Cheese and bread don’t need much push to make a mutual impact, but grilling sure doesn’t hurt. Molten cheese paired with high-quality bread and complementary ingredients are a simple culinary pleasure. Discover 12 of L.A.’s finest grilled cheese sandwiches.
Several top-notch cheese shops around the city have the key ingredient at their disposal, and Artisan Cheese & Wine has the most ambitious grilled cheese program. Shelley Janson took over this Studio City shop in 2015 and bolstered the menu. The café with blue and white walls, marble-topped tables and tantalizing display cases now features four sumptuous grilled cheese sandwiches, all served with house-pickled vegetables. Find French and Spanish-inspired sandwiches, plus a Farmstead sandwich with bacon, apples, and fig jam, but the simple wonders of The Classic is recommended. This seemingly simple sandwich features three cheddars – Deer Neck yellow cheddar, Ballard white cheddar from Idaho, and Milton Creamery Prairie Breeze Alpine cheddar from Iowa – that spill from buttery toasted Rockenwagner bread in a sharp, savory, two-toned rush.
12023 Ventura Blvd., Studio City
Jeff Laub, Josh Boyd and Adam Kirsch imported their multifaceted New York City concept, Blind Barber to Culver City in 2013. Up front, you’ll find a four-chair barbershop. In back, expect a full bar with worn copper counter, black cushioned booths, dark green walls, and green and white-checked floors. Chef Ted Hirsh filled a wall-mounted directory with 20 different cheese-fueled sandwich choices. The most compelling choices riff on his favorite flavors. The sandwich with house-made spinach artichoke dip plays on Hillstone Restaurant Group’s signature appetizer. In this case, smoked Gouda gets folded with Parmesan, mozzarella, and mascarpone, bound with more mozzarella, and served with the aforementioned dip on La Brea Bakery bread that’s grilled with a mix of butter and Margarine. Kale salad dressed with lemonade vinaigrette and two dipping sauces - Roasted garlic chipotle aioli and Sriracha barbecue - accompany this sandwich. Hirsch also reimagines avocado toast. Grilled cheese bursting with Brie and meaty applewood-smoked bacon gets topped with mashed Hass avocado, Fresno chile, lemon, fresh herbs, and fennel seed. Truffle aioli and spicy harissa ketchup join the fun in this case.
10797 Washington Blvd., Culver City
David Adir and brother Yovie have been known to get creative with sandwiches at The Carving Board in Tarzana Town Center and three other L.A. locations. Grilled cheese is no exception. Their crab cake grilled cheese features molten mozzarella and Cheddar, “Carving spread” made with mayo, mustard, and garlic, and a griddled crab cake accented with cucumber, red onion, breadcrumbs, Old Bay seasoning, and Thousand Island dressing. The Carving Board also riffs on classic comfort foods like Margherita pizza, Buffalo chicken wings, and French onion soup, and offers a more basic version.
18607 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana 91356
Each April, Clementine chef-owner Annie Miler celebrates Grilled Cheese Month with a rotating roster of anything-goes daily specials. Thankfully, Century City and Beverly Hills customers need not wait to indulge just one month per year. Every day, Clementine offers build-your-own grilled cheese. Select from country white, wheat, whole grain, or olive bread and start construction. Possible cheeses include Tillamook cheddar, Gruyere, mozzarella and Feta. Accent with proteins like smoked turkey and roast beef or vegetables like artichoke hearts, roasted cherry tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms. No matter what, consider “the works” with mayo, pickled jalapenos, red onion and lettuce.
1751 Ensley Ave., Century City
Managing partner Kathryn Weil Coker joined forces with longtime collaborators Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan of Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants on Esters, a wine shop and bar located next to Cassia in Santa Monica. They stock a market area near the entrance. If you’re looking to stay, which is highly recommended, refer to the U-shaped bar with cushioned grey stools, drop down metal chandeliers, communal seating and front patio with low tile tables and strings of lights. Rustic Canyon executive chef Jeremy Fox contributed wine-friendly food like a deluxe grilled cheese: molten Reading, sharp Provolone DOP, Parmigiano-Reggiano and oozing Béchamel served on buttery pain de mie that's baked at sister establishment Milo & Olive. If you prefer meatier matters, add ham. Each order comes with some punchy gherkins and spicy red pepper jam, which both offset richness.
