Today is a celebration of one of America’s most iconic comfort foods, it’s Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day. At its core, grilled cheese is an incredibly simple creation — take some cheese, put it between two slices of bread and heat it up. Of course, restaurants around the country are taking grilled cheese to another level, adding a wide variety of ingredients — from bacon to vegetables to locally themed toppings — and using cheese that strays far from the gold standard of American or cheddar.
Ohio’s Melt Bar and Grilled pre-toasts the bread before adding the cheese. “Toasting both sides of the bread gives the sandwich a delicious crunch and added textural elements,” says owner Matt Fish. He suggests using cheeses with high moisture content that melt easily, as opposed to aged or smoked cheeses, which taste great but don’t melt as well. “Remember, the cheese and the bread need to take center stage here. Ingredients cannot overshadow either and should not compromise the quality of either the bread or the cheese.”
At Ravage Deli just outside of Baltimore, executive chef and co-owner Aaron Stahlmann follows what he calls the three Bs: bread, butter and blend. “Patience is one of the most important things,” he says. “If it’s cooked too hot and too fast, it will burn before all the cheese melts leaving a bitter aftertaste.”
There’s an eatery elevating grilled cheese near you, too. See the photos above for standout grilled cheese sandwiches in every state, and more from our 50 states series below.