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How One of NYC’s Oldest Diners Makes a Classic Tuna Melt

Old John’s Luncheonette has been making the sandwich the same way since 1951

Opened in 1951, Old John’s Luncheonette is one of New York City’s oldest diners. After being forced to close in 2020, the restaurant reopened in 2021 and has been working on modernizing the old-fashioned diner concept.

On top of elaborating on diner dishes like roasted short ribs, apple cinnamon pancakes, and more, it also serves classic recipes from when the diner opened, like the tuna melt.

The Old John’s kitchen team starts with a bowl of drained tuna and adds relish, chopped celery, giardiniera, cornichons, onion, red bell pepper, parsley, dill, and tarragon before tossing the mixture together by hand.

“We serve it in all sorts of ways,” says chef Victor Milan. “In sandwiches or in salads, as requested.”

Once all those ingredients are mixed together, Milan adds condensed mayo to finish it.

Watch the full video to see how Milan and the rest of the team at Old John’s are helping modernize diner food.


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