Restaurant News & Reviews

Food Truck Review: American Meltdown’s grilled cheese sandwiches a hard habit to break

American Meltdown provides the ultimate comfort food - grilled cheese sandwiches.
American Meltdown provides the ultimate comfort food - grilled cheese sandwiches.

Every month, within hours of my food truck review coming out, I can count on getting some variation of this question in my inbox from at least one or two readers: “Where is the food truck located?”

I direct them to the truck’s website and Twitter feed, where veteran food truck fans know they can find the answer to that question.

Call me a slow learner, but it only took me a year’s worth of these email exchanges to realize there are a lot of people who are new to the food truck scene.

Boy, do I have the perfect food truck for them.

American Meltdown, which first hit the road in 2012, specializes in the quintessential comfort food between two slices of bread: grilled cheese sandwiches.

It is a perennial favorite at food truck rodeos. American Meltdown has so many fans that owners Paul and Alycia Inserra opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2015 in the food court at Streets at Southpoint mall in Durham.

But if you’d rather avoid the large crowds that these gastronomic gatherings invariably attract, you can find it parked just about any day of the week somewhere in the Triangle.

The food truck’s menu board typically offers a standing list of seven variations on the grilled cheese theme, plus one or two rotating specials. Cautious first-timers might ease their way into the adventure with the De-Lish, American Meltdown’s take on the classic: cheddar cheese oozing between two thick slices of Guglhupf white bread that have been buttered and grilled to a crusty turn.

Be forewarned that this is just the gateway drug to a grilled cheese habit.

Next time, you’ll be craving the Patty Melt (grilled burger with sautéed onions and cheddar on Guglhupf rye). Then, before you know it, you’ll be moving on to the hard stuff.

One night you’ll score a Buffalo Blitz (grilled chicken, Buffalo sauce and havarti), and the next you’ll be jonesing for Pigs ’n’ Figs (black mission figs, speck, local goat cheese and a drizzle of reduced balsamic vinegar on sourdough).

Me, I’ve got a Dirty South monkey on my back. Just thinking about it, I can taste the homemade pimento cheese (cranked up with a couple of “secret ingredients,” one of which I’m sure is garlic), sweet corn and Firsthand Foods andouille sausage.

You can try to get clean with the vegetarian Scarborough Fare (herb pesto and gouda on sourdough). You’ll add a side of flash-fried Brussels sprouts – which by now you know are addictive in their own right, but you reassure yourself that you’re just getting your daily requirement of green leafy vegetables.

But then the Kubla Khan (house-smoked pulled pork, Asian coleslaw, Dijon mustard and provolone) will turn up on the list of specials, and you’ll be hooked again. Inevitably, you’ll find yourself hanging around the Durham Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning, looking to score a Hangover (pimento cheese, salsa verde and a fried egg) for breakfast.

It helps to know you’re not alone – and that there are even more options at the Southpoint mall location.

The larger space allows for a menu that includes items not available on the truck. Surely just one Cubano sandwich (smoked pork, house-made pickles, Swiss cheese, ham, roasted red peppers and Dijon) wouldn’t hurt, would it? Okay, maybe some beer-battered onion rings, too. And you’ve just got to try the caramel bread pudding for dessert, right?

American Meltdown

Prices: most sandwiches $7-8, sides $3-5


Twitter: @AmericanMLTDWN