"Oui, Oui," said the French as they devised the Croque Monsieur, a fanciful sammie composed of respectable ingredients like crustless bread, Gruyere cheese, and ham grilled to elegant perfection. "USA, USA," shouted some Southern Californians as they took that very recipe, left on the crust, deep-fried the sandwich, and served it with jam. Uncle Sam's much more cholesterol-inducing version of the Croque Monsieur -- renamed the Monte Cristo -- became famous in the 1960s with the help of Disneyland eateries Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace. Since then, the Monte Cristo has been infused into the fabric of American diners. Its name, the Monte Cristo. Our game? In that same great competitive American spirit, we set out to find the best Monte Cristo sandwiches available with the help of foodies who share their opinions online.
Because we are not Monte Cristo purist snobs (and you better not be either -- if you are, you're denying yourself some of the tastiest sammies out there), our list isn't just made up of traditional Monte Cristo sandwiches composed of nothing more than fried ham and cheese, but Monte Cristos covered in powdered sugar, Monte Cristos served grilled, and Monte Cristos powered by French bread — all of them delicious, all of them worthy of a stop on our U.S. tour of the Monte Cristo. So whether traditional or a twist on the classic recipe, these 13 Monte Cristo sandwiches would make those SoCal guys (and you) still proud to be American.
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Cafe Orleans: Anaheim, California
Wait! Didn't we just say that Blue Bayou and Tahitian Terrace eateries in Disneyland took the Monte Cristo from local favorite to national diner must-have glory? Yes, yes we did. But in the years since these two mouse-approved restaurants first put Monte Cristo sammies on the food map, the Tahitian Terrace has tragically closed down. And as for Blue Bayou -- another Disneyland restaurant has taken over the title as the best Monte Cristo frier. If you see a Monte Cristo being enjoyed at Disneyland on TikTok, most of the time, it is whipped up at the Big Easy-inspired Cafe Orleans. And aside from offering an original Monte Cristo sandwich with turkey, ham, and Swiss cheese for all to savor, Cafe Orleans also offers hungry customers the chance to eat a triple cheese Monte Cristo sandwich. A sammie truly fit for a corporate mouse, this deep-fried creation is stuffed with brie, Swiss, and mozzarella -- no meat.
Neither version of the sandwich, however, lacks sweet. Disneyland's Monte Cristo sandwiches are dusted in powdered sugar and come with a side of preserves made from in-season fruit for premier sandwich dipping. Food lover and reviewer The Unvegan reported this combination of sweet and savory makes the sandwich a "tasty" and "destructive" meal. So, as much as it may hurt to say, those peppy Disney-bounding TikTokers with their constant smiles are correct in claiming Cafe Orleans as Disney's premiere Monte Cristo sandwich establishment.
Melt Bar And Grilled: Lakewood, Ohio
A drummer's intense adoration for grilled cheese led to the birth of the proudly Ohio-born and -operated institution called Melt Bar and Grilled, which after the immense success of its flagship location in Lakewood, Ohio, expanded and now has a total of eight grilled cheese-flipping eateries in the Buckeye State. But this restaurant doesn't just worship the altar of grilled cheese. It also prays to the god of Monte Cristo because Melt is one of the finest restaurants to deep-fry slices of meat and cheese between two pieces of beautifully battered bread. A Monte Cristo traditionalist's dream, Melt's deep-fried sammie goes the extra mile by piling two types of cheese -- Swiss and American -- and two types of meat -- honey ham and turkey -- onto one sandwich. That makes this sammie a monster of a meal with savory flavors that are rounded out with a powdered sugar topping and a sweet side of berry preserves.
But Melt Bar and Grilled's copious take on this diner classic isn't just some gimmick. Its Monte Cristo is the stuff of artery-clogging legend that's been a local favorite since the sandwich-oriented eatery first opened its doors in 2006. With a delicious bread that is fried to the perfect texture, foodies report Melt's Monte Cristo tastes like a savory funnel cake, making it, in the words of one reviewer on Yelp, "the Best Sanggie on the Planet!"
