We searched for the best grilled cheese in New York City

  • INSIDER’s Herrine Ro and Emily Christian asked New Yorkers where they get their favourite grilled cheese.
  • They narrowed the places down and visited four popular shops: Murray’s Cheese, Clinton Hall, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, and Melt Shop.
  • The two hosts see how the sandwiches are made and what makes each one different. They try the classic grilled cheese at each location.
  • Herrine declared Murray’s Cheese as her favourite, and Emily said Beecher’s was hers.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Herrine: We are on the streets today in New York City to ask other people what their favourite grilled-cheese place is.

Emily: Let’s go. Does anyone wanna tell me what their favourite grilled cheese? Anyone wanna talk about cheese? Anyone wanna tell me what their favourite grilled cheese? What’s your name?

Interviewee: Sam.

Emily: Hi, Sam. We are filming a video about the best grilled cheese in New York City. Do you have a favourite?

Sam: Murray’s grilled cheese.

Emily: Murray’s grilled cheese is your favourite?

Sam: Yeah.

Emily: All right, guys, one for Murray’s.

Herrine: We’ve been out here for about 30 minutes.

Emily: And Herrine hasn’t asked a single person.

Herrine: I have asked a few people.

Emily: Nope.

Herrine: Excuse me, do you wanna talk about the best grilled cheese in New York City? Do you? No, it does not. Do you guys wanna talk about, nope, that was an immediate rejection.

Interviewee: My favourite grilled cheese in New York City is Clinton Hall. It’s like a doughnut with cheese. I mean, it’s sweet and salty, like, why not?

Interviewee: Beecher’s is my favourite ’cause their grilled cheese melts in your mouth.

Emily: One for Beecher’s.

Herrine: Do you have a favourite grilled-cheese spot?

Interviewee: Melt Shop.

Emily: Oh! One for Melt, that’s right off the bat.Emily: After asking the people of New York where they get their favourite grilled cheese, it was our turn to find our favourites.

Herrine: Our first stop: Murray’s Cheese.

David Elkins, Executive Chef: Hi, so welcome to Murray’s Cheese here in the West Village in New York City.

Emily: Murray’s Cheese offers over 300 kinds of cheeses and a variety of specialty items.

Herrine: At the corner of the store, the shop has a grilled-cheese counter.

David: Our grilled cheese is probably among the best in New York City because of three factors. I think it’s the quality and then the mix of cheeses that we use, the amount of butter that we use to cook the sandwich, and then the flattop griddle that we use gives it a really nice, even, golden-brown crust. So the Murray’s Melts are our best seller. We sell about 150 of those per week, but then we also have up to 20 other types of sandwiches and grilled cheeses that you can choose from. We start by taking two slices of Orwashers sourdough Pullman. In our Murray’s Melts, we have New York cheddar, fontina fontal, and then a red-wax gouda. And then we will take a melted butter, whole butter, and then put a little on the bottom of the grilled-cheese press and brush it on the top of the sandwich. Yeah, we use a lot of butter. Cut it in half. Wrap it up, and serve it to the customer. When the customers take a bite of the grilled cheese, it’s usually just a big smile. I mean, it goes back to the nostalgic factor. It just makes everyone feel happy and comfortable.

Herrine: For me specifically, this place has already like a place in my heart because this was the best grilled cheese that I had when I was in college. So, but I can tell you that I haven’t had this grilled cheese since I was in college. But from what I remember, it was the best, and I hope it is still the best.

Emily: You know Murray’s is really a legend. It’s a legend in the office. It’s a legend in New York City, in the world, but I have never had one of their grilled-cheese sandwiches before. Generally because I stay away from cheese.

Herrine: That smell.

Emily: Take a moment to soak it in. That’s a good smell.

Herrine: Oh, my God.

Emily: That cheese melts in your mouth.

Herrine: It’s better than what I had in college. I like how the cheese is still very mild and not like overwhelmingly like salty…

Emily: Right.

Herrine: And it’s not…it’s not like those cheeses that have, like, that filmy taste either.

Emily: The whole thing is a very mild taste I would say. It’s all about the texture I think. It’s the pillowy-ness of the cheese, the crunchiness of the bread, and the familiarity of that taste. It’s like your childhood grilled cheese but times a million.

