The grilled cheese sandwich is a point of pride in Minnesota. Who wasn’t raised on the crispy bread, gooey cheese classic that makes lunchtime, midday snack or even dinner something special. Often served with tomato soup on the side, there’s nothing better than a steaming grilled cheese after spending time in Minnesota snow or a day outside in the summer. While no one can make it quite like grandma can, here are a few restaurants that have elevated this grand sandwich to a whole new level.
4244 Nicollet Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55409
You can get your grilled cheese straight up, with aged cheddar, Swiss or both, or you can load it up with all sorts of extras. Bacon, often a must, is just $2 extra, or you could try some avocado which adds another layer of creamy texture, maybe some onion, tomato, jalapeno… all for only 50 cents a piece. It’s a great sandwich no matter which way you make it. The Lowbrow is happy to accommodate dietary restrictions as well, offering a gluten-free bun for those intolerant or celiac for a small added charge. Complementary fries or side salad make this a memorable plate in south Minneapolis.
Swede Hollow Cafe
725 E. 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55106
This little coffee shop/diner with great views of downtown St. Paul makes grilled cheese to perfection. It consists of four cheeses: provolone, cheddar, swiss and smoked gouda toasted on sourdough bread and served crispy hot. The option to add meat, turkey, ham or beef for $1.99 is an added bonus and turns a light bite into a two-handed meal. The rustic sandwich is perfectly matched by the historic building that houses Swede Hollow Café.
525 Selby Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
This is not your grandmother’s grilled cheese. With Swiss, grass-fed gouda and cheddar cheese melted with caramelized onion on a ciabatta roll, this is the grilled cheese sandwich you’ve only imagined. Savory, melty goodness spills over the edges in a delectable mess of deliciousness. A menu full of classic sandwiches with creative twists, comfort food taken to the next level makes Cheeky Monkey the restaurant everyone wants to have in their neighborhood.
771 Cleveland Ave. S.
St. Paul, MN 55116
It’s true that a great grilled cheese doesn’t need anything else on it besides molten cheese, but the tomato chutney that Highland Grill puts on its signature sandwich might have you rethinking your entire grilled cheese existence. The Tillamook and Vermont cheddar cheese are a great mix, giving your stomach that comforting hug from your childhood and then the chutney on top takes your tastes buds to whole new worlds. It’s a fantastic sandwich.
Butcher and the Boar
1121 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403
If you’re really looking for a grilled cheese sandwich that’s outside the norm, head to Hennepin Avenue’s foodie mecca for the lobster grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich reaches new heights without sacrificing any of the classic grilled cheesiness that made the sandwich a favorite in the first place. This isn’t a perversion of a classic, it’s the evolution. Add a fried egg on top and prepare yourself for one of the most decadently delectable grilled cheese sandwiches you’ve ever had.
Adrian Schramm is a resident St. Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.