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Jun 26, 2008 05:02 PM

When is a patty melt not a patty melt? (moved from CA)

Last weekend we went to one of our popular local independently owned San Diego East County restaurants. I ordered a patty melt, I have not had one in a long time and I was looking forward to having one.
To the best of my knowledge and my many, I mean many, years of experience eating patty melts, I've always gotten, and have come to expect a ground beef patty, of varying degrees of quality and fat content, topped with a slice of Swiss cheese and grilled onion. It is then placed between two slices of rye bread, again of varying degrees of quality, and grilled until a toasty brown and adequately greasy.
You can imagine my disappointment when anticipating a nice hot, greasy, cheesy, onion-y patty melt I was served a ground beef patty between two slices of Kraft American cheese slices, yes, the kind that you can buy individually wrapped, (you know, the stuff you buy to wrap the dog's pills in to get him to take them) on marbled un-toasted bread, that's it.
I wish now I would have gotten a picture of it but I sent it back because I knew the waitress picked up the wrong order. I was informed that, that is a patty melt.
A substandard cheeseburger does not a patty melt make.
This is only part of the story.

So, what do you expect when you order a patty melt?


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  1. Being a great fan of the Patty Melt, I would expect just as you described as in the first part of your post. I would have been VERY dissapointed had I received what you did. The bread needs to be of the correct texture and thicjness as well as grilled with butter. Attached is a pic of the best patty melt I have had, good jucy meat (not cooked well done) swiss cheese (I know it looks yellow but it really was swiss) and grilled onions. The place is Max's diner in the Bay Area. That all I ever order there!

    2 Replies
    1. re: MofCarson

      thanks a lot mofcarson, after seeing that pic, now i have to go find an amazing patty melt to eat here at quarter of eight in the morning!

      1. re: MofCarson

        I have fond memories of the Max's Patty Melt as well. The thousand island dressing and the extra seedy bread puts it over the top.

      2. For me, it's the buttery toasted rye bread that makes the patty melt. I'd have felt gypped, too, if I were served what you were.

        1. OK, now I don't feel so bad about the last patty melt I ordered. It had all the elements: hamburger patty, grilled onions, swiss, was toasted, but not what I'd call grilled (not enough butter to do the job) , but the thing that boggled my mind was that it needed salt. What kind of diner doesn't salt their burgers? Calories like that shouldn't count. But in answer to your question, the minimum expectation is: hamburger, grilled onions, swiss, on grilled rye bread.

          1. A proper patty melt requires a person to reach for the napkin after each time you touch the sandwich.

            1. I've always known a patty melt to include a patty of ground beef, swiss cheese, grilled onions, and thousand island / russian dressing on toasted (buttered and grilled) rye bread. I notice nobody else has mentioned the dressing yet. Is this unusual?

              4 Replies
              1. re: antrobin

                I have had thousand island on a sandwich SIMILAR to a patty melt before, but I don't know that I would call that a patty melt. It was more like a misbegotten reuben. Toasted, buttered rye, caramelized onions and a cheeseburger is the definitive patty melt.

                1. re: JungMann

                  I think every patty melt I've ever had was dressed with a bit of yellow mustard.

                  1. re: coney with everything

                    I've never had a patty melt with any condiment on it.

                2. re: antrobin

                  No, the dressing bit is not unusual. Mr. HR and I usually throw together a makeshift dressing when we make them at home. Haven't had one in a restaurant since I was a kid so I can't remember.

                  BTW talk of patty melts, makes my mouth water... it's Pavlovian!