Herrine: And, like, just look at the sheer amount of cheese that’s inside, OK. That alone makes it the best in my book. I mean look at that.

Emily: It’s gonna hurt so good.

Herrine: That was comfort food at its finest.

Emily: Absolutely.

Herrine: It was worth every calorie.

Emily: Yeah, it was absolutely worth it. I would wanna come back here on a rainy day. I wanna come back here on a sunny day too. I wanna eat that whenever I’m having a craving for cheese and bread. That will just absolutely satisfy it for you. Hands down, that’s the one.

Herrine: One more bite for the road, and then we’re gonna hit it.

Emily: Oh, that’s all you. I’m hurting already.

Herrine: Oh, my God.

Emily: Our second stop: Clinton Hall.

Herrine: Clinton Hall is equipped with fun games to go with its equally fun food options.

Emily: In fact, it’s the birthplace of the Fondue Burger and the WTF Waffles.

Herrine: So of course its take on grilled cheese is just as innovative.

Aristotle “Telly” Hatzigeorgiou, Owner: There’s nothing wrong with a grilled cheese. Everybody loves grilled cheese. But we wanted to use a doughnut and create something really spectacular and very visual. A doughnut, I feel, can do anything. It could be a grilled cheese. It could be a burger. It could even be a better bagel. So we just wanted to use a doughnut in one of our dishes, and that’s how we came up with the doughnut grilled cheese. We use glazed doughnuts, slice them in half, then we roll them on butter on both slices, we place them on the grill, we’re gonna load up the shredded mozzarella cheese on top. Then we cover them with lids so the cheese gets nice and melty. This is our homemade tomato soup. It’s a four-hour tomato soup that just reduces. This thing is basically a standard banana hook, and the cheese just starts dripping down into the bowl of soup. And basically what it is is the sweetness of the doughnut plus the dripping, melting cheese into Chef Darryl’s bowl of homemade tomato soup is like a food explosion in your mouth.

Herrine: Who do you think is gonna win or lose?

Emily: Oh, Jenga? Oh, I’ll win.

Herrine: How will it stand up to the actual classic grilled cheese? You know? ‘Cause, like, you and I both love the crusty corner of it, of like…

Emily: I saw some crusty corners on that thing.

Herrine: It’s a circle.

Emily: A circle is one long corner, and, therefore, it will have crusty corners all the way around. No!

Herrine: Oh, it’s a showstopper. It is.

Emily: Wow. Cheese pull?

Herrine: Yeah, let’s do a cheese pull. We’re ripping apart our friendship! Oh, my God.

Both: Whoa.

Herrine: Emily, you are right. It is one big corner. I think they specifically chose mozzarella because it’s a very mild cheese, and everything else is so overpowering. But with that being said, I would have kind of wanted the classic, like, American or cheddar cheese.

Emily: It’s clear to me that the tomato soup is meant to go with the sandwich. It’s very thick.

Herrine: It’s like a thick marinara.

Emily: There’s a reason this is called The Famous Doughnut Grilled Cheese because this is unlike anything you can find somewhere else.

Herrine: Yeah.

Emily: It’s very unique.

Joey Turshen, Beecher’s: Beecher’s is one of the leading artisanal cheese manufacturers in America. So we are a premium cheese manufacturer based in Seattle and New York City. In New York City, we make our Flagship cheese. It’s a cheddar Gruyere that we age out for about 15 months. So we are absolutely known for our cheese, just straight up. But in addition to that, our World’s Best Mac ‘n’ Cheese and our famous grilled cheeses. We offer about six different grilled cheeses. The most popular is for sure the original, just the straight-up cheese.

Employee: This is our two slices of our sourdough whole wheat bread. So two slices of our Flagship handmade cheese and one slice of our Just Jack cheese. Then we simply just put the top on, and once this sandwich is assembled, it goes on the grill. And we don’t use any oil, or fats, or butter at all.

Joey: No butter, no oil because it doesn’t need it simply because the cheese has such a good fat content to it. It’s got so much flavour that you want that kind of crisp, you know, simplistic bread to really embrace the power of the cheese. When you first take a bite into our traditional grilled cheese, you’re gonna get hit right away with this kind of sweet, nutty, salty combination of ooey-gooey savoriness.