Jimmy J's Cafe: New Orleans, Louisiana
We've gone from the New Orleans-inspired Cafe Orleans to an actual New Orleans-based restaurant, so you would think that Monte Cristos must be as big a thing in NOLA as red beans and rice, right? You are absolutely incorrect. This is, foodies, what we call a strange coincidence. So while New Orleans does not claim the Monte Cristo as one of its iconic foods, Jimmy J's, which is nestled in the French Quarter and known as "N'awlins' Funkiest Lil' Café" (those are the eatery's words, per its website, not ours), serves a French Toast Monte Cristo that is a foodie favorite. It has turned up the whole brunchy concept of the powdered-sugar-dusted Monte Cristo to maximum power.
This loaded sammie is not only stacked with ham (the high-quality Nueske's shaved variety) and American cheese but also features bacon. All of that deliciousness is then pan-grilled and served in decadent maple syrup to create a Monte Cristo that no local or touristy vagabond partier has been capable of forgetting. This recipe has been referred to by happy (and full) Tripadvisor reviewers as "second to none" and the "perfect combination of savory and sweet." One impassioned food lover reports that by ordering this Monte Cristo, you'll "think you died and went to food heaven!"
Mudtown Eat And Drink: Vestavia Hills, Alabama
Are you ready? Are you positive? Because we're not sure you're really prepared for Mudtown Eat and Drink's hotter-than-life version of a cheese-and-meat-filled Monte Cristo that's sprinkled with powdered sugar. A local favorite, Mudtown is situated in a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, but its Monte Cristo's tastiness cannot be tied down to one city. This dish was actually named one of the best eats in Alabama by the state's tourism department.
Why? Because Mudtown's Monte Cristo has turned everyone's favorite deep-fried sandwich into a grilled, egg-battered treat by adding sweet and tangy honey mustard and crunchy pickles to the turkey, ham, and pepper jack cheese. And, most notably, this Southern-blooded Monte Cristo is served with a side of pepper jelly, which, according to foodies, is what really makes the sandwich's flavors holler. In fact, in the words of one Yelp reviewer, to achieve delicious Monte Cristo enlightenment, you should go to Mudtown, order the Monte Cristo, and "just go ahead and pour all that pepper jelly on the sandwich. So good."
Mama's On Washington Square: San Francisco, California
If one day you find yourself wandering through the streets of the so-called "City of Golden Gate" during prime brunching hours, you may happen upon a mind-boggling line wrapping around a quaint building. Odds are you have stumbled across the iconic Mama's on Washington Square restaurant. And it's very likely many people in that line are waiting, eagerly, hungrily, to get a taste of one of matron Mama's iconic Monte Cristo sandwiches.
Mama's famous Monte — no, really, famous is part of the sandwich's name on the menu — is a savory fiend of the Monte Cristo sammie that, like at Melt Bar and Grilled, features two types of meat and two types of cheese. Packed full of turkey breast and honey-baked ham and finished off with sharp cheddar and Gruyere, this sammie is grilled to order and served with a side of homemade jam. It's filled with delectable textures and tastes. One Yelp reviewer reports the sandwich tastes so good that they would drive the six hours it would take to get back to the restaurant just for the chance to experience it again. So we can only echo that Yelp foodie's sentiment professing their love for the creator of this popular dish: "Ily mama."
Ida Claire: Addison, Texas
For Monte Cristo lovers in Texas, a brunchy, powdered-sugar-dusted Monte Cristo beast waits to be eaten. Its lair? A Dallas-area restaurant with a vinyl music happy hour and an eclectic interior that is every Southern hippie Mawmaw's dream. The Monte Cristo is available at all three of Ida Claire's Southern locations, but the one at its original eatery in the Dallas suburb of Addison is a must-try for fans of the sandwich.
This breakfast-oriented Monte is stuffed with Texas-sized amounts of crispy bacon and delicious country ham. However, instead of utilizing sharp cheddar or Swiss, Ida Claire adds made-to-melt aged white cheddar. This is a move that one Tripadvisor reviewer reports makes the sandwich "heaping, cheesy and delicious!" And according to foodies who have conquered this tasty Monte Cristo, Ida Claire puts all of these delectable ingredients on the grill between two huge slices of French toast bread. So essentially, this Monte Cristo is almost like a savory-sweet pancake you can eat with your hands. But when you stop at Ida Claire's on your Monte Cristo taste-testing road-trip, don't forget to dip your sammie in the strawberry jam served on the side. Many advocate that that's one of the most important parts of this delicious Monte Cristo experience.
