The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen Review – An Original Approach to Grilled Cheese

Before leaving Chicago for an extended stay in the Bay Area I was told I MUST visit The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.  Linda, who is a mutual friend of mine, and restaurant co-owner, Nate Pollack essentially said I could not return until I experienced The American Grilled Kitchen. Fortunately for me, my friend Kristy who lives in the Bay Area is adventurous and was willing to join me one beautiful day on a drive from Palo Alto to San Francisco in search of the restaurant.


Ideally, we would have taken Cal Train, which stops just three blocks from the restaurant, but with time constraints, we decided to drive.  To our surprise and delight, there was a non-metered parking space by a charming little park across the street from the restaurant.  There were many people picnicking in the park.  Walking toward the restaurant, we observed that all of the outdoor tables were filled.  This is a very popular place, especially between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. 

As we entered, we were surprised at how small it is but also at how efficiently it seemed to be organized. There was a relatively short line and our order was taken fairly quickly and there were two vacant stools near one of the counters.  Settling here, we noticed the bleachers at AT&T Park, and all the people sitting outside enjoying their wonderful sandwiches. Our sandwiches were served to us and very soon there was a much longer line, which seemed to move quickly.

From the chalkboard on the wall, we noted that:

“available after 11am, 12pm on weekends
*all sandwiches are served on fresh levain, a country-style wheat bread, unless otherwise noted
*all sandwiches can be served on house made, gluten-free bread +50c”

Then from the sandwich choices, Kristy selected the “Piglet
Tillamook sharp cheddar, artisan cured ham, apple mustard, rosemary butter 8-“

Kristy's sandwich

As a gluten-free vegetarian, I was happy with “Mushroom Gruyère
fontina, gruyère, roasted wild mushrooms + gold potatoes, melted leeks, caramelized onions, thyme butter 9-“ on gluten free bread.

Barbara's gluten free vegetarian sandwich

I never intended to finish my sandwich because there seemed to be so much but I could not stop-it was so good.  As good as Linda had promised!

Kristy intended to bring half of her sandwich to her husband but alas forgot it in my car so my husband enjoyed it almost as much as Kristy and she just loved it.

Kristy at one of the bars

The restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch and it offers soup and salad and some other specialties.  If I had had the time, I would have returned for breakfast but we had to return to Chicago.  Kristy is likely to return when she goes to AT&T Park later in the year.

Partners in the restaurant and in life, Heidi Gibson and Nate Pollack, took a leap of faith when they opened the restaurant in May of 2010.  Earlier, each of them had been in the corporate world and unexpectedly found themselves without employment.

I asked Nate how his Chicago background had influenced The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen.  He explained the following.

“As far as being from Chicago goes, I love going to classic Chicago style grills and diners growing up – ordering Vienna Beef hot dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, and char-burgers. I always loved the consistency, the warmth and the comfort of these unique places (there is nothing like them anywhere else in the country). The truly memorable part were the staff, who took great care in getting your order right, knowing your name, and making you feel welcome.

 We’ve taken a very adult, gourmet, and Northern California twist on the grilled cheese sandwich. But it’s our mission to make every customer feel welcome, offer them exceptional service, and make them feel at home. The way I felt when I was kid, and enjoyed that perfect experience at every Chicago hot dog joint – I want our customers to expect that from us and experience it– excellent, unique food with a lot of thought and care behind it, and a staff that would love to host them again.”

I do hope to return to The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen on another visit to the Bay Area.

The American  Grilled Cheese Kitchen
1 South Park Ave.
Suite 103A
San Francisco, 94107
[email protected]
ph: (415) 243-0107
fax: (415) 243-0108

Photos: B.Keer unless noted differently

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