As a kid, grilled cheese was a staple of my diet, just as it probably was for many of you… and just as it is for many of our kids. But there’s a reason for that. While it’s simple in concept, grilled cheese is one of the tastiest, most comforting foods out there. Whether you prefer white or wheat, good ol’ Kraft Singles or a fancier cheese, served with a bowl of tomato soup or on its own, there’s just something about the warm, cheesy, buttery goodness of a grilled cheese.
You may or may not know that April 12 is National Grilled Cheese Day. And yes, we know, many of these “national <insert random food/pet/family member here> days” don’t really mean anything in the long run. But if there’s one food we feel deserves its own day of celebration, it’s gotta be grilled cheese.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a celebration if we didn’t make it our goal to find, not just any grilled cheese in Richmond, but the BEST grilled cheese in Richmond. So that’s what we did. And find it we did! In fact, we didn’t find just one, but we found so many that regardless of your grilled cheese preferences, we can guarantee you, too, will find your new favorite on the following list.
In our search, we found five restaurants that are known for serving up toasty, cheesy goodness. But serving grilled cheese on its own wasn’t enough to make our list. In order to make our top five, these restaurants also had to have:
- A variety of grilled cheese options and/or a signature grilled cheese that stands out from the norm.
- A chill, relaxed vibe because no one wants to feel like they should have to eat a grilled cheese with a knife and fork.
- And last but not least, reasonable prices because comfort food should make you and your wallet happy.
The places we picked lived up to our standards and then some. So if grilled cheese is your go-to comfort food like it is ours, consider your next meal out planned. You’ll love them. The kids will love them. It will be a win all around. The only hard part will be choosing a favorite!
And as always, if you know of a place that serves up a mean grilled cheese worthy of our list, let us know. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
We’ll start with a caveat here. People don’t come to Pop’s Market on Grace just for the grilled cheese. I mean, I’m sure some do (as I raise my hand), but they offer much more than just grilled cheese. In fact, they offer a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu…and it’s all amazing. ALL of it. With a counter service menu that includes everything from Pulled Pork Hoagies to Reubens, Cubans, and more, all we can say is don’t miss out on the grilled cheese. Please. For only $5, you’ll get a provolone and cheddar sandwich grilled to perfection on a baguette. It may not be the white bread and Kraft Singles you’re used to, but you’ll welcome the change. We promise.
Why we love them: If sandwiches are your thing, then Pop’s is going to be where you head for lunch. And if you’re lucky, you might have room for dinner by the time it rolls around. Then again, with sandwiches served from 11:30 am until 9 pm, maybe a sandwich will be dinner. We wouldn’t blame you. The point is Pop’s doesn’t mess around when it comes to their sandwiches. These bad boys are NOT small. And that includes Pop’s signature grilled cheese. Pair it with a side of the soup of the day and you’ll understand why Pop’s made our list.
And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the restaurant itself. Filled with open space and eclectic charm, Pop’s is laid back right down to the funky leather and upholstered armchairs sitting by a piano in their “relaxing area.” With high ceilings, tons of natural light, and plenty of tables, Pop’s offers great food (ahem…grilled cheese) in a family-friendly environment.
Cost: $5 (grilled cheese)
415 E Grace St
Richmond, VA 23219
This take-out phenomenon is chef owned and operated and has become THE lunch spot for many in the Richmond area. Open from 11 am until 3 pm most days (except Sunday and Monday when they are closed), The Naked Onion specializes in sandwiches, salads, and soups…and sandwiches. We cannot stress that enough. And of course, that means that when it comes to grilled cheese, you can expect the best.
The Naked Onion features two signature grilled cheese offerings, giving you the choice of a Brie Grilled Cheese with caramelized onion and apple compote on pan de Campagne or a Manchego Grilled Cheese with roasted red pepper coulis, caramelized onion, and Spanish mustard aioli on pan de Campagne. By the way, “pan de Campagne” essentially means a panini-style bread and cooking method. And you can add bacon for $2 more. Yes, please, to all of the above.
As for the vibe, it’s lunch counter cool. The inside is small, and with limited outside seating, you’re more than likely to “get it and go.” But that means you can find the perfect setting to enjoy all the cheesy goodness that The Naked Onion’s grilled cheese sandwiches offer.
Why we love them: There’s something to be said for having a huge menu and tons of options. There’s also something to be said for specializing. And today, we’re here to talk about specializing. The Naked Onion just does it right. We don’t know how and we don’t care. But if you’re looking for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich that offers just a bit of a twist, now you know where to find it. As a side note, we strongly recommend adding a side of the soup of the day (homemade tomato or butternut squash, perhaps?). With bread that is baked fresh daily and an attention to detail that is second to none, The Naked Onion is the kind of place you’ll be happy to plan your lunch break around.
