American Grilled Cheese Kitchen & South Park Excursion

Taking children to a grilled cheese restaurant should not really count as an adventure but the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in SOMA takes grilled cheese sandwiches to a whole new level.  We combined checking out this restaurant with a little walk and play around the South Park neighborhood.

We had no luck with free street parking and parked on Delancy at Brannan, a short distance away.  It was a beautiful, sunny SOMA day and we spent some time goofing around at the two playgrounds in the middle of South Park.  Stacie and I spotted several dining options around the park and made a note to return to check out South Park Cafe, Mexico Au Parc, Caffe Centro and The Butler & Chef Bistro.  The kids had a blast running around and checking out the play structures.  It was tough to pry them away but the lure of grilled cheese was too much for them to resist.  There happened to be a baseball game the day of our adventure and we were lucky to have made it to the restaurant at 11.30 am otherwise it might not have worked out with 3 kids in tow.  Showing up early with kids is key.  Three kids cannot wait and for that matter, neither could Stacie and I.

The menu is simple but mouth-wateringly good.  We got the kids a Mousetrap (Tillamook sharp cheddar, creamy havarti, monterey jack, on artisan sourdough), some smoky tomato soup and a Jalapeño Popper (chèvre, monterey jack, applewood-smoked bacon, apricot-jalapeño relish) for ourselves (to share).  Next time, I am thinking…the Piglet (Tillamook sharp cheddar, artisan cured ham, apple mustard, rosemary butter) or the Feta Fetish (Crumbled feta, fontina, roasted eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and red bell peppers, Italian spices, garlic butter).  Might also have to try recreating some of these at home.  The sandwiches came with a delicious, juicy clementine and it was nice to have something light to end the meal with.

We ambled over to Chronicle Books after our very comforting lunch to check out some books and goof around a little bit more before heading back for naptime and school.  I spied some cookbooks worth buying but managed to leave without making any purchases!  I envision a great many return trips to this neighborhood and this very neat little grilled cheese restaurant (for an adventure with kids, it is best to avoid baseball game days).

While Stacie and I were enjoying our Jalapeno Popper sandwich we conceived of a fancy grilled cheese party with kids and are hosting one at 18 Reasons on Sunday, June 26th at 11am. We’ll supply the grilled cheese basics and our favorite sweet, savory and spicy homemade add-ons. All you need to do is bring your family and your creativity. If you have a favorite bread, cheese or topping we invite you to bring it to add to the mix. We’ll round our party out with some kid-friendly drinks and dunk-able soups. Recommended for ages 3-7 You can purchase your tickets here.

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Pre-Game Grilled Cheese

The other night we were making our way to AT&T Park to see the Giants vs. the Dodgers. Our walk took us right by the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in South Park where they were grilling up classic grilled cheese, street-side, to the pre-game crowd. Just say — YUM! Let’s just say that Luca had no trouble convincing us to grab one to snack on for the road. (I love how there’s a guy actually videotaping the sandwiches: a grilled cheese super fan perhaps?)

Now that we’ve sampled their wares, I promised Luca that we will get back to the American Grilled Cheese Kitchen for lunch or breakfast sometime soon  — and in the meantime we will definitely borrow some of their sandwich combinations to make at home.

If you find yourself around these parts, eating grilled cheese or visiting some of the other lovely South Park shops or cafes, there’s a nice little playground smack dab in the grassy center of the South Park oval. Great for wiggly kids or eating al fresco on a sunny day. A fun place for San Francisco history buffs, too. South Park was built in 1852 and modeled after a square in London and is one of the few parts of the ritzy Rincon Hill neighborhood to survive the 1906 earthquake.

And just for fun, some grilled cheese links: