 after the end of Prohibition, Peacock Alley has history built into its walls. The restaurant was a former hotel that hosted presidents from Theodore Roosevelt and Calvin Coolidge to John F. Kennedy. Made with Bread Poets wheat bread from a local bakery and a mixture of five cheeses—provolone, Swiss, American, white cheddar, and mozzarella—the grilled cheese is just as impressive as the building’s history.
35. OHIO // TOMMY'S RESTAURANT
Cleveland Heights, Ohio
It began as a seven-seat soda fountain in 1972, and today Tommy’s Restaurant seats 125 people. The extensive Toasted Cheese section of the menu is a huge draw, and hungry customers can order a grilled Muenster sandwich with unique additions such as sunflower seeds, mushrooms, and homemade peanut butter.
36. OKLAHOMA // THE TAVERN
Located in the hip Brady Arts District, The Tavern is the best spot to chew on a gooey grilled cheese and sip an artisanal beer. The neighborhood pub’s grilled cheese is cooked with cheese on the inside and on the outside of the bread, and it comes with a cup of tomato bisque.
37. OREGON // THE GRILLED CHEESE GRILL
Scott Beale via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Head to one of the Portland locations of Grilled Cheese Grill to get a taste of your childhood, as they promise. Built out of a converted school bus and double decker bus, the restaurants on wheels offer classic grilled cheeses with your choice of Tillamook Cheddar or American Cheese. Order the Pre-Schooler for a grilled cheese with the crusts lovingly cut off.
38. PENNSYLVANIA // MAD DASH
Multiple locations, Pennsylvania
The food truck Mad Dash elevates the humble grilled cheese to a sandwich masterpiece. Once you find the truck (it travels around the Harrisburg, York, and Lancaster areas), order the Killer Grilled Cheese, a Swiss, cheddar, and American cheese sandwich made with thick bread from a local Italian bakery.
39. RHODE ISLAND // SCRATCH KITCHEN & CATERING
Newport, Rhode Island
Run by a brother-sister team, Scratch Kitchen & Catering has all your grilled cheese needs covered. The Grilled Cheese Frittatas make for a perfect breakfast, and the multitude of Gourmet Grilled Cheese sandwiches hit the spot for lunch. Try the Duck Confit on marble rye for a taste of melted Gruyere, duck, and a peach and habanero marmalade.
40. SOUTH CAROLINA // PERSIMMON CAFE
Multiple locations, South Carolina
You can find Persimmon Cafe, which serves a tantalizing Adult Grilled Cheese, in Charleston and Summerville. The grown-up sandwich is well balanced with smoked Gouda, cheddar, prosciutto, and green apple. The cafe also serves a Grilled Cheese and Soup combo, letting you choose between pepper jack, fontina, havarti, cheddar, smoked Gouda, and goat cheese.
41. SOUTH DAKOTA // PURE BLISS BAKERY & CAFE
Pierre, South Dakota
Owned by a pastry chef, Pure Bliss Bakery & Cafe sells cupcakes, coffee, and mouthwatering Italian grilled cheese sandwiches. The cheese is generously portioned, the bread has gorgeous grill marks, and the daily grilled cheese lunch special comes with a tasty soup such as cheese broccoli or lasagna.
42. TENNESSEE // THE MAJESTIC GRILLE
Downtown’s Majestic Grille lives up to its name with its magnificent Famous Grilled Cheese. Besides aged white cheddar and sourdough bread, the sandwich has bacon, tomato, and creole mustard. Get the Parmesan fries for an even cheesier meal.
43. TEXAS // SOCIAL HOUSE
Multiple locations, Texas
Addison, Dallas, and Fort Worth residents have easy access to Social House, a restaurant and bar that offers a relaxing, fun place to gather with friends. After you order one of the 100 beers on tap, munch on the Social Grilled Cheese, a surprisingly delicate sourdough sandwich made with melted white cheddar, American, Swiss cheese, prosciutto, and Granny Smith apples.
44. UTAH // STATION 22 CAFE
If your idea of the perfect grilled cheese starts with two slices of Texas toast, Station 22 is the spot for you. With its thick bread, gooey cheese, avocado, and pesto mayo, the Golden Griller will leave your stomach satisfied. You have the option to add grilled chicken or bacon, but the meat isn’t necessary.
45. VERMONT // WOODSTOCK FARMERS' MARKET
This year-round fresh food market is Vermont’s favorite spot for grilled cheese, hands-down. The Quechee Gorge sandwich is expertly crafted with smoked Vermont cheddar, provolone, and Parrano cheeses between slices of grilled, roasted garlic parmesan bread.
46. VIRGINIA // GALAXY HUT
Because Galaxy Hut is a bar and live music venue, you have to be at least 21 years old to enter. But to those of age, order the awesome grilled cheese, which can be customized to your heart’s content. Choose between sourdough, Texas toast, and rye bread, then select amongst mozzarella, provolone, sharp cheddar, Swiss, American, and Muenster. If you’re feeling adventurous, add the vegan bacon or grilled onion for extra savoriness.
47. WASHINGTON // CAFE PETTIROSSO
Located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, Cafe Pettirosso offers customers an espresso bar, pastry case, and the best grilled cheese in Washington. The Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup (on the weekday lunch menu) is a creamy masterpiece of toasted sourdough with havarti and Beecher’s Flagship cheese.
48. WEST VIRGINIA // THE STARDUST CAFE
Lewisburg, West Virginia
The Stardust Cafe serves a Cheese and Pepper Panino to die for. Ciabatta bread is stuffed with two types of cheese (Asiago and chevre), two types of peppers (banana and Peppadew), onion, and tomato. It’s tangy, gooey, and downright delightful.
49. WISCONSIN // ALCHEMY CAFE
This eclectic pub is the perfect spot for grilled cheese lovers who want to up their veggie intake. The Stuffed Grilled Cheese contains local cheddar and Swiss, but it also has roasted carrots, broccoli, tomato, and red onion. Topped with cilantro pesto sauce, the toasted sourdough sandwich comes with your choice of side. We suggest the dilled potato salad and cilantro cucumber quinoa salad.
50. WYOMING // SIDEWINDERS AMERICAN GRILL
This grill and sports bar, which appeared in an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, has 30 TVs, 28 beers on tap, and the ultimate grilled cheese. While you sit on the outdoor deck, eat the sumptuous sourdough sandwich, which features cheddar, Swiss, bacon, avocado, and tomato.