3 of a Kind: Stepped-Up Tuna Melts

Instead of serving the mayo-heavy tuna salads of the past, restaurants are reinventing the comfort food with stellar ingredients.

3 of a Kind checks out three places across the country to try something cool, new and delicious.

Just like fashion trends, food trends sometimes follow the “everything old is new again” adage. Take the tuna melt, for example. This tried-and-true diner classic is back in style, albeit with a twist.

Instead of serving the mayo-heavy tuna salads of the past, restaurants are reinventing the comfort food with stellar ingredients and a little less of the creamy goop. The combination makes for a stepped-up sandwich with a bit of nostalgia in every bite.

Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine

Given that farmers turned restaurateurs Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell place a priority on impeccable ingredients, it’s no surprise that the tuna melt they serve has been receiving acclaim since the diner opened. In their take on the classic comfort staple, a traditional tuna salad is sandwiched between a layer of crunchy iceberg lettuce and a blanket of melted cheese. A topping of homemade bread-and-butter pickles adds a little sweetness. Holding the sandwich together is thick-cut challah bread, which is griddled in butter to create a flaky crust.

BOA Steakhouse, Santa Monica

Don’t expect your typical diner tuna melt here. As with every other menu item at this California steakhouse, exacting care is put into each element of the dish. For instance, the albacore tuna that’s used is smoked in-house. Once ready, it’s mixed with mayo, celery, salt, espelette pepper, lemon juice, red onion and tarragon. The resulting tuna salad is then slathered on sourdough bread, topped with melted Muenster cheese and finished with an oven-dried tomato and avocado.

Though it’s an off-menu option, the tuna melt has become a popular order for diners in the know at this seafood-driven restaurant. The sandwich features a housemade albacore tuna salad smothered with bubbling cheddar cheese and finished with local Mighty Vine tomatoes and fresh avocado. It all comes served between two slices of freshly toasted wheat bread.

Inspired to make your comfort food favorites? Up the ante and try these fun recipes:

Photos courtesy of Greta Rybus, BOA Steakhouse and Hugo’s Frog Bar

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