With Best of Burque Restaurants officially out in the wild, we have all had enough time to dig through and either agree with the choices or say that everyone is wrong and the best food in the city is at a restaurant that hasn’t been open for nine years, but should still be considered despite its closing owed to numerous health and safety violations. What was so fascinating about the results was the clearly defined lines of who was and wasn’t a winner. There were a few categories that were close, some even had a one-vote difference, but one stood out as the only first-place tie: Best Grilled Cheese. This perplexed me, because there were so many votes in this category that it showed obvious passion. I myself love grilling and cheese, as well as being technically considered an expert in food due to the nature of my job (a fact that is still highly debated on many online forums).
So how do we resolve a tie? A taste test, obviously. What took place was the grilled cheese weekend, with me eating the comfort delicacy in excess, in order to bring you, our readers, a definitive answer. Here’s a bit behind my process, so we all understand the rules. What I initially wanted to do was a blind taste test, though I rapidly found out that asking a friend to drive an hour round-trip to grab me a grilled cheese was a hard task, so the blind taste test was out. I ended up just going by myself and eating, knowing that any biases would have to be put to the side; any preconceived notions about the business were left out in order to be as objective as possible.
Let’s start with The Shop. The Grilled Cheese I had there was a thick-cut brioche bread, filled with crispy, gooey cheddar cheese, onions, jalapenos and crunchy bacon, all while being toasted to a golden shine. It came with a side of thick-cut fries, seasoned generously. This sandwich was decadent. All the pieces worked together to make something altogether sublime, though it was a bit hard to eat due to its height. This was a grilled cheese that took the time and thought to find a way to recreate what people love about the sandwich in a new direction, making it almost unrecognizable from its initial state yet still familiar. Altogether, this was really a well-done sandwich and a new take on an old classic.
The other winner was Cheesy Street, a food truck that is around town a few days per week. I started with their Yo Mama’s, which is about as straightforward and classic as possible. You’ve got your toasted bread, and you’ve got your cheese (choice of American or cheddar for a dollar more, or make it vegan for two dollars more). This was a whole other style of sandwich than what you find at The Shop. This was truly Yo Mama’s grilled cheese, with the simplicity of the ingredients being this sandwich’s strong suit. Whereas the previous one had a complicated palate to absorb and work through, this one was divinely simple, with the gooey hot American cheese just starting to creep out from the edges. When I tore it in half, it stretched into infinity and steamed. There isn’t much else to say about it beyond it being so good because it is so reminiscent of childhood and its joys.
This isn’t me copping out or pulling a fast one on you, but I honestly can’t declare a winner. These sandwiches sit on such total opposite ends of the scale that they’re inherently too different to judge fairly against one another. The Shop pulls off a complex creation that lets your brain and taste buds indulge in some heavy thinking and processing, taking in the many intricacies of what you’re tasting. Cheesy Street (which does have other complex sandwiches focused around grilled cheese that are worth checking out) discovered that, sometimes, comfort is the most important ingredient in the world. This isn’t a thinking man’s sandwich, this is the one you want when you’re a little too tipsy at the bar and just want to feel loved.
There is a reason this was the only tie, and it’s because they are both the best at what they do, which is pushing boundaries and challenging preconceived notions or replicating the joy of being young and having your mom cook something specifically for you to sit and enjoy in peace. Earnestly, both are deserving of their first-place win.