Sometimes, you have cravings. We know this. Hence: Scanning the Menu, a new feature where the MenuPages Blog will do all the leg work for you. Every week or so, we’ll highlight a particular crave-worthy dish and illuminate restaurants around the city where you can indulge in it. Suggestions always welcome. This week: grilled cheese.
April is National Grilled Cheese Month. And National Frog Month. Maybe we’ll tackle frogs next week, but with the entire food media business hopping on the grilled cheese riff–from New York City to “Canada”–we figured we’d scan our precious San Francisco menus for the best in melted dairy products.
• ’wichcraft: Tom Colicchio’s New York chain’s only (first?) West Coast location opened in the Westfield San Francisco Centre to mixed reviews last fall. Since then, San Franciscans seemed to have embraced the New York prices. The fancy take-out place offers three varieties of gourmet grilled cheese: fontina with black trumpet mushrooms and white truffle fondue on pullman white bread ($9), gruyere with caramelized onions on rye ($5.50) and cheddar with smoked ham, pear and mustard on cranberry pecan bread ($6). The truffle oil makes the fontina rich and unique but the gruyere version gives you more bang for your buck.
• Hog Island Oyster Company: If you’re not in the know, you might never order a grilled cheese at this Ferry Building outpost, instead opting for the top-notch oysters and chowder. But if you were, you’d get the Acme ciabatta roll with three cheeses fresh from the Cowgirl Creamery: fromage blanc, mezzo secco and cave-aged gruyere. It’s the ultimate in simplicity–just bread and cheese–yet the combination of fresh, high-quality ingredients make this our pick for the city’s best.
• Citizen Cake: A longtime Chowhound favorite, Citizen Cake’s grilled cheese ultima combines Cabot sharp cheddar and gruyere on Acme Italian bread. Think of it as a compromise between ‘wichcraft’s innovation and Hog Island’s simplicity. Or something like that.
• In-N-Out Burger: It’s not on the regular menu, but you can get a cheeseburger without the burger. The result is the cheapest grilled cheese in town.
• Blupointe: The FiDi Happy Hour favorite dedicates a whole menu section to grilled cheese sandwiches. Our pick: the spicy pepper jack melt. We challenge you to find a better spicy pepper jack melt. Take the challenge. Go on.
• Mel’s Drive-In: A sentimental favorite, Mel’s can’t be beat at three in the morning on a weekend.
• Katia’s: Ok, it’s not exactly a grilled cheese sandwich (at all), but the syrniki at Katia’s are well worth the trip on your grilled cheese tour. Besides, everyone needs dessert. Syrniki is made by frying a mixture of cottage cheese and soft farmer’s cheeses, thereby creating a sweet fritter-like concoction that is crisp on the outside and creamy in the middle, just like the best grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s amazing, and from our experiences abroad, syrniki are much preferred over the Russian rendition of the American grilled cheese. Because, you know, in Soviet Russia cheese grill you.