The Grilled Cheese Grill
1027 NE Alberta (corner of 11th and Alberta)
Portland, OR 97211
Along with the increasing popularity of cheese follows the popularity of foods made with cheese, and that's got everyone promoting grilled cheese goodness across the land. Everywhere you look these days, someone is having a grilled cheese contest; enthusiasts even went so far as to declare April Grilled Cheese Month (apparently it was also Keep America Beautiful month, but who's keeping track?). Here in Portland, you can have a grilled cheese every day at The Grilled Cheese Grill.
The Grilled Cheese Grill is a newcomer to Portland's thriving food cart scene (well chronicled on the Food Carts Portland site). Unlike formal restaurants housed in buildings, food carts serve food from camper trailers, catering trucks and various other types of mobile or semi-mobile structures. While food carts are illegal in many cities, in Portland they have developed into a relatively inexpensive means for food entrepreneurs to ply their trade and Portlanders are, well, eating it up. Popular cart enclaves along SE 12th and Hawthorne, and downtown at SW 10th and Alder have become mainstays on every local foodie's radar.
There's no excuse not to like The Grilled Cheese Grill. Start with the classic: American cheese on white bread (termed 'the Kindergartner')...cut the crusts off for the Preschooler. If you want to get fancy, ask for cheddar cheese instead of American. Then you've got your choice from over a dozen add-ons, including jalapenos, various meats, onion, potato chips and sauerkraut....go ahead, make it your own. You can also select from several set pieces, including the Jalapeno Popper (w/ roasted jalapenos, cream cheese, colby and tortilla chips) and the Hot Brie (brie cheese, red pepper, tomato and mustard). Vegan? Gluten intolerant? They've got you covered there too. And I've not yet ventured to try the dessert menu, with certain soon-to-be-classics like The Mrs. B (hot brie on cinnamon toast with a side of apple sauce). See the full menu here.
After several trips, I've gravitated consistently toward the retro-classic: American cheese, white bread, nothing else. This is not a quibble with the other sandwiches, and all the add-ons are of good quality and perform their function.... I really liked the Hot Brie, for example - the flavors were awesome, all red pepper and mushroomy brie cheese, very nice. But I cannot help but return to that fundamentally satisfying combination of plain bread and cheese. Call me a Kindergartner, I suppose. But The Grilled Cheese Grill capitalizes on the fact that this classic sandwich can be whatever you want it to be...and that's a sure recipe for success.
Just one request, Grilled Cheese Grill -- fries.
UPDATE The Grilled Cheese Grill responds: in answer to your suggestion about fries, we would if we could. Unfortunately, we just don't have room in the cart for a Savannah and have a up their sleeves (can't wait!). The "Specials" list is about 30 sandwiches long right now, and as soon as we can, we'll start cycling through them.. But we do plan on getting a very small table-top fryer soon so we can start getting creative with a daily specials rotation. The two co-owners are from