June 17, 2022
13 mins Read
Consider this your guide to Australia’s best cheese toasties, slathered with butter and grilled until gooey. Here are some beautifully engineered examples from around the country.
HIFI is a new hipster hole in the wall in Collingwood that slaps mushroom ragu and taleggio between slabs of sourdough and toasts it until it is ridiculous. The Collingwood bolthole is the sibling to nearby Terror Twilight and Tinker in Northcote, and it is impossible to pootle past the kiosk due to the pervasive perfume of melting cheese. Expect cameos from achingly cool members of local bands such as Surprise Chef, and Hiatus Coyote who appreciate the vinyl-spinning vibes in a corner of Collingwood co-owner Kieran Spiteri describes as “dirty chic”.
The Swiss raclette and All-American grilled-cheese toastie with onion and parsley at Maker & Monger is the signature toastie at this chapel to cheese in the heritage harvest hall at Prahran Market. The staple ingredient on the Calabresie toastie is the smoked scamorza, ‘nduja and oregano, which is gorgeously gooey on the inside and all crisp and crunch on the outside. It’s become a tradition for visitors to Anthony Femia’s stall to choose their wedge of gorgonzola or chunk of Parmigiano Reggiano from the seven-metre-long cheese cabinet before submitting to the toastie. Resistance is futile.
Aphro & Wolfe is serious about its toasties, with a dedicated toastie window that doles out epic cheese toasties with fillings that literally make them shine. It’s a meal fit for those fixie-riding hipsters who live in Fitzroy North and are fighting to remain WFH to feed their addiction to these doorstop-sized toasties. Blame the banh mi toastie: this creation is made from pulled pork cooked slowly for six hours and then squished between slabs of flame-grilled bread and a mix of cheeses. Keep saying no to the suit and tie and hole up here in the cosy cafe, fitted with plywoods and antiques.
Who said bread was dead? Not the breadheads at Ghosty Toasty, that’s for cert. If you’re on a road trip in regional Victoria, and heading to Viva Bendigo, let it be for food first. The rest will follow. The Mark Truffalo with truffle oil, mushroom, rocket and thyme will hit you where it counts, as will the peanut butter, maple bacon and banana designed in honour of Elvis, who is taking over the city until July as part of the festivities surrounding the Elvis: Direct from Graceland exhibition coming to town. Wear your supersized jumpsuit for the Pastrarnold Schwarzenneger with pastrami, hot English mustard, cream cheese and pickles, surely one of Australia’s best cheese toasties.
Chef Dom Wilton worked at Attica and Stokehouse before co-founding Hector’s Deli and has some cred with bread. Hector’s Deli is a shrine to the sandwiches he so loves. Wilton’s formula is simple: he elevates deli-counter staples and tried and true treasures into superlative sangas by using exceptional ingredients. The Never Now-designed cafe, located in a quiet suburban backstreet in Richmond, is a low-key part of the hood in which to hang. Discover why Wilton is considered a champion toastmaster when you wrap your laughing gear around the monster HCT, mortadella with provolone, mozzarella and tomato chutney on sourdough.
If you’re in the mood for a cheese toastie, the version at Penny’s Cheese Shop is regarded by devotees to be one of the nation’s best. Owner Penny Lawson’s decadent rendition is made from a blend of up to eight different cheeses which she changes each day at her new digs in Sydney’s Potts Point. Those game enough to try and replicate this marvellously gooey creation at home can purchase all the artisan cheeses and the PiOik sourdough from the European-style deli and give it a red-hot go.
Three Blind Mice is a new neighbourhood providore in Mascot that specialises in cheese and meat. The most glorious dish on the menu is the toasted sandwich with confit duck, fig jam and scallions, mixed with a blend of five cheeses and grilled until golden and oozy at its centre. Chef Daniel Hughes and cheesemonger Milan Majstorovic are the co-founders of the elegant European-style deli that has put Mascot on the map for foodies.
Flyover Fritterie’s owner Gunjan Aylawadi draws on his Indian heritage for his take on toasties that are a mash-up of old-school Aussie jaffles stuffed with Indian flavours in pairings such as Dosa potato and peanut chutney, and tofu tikka. Flyover Fritteria started as a hole-in-the-wall in Sydney CBD, but has moved to larger premises in Redfern due to the popularity of its dishes. The eatery is nods to the no-name street-food carts that jostle for space amid heaving crowds beneath Mumbai’s overpasses (flyovers).
K-food culture is alive and well at Taylor Square in Redfern where SOUL Deli doles out decadent toasties designed to cure a heinous soju (hangover). Plough into the golden sourdough sanga that is filled with pulled pork, fried kimchi, provolone and American cheese and served with house-made pickles. Kimchi is an acquired taste and one that Australians are acquiring at an ever-increasing rate judged by its appearance on menus. SOUL deli also does a killer KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) roll.
Drive a few kilometres south of the main hub of Cronulla and you will find a pretty little corner cafe sandwiched between Oak and Shelly parks. What you will also find at Sixsmith are members of the Jellybeans swim club tucking into the mushroom, thyme and gruyere toastie, which, like the cafe itself, is a jealously guarded secret. Pull up a seat at the communal table, where past and present NRL players and local cricketing legends make regular cameos, while you enjoy your toastie grilled to creamy perfection on Brasserie Bread sourdough.
The Melt Brothers have two locations in Brisbane: one at Post Office Square, and the other in the Myer Centre. And nowhere does a goopy New York-style grilled cheese sanga better.
The M.C. Cheesy is a molten monster of macaroni and cheese gussied up with maple bacon and finished with a sweet swipe of smokey BBQ sauce and aioli. The thick-cut white sourdough gives the double-decker treat structural integrity. Delish.
