Not just your plain-Jane American cheese on toast anymore, the grilled cheese sandwich is both comfort food and cultural icon. Proving that you can do an awful lot with a few slices of bread and a hunk of cheese. From a lavish raisin bread with shortribs and tallegio to a simple aged Cheddar and tomato confit on sourdough, many of LA's chefs are taking an inventive stab at the childhood favorite. Here are some of the city's best. Tomato soup not (necessarily) included.
10. The Grilled Cheese Truck (TGCT): A newcomer to the LA grilled cheese scene, this traveling truck promises to bring grilled cheese straight to the people. After a successful pre-opening event at the Farmer's Kitchen several weeks ago, the truck should be traveling the roads of LA any day now. With options like heirloom tomato and mozzarella, bbq pork and cheddar, and dessert sandwiches of banana and Nutella, Chef Dave Danhi will have his hands full serving all the late-night, truck-following, foodie fiends. Follow the twitter updates for news of the truck hitting the streets, that way you'll always be in the know of where the cheese is. Tweet for location.
9. Mel's Drive In: Cruising down the Sunset Strip after a hard night of partying and all you want is gooey, melted cheese? This New York-style diner is open 24 hours and offers a grilled cheese filled with a combination of jack, swiss, and cheddar on sourdough. Choose from a side of potato salad, fries, or cup of soup. Add a thick milkshake and you'll feel like a kid again, even if it is 3am. 8585 Sunset Boulevard, (310) 854-7201.
8. BreadBar: If you make great bread you must make a great grilled cheese, right? This LA bakery offers freshly baked, artisan breads spotlighted in their rustic cafe menu. On a hearty millstone bread, BreadBar's grilled cheese combines fresh mozerella, sundried tomato spread, and onion confit. Served with a mixed greens salad, it's a refreshing take on the classic. Choose your location.
7. The Edison: Down on your luck from the penny pinching recession? Try your fortune at the Edison's Friday night Soup Kitchen. Depression era cocktails hit your wallet right; 35-cent cocktails team up with complimentary grilled cheese bites and tomato soup to help ease your economic woes. Even aged-cheese and specialty breads can't top these prices(by which we mean gratis). Friday nights, 108 West 2nd Street, (213).613-0000.
6. Pete's Cafe & Bar: For cheese of the supreme nature, try this downtown classic's Supreme Grilled Cheese. A combination of cheddar, mozzarella, blue and goat cheeses topped with caramelized onions puts this sandwich in the running for the city's best. Craving something on the simpler path? Try the traditional with sharp cheddar and tomatoes. Both are served on larger than life slices of Texas toast. 400 S. Main Street, (213).617-1000.
5. Grilled Cheese Invitational: Every April, Los Angeles celebrates all that is grilled cheese at this cook-off. Competitors range from amateurs to serious chefs who compete in traditional, free-for-all, and dessert categories. A $5 judging fee gains you entrance and samples of all the entrants. For any grilled cheese lover, this is an event not to be missed.
4. Say Cheese Cafe: This Silverlake cheese shop offers a wide assortment of specialty cheeses and gourmet products. Put on your chefs hat and build your own grilled cheese, choosing from the retail cheeses including options like aged gouda, smoked cheddar and gorgonzola. Add spreads of basil pesto, sun-dried tomato compote or horseradish aoli on toasted rosemary, sourdough or ciabattina to create your own magic. Each sandwich comes with a side salad of mixed greens. 2800 Hyperion Avenue, (323) 665-0545.
3. The Foundry on Melrose: This may well be the grilled cheese to top all gourmet grilled cheese. Toasted raisin bread filled with tallegio cheese, short ribs, arugula, and apricot caper puree is served on the lounge menu of this Melrose hotspot. With all those flavors, one might struggle to call Chef Eric Greenspan's sandwich a grilled cheese. Greenspan wouldn't, of course. 7465 Melrose Avenue, (323) 651-0915.
2. Campanile: Thursday grilled cheese night at Campanile is an LA institution. The first venue to offer a grilled cheese night, every week Campanile's packed house backs up their reputation. Chef Mark Peel creates a menu of seasonal, regionally inspired sandwiches that are served on another city favorite, the restaurant's neighbor, La Brea Bakery breads. Fan picks include the Croque Monsieur. Make sure to reserve a table or you'll be left without the cheese. Thursday nights, 624 S La Brea Avenue, (323) 938-1447.
1. Clementine: During the month of April (National Grilled Cheese Month), this Century City neighborhood spot honors the grilled cheese sandwich in a big way. Each week, new combinations and mash-ups are offered on their very popular special grilled cheese menu. Past favorites have included chili grilled cheese, queso mahon and chorizo, and provolone with hot Italian sausages. Until April, you'll just have to make to with what's arguably the best grilled cheese in town without the fanfare. You'll be just fine. 1751 Ensley Ave, (310) 552-1080.