Emily: Oh, my gosh, I’m already partial to this because I love sourdough bread. That is a West Coast classic, and you know that because this is from Seattle, they’re gonna be using great sourdough bread.

Herrine: You know what’s also pretty remarkable is that they aren’t using any oil or butter, and they’re getting this beautiful brown crust.

Emily: Yes. So you know that’s all coming from the cheese. This is entirely about the cheese flavour and nothing else.

Herrine: This is like a grown-up, adult grilled cheese because you’re getting, like, notes of Gruyere, which gives that like nutty, nutty flavour. And the younger, like jack cheese kind of like adds to that fat, and I think that’s the reason why they don’t need any oil or butter.

Emily: The thing about this sandwich to me is that it’s really simply that there’s a real complexity of flavours and that’s just brought out by the simplicity of the bread, and you know they don’t use too many types of cheese. You can just taste that handmade cheese inside of there.

Spencer Rubin, Founder/CEO: Melt Shop is a fast-casual restaurant. We serve melted sandwiches, grilled cheeses, tater tots, chicken tenders, and milkshakes. The No. 1 seller by volume’s our classic grilled cheese, and I think that’s because it’s the most approachable option. It’s the thing that everyone’s super familiar with. I like to think it, our grilled cheese is the best in New York City, specifically for two reasons. One, our ingredient quality is amazing. We use Orwashers bread, one of the oldest bakeries in town. And our cheese is incredible. We use a New York State aged cheddar. But also our process is really special, the way we cook our sandwiches. We get this unbelievable crispy exterior with this really kind of pillowy interior, and I think that’s what makes our sandwiches special. The classic is country white bread, salted butter, two slices of American cheese on one side, two slices of New York State cheddar on the other.

Emily: The pull.

Both: Wow.

Emily: Ohh. The bread is crunchy on the outside but fluffy in the middle. That’s what’s killer about this grilled cheese.

Herrine: This cheese combination is the flavour profile that puts me right back at home when I was like 6.

Emily: Right. Because the American cheese is how I make grilled cheese at home. It’s how my mum made grilled cheese at home. I love American cheese in grilled cheese.

Herrine: But I guess my palate is stubborn because American cheese…

Emily: At the end of the day.

Herrine: Is one of the best cheeses. Especially for grilled cheese. Cheddar and American cheese, they just go together. Like me and you go together.

Emily: Awww.

Herrine: OK, one more bite?

Emily: One more bite.

Herrine: We visited all four places.

Emily: All four.

Herrine: And now we have our verdicts.

Emily: The best grilled cheeses in New York City.

Herrine: We have them written down on our phones, and it’s reveal time.

Emily: I have a feeling ours are going to be a little bit different. I think I know exactly what Herrine’s gonna pick.

Herrine: I think I know which one you’re gonna pick.

Emily: All right, we’ll see about that.

Herrine: All right, ready?

Both: Three, two, one.

Emily: Murray’s. I knew it, I knew it, exactly. Herrine loved Murray’s.

Herrine: Emily loved Beecher’s. Let’s explain why. Why was Beecher’s your favourite?

Emily: I loved Beecher’s because it was definitely on the lighter side of the grilled cheeses. I think because they didn’t use all that oil and extra butter and all of that, it really allowed the cheese to shine, and I like that because, as someone who’s not a frequent dairy eater, it was just a little more on the mild side and a little more palatable for me.

Herrine: For me, I loved Murray’s for the exact polar opposite reason. I loved the fact that Murray’s just really piled on that butter. Also, that crust, unbelievable.

Emily: It was really, really spectacular.

Herrine: And that cheese was exactly the flavour profile that I ate growing up. You know that cheddar…

Emily: American cheese.

Herrine: Yeah, but it’s just like kinda the gourmet version of it.

Emily: Yeah, it was like what you had as a kid but elevated. I think both of those could be the best grilled cheese in New York.

Herrine: And listen, all grilled cheeses at the end of the day just taste delicious.

Emily: All of them, all of them.

Herrine: Because it’s just bread and cheese melted together, like, what could go wrong?

Emily: You absolutely cannot go wrong, and when you’re having the best ones in New York City, it’s like the time of your life. Let me tell you.

Herrine: So now that we’ve revealed our favourites, we would love to know your favourite in New York City or beyond.

Emily: Let us know in the comments below.

Herrine: Bye.

Emily: Bye.

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