Criminal Coffee Company is known and loved for two things: ‘Roasting and Toasting’. So consider it a bonus that you go for the cheesy, decadent toasties and stay for the artisan roasted coffee.
The Criminal Coffee Company HQ is located in a quiet corner of Cotton tree in Maroochydore and it has a sister venue, called The Toast Office, on the bustling Mooloolaba Esplanade. Ask for your toastie extra unctuous. We love the signature toasted sarnie, the Padre, held together on fresh fermented sourdough and stuffed with a secret blend of herbs, cheese and spices.
This cute little cafe in Holloways Beach is routinely rammed with locals. It’s called two blocks because it’s literally two blocks back from the beach in the northern suburbs of Cairns. Tropical North Queensland is designed for al fresco dining and this industrial-chic cafe presents an excellent example of that. Sit in the outdoor dining area, which is softened with rustic railway sleepers and tropical greenery, and meet some of the friendly locals who are justifiably proud that this is their neighbourhood hang. Go for a walk along the beach after inhaling the ham and gruyere toastie with bechamel, mozzarella, house pickles and jalapeño mustard.
This Milk Bar Coffee specialty staple ingredient is a black truffle paste, which means we can carb-load here all-year round on black truffle and roast mushie toasties and not be restricted by the seasonal availability of fresh fungi. This is the crowd favourite, made up of field mushrooms, mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan cheese and served with house-made bread and butter pickles on the side to cut through the richness. You might want to extend your lunch break and have a snooze under a palm tree as you will enter a deep carb coma after devouring this beast.
Foxtrot Unicorn is housed in an old underground bank vault built in 1887, where it’s likely the recipe to their jaffle toastie is stored for safekeeping. And while the eight-cheese toastie is sweetly nostalgic, a veggie option becomes a contemporary take with a serve of kimchi on the side. The award-winning bartenders here also do magical things with cocktails. And, as an aside, it’s a top spot to bunker down during an apocalypse. The outside of the jaffles is brushed in confit garlic butter, then crusted in parmesan. Inside, is a blend of about eight different cheeses and a top-secret seasoning called “jaffle crack”.
Those chasing the thrill of the grill in Perth should go directly to Toastface Grillah (and sister grillah, Lil’ Toastface). While the OG toasted sanga temple is known for its hangover-beating cheese toasties, it’s also one of the coolest cafes in the WA capital. Pull up a milk crate in the grungy alleyway and forgo the Panadol after your big night out in favour of the toasted chilli cheese sanga which will kick your dry-mouth horrors to the graffiti-clad kerb. There are now five locations of Toastface Grillah peppered around WA. We recommend the Quodzilla, a 35 cm x 25 cm four-cheese beast that you can slam dunk into four dipping sauces.
Livingstone’s Urban Jungle is the toast of Northbridge thanks to killer combos such as the Mac Daddy (triple cheese macaroni and cheese), and Bada-bing (Italian meatballs, garlic, rosemary, tomato sauce and Emmental cheese). Of course, you can keep it simple with old-school winners such as ham and cheese or take it up a notch with the seductive Slam ‘n’ Cheese, featuring smoked ham, bechamel sauce, seeded mustard and gruyere cheese. Check out the special boards for more out-there combinations such as The Raging Bull (braised beef short ribs with caramelised onions and cauliflower cheese) and then settle in for coffee at the greenery-filled oasis, which, we presume, was named after explorer Dr Livingstone who went missing in the wilds of Africa.
Great sangas abound at the Proof located near to Press Food and Wine in Adelaide. The trick to making the colossal sandwiches so good is in the engineering; these are sandwiches with structural integrity. Let’s not overcomplicate things, as the Breville is in the detail and the grilling is also integral to the success of the sweet-as sangas. Take some beans. Add some salsa and jalapenos and smoosh together in a jaffle iron. Sprinkle with some Dorito dust and hey presto: it’s a Tex Mex toastie. We would also like to tip our hat toward the lamb, hummus, ras el hanout with za’atar which is a beautiful collision of crunch, and is silken, sweet and spicy all at once. If you consume it all at once, it can be the sort of sandwich that will require an afternoon siesta.
The cheese toasties at Postie really cut the mustard. The secret to the perfect cheese sandwiches at Postie is all about the quality ingredients, everything from the sturdy slabs of sourdough to the secret blend of cheeses. Bone up on the science of the perfect grilled cheese sandwich by watching this video produced by the Australian Chemical Society before making it your mission to bite off more than you can chew with the humble Postie toastie comprising ham off the bone, homemade pink onion jam, a blend of cheeses, seeded mustard on sourdough. This cheesy concoction is toasted until golden and crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside.
Why did Samuel Pepy bury his humungous wheel of Parmesan cheese during the Great Fire of London? Because Parmigiano Reggianno was considered valuable even back in 1666, when the great diarist buried some of his belongings before escaping from his house, which was in the path of the fire. The owners of Samuel Pepy’s Cafe in Launceston also share a fondness for cheese and the casual eatery with the vintage vibes does a pleasing lunchtime toastie that will appeal to the gluten-free tribes. Arrange a gatho at the 100 per cent gluten-free establishment to chow down on the chicken bacon avocado cheese and aioli sandwich on GF bread.
Mainlanders who have been travelling to and from Hobart since MONA put the Tassie capital on the map are now looking to give Launie a bit of love. We’ll toast to that. You can keep it simple with chicken and cheese, or ham, cheese and tomato or up the ante with a chicken parmie toastie or pork ‘n’ slaw. The BLT is also a thing of beauty: a tasty torpedo of melted cheese, mushies, bacon, pickles and lettuce. The Land Down Under also flips the notion of what constitutes a toastie with dim sims, bacon, mozzarella cheese and ABC sauce and it’s truly phenomenal. This is how Aussies like to eat in 2022, to a tee.
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