The powers that be have decided that April is Grilled Cheese Month, but really, it's not like we need permission to eat this most simple, most perfect creation anytime. Los Angeles really excels at comfort food, so it's no surprise that a lot of restaurants have grilled cheese sandwiches on their menus. Upscale restaurants tend to add a more exotic mix of cheeses, but it's the same core idea: dairy and carbs. For the purposes of this list, any grilled cheese sandwiches with meat have been excluded.
Superba Food + Bread
Superba starts with brioche and adds orange cheddar and mozzarella to the pan. It's quite a simple sandwich — more cooking time probably is given to its side dish, roasted tomato-basil soup. It also comes with a dill pickle. But none of that would be worth anything if the sandwich itself didn't offer pure bliss.
1900 S. Lincoln Blvd., Venice; (310) 907-5075, superbafoodandbread.com.
An off-menu item, it's offered with your choice of cheddar or Swiss on white, wheat or rye. The Apple Pan isn't known for dizzying variation, just stoic consistency. It would be hard to suggest sitting at the counter of this L.A. landmark for a GC when the burgers are so great, but who knows — maybe you're avoiding meat or want an appetizer before your meal. Either way, as our dining companions all declared, “Now that's a grilled cheese!” Unlike some of its fancy counterparts, this isn't a huge oozing mass; it offers no-frills, faultless bites of melted cheese on crispy sandwich bread that has been slathered with mayo instead of butter — the secret ingredient we should all embrace. Served with crinkle-cut hamburger pickles and pitted jumbo black olives.—Rachael Narins
10801 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 475-3585.
Here's a grilled cheese that wants to party. A recent addition to the weekend and late-night menus at Boneyard Bistro, the “jalapeño popper grilled cheese” contains jack and cheddar. And cream cheese. And crispy onions, and jalapeño strips. It's not too spicy, since not many seeds make it into the sandwich, but the greenery is good for counteracting the three types of cheese it joins on the sandwich.
13539 Ventura Blvd., Sherman Oaks; (818) 906-7427, boneyardbistro.com.
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Badmaash, a nontraditional Indian restaurant downtown, recently started a weekend brunch. To that brunch menu, the cooks have added a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, serrano chilies, onions and cilantro. It's a mess to eat and a practically perfect rendition of fusion food.
108 W. Second St., downtown; (213) 221-7466, badmaashla.com.
Here's a grilled cheese sandwich where the bread matters. Fundamental's carb of choice is sourdough, which is a good pairing with the American cheese within. The flavor from the bread, the texture from the cheese. There are also caramelized onions and crispy shallots thrown in there.
1303 Westwood Blvd., Westwood; (310) 444-7581, fundamental-la.com.
The Oaks Gourmet
The Oaks makes a wide variety of sandwiches, some of them plain, some of them outlandish. The grilled cheese splits the difference, as it's made with three stinky cheeses (sharp cheddar, Camembert and fontina) and cranberry-walnut bread. It's perfect. The deli also regularly offers grilled cheese specials.
1915 N. Bronson Ave., Los Feliz; (323) 871-8894, theoaksgourmet.com.
The Darkroom on Melrose
This is something of a dive bar, so it's no surprise that the food menu includes a grilled cheese sandwich. The ingredients are impressive for such a place, however. Cheddar, fontina and muenster … on garlic Texas toast. Because after a night like the Darkroom offers, you'll want mile-high bread.
7302 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; (323) 931-3800.
Esters Wine Shop & Bar
The grilled cheese from Santa Monica’s Esters Wine Shop & Bar has always been one of the most popular items on the menu, and it's now available for both lunch and dinner. It’s made on pain de mie from Milo & Olive and is filled with Reading, provolone and Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as a bechamel sauce, in case you don't think a regular grilled cheese is indulgent enough. It comes with cornichons and red pepper jam on the side. It must be good: It’s the first recipe in Jeremy Fox’s upcoming cookbook, On Vegetables.
1314 Seventh St., Santa Monica; (310) 899-6900, esterswineshop.com.
Something about chef Jessica Christensen's beguiling pimento cheese twist on the classic makes us think of a beloved small-town lottery winner who went in for a big-city makeover. It's a million bucks' worth of very down-to-earth and approachable. Pimento cheese, a Southern staple, is a creamy mess of sweet-charred red peppers swirled into '70s-era cocktail-party cheese dip. Heavenly stuff. When coupled with a beer, another thing City Tavern does right, this is one of the best things going.—Rachael Narins
9739 Culver Blvd., Culver City; (310) 838-9739, citytavernculvercity.com.