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Grilled cheese and tomato soup at Liberty Glass 
Joy Church/EPDX

Where to Find Super-Nostalgic Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup in Portland

Versions of the childhood favorite worth ordering out

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Grilled cheese and tomato soup at Liberty Glass 
| Joy Church/EPDX

When it comes to this classic, the right grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup is incredibly personal, usually stemming from memories of childhood. Die-hard fans keep cupboards stocked with the preferred type of canned tomato soup, a loaf of sliced bread and a block of cheese in the fridge for when the urge strikes. In a culinary hotbed like Portland, eaters can find countless versions of the nostalgic pair — everything from vegan grilled cheese sandwiches served with chili to takes with four-hour caramelized onions sandwiched between artisanal bread. But, when the grilled cheese and tomato soup craving takes hold, where can eaters go for that elementary school flashback?

There are an abundance of places to get grilled cheese sandwiches in Portland. This map is dedicated to nine of the restaurants that reserve a year-round spot on their menus for both grilled cheese and tomato soup. Have a favorite spot that you feel is worthy? Please share with the class in the comments.

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Bunk Alberta

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Bunk Sandwiches owner Tommy Habetz keeps his grilled cheese sandwich on the straight-and-narrow: The lightly grilled sandwich arrives on Portland French Bakery bread with Tillamook cheddar. The tomato soup, sprinkled with grated cheese, is more pizza sauce than tomato soup, but it’s a solid option for those who prefer their soup on the heartier side. The duo is available at all four Bunk locations.

Liberty Glass

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This Craftsman-style home-turned-local-hangout serves a charmer of a grilled cheese sandwich made with mozzarella, Tillamook white, and extra-sharp cheddars, scattered with chives on Grand Central Bakery’s white bread. The cut sides of the sandwich are dipped in grated cheese and then “frico’d” to create gloriously crispy, slightly burnt edges. The tomato soup is smooth and sweet, generously covered in croutons and parsley oil. Perhaps this childhood favorite can, indeed, be improved upon.

The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar

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Adam and Jackie Sappington opened Country Cat in 2009, immediately putting the Montavilla neighborhood on the map. Known for his in-house butchery and her pastry skills, ordering a grilled cheese combination at this restaurant may not be the first thing that comes to mind; still, the restaurant makes a knockout version using house-made potato bread and Tillamook cheddar cheese. The vegetarian tomato soup is smoky with a lush texture.

Café Nordstrom

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This American department store has a cafe in its downtown location, and its grilled cheese has a cult like-following around the United States. The “kiddie grilled cheese,” available for all ages, is served on Klosterman’s organic wheat bread with white cheddar cheese, and the “adult” sandwich is made on sourdough bread with grilled asparagus and white cheddar cheese between the slices. As for the soup, it’s a Roma tomato version with basil, sold separately.

Bare Bones Cafe & Bar

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Bares Bones’ name says a lot. This no-nonsense restaurant creates its grilled cheese using two slices of American cheese and two slices of provolone; the color of this sandwich is bright orange and may be just the ticket for old-school diners. The tomato soup tastes a bit like chili due to a pinch of cumin and a hint of sweetness from small cubes of carrot.

Raven & Rose

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The fanciest of the bunch, Raven and Rose still manages to fit the classic definition of this childhood pairing. A gooey mess of Raclette and robust cheddar covers slabs of rustic bread from Ken’s Artisan Bakery. In an unusual spin, the “traditional” tomato soup, thickened with rice flour, tastes just right with a creamy texture and a hint of sweet tomato. Served on a large plate, this soup-and-sandwich combo rests next to a seasonal field salad with greens from Stoneboat Farm — just because Raven and Rose is fancy like that.

Jam On Hawthorne

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A Portland staple, Jam on Hawthorne would have visitors believe that everyone goes out for lengthy lunches during the week. This large, bustling cafe sticks to a classic recipe for grilled cheese sandwich, using Portland French’s sourdough with Block and Barrel cheese. A slightly sweet, ultra-smooth tomato soup topped with basil comes on the side.

Savor Soup House

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Although the soups rotate, Savor Soup House always serves a tomato soup with fennel and orange, an ideal pairing for any number of grilled cheeses. Owner Colleen Schroht slices Grand Central bread and Tillamook cheese for her spin on the classic grilled cheese, but the original is just one of many grilled cheese options that Schroht has on her menu: Eaters can build their own grilled cheese with options like vegan cheese, turkey, vegan bacon, truffle oil, or house-made apple butter. Gluten-free eaters need not worry: Savor Soup House carries gluten-free bread from New Cascadia Traditional, as well.

