Get Toasted in Phoenix

The Dish: The SoCal Grilled Cheese Sandwich
The Place: Toasted
The Location: Antiques Row (4221 North 7th Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85013) 602-234-0333

By: Laura Stoddard

Have you ever bitten into something so ridiculously good that it made you want to cry? If you answered no, and want to experience this apex of all culinary experiences, you need to check out Phoenix’s new gastropub, Toasted, featuring a wide, creative and absolutely delicious selection of grilled cheese sandwiches. We’re talking comfort food at its finest.

Toasted, formerly Harley’s, is located along the stretch of 7th Avenue in Phoenix (roughly Thomas Road to Missouri) known for its plethora of antique shops. It’s an older part of town, but highly trafficked, so a smart location for a new gastronomic venture. I walked into the very unassuming, comfortably worn (shall we call it?) restaurant and noticed right away that this was a family place. Construction paper and crayons for the kids at the hostess station, board games on the tables, playful, casual décor, such as Christmas lights adorning the ceiling, and a dining area entirely separate from the bar.  It’s relatively small inside, and lacks a patio, but the bar is generously sized, and the whole place has a very comfortable feel. Be prepared to turn up the volume on your voice, though, once it really gets packed. Although it’s only been open since August 2016, this place is already very popular.

After a lengthy perusal of the menu, I finally settled on The SoCal (an oozy, nearly bursting composition of Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, grilled chicken breast, avocado, and sweet habanero sauce) and a side of tomato soup. (Sidenote: Who doesn’t order tomato soup with their grilled cheese sandwich? I ask you! It’s simply un-American!) Now, sadly, there was only one of me, hence, only one sandwich was sampled, (I shall take five cloned copies of myself next time) but boy, did I make the right decision.

As aforementioned, after taking one bite, I literally closed my eyes, sat back, and let out a long, contented, “Mmmm.” Meanwhile, in my mind I was going, Omg! Omg! Omg! This is freaking delicious!!! The chef laughed when she saw my reaction. When I asked her if The SoCal was their most popular sandwich, she responded that it was actually probably third, coming in behind the Trailer Park and the Jalapeno Popper. Great names, right? A couple more are the Fat Elvis, the Castro, and the ‘Merika. The names reflect the whole feel of the place: not fancy, but playful, and just down-home delicious. The appetizers are worth mentioning as well. Classics like fried cheese curds and tater tots held me over until my main course arrived. And had I had any room left in my belly after all that, I would’ve tried one of their dessert “sandwiches”, namely, the Big Banana Theory—homemade banana bread, bourbon-caramel cream cheese, peanut butter and sprinkled pistachios pieces. Again, cry-worthy!

Like any good gastropub, they offer a happy hour featuring food and drink specials (weekdays from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm), and weekend visitors will be pleased to find a Bloody Mary bar available almost all day. I think it’s safe to say that Toasted is going to be around for quite some time, and that the happy tears will continue to fall.

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Erik Merkow
Founder and CEO at Az Food & Wine
Erik: a father, writer, entrepreneur, son, photographer, corporate guy, friend, brother, and foodie wine guy



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