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Review: Lee's Grilled Cheese in Fort Worth

Lee’s Grilled Cheese 5040 N. Tarrant Pkwy Fort Worth 817-479-3220; www.leesgrilledcheese.com Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday

Posted 7:00pm on Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013

In 2010, Lee Perez and Keith Lee Weber said game over to their careers in video game design. To feed their souls, they started making grilled cheese sandwiches for a living. Yes, for real.

Their cheesy dream started as a food truck, and it quickly became one of the most popular spots at the Fort Worth Food Park. Now, that little mobile enterprise has turned into a restaurant of their own: Lee’s Grilled Cheese in Fort Worth.

And they’ve taken the traditional bread and cheese concept and leveled it up.

Half of the menu is reserved for “The Classics,” selections created by the Lees. Sandwiches like the Duke ($7.99) with baby Swiss, caramelized onions, seasoned roast beef, and Dijon mustard; the Italian ($7.99) with provolone, fire-roasted garlic tomatoes, salami, ham, and an Italian sauce; and the BFF ($6.49) with smoked bacon, Fontina cheese and fig preserves. In all, there are 10 to choose from.

But it was really the Cuban Pete ($8.49) that caught my mouth’s attention. In an area where it’s difficult to find a memorable Cuban sandwich, these guys filled the void with their own rendition. Swiss cheese, black forest ham, pulled pork, yellow mustard and pickles unite to create a meaty sandwich with a tangy, mustard-fueled snap.

Their ultimate creation is the back breaker ($8.99), named for its blend of macaroni and cheese, sharp cheddar and barbecue pulled pork — a salty and sweet back-breaking combo.

The other half of the menu gives you access to all of the ingredients, so you can build your own grilled masterpiece in three simple steps.

Choose from nine cheeses ($3.99), including American, sharp cheddar, Havarti, chipotle gouda, and Colby jack. I tried several, and in my sandwiches they were all gooey, like a silky blanket over some toppings.

Next, choose your meats ($1.49–$2.49), like rotisserie chicken, herb roasted turkey, salami, bacon, roast beef and pork.

Finally, throw in some extras: macaroni and cheese ($2.49), avocado, basil pesto, pickled jalapeños, sauteed mushrooms, or an egg over easy (49 cents) — 13 in all to choose from.

All sandwiches are served on locally baked sourdough, crisp and buttery with big edges. (You better not trim off those edges.)

Fries are hand-cut, and everything else is made fresh. There’s actually no microwave in the building. A relief, considering microwaved, stringy cheese brings back nightmares of living in a campus dorm.

So, what about the classic grilled cheese, without all the frills?

Well, even after falling for the seductive macaroni and pork; the creamy avocado; the peppery and savory roasted turkey; and the garlic-infused tomatoes, the boss of all the sandwiches is still the gooey simplicity of sharp Cheddar (or American) cheese on toast.

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