Posterity will remember J.G. Melon as a classic and coveted New York institution. Make your way into this cave set upon a cozy Upper East corner, where the timeless vibe and cheery staff make up most of its allure. Drinks are steadily churned out at a dark wood bar, so arrive early to avoid the hordes. The focus at this multi-generational saloon is the burger-perhaps paired with a lip-smacking Bloody Mary at brunch? The warm toasted bun topped with meat cooked on a griddle to rosy pink is coupled with onions, pickles, and crispy crinkle-cut fries. Be forewarned: you will go through the entire stack of napkins before finishing. Other simple pleasures include standards like salads, steaks, and eggs. Seal the meal with a chocolate chip-studded layer cake.
Feeling like the food scene is delivering too many artisan versions of the patties you enjoyed as a kid with your choice of classic toppings? This spot, located on the Upper East Side has got your back. A cash only establishment full of ephemera from their years flipping burgers and serving up ruffle-cut fries, this spot is the place to go for a no-fuss, no frills burger experience.
Just like the green checkered tablecloths and melon-covered walls, the griddle at J.G Melon’s Upper East Side institution, coated in years of seasoning, is a thing of pure beauty. “That burger is a classic. When I think about a burger, the J.G. burger is what comes to mind,” says editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport. “It’s fried ‘til crisp and perfectly greasy on that flat-top griddle and blanketed in melted American cheese, and sandwiched between squishy toasted hamburger buns. The pickles and onion it’s served with are all it needs. And cottage fries. And maybe a vodka soda.”
This burger and beer joint has been popular ever since it opened in 1972 at the corner of Third Avenue and 74th. It was quickly discovered by local politicians, writers, actors and various Kennedys and became an impromptu classic. Lines for tables at the tiny place (medium-length bar, four small tables up front, ten or so in the back, miniature short-order kitchen smack dab in the middle) on weekend nights haven’t abated since.
My favorite bar burger, bar none. All the fancy stuff can come and go, but this is the burger I grew up on, and it holds a special place in my heart. Order it with cottage fries and spinach salad on the side.