Grilled Cheese Guide for National Grilled Cheese Month

April may be all about spring showers and flowers, but more importantly: grilled cheese. That's right, April is National Grilled Cheese Month, marking a 30-day homage to the great American comfort food. As one of the rare foods that utterly transcends age groups, beloved by children and adults alike, grilled cheese is definitely deserving of acclaim. Celebrate accordingly by eating all the grilled cheese you can. In a city rife with grilled cheese, here's a handy guide to some of the best cheesy sandwiches in Chicago.

Southport Grocery & Cafe grilled cheese
(Grilled cheese at Southport Grocery & Cafe)

Grilled Cheese Guide: Birchwood Kitchen is a veritable Mecca for grilled cheese. Not only does the homey cafe look the part, with a setting as comfortable as the cuisine, but the menu features a few iterations of gourmet grilled cheese. First of all, one of the current recurring specials is a sweet Brie and apricot-lavender jam sandwich with arugula on baguette. On the regular lunch menu, the grilled cheddar is fairly classic, featuring aged white cheddar on multigrain with optional roasted tomato and bacon, while a grilled goat cheese version features curried cauliflower and a grilled Gruyere sandwich contains cave-aged Gruyere alongside caramelized onions and Dijon mustard.

Grilled cheese and tomato soup share a supremely nostalgic plate at Bite Cafe, a Ukrainian Village standby with the essence of a diner and the soul of a masterful chef. The elevated interpretation of the classic combo features a three-cheese sandwich with cheddar, Gruyere, and provolone stacked with succulent cured tomatoes. It's served with a steaming bowl of tomato-fennel soup for dunking divinity.

One of the most unique grilled cheeses in town can be found at a pretty atypical location, at least in terms of grilled cheese: Da Lobsta. While most renowned for its lobster rolls, the seafood shack fuses shellfish with cheese for its lobster grilled cheese, a decadent duo of lobster meat and Havarti on thick Texas toast.

When visiting a burger shop, it might seem a little taboo to order a grilled cheese in lieu of ground beef. But naysayers be damned, because one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in Chicago can be found at Edzo's Burger Shop. Considering the shop's knack for Americana nostalgia, it's no wonder the grilled cheese is exemplary. What makes this creation stand out is its "inside-out" preparation, wherein cheeses are layered between white bread and cooked with an exterior layer of shredded Parmesan outside the bread, developing a crispy, salty, cheesy patina unlike anything else you've likely tasted.

Likely my favorite grilled cheese in town can be found at Southport Grocery & Cafe. Most of the fanfare at this cutesy Lakeview cafe is reserved for cupcakes and cupcake pancakes, but don't overlook the grilled cheese at lunch. This supremely decadent rendition contains Brie on buttery house-baked focaccia with spinach and sauteed mushrooms.

When it comes to grilled cheese at m. henry, there are two routes you can be taking: the childhood route or the adult route. One way is a classic-inspired creation made with cheddar or Swiss on multigrain with optional accoutrements such as tomatoes, watercress, bacon, and pears. The "adult" version is a grilled pain di mie with caramelized shallots, leeks, Parrano cheese, and walnut pesto. Very mature indeed.

- Matt Kirouac