Photos by OHventures (Pictured above is the Pep+Chee from Tom+Chee)
When I think back to my days of childhood, I am often reminded of some of my favorite meals my mom would cook for me and my brothers. Sometimes, it's the simple things that ended up being the best! My mom made a mean grilled cheese sandwich for us growing boys. Sure, it was just two pieces of Wonderbread, a slice of Kraft Singles American cheese, and a side some Campbell's tomato soup, but she had a way of making it taste like a culinary masterpiece.
Grilled cheese is such a staple in the American culture that April 12 is officially recognized as National Grilled Cheese Day!
There are a few Ohio restaurants that serve up some awesome eats that are NOT your mother's grilled cheese! These simple sandwiches have now become an artform with dozens and dozens of creative, wacky and delicious fixings. Here are a few Ohio dining spots you can try out on National Grilled Cheese Day, or any day of the year!
Mighty Macaroni from Melt Bar & Grilled
Parmageddon from Melt Bar & Grilled
1. Melt Bar & Grilled(locations include Lakeood, Cleveland Heights, Independence, Mentor, Short North, and Columbus-Easton): Melt Bar & Grilled is a dining experience like none other. This famous food joint began in Cleveland in 2006, and has exploded in the last decade. The wait to be seated at Melt is usually out the door, but is 100% worth it! Deciding which of the masterpiece grilled cheese sandwiches you will choose for your dining experience at Melt is a daunting task, since there are so many mouthwatering choices on Melt's mounting menu. One of my favorites is the "Parma, Italy" which consists of breaded chicken, provolone, garlic, and roasted red pepper pesto. But that's one of the tamer choices! For instance, "The Godfather" has three-cheese lasagna, provolone and red sauce, and the "Big Popper" (which is loaded with jalapeno poppers!). Not your typical grilled cheese sandwiches! Pictured are two choices from a recent trip: the "Mighty Macaroni" (creamy homemade macaroni and cheese battred and deep fried, layered with cheddar cheese sauce on the sandwich), and the "Parmageddon" (potato & onion pierogi, fresh napa vodka kraut, and sharp cheddar). Take my advice and order the "half" portion!
The Number Six from Lockview
2. The Lockview(Akron): This awesome Akron hotspot is a popular stop for both the downtown lunch crowd, and the late night bar crowd alike. This is due to their enormous selection of beers on tap, and - you guessed it - their menu specializing in grilled cheese sandwiches! The entire right hand side of their menu lists off your choices, all with simple names like "The Number Five" (goat cheese, portabello mushrooms, caramelized onions, and swiss cheese), and my favorite, pictured above, "The Number Six" (cheddar cheese, sliced apples, and applewood smoked bacon - don't knock it 'til you try it). The best part? All the sandwiches are served with a mini umbrella and a side of goldfish crackers!
Grilled Cheese Donut at Tom+Chee
3. Tom+Chee (locations in Ohio include Cincinnati, Green, Harrison Greene, and West Chester): This bright and funky restaurant chain got its start in the heart of Cincinnati's Fountain Square, where the founders sold sammies out of a tiny food tent. Now, there are dozens of locations across the nation, with a few scattered across Ohio. There are some bizarre yet delicious eats at Tom+Chee, including the surprisingly tasty Grilled Cheese Donut (pictured above), which has been featured on many national television shows. There are several variants of the Grilled Cheese Donut, but the classic consists of a glazed donut sliced in half, which is used in place of bread, oozing with cheddar cheese. Other varieties include the S'more, Blueberry Blue, and The King (banana, peanut butter, and mascarpone/mozzrella). If that doesn't strike your fancy, try their Crunchy Grilled Cheese, which adds different chips to each grilled cheese sandwich (BBQ, salt and vinegar, etc). You can give one of their Fancy Grilled Cheese sandwiches a try (the Pep+Chee is pictured above), or build your own!
Some other great Ohio restaurants not dedicated to grilled cheese, but that have a grilled cheese on their menu worth noting are:
Grilled Cheese at Town Hall in Cleveland
1. Town Hall(Cleveland): This Ohio City restaurant has "Grilled Cheese Bars" with roasted roma tomatoes, cheddar, and gruyere on sourdough wheat bread. You can add avocado or prosciutto to make it extra fancy (pictured above).
2. Coco's Bistro(Dayton): Try Coco's grilled cheese with panko breaded sourdough bread, a four cheese blend, and a side of creamy tomato bisque!
3. Bodega(Columbus): Me and my buds would go here for $1 grilled cheese every Monday! Can. Not. Beat. It!