Erin Flegg | With the cost of living constantly on the rise in this city, it’s nice to know there is still at least one sandwich that hasn’t been priced out of my budget: the grilled cheese. Amidst Vancouver’s world-class, high-test food culture, the humble combination of bread, butter and cheese continues to stand its ground. Some might even say it’s gaining some.
While you can still spend upwards of twelve bucks for one without much trouble at one of the finer establishments around town, a little searching reveals a plethora of affordable and comforting options. Grilled cheese has even hit the streets. In the last few months, two food trucks dedicated solely to grilled cheese sandwiches have opened up in different locations. Taser Sandwiches lives by the SkyTrain station at Main and Terminal, and Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck makes its home on the corner of Howe and Georgia, just outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Cindy “Mom” Hamilton, a former film caterer-turned-melted cheese expert, believes in the power of the people’s grilled cheese. Her classic is just two slices of freshly baked bread, a few slabs of cheese and little butter. The flat top grill does the rest. “I would love to do lobster grilled cheese, but I think people, day to day, they want comfort, something familiar, especially in our weather,” she says, adding that a food truck is the ideal venue for to bring affordable sandwiches to the masses. “Street food has to be accessible. You can’t charge twenty bucks for a grilled cheese.” Both trucks also offer vegan grilled cheese, too. And so, in honour of National Grilled Cheese Day ( Thursday, April 12th) and National Grilled Cheese Month (all of April), I give you my Top 5 picks for the People’s Grilled Cheese…
1. Cafe Deux Soleil – This is my go-to on The Drive. For $3.50, you get white cheddar on a nice chewy, multigrain bread and a side of fresh fruit. Depending on the time of day and the season, you might end up with a plate padded with melon, but whatever. Vitamin C is vitamin C. Add a $0.75 side of hummus for dipping, and you’ve got yourself a meal.
2. Mom’s Grilled Cheese Truck – With prices in the $6 to $9 range, Mom’s offers a variety of choices from the classic to the triple decker to the meatloaf special. You get your choice of bread and cheese (I highly recommend the provolone on marbled rye) and there’s a selection of extras ranging from tomato slices and extra pickles to double smoked bacon and double cheese. A shot of homemade roasted tomato soup, served with a dollop of basil mascarpone, is just enough to prepare the way for your sandwich. Gluten-free and vegan options available.
3. The Rumpus Room – At first glance, this Main St. offering may seem like a significant price jump for bread and cheese at $7.50, but the addition of a free side, such as a hefty bowl of veggie chili, yam fries, or even a waffle, makes it more than worth it. On top of that, the tomato and pickle add-ons are yours for the asking, free of charge. Just make sure to specify pickles on the side. Unless you really enjoy hot, cheesy pickles. Your call.
4. Taser Sandwiches – Another recent addition to the Vancouver street food scene. With prices similar to Mom’s, Taser offers up specials like the Vampire Bite (aged cheddar, chicken breast, garlic and Sriracha mayo) and the popular So Gouda (smoked bacon, Havarti, gouda, raisins, apple slices and honey mustard). The lovely grill marks – thanks to their barbeque-style grill – are a nice plus. Hours are a little unreliable so follow them on twitter (@tasersandwich) for the daily update.
5. Habit – At $11, this place is on the upper end of my range, but I’m including it because it’s the only place I’ve ever been offered truffle oil for free. Just ask for it. It does a great job holding down the fort on the outside of the tasty sourdough bread without trying to outdo the brie and aged cheddar on the inside. The sandwich also comes with a healthy portion of soup or salad and one of the biggest pickles around.