Chaps: Spokane, Washington
In a far corner of Washington state sits a small cafe surrounded by greenery that is oft-cited as the best kept secret in Spokane. Welp! That is until Guy Fieri, fresh-frosted tips in tow, ends up spilling the beans on his reality TV show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. If the small but locally loved Chaps Diner and Bakery wants to keep its operation hush-hush and safe from the show's TV-making wrath, it shouldn't make such irresistible food, and if it doesn't want to end up on our list, it should immediately cease making one of the nation's best Monte Cristos.
The cafe serves a massive-sized Monte Cristo grilled up on tantalizingly powdered French bread. Foodies report this sammie's ham, turkey and Swiss cheese flavors are brought to new heights thanks to two rather unusual ingredients. Chaps uses Parmesan frico and grilled lemon as a part of its Monte Cristo assembly process, which gives this savory-sweet lunch a new flavor dimension that is only emphasized by the side of freezer jam it comes with — and if you didn't know, freezer jam tends to taste fresher than regular jam on account of being frozen rather than boiled to sweet, jammy completion. No wonder Chaps calls its famous Monte Cristo "an all day long hit" on Instagram.
Purple Parrot: Reno, Nevada
And now for our list's "Who'd a thunk it" entry — an all-day breakfast-serving eatery known as the Purple Parrot. That sounds standard enough, but here's the part that's going to make you go "huh!" This colorfully named restaurant is situated inside the casino portion of the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada. However, if Atlantis guests spinning slots get a hankering for something to fuel their winning (or, more likely, losing) streak, they may go to the Purple Parrot and unknowingly order one of the best Monte Cristos they've ever had.
A powdered-sugar-dusted and fried-to-serve version of the diner staple, the Purple Parrot's Monte Cristo is another sammie with a "why choose just one?" cheese philosophy. This sandwich layers Swiss and American cheese as well as a generous amount of ham onto two slices of bread before all the ingredients are fried. Uniquely, the Purple Parrot doesn't serve its sammie with jam but instead with a ready-to-eat strawberry compote. This is a delectable addition to a delectable Monte Cristo that one professional chef and certified Monte Cristo head on Tripadvisor compared to one he had at Disneyland -- a high honor, as we've established. In fact, after that same chef's visit to the Purple Parrot, as is the case with many of those who partake in the diner's signature sandwich, the foodie wasn't thinking about the big wins and losses at the casino, but instead, was dreaming about that Monte Cristo.
Storm Castle Cafe: Bozeman, Montana
Next up is another spot sniffed out by celebrity chef Guy Fieri — a lover of all things flame print and, obviously, all things Monte Cristo. But on the fateful Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives episode in question, Fieri was never the same after he tasted his way into Bozeman, Montana, where he was introduced to the Storm Castle Cafe. This small eatery's co-founders produce all the fruits and veggies and raise the pigs and cows for the meat that ends up in their customers' dishes -- and, namely, in their French Toast Monte Cristo. A meal that Fieri, a man who's eaten many a sandwich, called "next level."
Like many Monte Cristo sandwiches, this magical sammie stuffs Swiss cheese and ham (its ham does stand out because it is from those aforementioned family-farm fresh hogs) between two pieces of French bread. After it preps the French bread, Storm Castle then assembles the Monte Cristo, dunking the entire sandwich in pancake batter before sticking it in the fryer. And when the sammie is fried up to proper pancake-y, French-toasty glory, this mouthwatering Monte Cristo is served with seasonal syrup -- made in-house, of course. Controversially, the unique taste of Storm Castle Cafe's Monte Cristo has left not just Fieri, but also many foodies across the nation to claim this take on the sammie as the best Monte Cristo in the U.S. and perhaps, for some passionate Storm Castle Cafe Monte Cristo believers, even the world.
T.P. Crockmier's: Mobile, Alabama
Okay, so we have established that the Monte Cristo is, by all means, a Yankee dish. However, despite our next pick's aggressively Southern menu and origins (the restaurant was started by the Southern society man it was named after and serves oyster PoBoys for crying out loud), the Mobile, Alabama-based T.P. Crockmier's has crafted a version of the Cali-born dish that far outdoes most of the Monte Cristos being whipped up by the eatery's Northern competitors.
