This week, Where to Eat columnist emeritus Pete Wells has an ode to the patty melt that will send you running to one of the six New York City restaurant versions he spotlights, or the nearest diner.
Patty melts, after all, have long been the bread and butter (and caramelized onions) of the old-school diner, institutions that are in increasingly short supply in New York, but to quote “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” are “not dead yet.”
I grew up with Waffle House as my go-to diner and, for the record, I like my double hash browns smothered. Once I moved to New York, I nursed many a hangover at Tina’s Place in Bushwick, around for more than 80 years. Later I became fascinated with diners for millennials, by millennials like Golden Diner and Baby Blues Luncheonette, but I always come home to the unfussy and affordable comfort of the old school.
The New York diner in your head
I recently had one of the best patty melts of my young life on a trip to Arizona. (Should you ever find yourself in Black Canyon City, please stop by the Rock Springs Café to try it.) Before that, my most recent run-in with a patty melt was at Manhattan Diner on the Upper West Side.
I don’t recall the particulars of the patty melt — other than it being exactly what I was expecting and craving; a back-to-basics patty melt with Swiss cheese and onions on grilled rye — but Manhattan Diner is a New York diner in all its familiar glory. The menu is as long as a CVS receipt and so wide-ranging that our waiter kindly forgot about us in favor of serving customers who actually knew what they wanted. Craving calamari, pancakes, rigatoni Bolognese and an espresso martini? You can get it all here.