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Top 5 Must-Have Grilled Cheese Sandwiches In San Francisco

Grilled Cheese Sandwich (credit: Thinkstock)

April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Day and if you really needed an excuse to enjoy one of America's most popular sandwiches, now is the time. While it's easy to prepare a classic grilled cheese of your own, why not take it to the next level and visit a place that serves extraordinary sandwiches oozing with melted cheese and some of the best bread on the planet? Since San Francisco is one of the world's best destinations for food, you may or may not know that part of that distinction also includes some of the world's best cheese makers and breadmasters. Here is a look at five of the best places for grilled cheeses in San Francisco.

American Grilled Cheese Kitchen (credit:

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

  • 1 S. Park Street, San Francisco, CA
    (415) 243-0107
  • 2400 Harrison Street, San Francisco, CA
    (415) 926-5076
  • 799 Battery Street, San Francisco, CA
    (415) 872-9230 ***Newly Open***

First, we have a business recently selected for serving the second Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S. from Food and Wine.

Featuring artisanal grilled cheese sandwiches with the "highest quality local and unique ingredients, The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen is led by Heidi Gibson, the "Commander-in-Cheese" and a seven-time national grilled cheese champion, and her longtime partner Nate Pollak, the CEO also known as "The Big Cheese." Backed by the "winningest Grilled Cheese Invitational contest in history," there's an excellent chance you'll be able to savor the best grilled cheese sandwich you've ever experienced. Suggested sandwiches include the Mousetrap, with Tillamook cheddar, creamy Havarti and monterey jack on artisan sourdough, and the Mushroom Gruyére with fontina and gruyere on levain.

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick and Milk Bar (credit: Randy Yagi)

Cowgirl Creamery Sidekick
and Milk Bar

1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA  94111
(415) 392-4000

There's an excellent chance you'll see a line at this carry-away café at the Ferry Building Marketplace. What makes the wait absolutely worthwhile is the chance to sample artisan cheese from two of the world's greatest cheese makers. Cowgirl Creamery was founded 20 years ago in Point Reyes Station by Sue Conley and Peggy Smith, whose amazing cheeses are now sold to over 500 stores, independent cheese shops, restaurants and farmers markets. Several varieties of cheese from their creameries in the North Bay are showcased at Cowgirl Creamery's cheese shop and the cafe next door. In addition to the delectable grill cheese sandwiches with bread from another next door neighbor, Acme Bread, the café offers other excellent dishes such as tomato soup with crème fraîche, artisan cheeses, fresh ricotta with fresh fruit, and desserts from the Milk Bar like San Francisco Egg Cream with acclaimed ingredients from two other Ferry Building vendors, Strauss Family Creamery and Recchiuti Confections.

Hog Island Oyster Co. (credit: Randy Yagi)

Hog Island Oyster Co.
1 Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA  94111
(415) 391-7117

Obviously better known for serving fresh, succulent oysters farmed in the North Bay, Hog Island also serves up a very tasty grilled cheese sandwich. In fact, some of the cheese happens to come from its neighbor a few doors down, Cowgirl Creamery. For a chance to sit down and take in the spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, guests at Hog Island can have grilled cheese sandwiches featuring the creamery's tangy fromage blanc, mezzo secco and cave aged Gruyere from Sonoma's Vella Cheese Company, and house made pickles. In addition to a number of raw and grilled oyster varieties, this bayside eatery also offers several seafood dishes and salads.

Mission Cheese (credit: Randy Yagi)

Mission Cheese
736 Valencia St.
San Francisco, CA  94110
(415) 553-8667

The Mission District has a way with raising the bar when it comes to amazing cuisine using locally sourced ingredients. Mission Cheese is but one shining example of the many hidden gems in the city that deserve a broader following. This small but increasingly popular business celebrates the love of American cheese and features an impressive collection of cheese flights, charcuterie, sandwiches and other specialties. Each of the grilled cheese sandwiches are amazing creations, such as the much raved about California gold made with San Joaquin gold cheese, chevre, prosciutto and fig preserves, and the double mushroom rainbow made with Marieke Gouda, chanterelle and crimini mushrooms and citrus argula spread. Other dishes well worth a taste include Eric's Country Pate, a pork pate with duck confit, cherries and pistachios, duck liver mousse topped with red wine gelée and the much talked about mac and cheese.

Tartine Bakery (credit: Randy Yagi)

Tartine Bakery
608 Guerero St.
San Francisco, CA  94110
(415) 487-2600

Just one block from Mission Cheese is a fabulous destination bakery that's received widespread national attention. One of the recent high profile distinctions given to Tartine Bakery is mention among the Best Grilled Cheese in the U.S. from Food and Wine. Led by award-winning pastry chef Chad Robertson and his wife Elisabeth Prueitt, the wildly popular bakery and café has alternately been described as serving the best bread in America and the best French bakery in the country. While all of the hot pressed sandwiches are crafted to perfection, among the best choices are the Humboldt fog goat cheese on walnut bread, pecorino and almond, with sheep cheese and crushed almonds, and Jambon Royale and Gruyère with cured and smoked ham from Alameda's Niman Ranch.

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on


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