What is a patty melt? Created in the 1940s and 50s, the patty melt is a burger with three main ingredients: gooey cheese, beef patty, and grilled onions on buttered and toasted bread. I ventured out in Champaign-Urbana to taste a couple of variations of this old classic.
Patty Melt | Merry Ann’s Diner
The first stop on this patty melt tour was Merry Ann’s. This diner provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner options at an affordable price. The patty melt, priced at $6.50 with chips, held the integrity of the original form: American cheese, two beef patties, and grilled white onions on toasted rye bread. It was juicy and meaty, and the cheese paired well with the crunchiness of the bread. For its price and availability, the burger was delicious. It is a great meal for an early lunch or a late-night snack after work or study session.
Merry Ann’s Diner
1510 S. Neil St
7 a.m. to 10 p.m., daily
Paddy’s Melt | Murphy’s Pub
Next I visited Murphy’s Pub in Campustown. Murphy’s is a traditional Irish pub, so the menu consisted of many Irish-related names including the patty melt which was interestingly named Paddy’s Melt ($8.75). The melt had the same structure as Merry Ann’s, but it differed with swiss cheese and toasted marbled rye bread. The bread had a cool swirl aesthetic that fit with the aura of the pub. The flavor was also very mild, but the texture of the patty was soft which I enjoyed. I also ordered a side of waffle fries ($0.90 extra) which were delicious: crunchy on the outside and fluffy in the center. They also provided a good amount of them.
604 E Green St
11 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily
Main Street Cheeseburger (with a twist) | The Courier Café
The Courier Café was my third stop. When I glanced at the menu, I saw that they did not have a patty melt. After I asked, I found out that they do not sell them. However, my server was gracious to offer that they could create one. I ordered my melt as a spin of the Main Street Cheeseburger ($7.75). Even though the burger looked similar to a cheeseburger with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions on the side, and even thousand island dressing, the bread was not as crispy as the previous ones. Nevertheless, the exceptional service and delicious taste made those details insignificant to me. I also ordered a plate of their delicious Skinny Dippers ($6.95) which consisted of a layer of thinly sliced fried potatoes with cheddar cheese, chives, bacon, and sour cream.
111 N Race St
T-Th 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
F+Sa 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Su 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Patty Melt | Goldy’s Bar and Grill
The fourth patty melt on my tour was from Goldy’s Bar and Grill priced at $6.50, fries for an additional $1. When I took the first bite, I quickly realized that the burger was formed by hand — which I appreciated because it had a distinctive taste. Looking back to the menu, I saw that they used fresh ground angus chuck. I believed this choice contributed to the soft texture of the patty and its delectable taste. Other ingredients include grilled chopped onions with swiss cheese on grilled rye bread. The fries were also really flavorful. Overall, a unique and tasty meal.
Goldy’s Bar and Grill
123 S Mattis Ave
11 a.m. to 2 a.m., daily
The Fatty Melt | Bunny’s Tavern
The last destination of my journey was Bunny’s Tavern. I have never been to this location, and the outside of the building was minimal and mysterious which I found to be very inviting. Upon walking in, I saw nice wooden tables and a vast array of alcohol on the wall. I could see why this place is called “the best kept secret in Downtown Urbana.” The menu had a good number of burgers, but my eyes zoomed in on The Fatty Melt ($7.95) that definitely lived up to its name. It was huge and included creamy Swiss cheese, sautéed mushrooms, and red onions that provided a savory taste. It was served on a buttered, thick Texas toast that soaked up the juices of the flavor-packed double patties. This also came with a side of thousand island dressing and a bag of potato chips. If you are looking for something to fill you up while drinking at the bar, I recommend this hefty and mouth-watering sandwich.
119 W Water St
M-F 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Sa + Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.