From childhood to my mid-30s, I’d always dreamed of a cheese advent calendar. Every morning you’d break out of your sleepy slumber with a bite of smoked Gouda or maybe a morsel of Camembert as you count down your way to Christmas. Comfort foods you eat as a child have a special way of sticking with you through adulthood. I never had dreams of sugarplums dancing in my head, but I sure have had a nightmare or two about running out of Gorgonzola. As we head into the holidays, I figured I might as well do the next best thing: find my jolly red suit, hop on my sleigh and find out which Inland Northwest restaurants are offering naughty (or nice?) grilled cheese.
1735 W. Kathleen Ave.
As a two-time National Grilled Cheese Invitational Winner, it didn’t take long to realize as good as all the other listed sandwiches were, I could have easily just eaten here five times. With a menu that spans from Brie Mousse to Fried Wontons, these North Idaho demigods are not afraid to put anything between two two slices of crispy carbs. Just take a look at their Ultimate Melt that is drowning in white cheddar, Mozzarella, Provolone, Fontina, goat and Gorgonzola. The legend is unmatched, and in warmer weather, you can catch their food truck at popular events all over town.
913 E. Sharp Ave.
Sometimes simple is better. If you use top-shelf product, there isn’t much need for all the extras.Chef Cody only needs four ingredients for his sandwich: cheese, bread, butter and garlic. Of course, the garlic is imported in from Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, and the cheese is a mix of extra-sharp white cheddar, provolone and kasseri (which is a Greek sheep cheese). Lather up a couple pieces of rustic country white bread with butter and put it on the press for a crisp and gooey treat. Don’t forget to snag a side of their famous wild mushroom soup topped with truffle creme fraiche.
Durkin’s Liquor Bar
415 W. Main Ave.
The team at Durkin’s never fails at taking a classic comfort food and giving it some added level of shine. Or in this case, smoked gouda, house made bacon and granny smith apple on a crisp white bread. It even came with a tarragon aioli that I would guess a traditional grilled cheese would never pair with. Don’t forget to sneak away to the secret speakeasy basement for a private cocktail menu. Turns out cheese pairs well with gin, apricot and dry champagne.
Halletts Market & Café
14109 E. Sprague Ave.
This might be your mom’s secret lunch spot when she’s in the valley, but don’t let the plethora of gift baskets and floral tableclothes fool you. These ladies know how to make a sandwich. Their Green Goddess Grilled Cheese is no exception. Feta, provolone, spinach and avocado are all held together with a panini pressed sourdough slathered with a one-of-a-kind pesto mayo. Green means go.
Satellite Diner & Lounge
425 W. Sprague Ave.
The best thing about grilled cheese is there’s only one rule: lots of melty cheese. Places often layer in some form of pork, veggies—or at Satellite, Spokane’s most iconic diner—large crispy cheese sticks. Be warned, this is not for the lactose intolerant. A few bites in and your whole system is rich in stringy greasy overload. My best advice is to substitute out the fries for a salad or soup. Your heart will thank you.