Photograph: Tim Turner, Tim Turner Studio

Lobster grilled cheese at Benny’s Chop House

Originally open-faced and topped with shredded cheese, the cheap-to-make grilled cheese sandwich became popular during the Great Depression.

Nowadays, the lunchtime comfort food has become so opulent with extras—think fried egg, bacon, lobster, ham, fruit preserves, and (gasp!) vegetables—that it demands a national holiday. Nay, the whole month!

And you’ll need every day of April, designated as National Grilled Cheese Month, to sink your teeth into all these renditions:

  • Order an All-Day Grilled Cheese with fried egg, cheddar, and bacon ($12.50) at Little Market Brasserie (10 E. Delaware Pl., 312-640-8141) this month and get a free house-made soda (normally $5). 
  • Indulge in a little shellfishness with a lobster and provolone grilled cheese at Benny’s Chop House (444 N. Wabash Ave., 312-626-2444). It comes with a garden salad (right, sure, whatever) for $10.99.
  • Try a different twist on grilled cheese every week in April at Toni Patisserie and Café (65 E. Washington St., 312-726-2020). This week’s version, available until April 7, is a Parmesan, ricotta, and provolone sandwich with garlic spinach for $9.
  • Need even more variety? Deca Restaurant + Bar (The Ritz-Carlton, 160 E. Pearson St., 312-573-5160) is serving four kinds of grilled cheese throughout April, each $15 with french fries: a French Reuben with duck pastrami and Gruyère; a morel mushroom sandwich with asparagus and fromage blanc; a Monte Cristo with turkey, ham, raspberry preserves, and Comté cheese; and a beer-braised pork sandwich with Hooks cheddar.
  • Step outside the sandwich box (but stay in Melted Cheeseville) with cheese fondue at Geja’s Café (340 W. Armitage Ave., 773-281-9101), because it’s also National Fondue Week next week. Get free Gruyère fondue samples from 1 to 4:30 p.m. April 7 through 11, or take a fondue cooking class from 1 to 3 p.m. April 7 for $25. All proceeds from the class will be donated to the Greater Chicago Food Depository.