Grilled cheese and tomato soup is the most perfect lunch ever created. Yeah, I said it. My love affair with the classic combo started early, when my mom and I would indulge in a cosy lunch whenever we were lucky enough to have a snow day (and in Poughkeepsie, NY, those come fairly often). As I've grown up, my love for grilled cheese hasn't lessened. If anything, it's grown stronger as I've started experimenting with different cheeses and flavor profiles— fruits, proteins, seasonings, absolutely nothing is off limits for me. 

So when a few of my friends mentioned that they were planning a grilled cheese tour through New York, I knew I had to be a part of it. I latched onto their plans, added a few suggestions of my own, and we set out on a cheesy, gooey, lactose-filled day. I've listed our sammies here in chronological order, rating them in categories like flavor, texture, bread, cheese pull, and presentation, and then attempting to combine all our different opinions into one overall rating. Try these grilled cheeses at your own risk— you just might end up addicted like me! 

Melt Shop 

Maggie Fischler

Our first stop was at the ever-classic Melt Shop. We initially wanted to try their Three Cheese blend, but the location we visited didn't carry it, so the Classic had to suffice: American and NY cheddar on country white bread. Presentation was nothing to write home about, as Melt Shop tends towards cafeteria-style paper trays, and the cheese pull was non-existent. That being said, the bread had an excellent crunch, came out piping hot, and the blend of cheeses was spot on. All in all, this grilled cheese was exactly what it was billed as—classic. Good, but nothing special. 

Overall rating: 6.5/10

Beecher's Handmade Cheese

Maggie Fischler

At Beecher's Handmade Cheese, we stepped a little more out of the box with their Flagship Caprese. While delicious, of all the sandwiches that we tried this one felt least like a grilled cheese: the tomato, basil, and special sauce (which was mustardy?) made it feel more like a different kind of sandwich. One member of our group also took serious issue with the name-- as an Italian, she believes that a true Caprese must have fresh mozzarella and most certainly doesn't belong with mustard.

The bread was excellent, although a few areas were slightly burnt (a common error in the making of grilled cheese), and the special sauce made the center a bit soggy. Overall, though, the flavor combination was yummy, and that Flagship Cheese was to die for. All we really could have asked for was a cheese pull. An added bonus: you can actually watch the cheese get made through their big glass windows looking into the factory portion! 

Overall rating: 7/10

Rye House 

Maggie Fischler

Our third stop was a sit-down restaurant, well-known for its wide selection of whiskeys, exciting nighttime crowd, and the Truffle Grilled Cheese made with gooey goat gouda/fontina and served with a side of salad. The Rye House's vibe is incredibly cool, with a dark wood interior and catchy bops playing on the radio. We sat down, ordered some drinks, and prepared to be wowed: and wowed we were. 

Rye House was kind enough to cut our grilled cheese into quarters for us, which was nice in that we didn't need the plastic knife that I'd been carting around, but it also meant that we didn't get a cheese pull, which I have a feeling would have been phenomenal. Presentation was quite pretty, probably the best we had all day, and the sour dough bread was perfectly grilled. The truffle flavor was present, but not overpowering, as we could still taste the distinct flavors of the cheese, and I was left wanting more. All in all, I was impressed: after all, my notes from this stop read simply *chef's kiss*. 

Overall rating: 8.7/10

Saxelby Cheesemongers 

Maggie Fischler

This location is nestled in the basement of Chelsea Market, and was admittedly somewhat difficult to find on such a busy day. Once we got there, though, we didn't mind shoving through the throngs of tourists. Saxelby Cheesemongers offers several different versions of grilled cheese, and while we settled for the Sal e Pepe, composed of ricotta, honey, salt, and pepper, I was sorely tempted to go back and try a different style. While I loved this grilled cheese, it proved to be divisive for our little group. We were split half and half on loving it or hating it. 

The biggest thing that I have to say about about this grilled cheese was that she was THICC. The toast was thick (but delightfully crisp), the layer of ricotta was thick (which I LOVED), and all in all, the bite was delicious. However, one complaint we all had was that we wished there was a bit more honey and a bit more pepper, just to give it a little more oomph. But overall, definitely worth a try, and I absolutely want to go back and try out some more of their other cheesy masterpieces. 

Overall rating: 7.5

Barnyard Cheese Shop 

Maggie Fischler

Surprisingly, this grilled cheese proved to be a bit divisive as well. The shop itself is small, more of a deli than any of the places we had been to yet, and the sandwich is quite simply called the "Many Grilled Cheeses." While I can't tell you exactly what cheeses were included (in fact, they don't even list them on their webpage), I definitely got a hint of a fresh mozzarella-style cheese, as well as your more traditional melty cheeses. It was served with tomato on perfectly crispy sour dough bread, and I was definitely impressed. The struggle arose when trying to compare it to some of the other sandwiches that we had this weekend-- I just wasn't convinced that it was superior.  

That being said, Barnyard gave us our absolute BEST cheese pull-- it was ooey-gooey to the max. That can in no way be discounted, and very well may have bumped it up an entire point in my estimation. 

Overall rating: 7

Cheese Grille

Maggie Fischler

Maybe it was the cold and the nine miles that we walked throughout the day that were getting to me, but Cheese Grille was HEAVENLY. They have so many options, but we kept it pretty classic with their 3 Cheese: cheddar, asiago, and gruyere on Levain Pullman. We also mixed it up at our last stop and got a bowl of their spicy tomato soup so that we could dip our grilled cheese quarters (it's just now occurring to me that this may be one of the reasons that this one was so good).

Cheese Grille served up this masterpiece on a wooden cutting board, while some absolute bops played in the shop's brightly colored interior. The bread: delightfully crisp and buttery. The cheese pull: ~cheesy~. The flavor combo: positively to die for. And that spicy tomato soup warmed my soul, even though the four of us were sharing one bowl. I'd go back to Cheese Grille in a heart beat. I just may have discovered my happy place. 

Overall rating: 9.5/10

Our Takeaways 

I'll be honest, I am still holding off on giving a perfect 10/10 for grilled cheese. Maybe this is because nothing can compare to the ones that my mom and I have whipped up, or maybe it's because I believe my perfect grilled cheese is still out there. We  skipped two of our originally-planned stops, partly because of the extreme cold and partly because the overwhelming amount of cheese and gluten and butter was starting to get to some of us, so I see Murray's Cheese Bar, famous for any and all kinds of cheese, and Mother's Ruin, famous for their French Onion grilled cheese, in my future. While I believe the grilled cheese that will steal my heart is still out there, several of these grilled cheeses are ranked with the best I've ever had, and anyone who loves cheese like I do has some stops to make.