Five Hidden Spots That Will Have You Saying “Save Me, Cheesus!” This Winter

The Valentina
The Dane’s Valentina is a comforting treat on a cold day. Photo: Teddie McCormick

In one of the universe’s cruel jokes, right up there with getting drenched by a passing car or sitting in gum, it was decreed that I kick off 2018 by being denied some of my favorite vices: sugar, gluten, and yes, I’m afraid so, dairy.

I’m blaming the universe, but, if I’m being completely honest, it’s my poor choices that made this move a necessity, But never fear, dear readers, because I vow to not punish you for my bad decisions. Instead, I’m bringing you a round-up of one of the world’s ultimate comfort foods, even if I can’t partake at the moment, relying on sense memory and some good friends to deliver the goods.

Winter in Seattle: when the skies are gray and spitting endless buckets of water, and your poor solar porch light is so starved it can’t even light your walkway. When this inevitibility happens every year, Seattleites turn inward, seeking comfort.

There are good reasons why we’re considered one of the most nation’s most literate cities, and also the most suicidal, and my personal favorite, the place with one of the highest number of serial killers. It’s called THIS EFFING WEATHER.

In a season that’s so bleak that local magazines print survival guides for just getting through it, is it any wonder that we tend to self-prescribe a little love in the form of comfort food?

What could be more comforting than a meltingly warm grilled cheese sammy on a cold, wet day? It’s no surprise that Seattle has several well-known standouts to choose from, from nationally famous places like Beecher’s to local heroes like the Cheese Wizards and The Grilled Cheese Experience.

This round-up focuses on the hidden gems; grilled cheeses that might be a bit off the beaten path, but worth seeking out. So if you find yourself needing some love this winter, check out a few of my faves:

The Dane
Opened in 2017, this Scandinavian-style cafe has several sandwiches on the menu, including the traditional Scandi smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill combo. My favorite, however, is the Valentina, a mix of blue and cheddar cheese, with tomato. The toothsome and sublime Sea Wolf sourdough combined with the sharp tang of the blue cheese will simply melt your heart. Sorry folks, it had to be pun, I mean, done. Skål!

With approximately 12 years of eating experience within the topic at hand, I’d say my daughter Lily is an excellent judge of what makes a great “grilled cheeser” (as we call it). For one thing, she abhors too much globby cheese, and she finds Homegrown’s kid-size classic pretty close to a perfect cheese/bread ratio. It’s just the right amount of grilled white cheddar, and it’s available in half and whole sizes if you want to maybe get a little comforting cup of soup also. Talk about just right!

I’ve been a fan of this Georgetown sammy spot forever, because you can’t really go wrong with anything on their extensive menu, and I’ve sampled quite a few of the offerings (research is so crucial, people). The Deluxe Grilled Cheese stands out though. The avocado spread, along with a tasteful mix jack and cheddar, makes it uniquely yummy.

Classic grilled cheese in Phinney Ridge that hits all the high marks: slightly crunchy Como bread and quality cheese, again, two kinds (provolone and cheddar) add up to a delightful lightness. Word to the wise, if you’re not insatiably hungry, get one and split it. Two thumbs up!

Husky Deli
I love this old-school West Seattle deli for their classics, but their take on the grilled cheese is almost subversive. House-made pesto, three, count ’em, THREE kinds of cheese: cheddar, swiss, havarti, tomatoes and fresh basil for that touch o’ green all combine into a perfect panini style grilled cheese explosion. Delish!

What’s your favorite hidden place to grab a grilled cheese when the weather sucks? I promise I’ll keep it to myself. Scout’s honor!