Meatloaf, pie, cupcakes, empanadas. Chicago's got restaurants dedicated to all of them. But so far, nobody has opened a grilled-cheese restaurant like the ones found in Ohio and California. (Update: As a commenter notes below, the now defunct 44th Ward Dinner Party was, in fact, a grilled cheese concept. Apparently I had erased it from memory.)
That all changes next week, when Cheesie's Pub & Grub opens on Belmont. "Everybody loves grilled cheese," says Aaron Schwartz, one of the restaurant's operating partners. "Its the perfect comfort food if you're hungover." Schwartz also notes that it makes a good dinner and/or lunch, but he is clearly aiming the restaurant towards the bar crowd. It's located right next to Berlin, and will cater to that bar's constituents by staying open until 5am on Fridays, Saturdays and (probably) Thursdays.
There will be roughly ten sandwiches on the menu, including The Classic (Merkt's cheese, American cheese, cheddar-swirl brioche Texas toast) and The Mexican (chihuahua cheese, chorizo, jalapeno, cilantro). To go with the sandwiches: Housemade soups (including tomato), dipping sauces, mac and cheese, fries, pickles...and a full bar, in case you choose to both start and end your night here.
"There's nothing in Chicago like what we're doing," Schwartz says. Grilled cheese is "a science...it's an art." Whether it's also a sustainable business, we're about to find out.
Cheesie's Pub & Grub hopes to open Friday May 6 or Wednesday May 11 at 958 W Belmont Ave (773-388-1574).