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A Johnnie's Pastrami Update ...

  • PaulF Aug 23, 2006 05:52 PM
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I'm generally a fan of Johnnie's. For one thing, it's in my neighborhood. For another, it's open late. And thirdly, they have cold beer, which I like with a sandwich.

Lately, I've been much preferring their chili dog, which I was tipped to here.

Last night my football playing son was starving after practice and he loves hot dogs so I said "How about Johnnie's." He said great, but he wanted pastrami.

Fine.

I had a chili dog and he had the hot pastrami.

And, because he's ten and can't finish a whole one, I reached over and had a forkful of the pastrami.

Man, was it bad.

I was so disappointed.

It was almost cold and so fatty it felt like a rubber band in my mouth and had no flavor at all.

I didn't reach over for a bite with an ounce of skeptism. No "let's see how good this really is." I assumed it would be good, my Johnnie-memory was positive.

And it was lousy.

He didn't finish his sandwich and I had no desire to take even one more bite. We just left it there.

I didn't say anything, either, because he's a kid and if he wants to like it, I didn't want to wreck if for him. And my chili dog hit the spot (if you run out and try one and don't like it, don't blame me -- I'm not saying it's the greatest chili dog on earth, it's just the greatest chili dog in my neighborhood that's open after football practice and I like if fine), so it wasn't a waste.

But I don't think I'd every order a pastrami at Johnnie's again. (I might have the shrimp sandwich though if he wanted to go back and I wasn't in the mood for a chili dog. And the pickles were good, too.) I'd say Johnnie's signature dish has really gone down hill.

JMO ...

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  1. i'm there with you on that one. the last time i went, although the pastrami was hot, the meat was so fatty and grisly, it was like biting into a pack of rubberbands. utterly disgusting!!

    i has since sworn off the place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wilafur

      Kinda like the Hat these days.

    2. Sad to hear this, I remember when it was decent...

      Recently I had a Tomboy's (Manhattan Beach Blvd. near Aviation across from TJ's) Pastrami sandwich (actually had a wrap, trying to cut carbs...:)) - and it was very good, I'd definitely recommend them -

      1. While I like the atmosphere of Johnnie's, they, along with The Hat, commit a cardinal sin: They boil what nature intended to be steamed.

        1. Did LANGER'S BURN Down, or ?
          Friends don't let Friends go anywhere else than the KING OF PASTRAMI, LANGERS.
          The only Deli to ever win the James Beard Award in the USA.
          I love taking my friends from NYC there and watching them cringe as they experience the "uppercut punch" of the finest Pastrami anywhere, period!

          4 Replies
          1. re: russkar

            YES! Langers is the best stuff ever.

            I want to make a big fatty, rare pastrami burger using Langers Pastrami, Cassel's burger, and a little tommy's chili (sorry, I love it.)

            1. re: russkar

              Well the problem with Langer's is it closes at 4pm. Johnnie's closes at 2 or 3am depending on the night. I agree the pastrami is inedible but as a late night greasy spoon, it ain't half bad.

              1. re: russkar

                Except it's across town and closes at 4.

                I haven't been to Langer's in years because I am never anywhere near MacArthur Park at lunch time.

                I swear, I haven't been there since they stopped being open for dinner. I bet it's been a dozen years.

                More to the point ... what I call french-dip pastrami is just a different thing. Wet pastrami on a french roll is not something I compare to deli pastrami on rye. Maybe it's like comparing a thin crust pizza with a thick crust pizza. They are both pizza but eating one won't really satisy the craving for the other. Sometimes I want pastrami on rye, sometimes I want it in a french roll. IMO, they are different things, not interchangeable things.

                1. re: russkar

                  No Langers did not burn down and yes it is the best Pastrami, unfortunately they do not open late and are closed Sundays... what is a person to do?

                2. For late-night Pastrami cravings. Costco's Carnigie Deli Pastrami with Quality Rye Bread and you almost have the Langers experience, you'll be amazed when you try it. Cheap too!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: russkar

                    I don't have a Costco membership but still enjoy their outdoor food court----especially the hot dogs, pizza and soft-serve sundaes. Is the pastrami something that is sold inside because I haven't seen it in their outdoor food court?

                    1. re: russkar

                      Yes, it's only sold inside. Maybe if there's enough demand that will change...

                      Still, I've found Costco's Carnegie Pastrami a bit inconsistent. The first package in one carton was great. The second package was full of fat. And neither compared to the original in NYC.

                      1. re: Briggs

                        I haven't noticed that inconsistency, but my complaint with the Costco/Carnegie is that it's sliced too thin. Otherwise the flavor is pretty darn close to Langer's, and if you have the foresight to get some Langer's double baked rye you'll have a reasonable facsimilie of the best pastrami sandwich in the USA.

                    2. I went to Johnnie's all the time nearly fifty years ago, and even then the pastrami was mediocre, and not at all the best thing on the menu. And the beer was cold then, too, even if I couldn't order one.

                      1. i recently had johnnie's and it was as good as ever...