The chopped cheese sandwich is usually prepared on a sizzling bodega griddle. Hamburger patties are cleaved into ground beef, tossed with onions, and blanketed with plastic-y cheese. The whole melted mixture is heaped onto a toasted hero. Next come assorted toppings—shredded lettuce, a smattering of sliced tomatoes—and squiggles of ketchup and mayo.
“The best description, I would say, is a wonderful, magical sandwich,” says the rapper Bodega Bamz, a native of Spanish Harlem, in Hometown Hero: The Legend of New York’s Chopped Cheese, a new documentary from First We Feast.