The Top Ten Patty Melts in San Francisco for Around $10
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Patty melts have been a favorite sandwich of mine before I knew they had a name. Growing up in the hood, you had one type of bread for everything: sandwich bread. Sandwich bread for hamburgers, sandwich bread for toast, sandwich bread with garlic seasoning salt as an accompaniment to your spaghetti. I didn’t eat a hot dog inside an actual hot dog bun until I was 20. So, eating a hamburger patty between two faux-wheat sandwich bread slices and some grilled onions from the Wedgewood griddle were not uncommon in my mother’s kitchen. I can remember my first patty melt.
There existed a tiny eatery on the corner of 16th and G streets in Sacramento, Earl of Sandwich. It was your classic 1980s hole-in-the-wall: dimly lit, a dozen rotating stools and one long communal counter facing the window that wrapped the entire west side. The type of place that slices your hot dog in half and chars is on the flat top. I remember that moment of wanting to venture beyond the usual hot dog my mom would order for me. Patty melt. How could I not like it? I liked tuna melts and I sure as hell didn’t know anyone named Patty who lived in the hood, so it sounded exotic. What I received nestled in a red basket with gingham patterned paper, sliced in two halves, and crinkle cut fries was not exotic. “It’s a hamburger,” I replied. I had disappointed my fleeting independence.
I grabbed one half of the hamburger and bit into it. The smell of the rye bread wafted into my nostrils; medicinal and floral. The bread was toasted and crunchy, buttery and sour, yet bitter like black treacle. The sweet onions still had texture and the edges were brown. The patty crusty from a heavy peppering and shrouded in that one and only American cheese slice. What the hell were people wasting their time on hamburgers for when they could be basking in the juices of a melting Patty.
Patty melts have suddenly seen a surge in their popularity, being elevated to feed the bellies and nostalgic curiosities of hipsters and along with that comes an elevated price tag. But, I will not pay your $15 (without fries) grass-fed, in-house made levain, organic onion dug up by rescued lab bunnies along the wild coast of the Marin Headlands. And so that I say…here is a list of Patty Melts, some that come with fries, for around $10. Ok, honestly, it’s more like $11. But, at least you get fries! Mostly.
1. The Melt
For $8.49 you can purchase their Patty Melt (grilled angus & wagyu burger patty, sweet, caramelized onions, melted swiss and provolone cheese with spicy mustard on our fresh artisan bread). But, for $6.49 you can customize the Mac Daddy (creamy mac ‘n’ cheese, sharp & medium cheddar, smoked bacon, crispy onions), add a burger patty for $2.49 and create your very own Patty Melt with bacon and mac ’n’ cheese for under $10.
925 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
2. Mo’s Grill
$11 | Their Patty Melt comes with two pieces of American cheese, grilled onions on sourdough.
[North Beach//Telegraph Hill]
1322 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
3. Papa Maks
Under $10 | Beef Patty, Swiss Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Mak Sauce on Marble Rye. Comes with house made kettle chips.
3755 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122
Have you ever walked out of TPS still hungry? Fuck no. Their self-proclaimed “old-school” version comes on grilled rye with melted swiss and a side of fries.
1451 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
5. Bill’s Place
Around $11 | Grilled onions, cheddar cheese and rye bread. Side of hand cut french fries.
2315 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94121
6. Bayside Cafe is rumored to have a legit old-school patty melt and fries for under $10 and you can order a side of fried sweet plantain.
2011 Bayshore Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94134
Around $11 | Don’t be afraid of a little cheesy, slapstick, nostalgia. Just as long as these delicious patty melts keep coming in with grilled onions, 1/3 pound beef patties, swiss cheese and rye. With fries. Or, onion rings.
[Laurel Heights//Inner Richmond]
3355 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94118
LG has some eccentric ideas when it comes to the Patty Melt. They opt for Sourdough, muenster cheese, griddled onions, lettuce, tomato and little griddle sauce. Or, chuck out the sourdough and substitute french toast for their patty melt mashup, RIP Lucifer. Ok, I’m running a little fast and loose with this one.
1400 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
9. It’s tops
Around $11 | Opening up in 1938, It’s Tops coffeeshop on Market and Octavia is celebrating its 80th. The same family has owned the coffeeshop since 1952, when the brother and sister inherited the business from their father, Richard Chapman, in 1986. Since then they’ve “made some changes by adding late night hours, an espresso bar, and soju cocktails bar.” Their Patty Melt is as classic as it can get, American cheese, beef patty, griddled onions on rye. Comes with fresh cut fries.
1801 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
10. Art’s Cafe
Around $8 | Conveniently located on the corner of 9th and Irving, a mere step or two off the N-Judah. This cash only institution constantly has a gauntlet of hash browns on their flat top for their hash brown sandwiches, a killer Tofu Jun Plate (grilled tofu topped with thin pieces of marinated beef) rice and kimchi plate and a satisfying patty melt with fries.
747 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122