We’ll take just about any excuse to pay homage to cheese, and Thursday’s National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day brings such an opportunity. If you’re looking to observe this momentous national holiday, we’ve got the low-down on which gooey wonders are worthy of the honor.
Washington-area restaurants have upped the ante on the classic comfort food, employing such high-minded ingredients as raclette (a semi-soft cheese hailing from Switzerland); truffle oil; manchego and quince paste.
Among the gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches we’re currently obsessing over: the grilled pimento cheese sandwich from Bayou Bakery, which features a slathering of pimento cheese with a cool center on buttery toast.
Room 11’s grilled cheese — sharp New York cheddar, raclette and a little kick of shallot, with marinara on the side — flies out of the Columbia Heights restaurant’s tiny kitchen all night, and may well be the perfect food for chilly nights like the ones we’ve been having this week.
Though hardly gourmet, the “super” grilled cheese from Stoney’s could go bite-for-bite with the area’s fanciest, thanks to the unusually thick toast that’s nearly charred and perfectly paired with American cheese, onion, tomato and bacon — it’s a longtime staff favorite.
Thursday would also be a fine time to line up at Pepe, the food truck launched in March by Jose Andres. His Spanish grilled cheese pairs nutty manchego with fresh goat cheese, sweet quince paste and two other Spanish cheeses — which partly explains the $10 price tag. For true fanatics, however, we’d like to recommend another food truck, Big Cheese, which is dedicated (as its name might suggest) to grilled cheese in every possible form; consider the truck’s Thrilled Cheese sandwich, with chipotle cheddar, jalapeno peppers and guacamole.
For more ideas, be sure to check out our editor’s picks for the best grilled cheese sandwiches, with offerings from Birch and Barley, Quarry House Tavern and more. And tell us in the comments who makes your favorite (besides Mom, of course).