The Multifaceted Grilled Cheeses at Yale

Picture of a pile of grilled cheese sandwiches

If I could describe Yale students in one word, it would be multifaceted. This word, while entirely based on my own experiences with other students on campus, is also the tagline that Yale uses to describe itself. While multifaceted probably refers to Yale’s diverse student body and variety of courses, it is also a perfectly acceptable way to describe the grilled cheeses at Yale.

At Yale, students are divided into two groups: Chicken Tenders and Grilled Cheese. This may be arbitrary from an outsider’s perspective, however, grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken tenders are the most popular lunch entrees at Yale and are the root of many heated debates among students. While I can easily write an essay on why grilled cheese sandwiches are the best food item at Yale, I will instead analyze and rank the 4 grilled cheese sandwiches available for students. Even though my palette favors beige food, I believe I am fully qualified to rate Yale’s grilled cheeses simply from the amount of grilled cheeses I consume. If my lack of expertise concerns you, feel free to take my opinions with a grain of salt.

The Ivy - Birria Grilled Cheese

The Birria Grilled Cheese at The Ivy is the newest addition to Yale’s grilled cheese selection. While unassuming, this grilled cheese sandwich will sit in your stomach for as long as my problem-set procrastination lasts (which is a long time). Despite this, this is an excellent choice when you are particularly ravenous after a long day of classes or feel especially carnivorous. Even though this sandwich is not vegetarian friendly, the Birria Grilled Cheese is the only one of Yale’s grilled cheeses that is available during dinnertime. It also stands out against its competitors since this is the only grilled cheese sandwich with extra fillings. While the sandwich is not as crunchy as the ones in the TD dining hall, the slight crisp from the bread is still satisfying to bite into. Since I have dining points from my meal plan, this allows me to “buy” the sandwich for “free”, and because food always tastes better when it’s free, I can’t help but order the Birria Grilled Cheese at least every other week. Overall, I would give this sandwich an 8.0/10. Very enjoyable and filling but lacks an extra oomph, some heat or acidity would be nice.

Picture of birria grilled cheese
The grilled cheese was so yummy that I couldn’t help take a bite before taking a picture

TD Dining Hall - Food Truck-Style Grilled Cheese

The TD Dining Hall grilled cheese sandwich is a longtime favorite of mine. I believe the residential college grilled cheeses are pretty similar across the board but since I am the most familiar with the TD Dining Hall grilled cheese, this is what I will be referring to. The grilled cheese in the TD Dining Hall is exactly what your parents would make you whenever you get all A’s on your report card - perfectly crunchy and crispy, to the extent that it cuts the roof of your mouth (as all grilled cheeses should be), and filled to the edges with the perfect blend of cheese that elicits a satisfying cheese pull. Even though the TD dining hall is always crowded during grilled cheese Thursdays, I still love the convenience of the dining hall grilled cheese. Since the dining hall is buffet style, I can go back for seconds, even thirds, and have dessert, beverages, and sides readily available. Best of all, there’s warm tomato soup that is available and never-ending. Even though I always regret my decision to get seconds, I still always look forward to grilled cheese Thursdays. Overall rating: 8.5/10 - This is a delicious sandwich but sometimes my jaw gets sore from the bread (sacrifices need to be made for such a masterpiece of food).

picture of the dining hall grilled cheese
This was honestly the highlight of my week.

Steep Cafe - Grilled Cheese

I am honestly not even sure if this can be counted as a grilled cheese sandwich. Right off the bat, the grilled cheese sandwich at Steep Cafe loses points for being a long trek away. Even though it is convenient for students with classes on Science Hill, Steep Cafe is far for a majority of students. Unlike the grilled cheese sandwiches from The Ivy, The Elm, or the residential college dining halls which are crisp, the grilled cheese sandwich from Steep Cafe lacks any resemblance of crispiness. Luckily, tastewise, I quite enjoy the grilled cheese at Steep Cafe. While my taste buds don’t exactly know what I am tasting, it’s still different from the classic grilled cheeses from the dining hall (I think there may be a honey mustard and an aioli of sorts). Regardless of what it is, from a flavor perspective this grilled cheese sandwich may be my favorite yet. Despite this redeeming quality, the grilled cheese from Steep Cafe does not live up to the crispy exteriors of the other grilled cheeses. Lastly, since this is one of the three grilled cheese sandwiches available for lunch and since it is available every day via the lunch swipe, its lack of scarcity makes the sandwich lose its allure. Overall rating: 7.0/10. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed eating the grilled cheese since I am a massive honey mustard fan. However, it doesn’t quite hit the spot whenever the grilled cheese craving hits since the contrast between the melty cheese and crunchy bread is nearly nonexistent in this sandwich. 

clipart picture of grilled cheese
Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of the grilled cheese so here is a clip-art picture instead ᴖ̈

The Elm - Truffle Grilled Cheese

The Truffle Grilled Cheese at The Elm is widely popular amongst students at Yale. Located a few feet from the Birria Grilled Cheese in The Ivy, the Truffle Grilled Cheese can only be bought in the mornings and afternoons during the weekdays and via dining points. Technically, students can purchase the Truffle Grilled Cheese until The Elm closes but they tend to run out of the sandwiches after the lunch rush. Luckily, I was able to “buy” the sandwich with my dining points and snag one before the lunch rush. Even though I do not know whether The Elm puts real truffle in the grilled cheese, I appreciate the effort to do something different and the flavor punch from the “truffle.” While the flavor profile may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I appreciate how the truffle grilled cheese is crisp and manages to satisfy my grilled cheese cravings without being too heavy on my stomach. Overall rating: 7.9/10 - This is a very solid sandwich but by the last bite, I am usually tired of truffle and grilled cheese.

picture of the truffle grilled cheese
The grill marks on the sandwich make it taste so much better.

Overall, I appreciate all of the grilled cheese sandwiches Yale has to offer. While I would pick them all over chicken tenders, some sandwiches outshine others. From best to worse, below is my subjective ranking of the grilled cheese sandwiches at Yale.

1. TD Dining - Food Truck Style Grilled Cheese

2. The Ivy - Birria Grilled Cheese

3. The Elm - Truffle Grilled Cheese

4. Steep Cafe - Grilled Cheese