9312 Mission Gorge Road, Santee
Grilled cheese sandwiches are great, but most foodies won’t drive out of their way to eat one — especially not to Santee.
But a Korean BBQ grilled cheese sandwich? Now that’s something special.
And it’s one of the specialty items at Cheesy Express, a hole-in-the-wall located inside of a gas station on the corner of Mission Gorge and Carlton Hills Boulevard.
The eatery has been open 10 months or so in the inside back corner of the gas station.
It’s doing well enough that the owner, Jason Daung, has been able to start a second stand-alone restaurant down in Mission Beach earlier this month.
One reason is the signature “J.D.’s Melt,” which combines beef marinated in bulgogi sauce (which is similar to teriyaki) with caramelized onions, pepper jack and sharp cheddar cheese on grilled French bread.
The sweet tanginess of the meat blends with the cheese and onions to create a dish that is very craveable for only $6.50.
Slightly more expensive at $7 is the BBQ N Mac, which combines pulled pork with macaroni and cheese, the onions, and sharp cheddar and American cheeses on grilled French bread.
It’s a good thing the sandwiches are shareable, because they’re very filling. They also reheat well.
The Veggie Goodness ($5) may be the best of the bunch. The onions blend nicely with the sundried tomatoes, basil pesto and Swiss cheese on wheat bread.
Of course, there is a traditional grilled cheese sandwich, but I’m not driving out to Santee for something I can make at home.
I might drive out for the Fancy P&B Melt, a grilled brioche filled with peanut butter, chocolate chips and bananas.
Because Cheesy Express is located inside a gas station, it is lacking in romantic ambiance. Also, things like soda and chips have to be purchased separately at the gas station check out.
The food is good, but the staff can only make about five sandwiches at a time and can get backed up when there are big orders — like mine.
While I was waiting, a man behind me ordered the Zuckerman’s Crunch, which is ham, bacon and American cheese on French bread. He was getting pretty anxious.
This may not be an issue at the new Mission Beach location (3129 Mission Boulevard), which can handle about 20 sandwiches at a time, according to Daung.
It’s been a few weeks since I went to Cheesy Express but I’m starting to crave one of the Korean BBQ sandwiches.
It’s a bummer that I have to drive to Santee, but it is a short drive away from Mission Trails Park, the perfect place to walk off the extra calories.