Photo: Lydia Wakelam

When it’s cold and miserable outside, comfort food is the order of the day – and for a lot of us, that means turning to the humble cheese toastie.

Let’s face it, oozing molten cheese sandwiched between wedges of crunchy bread is one of life’s simple pleasures.

Whether you’re after a modest, melted, grilled, retro or pimped up version to tickle your taste buds, we’ve got the toastie for you.  

Northern Soul Grilled Cheese

You can’t talk about cheese toasties in Manchester and not mention Northern Soul Grilled Cheese. Founded by Dan Place, it’s become something of an institution since opening on Church Street in 2015. Earlier this year he opened a second place on Piccadilly station approach, and will be popping up again at the city’s Christmas Markets. A secret three-cheese blend is the ‘soul’ of sandwiches, priced from £4.50, such as The Holy Grain with thick cut gammon; the Mac Attack with mac and cheese; and The Soul Club with grilled chicken, streaky bacon and Cajunaise. Cheese fiends are spoilt for choice.

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Trof

Photo: Lydia Wakelam

Trof’s one of those cosy, laidback bars that’s made for whiling away a few hours when the temperature plummets. Situated in the Northern Quarter, the menu’s packed with comfort food including the Dirty Grilled Cheese Sandwich, £8, made with a Dijon, honey and maple glaze and served with a side of fries. Compared to some options out there, this is a relatively modest creation, but you can expect a lovely bit of crunch, enough cheese to drip over the sides, and mouthwatering stringiness when you pull that bread apart.

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Frankie’s Toasties

Frankie’s Toasties has just opened on Portland Street. It might be the newest kid on the block but it’s already captured customers imaginations, taking them back to a time when Breville toasties were the snack du jour. Managing Director Barry Chui states they’re a “straight-up toastie shop” but there are 16 different fillings to choose from, including the classic Cheap ‘n’ Cheeseful with a double cheddar and mozzarella mix; Cheesy Bean with Heinz Baked Beans; and Pig Dog with BBQ pulled pork, priced from £3. Vegan cheese is also available and there are another 17 non-cheese options on the menu, such as Mars bar and Caramac. But that’s a whole other story.

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Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home doesn’t do understated. Whether you head to the Northern Quarter or the Great Northern, you’ll see cake counters filled with gluttonous creations and plates piled high as they leave the kitchen. While they’re known for sugary treats, there’s a heap of savoury snacks to tuck into as well, including the Cheeseburger Toastie, £8.50. It’s described as a “fat and stacked cheeseburger melt” with ground beef, cheddar, onion, pickle, American mustard, ketchup and bacon mayo on grilled sourdough. It’s as epic as it sounds.

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The Creameries

The Creameries opened in a former Edwardian creamery in Chorlton last year, and reently won Newcomer of the Year and Sustainable Restaurant at the Manchester Food and Drink Festival Awards. Founded by chef Mary-Ellen McTague, baker Sophie Yeoman and interior designer Soo Wilkinson, the speciality is baked goods and delicious cheese. It’s little wonder they combine the two to serve up a beautiful grilled cheese, £8, during lunch hours. It’s understated, but this home-cured goat bacon, sauerkraut, mustard cream and Killeen goats’ cheese concoction is bursting with taste. There’s also a vegetarian alternative with Rosary goats’ cheese and homemade pickle, as well as a gluten-free option.

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Brewski

The Brewski bars on Mosley Street and over in Chorlton serve up North American grub. They’re known for the going that extra mile, whether it’s their pizza and burger-laden afternoon tea or poutine, a Canadian dish of chips topped with gravy and rich, cheese curds. Now they’ve introduced the ultimate cheese board, a huge platter for two, priced £40. It includes deep fried Babybel, Halloumi fries, rosemary studded camembert, beetroot crisps, burrata, goats cheese mousse, toasted brioche and candy cane grapes. But the piece de resistance slap bang in the middle of the board is the grilled cheese sandwich stuffed with smoked Applewood, red Leicester, cheddar. If that wasn’t enough, matching wines for two are thrown as well. Just don’t forget to pre-book.

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Old School BBQ Bus

In an industrial estate in Oldham, you’ll find a touch of the Deep South at the Old School BBQ Bus. Inside the marquee, a large American flag and bunting hangs over hay bale seating and a small stage where country singers get the crowds going. It’s the brainchild of Mark Fairley, who served slow-cooked meat from his yellow school bus before finding this permanent spot. There are four grilled cheese options – Plain, Pulled Pork, Buffalo Chicken and Beef Brisket – which all arrive with a salad, seasoned fries and homemade sauces, priced from £6.95. The meat’s cooked in a smoking pit and is beautifully succulent – which when combined with hot melted cheese, really hits the spot.

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