While nobody contests the satisfaction of old school Kraft on white Wonder bread in a pinch, our city’s epicureans have been experimenting with different artisan cheeses, rustic breads and fun fillers to see how they can break away from the triangular anachronism. – Suzanne Woods
2201 Lombard St
Philadelphia, PA 19146-1107
This is another Philadelphia institution that is now more accessible since the smoking ban of 2006. The only thing better than their grilled cheddar on pumpernickel with granny smith apples is the the gravelly goodness of Tom Waits all over the juke.
Known for–but not limited to–burgers, the Piazza’s PYT also serves up “The TCB,” a grilled cheese with tomato, cheddar & bacon. It has sharp cheddar and pepper bacon and is served on the classic Martin’s potato bread.
Tables are packed nightly with patrons tuned into the ever-rotating selection on the juke box, and the grilled cheese is one of the most popular items on the menu. Smoked gouda, provolone, scallion goat cheese and a touch of truffle make up this favorite. The sammy is served on rustic Boulle bread along with hand cut Idaho fries and malted vinegar aioli. If you’ve got $3 to spare, add a cup of soup; they usually have at least four on the blackboard menu at this Bella Vista bar.
South Philly Tap Room
You’ll time travel back to the days when mom poured you a ginger ale and made you tomato soup and grilled cheese when you ran that 101 fever. But now you’re all grown up, and tomato soup is made even more delicious with the addition of beer. Chef Scott Schroeder’s cheesy sandwich has spent the perfect time in the pan, resulting in a gradient that goes from dark gold to brown. He uses smoked cheddar, sharp provolone and American, and the sandwich shares the plate with some old-fashioned potato wedges and a house-made, snazzed up ketchup that will make Heinz dead to you in two fries flat.
St. Stephens Green
1701 Green St.
Philadelphia, Pa 19130
Just when you thought you were short-ribbed out, this Art Museum area pub 86’s the cliché mashed potato pairing and throws it on a grilled cheese to make you fall in love with the pulled beef all over again. It also has little nooks, and who doesn’t like a nook?
Beer, wine, and cheese lovers can get their favorite fermentables at one of two locations. Both have the same menu, which includes a perfectly pressed three cheese and roasted tomato panini. Tria servers go back to “school” every Tuesday to learn about new items being served at the cafe, and the staff is one of the most knowledgeable in the city. Head there on a Sunday for “Sunday School,” and it’s your turn in the classroom. One beer, one cheese, and one wine are half off and served with a clipboard of tasting notes, so you can have your cheese and know about it too.
World Cafe Live
As their website states, the Independent music venue/restaurant has taken two great things and paired them together. At World Café Live, you can find grilled cheese and beer pairings monthly. Often, they pour a local beer like a Yards Saison and pair it with Old Bay cheddar on brioche, along with a mini crab cake. And chances are, some live tunes will provide a soundtrack to your sandwich.
Yards Brewing Co
Yards Brewing Co. opened their tasting room in January of 2010, and their menu only consists of grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and chili, so they better be good. The brewery uses bread made with their own spent grain, as well as queso from local cheese heroes Dibruno Bros. Grab a sampler while you’re sitting at their bowling alley topped bar, so you don’t have to worry about going back on your self-induced promise to “just have one.”