1314 7th St., Santa Monica
Woogene Lee and Jeff Faust have run their two-stage Fundamental LA restaurant just south of Westwood Village since 2011. Dinner brings composed plates. Lunchtime only, Tuesday through Friday, they specialize in comforting sandwiches featuring Dean Kim’s premium OC Baking Company bread. Grilled cheese arrives on thick-sliced sourdough griddled in an 80/20 blend of Canola oil/olive oil. Sweet caramelized onions, melting American cheese and crispy shallots provide balanced, texturally satisfying fillings.
1303 Westwood Blvd., Westwood
Sandra Cordero and her husband John run the high-revving Gasolina Café in Woodland Hills. Their café features Spanish-inspired breakfast and lunch, a patio with colorful tables and chairs, and motorcycle heavy service station memorabilia. Gasolina Café’s Spanish grilled cheese showcases Tronchon, a melty, mildly funky goat and cow’s milk cheese that joins roasted tomato, arugula, and tomato jam on toasted ciabatta. Each sandwich comes with a choice of salad or patatas, twice-fried cubes with garlic aioli and brava sauce. Potatoes are clearly a bigger draw, unless you’re counting calories.
21014 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills 91364
Chef Greg Daniels no longer works for On The Verge Hospitality and Margo’s, a Santa Monica restaurant named for owner Mark Verge’s mother, but his devastating grilled cheese sandwich remains on the dinner menu. “Cheese” reads like a cheese plate on the menu, but it’s actually a grilled cheese of Manchego, Mahon, Gruyere and Brie on soft, buttery toasted Portuguese bread with sharp Gruyere shavings, a sticky square of honeycomb, and a salad of sliced apple, pear and frisee. Daniels found inspiration in a cheese and honey plate that he enjoyed in Spain.
1534 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
The Sherman Oaks spinoff of Myke’s Café from Ralph Andrade and nephew David features art and photo-lined walls. Just like the Pacoima original, this branch serves “adult” grilled cheese. Bonus: you don’t have to be 21 to order the Grown-Up Grilled Cheese. Instead, this hand-held beacon of sophistication combines the pleasures of molten mozzarella, Jack, and cheddar cheeses with grilled bell peppers and juicy chunks of marinated white meat chicken between La Jolla Baking Co. sourdough. Toasted Parmesan baked into the bread’s twin coats is a clever savory kicker. Vegetarians have the option order a “Garden” Grilled Cheese with mozzarella, baby greens, red onion, tomato, and balsamic vinegar.
14845 Burbank Blvd., Sherman Oaks 91411
Plan Check, Terry Heller’s modern comfort food concept in an industrial shell, now has four L.A. locations. However, the downtown outpost is the only one where you’ll find their pimento grilled cheese and bacon sandwich, which is only available during happy hour. A buttery griddled panko-crusted crunch bun cradles crispy strips of bacon, Oozing house-made pimento cheese, typically crafted with mild pimento peppers, mayo, and cheddar, in this case gets bolstered with green chilies and punchy chopped pickles.
1111 Wilshire Blvd., Downtown L.A.
Walter Manzke and fellow chef/wife Margarita Manzke steer the culinary direction of République, the multifaceted Mid-Century restaurant and bakery. The structure, which was constructed for Charlie Chaplin’s offices and previously housed Campanile, maintains a grand feel. République’s airy, casual vibe is particularly well suited to breakfast and lunch. The menu could loosely be called Cal-French and includes a delectable, well-balanced croque madame during daylight hours. Ham, egg and cheese is a classic combo, and the Manzkes’ croque involves soft house-baked brioche, silky house-cured ham with some pleasant funk, molten Gruyere and parsley. Subtract the golden-yolked fried egg and you’re left with a croque monsieur, but by all means keep the oeuf.
624 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles
Chefs Kazuto Matsusaka and James Trees helped to stabilize Superba Food + Bread, an ambitious bakery, café, and coffee bar from American Gonzo Food Corp. that brought unprecedented style to a drab stretch of Lincoln Boulevard in 2014. Many offerings remain seasonal, but they’ve dialed up the comfort factor. At lunch, Superba’s brioche grilled cheese features buttery, thick-sliced bread loaded with molten American and Fontina cheeses. Each gooey sandwich comes with a dill pickle and an herbaceous bowl of vegan roasted tomato and basil soup that’s garnished with basil oil and basil leaves.
1900 S. Lincoln Blvd., Venice