Keep the Change

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Heather Dana and Chris Bozzo offer a multitude of grilled cheese sandwich choices at this Flipside food cart, from a mac’ n bacon version to a PB&J grilled cheese. The couple’s classic offering is served on Portland French’s rustic bread with a quadruple cheese mixture of cheddar, pepper jack, provolone, and havarti. Bozzo’s secret-recipe tomato soup is pureed with dairy and topped with cracked pepper, parmesan cheese, and slices of avocado.

Bunk Alberta

Bunk Sandwiches owner Tommy Habetz keeps his grilled cheese sandwich on the straight-and-narrow: The lightly grilled sandwich arrives on Portland French Bakery bread with Tillamook cheddar. The tomato soup, sprinkled with grated cheese, is more pizza sauce than tomato soup, but it’s a solid option for those who prefer their soup on the heartier side. The duo is available at all four Bunk locations.

Liberty Glass

This Craftsman-style home-turned-local-hangout serves a charmer of a grilled cheese sandwich made with mozzarella, Tillamook white, and extra-sharp cheddars, scattered with chives on Grand Central Bakery’s white bread. The cut sides of the sandwich are dipped in grated cheese and then “frico’d” to create gloriously crispy, slightly burnt edges. The tomato soup is smooth and sweet, generously covered in croutons and parsley oil. Perhaps this childhood favorite can, indeed, be improved upon.

The Country Cat Dinner House and Bar

Adam and Jackie Sappington opened Country Cat in 2009, immediately putting the Montavilla neighborhood on the map. Known for his in-house butchery and her pastry skills, ordering a grilled cheese combination at this restaurant may not be the first thing that comes to mind; still, the restaurant makes a knockout version using house-made potato bread and Tillamook cheddar cheese. The vegetarian tomato soup is smoky with a lush texture.

Café Nordstrom

This American department store has a cafe in its downtown location, and its grilled cheese has a cult like-following around the United States. The “kiddie grilled cheese,” available for all ages, is served on Klosterman’s organic wheat bread with white cheddar cheese, and the “adult” sandwich is made on sourdough bread with grilled asparagus and white cheddar cheese between the slices. As for the soup, it’s a Roma tomato version with basil, sold separately.

Bare Bones Cafe & Bar

Bares Bones’ name says a lot. This no-nonsense restaurant creates its grilled cheese using two slices of American cheese and two slices of provolone; the color of this sandwich is bright orange and may be just the ticket for old-school diners. The tomato soup tastes a bit like chili due to a pinch of cumin and a hint of sweetness from small cubes of carrot.

Raven & Rose

The fanciest of the bunch, Raven and Rose still manages to fit the classic definition of this childhood pairing. A gooey mess of Raclette and robust cheddar covers slabs of rustic bread from Ken’s Artisan Bakery. In an unusual spin, the “traditional” tomato soup, thickened with rice flour, tastes just right with a creamy texture and a hint of sweet tomato. Served on a large plate, this soup-and-sandwich combo rests next to a seasonal field salad with greens from Stoneboat Farm — just because Raven and Rose is fancy like that.

Jam On Hawthorne

A Portland staple, Jam on Hawthorne would have visitors believe that everyone goes out for lengthy lunches during the week. This large, bustling cafe sticks to a classic recipe for grilled cheese sandwich, using Portland French’s sourdough with Block and Barrel cheese. A slightly sweet, ultra-smooth tomato soup topped with basil comes on the side.

Savor Soup House

Although the soups rotate, Savor Soup House always serves a tomato soup with fennel and orange, an ideal pairing for any number of grilled cheeses. Owner Colleen Schroht slices Grand Central bread and Tillamook cheese for her spin on the classic grilled cheese, but the original is just one of many grilled cheese options that Schroht has on her menu: Eaters can build their own grilled cheese with options like vegan cheese, turkey, vegan bacon, truffle oil, or house-made apple butter. Gluten-free eaters need not worry: Savor Soup House carries gluten-free bread from New Cascadia Traditional, as well.

Keep the Change

Heather Dana and Chris Bozzo offer a multitude of grilled cheese sandwich choices at this Flipside food cart, from a mac’ n bacon version to a PB&J grilled cheese. The couple’s classic offering is served on Portland French’s rustic bread with a quadruple cheese mixture of cheddar, pepper jack, provolone, and havarti. Bozzo’s secret-recipe tomato soup is pureed with dairy and topped with cracked pepper, parmesan cheese, and slices of avocado.

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