Cost: $9 (grilled cheese)
2118 W Cary St
Richmond, VA 23220
There’s the fact that Thrillist named Union Market “The Best Sandwich Shop in Virginia.” There’s the fact that they are known for their amazingly fresh salads. Also, they offer a vintage-feel, cozy corner market with odds and ends, staples, and more. So what could make Union Market better? You guessed it…their grilled cheese.
We’ll go ahead and say it now, they don’t offer a wide variety of grilled cheese options like some of the others on our list. In fact, there’s only one grilled cheese you can count on daily. But it’s worth it. The UMGC (Union Market Grilled Cheese) is one-of-a-kind, featuring dill Havarti, smoked gouda, mozzarella, pesto, and roasted tomatoes on “Billy Bread” – a locally made bread that is a Richmond favorite. So whether you love Union Market for the super cool shop that it is, or you’re just looking for some of the best grilled cheese in town, you won’t be disappointed.
Why we love them: Union Market doesn’t rely on a stagnant menu. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with consistency. However, Union Market likes to change things up seasonally. You’ll be happy to know that the UMGC does show up as a staple, but the really exciting news is that you never know when you might find something like the Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese with cheddar, mozzarella, parmesan, jalapeños and onion relish on Billy Bread. Amazing. We know.
Whatever your reason for heading to Union Market, a grilled cheese should always be on your list. Bring the kids, grab a table, or just head to the counter and get your order to go. The atmosphere is always relaxed and the grilled cheese is always on point.
Cost: UMGC – $8; Kids’ grilled cheese (a more traditional take) – $3
2306 Jefferson Ave
Richmond, VA 23223
If you’re a) secretly fancy but trying to play it cool, b) want a grilled cheese, but also all the other foods, or c) you love the idea of an entire meal between two pieces of buttery grilled bread, then Home Sweet Home is the place for you. This grilled cheese hangout spot in Carytown is making waves with their totally unique approach to a classic. Their grilled cheese menu includes offerings like the Mac and Me: housemade mac and cheese and smoked pork barbecue on white; the Chesapeake: crab dip, spinach, and sharp cheddar on white; or the Wait Wait (Don’t Tell Me): chickpea salad with cured lemons, edam, and spinach on mountain herb bread…among others.
Served up with a side of their housemade tomato soup or hand cut fries, these sandwiches are like grilled cheese on steroids…and we mean that in the best way possible.
Why we love them: It’s all about variety. Home Sweet Home keeps their menu simple, yet offers a world of options at the same time. So many flavors, so many choices, and so much goodness is hard to beat. And of course, if you’re not into anything fancy, build your own standard grilled cheese with a choice of six cheeses and a variety of breads. The sky is the limit.
While Home Sweet Home offers a bar with plenty of grown-up drinks to choose from, their vibe is relaxed enough for kids. All you have to do is grab a table or slide into a booth, and dig in. And in closing, they have tater tots. *mic drop*
Cost: $10 and under
3433 W Cary St
Richmond, VA 23221
Cheezilla lays claim to the title of Richmond’s first and only gourmet grilled cheese truck. And as far as we know, that’s true. But honestly? We wouldn’t care if there were a thousand other grilled cheese trucks in Richmond, Cheezilla is where we would be found time and again. They don’t offer a million different options – they’re a food truck after all. But what they do, they do to perfection. And don’t worry, there ARE options.
For example, try the Baconzilla with white sharp cheddar, bacon, and avocado-cilantro pesto on Parmesan crusted bread. Or perhaps you’d prefer the Popeye with baby spinach, mozzarella, ricotta, and basil pesto. Then again, maybe you’re a purist, in which case, The Classic with its blend of white cheddar, provolone, mozzarella will more than satisfy.
Oh…and did we mention weekly specials? You never know when you might find something like the Tom Turk, featuring turkey breast, smoked Gouda, Havarti, caramelized onion, and spinach with a basil chipotle aioli. Just saying.
Why we love them: When Cheezilla says they are a gourmet grilled cheese truck, they mean it. And not because they go overboard with fancy toppings or ingredients you not only can’t pronounce, but have never heard of, but because they do everything with a focus on making it the best. From their fresh bread that is made daily by a local bakery to their farmers-market-fresh toppings, they go for quality over quantity. And you can taste the difference, making them our top pick for grilled cheese in Richmond.
As for a relaxed vibe…well, food truck. It doesn’t get much more chill than that. You’ll find them all over Richmond serving up happiness. Find out where they are by checking up on Facebook or Twitter and then, especially as the weather warms, grab the kids, grab some grilled cheese, then head to your favorite park or local hang out for the perfect picnic.
Cost: Under $10
Looking for more great recommendations in the Greater Richmond area? Be sure to visit our Best of Richmond page for the latest and greatest of all that RVA has to offer!