- Austin McAllister
- Brooklyn Larder
April is National Grilled Cheese Month, and today is National Grilled Cheese Day. You might not have been aware of any of this because you might not be paying super close attention to current events like I do, but it’s a true thing, National Grilled Cheese Month, and like with all true things, a celebration is in order. Truth and cheese should always be celebrated. And there is really only one way to celebrate this occasion and that is by eating as much grilled cheese as possible. But not just any grilled cheese. You don’t want to settle for anything less than the best. So we’ve rounded up our ten favorite grilled cheeses in Brooklyn—some classic recipes and some a little unorthodox—all for your enjoyment. And even though all these sandwiches are different from each other, they are also all variations on a theme. And that theme is crisp, crunchy bread and oozing cheese and the kind of edible goodness that has you moaning to the point that it’s not a safe food to eat at your desk. Enjoy.
The bread on this sandwich is always perfectly crisp, the cheddar is sharp and perfectly melted, and the roast beef is the perfect addition to make it feel like you’re eating something substantial. But the real star here is the Branston pickled vegetables, which brighten the flavor profile and offset the cheesy and meaty richness perfectly.
This Williamsburg bar is known for two things: whiskey and grilled cheese. It does both of those things very well. The Karen stands out though for its combination of four cheeses—two mild and two strong—which blend together in a way that defies logic. It’s just that good.
Brooklyn Larder does everything well. But one of our favorite things there is the classic grilled cheese. This version is proof that all you need are the kind of flawless ingredients that Brooklyn Larder is known for, and you will wind up with the ultimate sandwich. In this case, the sum is definitely equal to the parts, but then, the parts are insanely delicious.
Van Horn brings a Southern classic to Brooklyn with its Toasted Pimento Cheese. Having grown up in New York, I wasn’t familiar with the wonders of pimento cheese until recently, but now I’m a total convert. It has just the right kick and a perfect amount of creaminess and is also an excellent grilled cheese when you are hungover. At least, that’s what I’ve found.
While not strictly a grilled cheese in the classic sense, Ferdinando’s Panelle Special is worth including on this list because it is delicious and full of cheese. So what more do you need? And to sell it a little harder, panelle are chickpea fritters that are then covered in ricotta cheese and Ferdinando’s has been serving them for over a hundred years. You know they’ve got to be doing something right.
This almost feels like the grilled cheese your mom or dad or grandma or whoever would make you when you were a kid. Accompanied by a side of their amazing fries, Henry Public serves up what might be the platonic ideal of a grilled cheese sandwich. Eating one becomes a Proustian experience, and I’ll take a savory grilled cheese over a madeleine any day.
And again we take a little departure from the classic grilled cheese, although, when you think about it, a quesadilla satisfies all the grilled cheese requirements that anyone could possibly need. I mean, there’s melted cheese. And a starch wrapped around that melted cheese so that you can easily convey the cheese to your mouth. So what’s the problem? There’s none, really, especially when you’re eating the quesadilla setas at Gran Electrica. It’s a wild mushroom quesadilla and the earthiness of the mushrooms works well with the gooey goodness of the melted cheese. Squirt a little lime on it brighten things up and you’re set.
Unlike several of our other grilled cheese picks which blend many kinds of cheeses, a classic Cuban only has one kind of cheese—Swiss—but two kinds of pork and pickles as well. Is the cheese the star here? No, not really. But it plays an essential part in the perfect Cubano that is served at Pilar’s. Even though it might only be a supporting player, the cheese in this sandwich brings the whole thing together, while still shining on its own. Shine on you crazy, cheesy diamond.
This Bushwick eatery offers several add-ons to its classic grilled cheese, and I have to say, I’m partial to having it with avocado and tomato. Tomato, whether in its natural state or as a soup, is the perfect accompaniment to grilled cheese and avocado lets you add a little more umami-flavor to the sandwich without resorting to bacon. All in all, it’s a great combination.
Spotting the Milk Truck in DUMBO is one of our favorite pastimes because we know when we see it that we’re in for a treat. Our favorite sandwich of theirs is the Bacon Cheddar Blue because, well, even though we don’t think bacon makes everything better, it certainly makes a grilled cheese better, and the extra tang given off by the blue cheese makes this sandwich something really special. So keep on the look out for the Milk Truck, it’s better than Mr. Softee ever was.
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen