I recently heard that September 17 is National Monte Cristo Day, so I set out to find about the best Monte Cristos in Jacksonville. Full disclosure: there really aren't that many of these sandwiches on First Coast menus. Which is a shame, because it seems a deep-fried ham and cheese sandwich covered in sugar and jam would be held up as a pinnacle of Southern cuisine. However, there are a few restaurants that make them, and these three seem to be the top contenders.
When I put the call out on Twitter for Jacksonville's favorite Monte Cristos, Kickbacks was the clear favorite. Twitter user @nomadpub called it "nap-inducing."
From the menu: "Three-layer sandwich with smoked ham, smoked turkey & Swiss cheese dipped in batter, deep fried & served with strawberry sauce topped with powdered sugar." $9.99
Secret Garden Cafe
Jacksonville Yelpers rave about this one. Gerald R., who took this photo, said "Makes me want to order 2 next time."
This one isn't completely deep fried like the others—instead only the bread is fried. It's then served open-faced and covered in strawberry jam. From the menu: "Deep fried gourmet bread topped, with black forest ham, smoked turkey, melted provolone cheese, strawberry jam, powdered sugar and garnished with a strawberry." $8.25
I'd actually never seen a Monte Cristo—or a fried sandwich, for that matter—in real life until I went to Metro Diner. Their version is a huge, cheesy, deep-fried monster and it's my personal favorite.
From the menu: "Fried sourdough sandwich stuffed with turkey, ham, cheddar and American cheese, topped with powdered sugar. Served with raspberry preserves and your favorite side." $11.99