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Johnnie's Pastrami... A Disappointment

Went to Johnnie's a few nights ago (around 1am) after a 4-5 year hiatus. I got to say I was really disappointed.

First, the pickle, which I remember loving and being very impressed with, was not as crunchy as it used to be. I good pickle, but not the amazing pickle that I remember.

Then we got some onion rings. They were unremarkable, probably frozen.

Then, of course, the pastrami. Now I know that you cannot compare this type of pastrami to Langer's because doing so would not be fair. After all, there are two pastrami camps, the deli camp (Langer's) and the greasy spoon camp (Johnnie's). To do Johnnie's some justice, I would say that the actual pastrami meat is probably the best greasy spoon pastrami meat I have eaten. The roll it came on, however, was a terrible piece of airy bread that was just disappointing. The overall sandwich was nothing that special.

The real nail in the coffin were the prices. I am amazed at the audacity of Johnnie's to charge $9+ for a greasy spoon pastrami, when one could go to Langer's and get the real deal for an almost equal price. I just don't get it. Yes, I know it's open late and that's its main draw, but when I take into the food, high prices, and other late night options, I have to permanently reject Johnnie's from my list.

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  1. That is the nature of all fast food operations in that immediate intersection. Quick in, slow out, and disappointing grub.
    But at 1a.m., your options are few and then tend to take advantage.
    But at noon there is no reason whatsoever!

    1. Agree, Johnnie's has seen better days.

      1. I happen to enjoy their chili dogs.

        Just had one, as a matter of fact.

        It's a chili dog you have to eat with a knife and fork, too "wet" to pick up. But the chili is meaty and has a nice spice. The hot dog is is grilled and crisp.

        I go to JP for a chili dog and a cold beer. JP's beer is nice and cold.

        1. Apparently, the "better days" were about 20 years ago. For some time, Johnnie's has charged too much for too little, with very little taste because the pastrami has the flavor steamed or boiled out of it. Find a Hat and enjoy!

          1 Reply
          1. re: oldusedcop

            My brother went to a hat in Lakewood? He said it was nothing special and that the local "tomboys"-we live in Mnahattan Beach- had a better pastrami then the Hat.--Don't drive to MB for TB's pastrami chowers, all he said was that he liked it better than the hat's. We should just go to the original, and i'm sure that'll take care of it.

          2. the last time i went there, the meat was so fatty. i used to love this place and thought it was so good - but when the meat is more fat than meat, it's just gross. it's really too bad b/c it used to be delicious.

            i now get the hoagie steak at philly west for my greasy sandwich cravings. it's so good!

            1. How does it compare to the Hat?

              1. I can't help but feel really ripped off at Johnnie's. Would much rather cross Sepulveda and get a Philly Cheesesteak at Markie D's (??? -- is that what it's called?). Or head up to Venice and east to the Togo's in the center with the coffee place and the Albertson's on the north across from the Wendy's. Or up to Palms and east to Motor and get a pastrami at Hervey's.

                1. Oh, man I loved their pickles... The pastrami was good, but not memorable, but the pickles. I used to order their chili size about 20 years ago. I guess I won't be going back. Too bad. Thanks for the info.

                  1. Go to The Hat for great pastrami and beef(which I prefer) dips. Some of the best french fries I've ever had, too. Haven't had the O-Rings yet.

                    Last time i was at The Hat in Simi around 6 months ago the sandwich was $6.79.

                    1. Let this be another endorsement of The Hat's fries, they are healthy sized, not skinny and greasy, and taste like real potatoes.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ChinoWayne

                        Yes to the FRIES! I love ordering the Wet Fries and get the gravy on the side. Big wholesome cuts of potato with brown gravy for dipping.

                      2. hat's pastrami is overated, too thin and it has alot of fat still on it. i rather go to golden ox and get a better cut. the fries ont eh other hand are great. try it with gravy, onions, and thousand island. I've also heard cottage cheese goes well with that gravy too.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: swindledestron

                          Sadly, on the westside all we have is Johnnies....no Hat...

                          But you are right, I do love the fries, love the onion rings at the Hat... the Pastrami... Eh... I perfer the Roast Beef and even that is not all that great...

                          But those Fries... Hmmm....

                          --Dommy!

                          1. I will be a voice for the other side and say I like Johnnie's. Don't like the prices, but their Pastrami with spicy mustard and a couple of spicy pickles is a great, hot, spicy concoction. Not for pastrami purists or those with acid reflux, but very tasty in my opinion.

                            1. golden ox there's one in montebello, another one in elmonte. nto the best of neighborhoods. but u get what u paid for. if have to stay near middle of town for a decent sandwhich, i rather just get a phillpe. but hat has slipped in terms of their pastrami, burgers are ok though.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: swindledestron

                                There is also a Golden Ox in Pomona. Not sure if it's owned by the same owner as the Montebello or El Monte locations.

                              2. Johnny's charges too much for a small sandwich of pastrami that has had the taste steamed or boiled out of it.

                                1. Wow I haven't realized how long it's been since I've gone to Johnnie's. I hope it hasn't changed so much. I'll have to go again.

                                  1. OK, I'll weigh in (again) on Johnnie's. Since it's close to home, I'm "forced" to go there to satisfy my pastrami itch. And depending on your mood when you eat it, the pastrami sandwich can range from good to decent to somewhat disappointing. I've had days where I thought "wow, this works," whereas my last visit was "the other half of this sandwich is history." If you pit it against The Hat's pastrami, I'd say the Hat wins in a pinch. It's just a taste preference - the texture for both is about the same.

                                    The pickles? Epic, imho. Great spicy taste to go w/your sandwich.

                                    As for Johnnie's fries, I am very partial to the crinkle-cut variety and Johnnie's gets high marks for theirs.

                                    Johnnie's hamburgers usually go unreported, but are pretty good.

                                    Prices: no comment (If you think $9 for a sandwich is bad, try Fish and Chips in London at $18)

                                    When you dine at 1:00 a.m., you're options are pretty limited in that neighborhood.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: cagey

                                      innout, 5.30 for a double double combo infinitely destroys 10 bucks for shitty pastrami

                                      1. re: cagey

                                        I agree with cagey. Yes, the prices are high but that's the way it is with everything these days isn't it? I think Johnnie's is pretty good. I like the fast service and atmosphere. Only once did i think it was kinda salty out of probably the fifty times I've been. Maybe it was better before I moved down to that area, but it still satisfies my cravings.

                                        1. re: jessisthebest11

                                          i wouldn't mind paying more for a better sandwich (ala langers) but high prices for a mediocre sandwich = WTF

                                          for the price of johnnie's might as well go to Jerry's Deli

                                        2. re: cagey

                                          You may have tried Markie D's about a block away. The sandwiches are different - they're hoagies and cheesesteaks - but the fries come in two varieties: the "criss-cut phries," which are quite good, and the, "seasoned curly phries," which are dipped in a seasoned batter. Both hit high on the "fries" scale.

                                          Unfortunately, they don't do late night like Johnnie's.