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Sep 27, 2007 05:37 PM

Patty Meltin' at the Jolly Jug

Don't get to El Monte much these days, but over the years I've gotten kinda fond of the old Jolly Jug on Peck Road, just a few blocks south of Lower Azusa, as a sort of SGV substitute for Pann's. Very different vibe, of course, being a STUFFY old-fashioned diner as opposed to a COOL old-fashioned diner, but I've always found the sandwiches to be well worth the trip.

So I just happened to be on Peck Road noonish today, and dropped in. Last time I was there (about 2 years ago) it was nice enough but a bit dingy and musty-smelling, and I was afraid it was on its way down. Today, however, it was very clean and tidy, and the CF twirly-bulbs in the overhead lights brightened up the room considerably. The place is now presided over by an Asian woman and two much younger Asian guys, very polite and friendly, and the menus are shiny-white plastic-coated items. Prices still quite reasonable, too. In my trips there I've had the Reuben, the Beefeater and the Club, trying a different one each time, so today I went for the Patty Melt, asking for grilled sourdough instead of rye, and a small side of coleslaw, and plain iced tap-water (since I was on the job and driving). The woman took my order, then a few minutes later stuck her head around the corner and asked, "Grilled onions?" to which I said, "Sure!"

Well, what can you say about something as basic as a patty melt, except that the hefty, golden-grilled slices of sourdough were excellent bread to start with, and done to a perfect crunch. The onions were not the slimy strings you get so often, but grilled just enough to soften the flavor and the bite. That's a nice slab of beef in there, too, not as huge as Pann's half-pounder but big enough for a middle-aged fat boy, and yes, the cheese was as synthetic as it gets, which is of course de rigeur. The fries could have spent a little more time in the basket, and the coleslaw was about two notches sweeter than I really like, but it made a truly satisfying lunch. It cost me just $7.50 before tax and tip, which I just now realized did not include the coleslaw. I'm sure it got left off the bill be of course I need to do the right thing and head back down there ASAP to make amends. I'll probably do that around noon one day...

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  1. Got to have a Patty Melt myself today. I went to Weiler's Deli on Victory. About the only place I eat them anymore. Never had one at Weoler's that wasn't perfectly cooked and their rye bread is the best.

    1. Will, that was a very nice write-up about the old “Jolly Jug.” Yeah, about the ambiance of that place – if those walls could speak. I did some work there about 25 years ago. The former owner (A Grand Lady) told me that before she took it over many decades before, and renovated the place which over the years became the old-fashioned diner it is today, it was once mainly a bar with a reputation of having a secret brothel upstairs. I found that hard to believe until I saw evidence, in what is now an attic, of several small rooms over the kitchen (now only partially present) painted and wall papered different colors and the outline of a small stairway against the kitchen wall going down to what is now the dinning room, which back then had a vaulted ceiling.

      I have eaten there off-and-on for over forty years. I have never had any of the sandwiches you mention. To me, and many, the beef dip with gravy is what the Jolly Jug is all about and that is what I have always ordered. I always sit at one of the rear booths, down past the rest room doors, overlooking Peck Road. I sit facing the entry (north) within sight of where the old stairway once climbed that kitchen wall. As I enjoy that perfectly toasted french roll, thin sliced beef with the extra bowl of thick flavorful gravy for dipping, I wonder what life was like back then when Peck Road was a main North / South roadway before the 605 changed history.

      Jolly Jug
      4264 Peck Rd
      El Monte, CA 91732-2114
      (626) 444-8425

      1 Reply
      1. re: JeetJet

        "Yeah, about the ambiance of that place – if those walls could speak." Ha! They used to speak pretty loudly of 50+ years of heavy cigarette smoking in there, but now they seem to have been finally scrubbed clean - or is that new wallpaper?

        One thing I didn't mention was how many people in there were regulars and knew each other, greeted each other and table-hopped to converse. Very pleasant place to spend time, and the good grub makes it even better.

      2. Will, I am utterly charmed by your posts. I must get a patty melt soon. Any suggestions on the westside?

        3 Replies
        1. re: whatsfordinner

          Depends on what you call "the Westside". To me, it's any address west of Main Street... ;-)

          I really haven't investigated that genre of food out in that part of town, except in such stolidly Middle-American outposts as the Santa Monica Norm's, at which I get only breakfast. I've seen recs for a couple of places around the Venice/MDR area, but never tried any, mostly because when I'm out that way I usually contrive either to put Pann's on my route back to Pasadena, or to drop in to some joint in Culver City.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Thanks, I'll try Pann's. I've been curious about that place.

          2. re: whatsfordinner

            Pann's is the place, and really not that far away from the westside. We go at least every other week. In the Marina Nichols has a pretty good version. In the same shopping center as the Von's / Savons and Jerry's Deli.


          3. My favorite patty melt can be found at Brent's...I go to the Northridge one but I think they have a couple of other deli's in the LA area...Their rye is delicious as is, but made even better when grilled and filled with a patty, carmelized onions and melty cheese...YUM!