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Food & Drink

GoNOLA Tops: Grilled Cheese, Please

A grilled cheese and fries from The Big Cheezy. (Photo via The Big Cheezy on Facebook)

The concept of a grilled cheese sandwich might seem simple, but the elements that make up the best require a little forethought. Start with some hearty bread that will crisp nicely, quality cheese, and real butter. The rest is open for variation.

Many New Orleans restaurants and bars are crafting some seriously fancy grilled cheese sandwiches at various price points. Pair with a glass of wine or beer, creamy tomato soup, or just relish in the nostalgia of this unmistakable comfort food. It’s like that saying, “When life hands you lemons, have a grilled cheese,” or something like that…

20 New Orleans Spots For a Seriously Delicious Grilled Cheese

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The Avenue Pub’s Fromage Grille with tomatoes, mushrooms and caramelized onions. (Photo: Emily Smith)

The Bulldog Uptown’s favorite bar for beer, burgers, and hanging out with pooches on the patio. Grab their grilled cheese made with a blend of four different cheeses (Fontina, goat, cheddar, and Parmesan) piled high and melted on crunchy, toasty, buttery, white bread for only $7. Add creamy tomato soup for dipping for an extra $3.50.

Meauxbar Chef John Bel and his team serve up hearty food with a French twist at this French Quarter bistro. Try their French Onion Grilled Cheese, a decadent spin on the kiddie classic with braised beef and onions and melted Gruyere cheese. Served on the dinner menu with a side salad for $17.

The Standard This quaint restaurant on Magazine Street earns a spot on this list with their CT&C sandwich of Havarti, Irish cheddar, and goat cheese with tomato on Jewish rye bread. Served with house made chips or French fries for $10.

Next door to Magasin Kitchen is Willa Jean...you can't miss its retro neon blade sign hugging the corner and its walls of windows full of diners eagerly eating desserts and savory foods from Chefs Kelly Fields and Lisa White, both of the Besh Restaurant Group. Willa Jean is the spot for downtown breakfast or brunch, with an abundance of pastry and coffee. But more than delicious carbs, Willa Jean shines on the savory foods too...toasts and spreads, fried chicken on a biscuit, and a delicious and hearty Southern-inspired lunch and dinner menu that somehow manages to hold its own against the jaw-dropping desserts.
Willa Jean serves a gooey, pimento cheese-based grilled cheese at lunch. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Willa Jean Leave it up to the pastry chef masterminds Kelly Fields and Lisa White to create an ultra decadent version with gooey, melted pimento cheese on buttered bread served with a cup of seasonal soup (right now it’s cauliflower and crab). Available on the lunch menu for $15.

Try French Onion Grilled Cheese at Meauxbar, a decadent spin on the kiddie classic with braised beef and onions and melted Gruyere cheese.

Satsuma Your choice of swiss or cheddar cheese piled on Susan Spicer’s Wild Flour multi-grain or sourdough bread and then cooked in clarified butter for a nice, golden crunch. Slice of tomato is optional, and it’s all yours for a budget-friendly $6.

The Delachaise — Food and drink come together in perfect harmony at this St. Charles Avenue eatery. Some call it a bar, others refer to the Delachaise as a restaurant. But what really matters is that it is the home of the Anabella grilled cheese. Asiago Pressato and fiore sardo cheeses procured from St. James Cheese Company are melted with house-made Granny Smith apple butter on chef Susan Spicer’s Wild Flour semolina bread. The Anabella is yours for $11 and worth every penny.

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Grilled cheese Anabella from Delachaise. (Photo: Emily Smith)

Barcadia – Drinks, great food, and arcade games make this Warehouse District hangout an instant favorite. The burgers have gained notoriety, but the Griddl’d Cheese with the option to add bacon, tomato, onion, and/or mushrooms is a crowd favorite and perfect companion to an ice cold beer. And since nothing goes better with grilled cheese than a cup of tomato soup, their homemade tomato bisque is available for $3 more.

Elizabeth’s Up your brunch game with this Bywater favorite’s Smoked Salmon Grilled Cheese. Rye bread is stuffed with melted brie, smoked salmon, and topped with two fried eggs. Available on the breakfast and brunch menus for $10 on weekdays and $12.50 on weekends. And don’t forget the praline bacon!

Evangeline Enjoy courtyard dining, fire pits, and a nice selection of craft beer on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. And if the crab cakes, Creole jambalaya, or red beans and rice don’t entice you, maybe the Adult Grilled Cheese with tomato and applewood smoked bacon on Texas toast for $10.95 will.

The Big Cheezy This Magazine Street shop operates as New Orleans’ only dedicated grilled cheese restaurant. Clever combinations and names like the “Willie Nelson” with Gouda and house-made roasted red pepper hummus, or the “Crawgator,” with spicy pepper jack cheese, alligator and crawfish sausage, and caramelized onions show just how serious these guys are. Heck, they even put bacon macaroni and cheese between two slices of buttery bread. Choose from more than 10 “cheezy” originals for under $8, or build your own masterpiece.

