DINING| For a burger, it’s J.G. Melon

Melon'sJ.G. Melon, in the heart of New York’s Upper East Side, is an institution.

Where to go for a stag dinner with one of your best friends who recently dropped the hammer and got engaged? J.G. Melon, of course.

It should come as no surprise that a guy like me would eventually get around to writing about Melon’s, the Upper East Side icon that’s served some of the best burgers in New York since 1972. During our year on Carnegie Hill, Mrs. F. and I traveled south on Third Avenue about a dozen times for one of the best burgers in New York. Since we departed on our suburban safari, we’ve remained devoted fans. And it’s been a long tradition for my St. Lawrence pals to gather there before — or after — a night on the town

So when it came time to plan a celebratory dinner for my old pal Tim, there was really no other choice. The call of delicious, beautifully seasoned and cooked hamburgers was too powerful to resist. Accompanied with signature cottage fries — cut in the shape of pickle slices — there’s nothing better for a simple and largely affordable dinner.

Far more crowded and noisier than its competitor to the north, Luke’s, Melon’s has a devoted following that includes socialites, celebrities and their hangers-on and politicians. Mayor Bloomberg is a particular fan, as the Times reported last month.

The place has made appearances in pop culture, too. Charlie, Fred and Tom drop by in Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan,” and the Stillman’s “Last Days of Disco” gang retreat to a Melon’s-inspired bar after nights at the club that stands in for 54.

Though it’s been there a scant 37 years — a short time when compared with equally important New York watering holes like, say, McSorley’s — Melon’s feels much older. The wait-staff is seasoned and, donned in signature navy-club ties and khakis, friendly. On the walls, beside large wooden menu boards and plaques that pay tribute to regulars, are paintings, prints and posters of all varieties of melons. It’s also safe to say that no music recorded after the Reagan administration will ever be heard as the jukebox is packed to the brim with classics from an earlier era.

It’s a relic of Old New York that’s a must-stop on any burger-lover’s itinerary.

J.G. Melon
1291 Third Ave. at 74th Street
New York, New 10021
(212) 744-0585

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