Cheese. Bread. Butter. What could be better?
Grilled cheese sandwiches are one of those amazing sandwiches that made the transition from being a childhood staple to an adulthood treat flawlessly — even Joe Biden agrees.
Whether you love a classic sandwich with nothing but the cheddar, or a fancier twist with fig jam or arugula, here are the best spots to get your fix in San Francisco.
National Grilled Cheese Day is on April 12, so we’re revisiting our San Francisco Grilled Cheese list. Since originally producing the list in 2015 we’ve lost Ricky Bobby and Radish (and, seven months later, we’re still mourning the loss of Radish’s bottomless mimosas). We’ve added to the list Cockscomb and Zeitgeist.
1. Cowgirl Creamery’s Sidekick Cafe & Milk Bar
1 Ferry Building No. 19 in the Embarcadero
Yes, you have died and gone to cheese heaven. The type of grilled cheese sandwich you eat is based on their rotation, but just trust me that you will not be disappointed. They also do open-faced grilled cheese “toasties” with Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, caramelized onions, and maple mustard.
2. The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen
1 S Park St in SoMa/South Beach and 799 Battery Street/FiDi
Pick one thing and do it well – that’s what these guys do. From the Mushroom Gruyère to the Cubano, this place has a sandwich for you. You can even get a Mac N Cheese grilled cheese…yeah. Grab one before or after a Giants game at the South Park location.
3. Mission Cheese
736 Valencia St in the Mission
For those more adventurous in their grilled cheese exploration, this is the place. Try the California Gold with San Joaquin Gold
(a firm cheddar cheese from Cowgirl Creamery), chevre, prosciutto, and fig preserves, or the Chedd or Alive with Cabot & Vella cheddars and Apple’N’Ale Chutney. All sandwiches served up on Josey Baker Bread country levain.
4. Grilled Cheez Guy
Pop-Up Shop (opening brick and mortar in early 2017)
For an inventive style of the sandwich by a man who truly loves grilled cheese, this pop-up is worth finding. There is always the Classic — aged white cheddar, yellow cheddar, and mozzarella on Acme levain — but he throws in new additions, like the Le Frenchy
(caramelized onions, mozzarella, pecorino, and gruyere) and the Spicy (pickled jalapenos, pepper jack, and muenster). Keep up on where to find the Grilled Cheese Guy on Twitter
4001 Judah St in the Outer Sunset
Stop in for lunch and treat yourself to their cast-iron grilled cheese sandwich, brushed with garlic oil and served with soup or a green salad. We vote soup.
203 Octavia Bvld in Hayes Valley
This carnival-themed eatery nails the grilled cheese sandwich: perfectly melted cheddar, jack, and swiss cheese on parmesan encrusted brioche. Get it with a side of their Creamy Tomato Soup, which they top with Goldfish crackers. Hello, childhood.
564 4th Street in China Basin
Cockscomb isn’t kidding around. They take a traditional grilled cheese and place a farm fresh egg on top. Wait, it doesn’t end there. The China Basin restaurant follows up with a drizzle of honey. This is a difficult one to eat with your hands. Oh, we would be remiss to not note that occasionally they replace the honey with shaved truffle. - JR
56 Belden Pl in the Financial District and 131 Gough St in Hayes Valley
Their fancy spin on the sandwich is a Classic Tomato Bisque with White Truffle Grilled Cheese Toast Sticks. As a sucker for anything with truffles, this is a winner.
9. Blue Barn Gourmet
2237 Polk St in Russian Hill and 2105 Chestnut Street in the Marina/Cow Hollow
With 5 types of grilled cheese to choose from, you’re sure to find one that satisfies you. Try the Sheep (manchego cheese, soppressata & mission fig jam on sliced country levain) or the Burrata (fresh mozzarella burrata, roma tomato, arugula & pesto aioli on a ciabatta roll).
10. Bender’s Bar and Grill
806 S Van Ness Ave in the Mission
My favorite kind of place is one where I can get drunk while eating food that is horrible for me, so this place is a must. They have a Grilled Mac N’ Cheese Sando, described as “your standard Grilled Cheese gone buck wild.” It gets even trashier when they add hot dogs and jalapeño potato chips. You can also get the Hot Pig Grilled Cheese (sharp cheddar, jack, american, and pepper jack with BBQ pulled pork and jalapeños) or the Grilled Cheesus Christ (sharp cheddar, jack, and american with tomato).
11. Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem
2323 Mission St in the Mission
Another place where you can get drunk and eat grilled cheese. Yes. Spend a Saturday morning with bottomless mimosas and a morning grilled cheese: the Wake & Bacon, consisting of bacon, cheddar cheese, and a fried egg.
12. Chomp N’ Swig
1541 Clement St in the Inner Richmond
The Bacon Butter Crunch is a crowd favorite — with white cheddar cheese, bacon butter, and tomato, we’re not surprised that it is. Highly recommended: grabbing a beer from their extensive selection to wash it all down.
858 Folsom St in SoMa
A pub and wine bar (the wine is on tap!) that serves up consistently good food. Their signature sandwich packs a punch: the Nacho Grilled Cheese with black beans, chipotle salsa, beer-pickled jalapeño, pepper jack, and cheddar.
199 Valencia Street in the Mission
I’m a little surprised we missed Zeitgeist during our first go around. At $4, Zeitgeist’s grilled cheese and tomato is probably the cheapest sandwich on this list. Not only is it affordable, this sandwich is shockingly delicious for being so simple. - JR
15. Crossroads Cafe
699 Delancey St in SoMa/South Beach
I feel like Robin S.
says it best on Yelp: “The grilled cheese has four (4) kinds of cheese and, apparently, one (1) kind of crack. It’s fantastic.” Also, Crossroads is a good place to support
— the Delancey Street Foundation is the country’s largest and most acclaimed self-help residential educational center for people who have hit bottom to completely rebuild their lives.
16. Bacon Bacon
205 A Frederick St in Ashbury Heights
Their grilled cheese has — you guessed it — cheese, thick slices of bacon, and bacon jam. If you love bacon, you will love it.
17. Tartine Bakery
600 Guerrero St in the Mission
I don’t need to explain Tartine’s legacy here. Your grilled cheese options include the Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese, Three Cheese Tasting (Bellwether Carmody, Straus Cheddar, and Idiazabal), Pecorino & Almond (sheep cheese & almonds crushed with olive oil, lemon, and sage) and much more.
18. Hog Island Oyster Co.
1 Ferry Bldg Shop 11 in the Embarcadero
Saving perhaps the best for last — as one of the most celebrated grilled cheese sandwiches, they serve their cheesy goodness on Acme bread with Cowgirl Creamery’s fromage blanc, Vella mezzo secco and cave-aged Gruyere, and house made pickles.
Did we miss out on your favorite spot? Make your case in the comments and we might add it to the list. And yes, we know The Melt isn’t on this list.
[Featured Image: Zeitgeist]