A grilled cheese and fries from The Big Cheezy. (Photo via The Big Cheezy on Facebook)
A grilled cheese and fries from The Big Cheezy. (Photo via The Big Cheezy on Facebook)

The Avenue Pub The beer selection at this St. Charles Avenue pub has always been progressive, and now there’s a food menu to mirror that sophistication. Many of the menu items are locally sourced and best paired with a pint. A crowd favorite, of course, is the grilled cheese, or Fromage Grille, featuring semi-soft Taleggio cheese, local tomatoes, roasted mushrooms, and red pepper pesto on brioche. Served with fries or salad (get the fries) for $11.

Toast Leave it to the French to create one of the world’s best grilled cheese variations: the croque-madame. In addition to the melted Gruyere cheese, ham, and béchamel sauce found on a croque-monsieur, the madame gains popularity (especially on breakfast menus) due to the addition of a lightly fried or poached egg on top. Toast’s version includes their wonderful, house-made brioche bread, crisped golden brown with butter, and is served with pan-fried lyonnaise potatoes and salad for $12. Beware! This one is big enough to share.

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The croque-madame from Toast is a brunch favorite. (Photo courtesy of Toast)

The Camellia Grill No frills and nothing fancy, just your typical white bread and American cheese cooked in butter on the griddle — just like mama used to make. Wash it down with a chocolate cherry freeze. The cost? Super cheap.

The Company Burger Now even more accessible with two locations on Freret Street and downtown in the CBD, this burger joint serves up one of the most popular grilled cheeses in the city. Thick, Texas-style toast is layered with American cheese (just like the burgers) and cooked in butter on the griddle. Slices of bacon, tomato (when in season), or a fried egg are just gilding the lily. $5.50 + $1 for egg and $2 for bacon.

The inside of the downtown Company Burger is similar to its uptown counterpart on Freret Street, except this one is a little bigger -- both in the kitchen, number of seats, and now with a full service bar. It's open all day seven days a week for lunch and dinner, and is a popular spot to tailgate when there's a Saints game in the nearby Superdome.
The inside of the downtown Company Burger is similar to its Uptown counterpart on Freret Street, except this one is a little bigger — both in the kitchen, number of seats, and now with a full service bar. Both locations hit the spot for killer burgers and awesome grilled cheese. (Photo: Paul Broussard)
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Cowbell’s “Adult Grilled Cheese” with goat cheese, grilled asparagus, and tomato jam (Photo courtesy of Cowbell-Nola.com)

Cowbell — Brack May’s Oak Street restaurant is a neighborhood favorite for burgers, fish tacos, mac and cheese, and other delicious homemade fixings. Their “Adult-Style Grilled Cheese” features goat cheese and crunchy Italian bread but is taken to new levels of complexity with the addition of grilled asparagus and house-made tomato jam. A hot mug of the soup of the day or mixed greens salad is served on the side for $12.95.

Killer Poboys Tucked in the back of Erin Rose bar on Conti Street in the French Quarter, this po-boy shop is breaking all the rules with their Jameson Grilled Cheese. Slices of sharp cheddar cheese are splashed with Jameson Whiskey and griddled between slices of Susan Spicer’s multi-grain bread. Now, there’s a concept I can get behind: having your whiskey and eating it too for just 8 bucks.

St. James Cheese Company – Since 2006, this Uptown cheese shop has been serving and educating the fine people of New Orleans about all things cheese and charcuterie. So, it should come as no surprise that their grilled cheese with aged Swiss Gruyere and caramelized onion confit on chef Susan Spicer’s wild flour multi-grain sourdough bread has a rather large fan base. Served with chips or salad for $8.95.

Next door to Revelator is the St. James Cheese Company, the downtown outpost of the popular cheese shop. They make incredible sandwiches and salads, and have knowledgeable cheesemongers on staff to help you pick cheese or charcuterie from their retail area, too. Grab and go and picnic in nearby Woldenberg Park along the Mississippi River or the nearby Piazza d'Italia.
The new St. James Cheese Company location on Tchoupitoulas Street in the CBD. You can also head to their original location on Prytania Street in Uptown New Orleans. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Frencheeze We can’t discuss grilled cheese without paying homage to the one and only grilled cheese food truck in New Orleans. Take a bite out of “The Bootz” with sharp cheddar, Colby and Swiss on sourdough or, my personal favorite, “The Gary” with goat cheese, grape jelly, and Applewood smoked bacon on a buttered croissant. You’ll find Frencheeze catering parties or parked outside of the Rusty Nail on Friday nights – just look for the white truck with the French bulldog painted on the side. All sandwiches are $6 and up.

Emily Smith is a native New Orleanian and Uptowner who loves sharing her passion for food with others. When she’s not blogging about culinary adventures, she can be found checking out the newest restaurant or bar, taking long walks along Magazine Street, or hovering over a steaming hot bowl of phở at her favorite Vietnamese restaurant. Voted one of the Best New Orleans-based Instagrammers by Thrillist, Where Y'at Magazine, and Paste Magazine. Please follow her on Instagram at @fleurdelicious_nola and ask for food advice!

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