Bouchon Bakery (NYC)
This grilled cheese sandwich is so good, Ed named it one of the 22 sandwiches that will change your life. It's made on great brea, with Gruyère and fontina cheeses, and it's so golden brown it's almost (but not quite) too beautiful to eat. It comes with tomato soup, which, though not nearly as delicious, provides an excellent dipping liquid for the sandwich (if you happen to be a dipper).
Campanile's Grilled Cheese Thursdays (Los Angeles, CA)
The now legendary Grilled Cheese Night at Campanile all started when Nancy Silverton, the godmother of La Brea Bakery nextdoor, started putting her fantastic breads into the panini press. Turns out, people love grilled cheese, and Thursday night became one of her busiest nights of the week at Campanile. The success even inspired Campanile's cookbook, Nancy Silverton's Sandwich Book, which featured the best hits from Thursday night. Some examples: croque monsieur (hey, it's technically a grilled cheese), Sevillana (Serrano ham, fresh figs, manchego and honey) and the classic one pictured here with grilled onions and whole-grain mustard. Silverton has since left the restaurant, but her ex-husband, Mark Peel, is a great cook who knows delicious, so they are still up to snuff every Thursday. All of the sandwiches come with french fries and a pint of Belgian ale too.
Brunch Box (Portland, OR)
Does dino-shaped grilled cheese taste better than non-dino-shaped ones? Probably not, but the second-graders in us were suckers for the Cheezasaurus Rexes ($2.50) while on a street food crawl in Portland last year. After trying the Brunch Box's YouCanHasCheeseburger (a burger with two grilled cheese sandwiches as its bun, which you may recognize as Adam Kuban's Fatty Melt) we chased it with a few dinos. They're simple: Texas toast with melted American cheese. Nothing fancy.
Cafecito (Chicago, IL)
Cafecito already makes one of Chicago's best Cubanos and chimichurri topped steak sandwiches in the city, so it's hard to stray from those two. But owner Philip Ghantous also makes an Argentine take on the grilled cheese called the Provoletta. The cheese is topped with the same garlicky herby chimichurri from the steak sammie, roast red peppers and sandwiched in a crispy crackling grilled bread.
Caseus Grilled Cheese Truck (New Haven, CT)
The mobile offshoot of the Caseus cheese-shop-cum-bistro in New Haven scoots around Yale's campus selling grilled cheeses with all sorts of toppings. They use up the end bits of provolone, Swiss, comte, gruyere, gouda, and sharp cheddar from the shop, they melt the blend on buttered, toasted sourdough slices in the truck to order. In addition to the classic bread-plus-cheese ($5) you can throw on any number of add-ons for a buck each: guacamole, sweet applewood bacon, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, Jambon de Paris, tomato, or arugula.
Roaming; check Twitter or call 203-850-3504.
Mike and Patty's (Boston, MA)
This is billed a "Breakfast Grilled Cheese" ($5) which essentially mean there's a fried egg suspended in there. The pain de mie is a beautiful golden brown from end to end, every corner begging to be tugged off and crunched for a buttery bite. The egg is cooked until it holds its shape, but the yolk isn't completely set; the American cheddar is oozy and molten and in every bite.
Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick (San Francisco, CA)
It should come as no surprise that a grilled cheese from the fine cheese mavens at Cowgirl Creamery is a truly excellent one. At Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick, their cafe-style counter at the Ferry Building, the sandwich changes daily, depending on available ingredients and the whims of its creators. A recent combination featured three cheeses: sottocenere (Italian truffle cheese), Cowgirl Wagonwheeel, and Pecorino Romano, pressed on thick slices of Acme sourdough loaf ($7). The sandwich, while rich, was surprisingly ungreasy—it had none of the grilled-cheese-glisten. The three cheeses worked together remarkably well, and the truffle flavor thankfully didn't dominate.
South Philly Tap Room (Philadelphia, PA)
Filled with gooey gouda and Muenster, this one spills out the sides in puddles (so beware). The bread is buttered and grilled dark and crisp. The sandwich, which arrives cut in half, also comes with a cup of chunky tomato lager soup finished with a drizzle of olive oil (to complete the classic tomato soup and grilled cheese combo).