Perhaps the most savory Monte Cristo on our list (excited yet?), this sammie is brimming with Swiss, ham, and turkey and is grilled rather than fried to get its cheese gooey and its meat beautifully browned. But then comes the extra savory part. Aside from skipping out on the powdered sugar topping, T.P. Crockmier's swaps the jam that the 10 Monte Cristo purist commandments deem needs to be present when eating the dish with -- not syrup -- but tangy homemade honey mustard. The restaurant's bold dedication to the savory Monte Cristo has been a smash hit with local and tourist foodies alike, with one Tripadvisor reviewer reporting the eatery's Monte Cristo was "the best I've ever had." So it doesn't take a food critic to see that this less sweet version of the dish gives Storm Castle Cafe's sammie (and every other take of the Monte Cristo on this list) a savory run for its money.
Cornerstone: Genesee Depot, Wisconsin
We've discussed a lot of inventive takes on the Monte Cristo's classic recipe, and these sammies are all fine and very delicious -- but sometimes, when you want a Monte Cristo sandwich, you just want a, well, good, old-fashioned Monte Cristo sandwich. And in the small town of Genesee Depot, Wisconsin, lives a quaint, homey restaurant that upholds one of the most classic and tasty sweet-savory Monte Cristo recipes known to mankind.
Rightfully called the Cornerstone, this eatery fries up ham, turkey, white bread, and just the right amount of Swiss cheese to make its famous Monte Cristo that's splattered with powdered sugar. However, foodies have been excited to find that the Cornerstone brings to the table both a delicious sammie and a delicious side of raspberry jam -- which is generally considered the OG dipping sauce for the sandwich by many Monte Cristo lovers. And so Cornerstone's perfect execution of these classic -- even cornerstone -- Monte Cristo elements has made many Monte Cristo diehards absolutely hooked to this small-time eatery's big-tasting version of the sandwich.
The Vortex: Atlanta, Georgia
We did quaint, but now let's do crazy — as in the Crazy Cristo -- served up by a wild and rowdy bar concept with two locations in Atlanta, Georgia. With decor featuring such fixtures as a huge wooden phallus (just Google it, and all will be revealed) and a skeleton riding a motorcycle suspended from the ceiling, The Vortex serves up a Monte Cristo that is, in fact, as outrageous as its name suggests.
This grilled sandwich packs a lot of flavor between its two simple toasted pieces of white bread -- crispy bacon, savory ham, smooth Swiss cheese, and silky chipotle cream cheese. And as expected, a powdered sugar topping is not cool enough for this Monte Cristo. Instead of ceremonial sugar, The Vortex douses the sammie in a jalapeño jelly that is both hot and sugary. Bursting with unique flavor and flair, The Vortex's Crazy Cristo is another sammie that many foodies have claimed to be the best version of the classic to ever cross their lips. That's likely why the sandwich is available at The Vortex only for weekend brunch -- if it were served all day every day, it'd become too powerful.
Bennigan's: Multiple Locations
There is one name that haunts the memories of all Monte Cristo lovers — Bennigan's. Yes, Bennigan's, the restaurant chain with a whole schtick about being an Irish pub-themed eatery that serves U.S. favorites. No, that doesn't really make sense. But what does make beautiful, wonderful, sensible sense is Bennigan's World Famous Monte Cristo. So iconic is Bennigan's Monte Cristo that while the brand did not invent the recipe, it did launch National Monte Cristo Day (held every September 17th).
But while this sandwich is mythical, it's also relatively simple. Bennigan's beloved Monte Cristo consists of a fried turkey, ham, and American and Swiss cheese sandwich that is dusted with powdered sugar and completed with a side of red raspberry preserves. And really, when all is said and done, what more do you need in a Monte Cristo? That's why although the chain was forced to close its doors due to bankruptcy in 2008, some people were going crazy from Bennigan's FOMO -- which also explains the sheer number of copycat recipes you can find online for the Bennigan's sandwich. Bankruptcy was only a temporary setback. Bennigan's has begun setting up shop again in certain U.S. locations. You can find a Bennigan's (and its iconic Monte Cristo) in Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Michigan, and North Dakota. So now it's your turn to spread the word — head out on your horse at midnight, and let the hungry masses know the king of Monte Cristo still lives.
To determine the best Monte Cristo sandwiches in the U.S., we took to the internet where we looked for real life foodies' reviews of some of the most delectable Monte Cristo sammies in the nation. The restaurants we selected for this list were the ones that customers and food reviewers most consistently deemed to be the best Monte Cristo makers.
Read the original article on Mashed.