Butter two slices of white bread, slap a slice of American cheese between them and then griddle until both sides are toasty brown and the cheese is melted. If this conjures warm, fuzzy memories of your childhood, you’re not alone. The grilled cheese sandwich might be the ultimate American comfort food and its staying power is impressive.
When James L. Kraft rolled out his processed cheese in 1915, he not only solved the problem of cheese spoilage in a pre-refrigeration society, but set the stage for the creation of a cheap, easy-to-make sandwich that was filling and tasty. It certainly came in handy during the Great Depression when folks could be fed for pennies with meals made from processed cheese. When schools began serving grilled cheese sandwiches (a protein source) along with canned tomato soup (chosen for its vitamin C content), a classic was born that endures to this day. In 1949, Kraft introduced the cheese in single slices and other cheese companies have since followed suit.
While grilled cheese sandwiches are still in high demand today, modern-day palates happily lean toward more gourmet interpretations. Some are made with American cheese, others with a mix of aged cheeses and some with both. Other ingredients run the gamut from pork belly to barbecue to fruit. Lots of South Carolina restaurants serve up versions that capture the essence of the sandwich while upping the deliciousness with such imaginative additions. Here are 12 places where you can experience all the comfort of eating a grilled cheese sandwich with a few twists thrown in to surprise your taste buds.
Brown Dog Deli, Charleston
Grilled cheese to try: Wes’ French Onion Grilled Cheese (shaved prime rib, bourbon onion aioli, Gouda, Swiss, provolone on sourdough with au jus) and the Short Rib Grilled Cheese (braised short rib, mozzarella, cheddar, sweet pepper, pickles, arugula, bourbon onion aioli on sourdough). You can build your own, too.
Craig’s Deli, Santee
Grilled cheese to try: Ultimate Grilled Cheese with Swiss, American, provolone, tomato and bacon on white or wheat bread.
Eli’s Table, Charleston
Grilled cheese to try: Tuscan Grilled Cheese with Roma tomato, basil, cheddar, American cheese on toasted sourdough bread.
Goat Sheep Cow, Charleston
Grilled cheese to try: Monger’s Grilled Cheese with raclette, Asiago fresca, house pumpkin jam, pickled apple on pain au levain (sourdough). Add bacon for an additional charge.
Grilled Cheese and Crab Cake Company, Garden City
Grilled cheese to try: Crab Melt with a Maryland-style crab cake, tomato and jack cheese; French-fried Lobster Grilled Cheese; and Sous Vide Chicken Pesto Melt. All are tucked into Texas toast and grilled to perfection.
Hamburger Joe’s, North Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach
Grilled cheese to try: Grilled cheese is made to order; get it traditional or add bacon.
Hare and Field, Travelers Rest
Grilled cheese to try: Cheesiest Grilled Cheese with triple cream brie, Swiss, pimento cheese and caramelized onion.
Nose Dive, Greenville
Grilled cheese to try: Nose Dive Grilled Cheese with Tillamook cheddar, brie, caramelized onion, apple, fig spread and arugula grilled on hearth bread.
Persimmon Café, Charleston
Grilled cheese to try: Adult Grilled Cheese with smoked Gouda, green apple, prosciutto and cheddar cheese.
Southern Belly BBQ, Columbia
Grilled cheese to try: House Grilled Cheese with pulled pork, cheddar, American cheese, bacon and Rebel Red BBQ Sauce on buttered and grilled Texas toast.
Tattooed Moose, Charleston
Grilled cheese to try: Super Melty Grilled Cheese with loads of American cheese on sourdough bread. Add tomato, bacon or pork belly for an additional charge.
The Lodge, Hilton Head Island
Grilled cheese to try: Brisket & Gouda Grilled Cheese with beef brisket, smoked porter onion and Gouda.