The Rip Taylor – Hamilton’s Tavern, 30th St, San Diego, CA

The "Rip Taylor" grilled cheese sandwich at Hamilton's Tavern in San Deigo, CA

The menu at Hamilton’s boasts a fair number of grilled cheese sandwiches, a number of which look tasty. Only one, though, contains a note. Beneath the description of the Rip Taylor (slow roasted pulled chicken, pesto, red onion, tomato and provalone) is the following: “Don’t be surprised if you win $1.98 and get showered with confetti upon ordering.” Unable to resist, I ordered the Rip Taylor. Well, I received no monetary reward and the celebration of my order was minimal, but I did get a damn fine sandwich. The nicest thing here, and this is exceedingly rare for obvious reasons, was that the emphasis in this grilled cheese was on the chicken rather than the cheese. (If you click through the above photo, you can see the emphasis for yourself.) If a purist wanted to castigate this sandwich for betraying the spirit of a grilled cheese, I wouldn’t put up much of an argument. But I’m no great fan of cheese and so I was quite pleased with the sandwich. The chicken was tender and juicy, the red onion a welcome spice. It could have used more pesto, but anything lacking in this sandwich was covered by the bread. The sandwich came on rosemary sourdough, buttered and grilled. It was outstanding. Strong rosemary flavor and a strong buttery crunch to match. A grilled cheese sandwich can easily go wrong, but I’m happy to say that by underplaying the lead, Hamilton’s has pulled off an outstanding example of the genre.

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5 thoughts on “The Rip Taylor – Hamilton’s Tavern, 30th St, San Diego, CA

  1. Due to the highly-publicized success of Cleveland’s “Melt Bar & Grilled,” I expect to see a flurry of grilled cheese-heavy restaurants popping up over the next few years.

    The first experience with a grilled cheese that is not necessarily a grilled cheese is a great one.

  2. I must say I have a problem with any sandwich that contain more than cheese & spices being called a “grilled cheese” sandwich.

    Surely they are just sandwiches with cheese that happen to be grilled.

    If forced I would admit adding a vegetable is a gray area.

    But a meat?

    This, my friends, is a chicken sandwich.

    • Just cheese & spices seems awfully stringent. Would you exclude even tomatoes? It’s a philosophical question, really, and I won’t dispute your conclusion. But if you open the door to tomato, surely everything else is just a matter of degree. I say make cheese and spices your foundation rather than your gate.

  3. I suppose I have a very narrow idea of what should go under the banner of ‘grilled cheese’. In my heart of hearts I think it should just be cheese, spices or sauces. A thin slice of tomato or onion or pickle or something could be considered a garnish and not a full on topping, if that makes sense, so there is a bit of a gray area there.

    It looks like a great sandwich, and certainly a sister taxa to the grilled cheese. But worthy of its own category.

  4. It’s like pizza. Once anything else is added more substantial than sauce or spices, it ceases to be a cheese pizza and becomes a pepperoni pizza, or a mushroom pizza, etc etc etc.

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