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I really don't get Langer's Deli ...

I know that Langer's holds a special place in many a Chowhound's heart, but yesterday for a late lunch I tried the place another time and it still failed to rattle my culinary soul.

Got the 19. It was ok, pastrami a little rubbery, bread was nothing special, coleslaw a bit sweet, couldn't taste the swiss and the dressing had a rather overpowering effect on the whole combo.

Admittedly, I am DEFINITELY NO pastrami aficianado, so please do tell me where I went wrong, or is it just my expectations were off-target?

Is it some sort of birth defect that I have? Did my tongue fail to develop properly as a child because of all the shaved ice I ate???

By the way, the Egg Cream really hit the spot.



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  1. There was a reliable post recently that stated that Langers changed their bread supplier. I sure hope this didn't change the entire experience...

    Has someone that loves Langers been there very recently to respond?

    1 Reply
    1. re: liu

      I took my Mom,a recent NY transplant to Langers 2 weeks ago. It was my virgin poppin experience too. I ordered it hand-cut and lean..Very tasty...Cant disagree more with ipsedxit about the bread..It was perfectly crisp on the perimeter and fragrant and chewy inside..the pastrami was excellent..the fries awful, frozen crinkle cut..cole slaw better than in most LA area delis but definitely inferior to Brents on all counts except the bread...

    2. There was a report about Langer's changing its bread supplier from Fred's on Robertson to somewhere else (I think in the Valley), but that was at least a year ago, possibly longer.

      It's quite possible that you just don't really like deli-style pastrami sandwiches. I've been delighted each and every time I've had one there, and I cannot say the same for other pastrami sandwiches.

      So, who knows?

      One thought: you mentioned a "late lunch." The place only stays open until 3 or 4 o'clock; depending on how late it was, perhaps it just isn't as good near closing time. Have you tried it at, say, 11:30 a.m.?

      2 Replies
      1. re: Jack Flash

        Was there on Sat. at 1:30.

        Been several times for lunch during the weekday at more "normal" lunch hours, i.e. noon.

        Never been all that impressed. Not a bad sandwich, mind you, just not earth-shattering ... and really not worth the crowds, parking, and peddlers trying to get me to supplement my collection of green cards ...

        1. re: Jack Flash

          We asked several months ago, they told us the bread came from Bea's in Tarzana. We think it's good as ever. Might have to go this week....

        2. Funny, I was there Sat around 2, and yes, there was something a bit off about the pastrami yesterday. Not the etherial experience that it usually is. Was kind of rubbery in a way that it's usually not -- as if it needed a little more cooking for tenderness. Chalk it up to an anomaly -- it's the first time in dozens that it's disappointed.

          1. Hurray! Finally, someone who does not sing the praises of Langer's. I understand that everything is a matter of taste, but if you have never had a pastrami sandwich at Katz's deli. (or several others in New York), in my opinion at least, you don't have the standard with which to compare others. I have tried Langer's 3 or 4 times over the last 20 years or so, just to see whether I am missing something and I have been disappointed each time. I am not a New Yorker; I am a native of Los Angeles, but I have never had a pastrami sandwich anywhere in LA to compare with the New York product. I know many will disagree, but that is my take on it.

            10 Replies
            1. re: brwencino

              brwencino, I'm firmly in your camp.

              I've eaten at Langers 5 times and was never impressed -- good pastrami but skimpy servings. I'd rather have a pastrami sandwich at Katz's Deli -- huger serving of great pastami.

              1. re: Norm Man

                I was at Katz's last week. I must have eaten there thirty or forty times over the years and at Langer's two to three times as many (since I'm from Los Angeles.) In my mind there's no comparison. Langer's wins hands down. The pastrami is better, the bread is better and the sandwich is a near perfect balance of the two - not too much or too little pastrami. At Katz's I always end up taking out some of the pastrami and eating it separate from the sandwich.

                1. re: estone888

                  I happened to have my very first pastrami sandwich at Katz just last week also. Here's my take:

                  Katz's pastrami is a teeny bit better. It's a little thicker cut, with more of the good black crusty stuff. And the portion is a little bigger. (Maybe I gotta start specifying "hand cut" at Langers). But for me, it's a close call between the 2 for flavor and tenderness.

                  Now for the bread, Langers wins hands-down. That wonderful crusty warm bread makes the sandwich. Katz's bread is way too commercial. But I can see if you grew up in NYC, you'd be used to it and only "that bread" would do. But in my book its rather awful.

                  I did like Katz's potato salad a lot more than Langers though it doesn't look really appetizing--it's white and gloppy. It's got something in it--horseradish maybe?

                  1. re: tarabell

                    I always get NY deli sandwiches on a "bread" called 'club bread'...I haven't found it ANYWHERE on the West Coast.

                    1. re: tarabell

                      You definitely do want hand-cut.

                      I love Katz's, and I love Langer's. I don't feel the need to declare one the winner... it makes me happy that I can have Langer's when I'm in LA and Katz's when I'm in New York.

                      The shtick, though, is way better at Katz's -- the ticket and the tipping for a sample... and I agree, you can get the bread Katz's uses at any D'Ag's.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Well since you've revived this old thread, let me say, I love Katz's and I love Langer's. I think Langer's pastrami sandwich is a bit better, but everything else at Katz's is superior. But honestly, these days when in New York, I really miss the old 2nd Avenue Deli. Haven't tried the new one on 33rd St. yet.

                        1. re: mcmal

                          since we're all jumping into an old post, I've got to say, I lived about 30 yards from Katz's on Ludlow a few years ago, and if Langer's is as close as you all seem to think, I'm on my way for some serious comfort eating nostalgia this week!

                          1. re: mcmal

                            I think Langers does a better Ruben than Katz's also.

                            1. re: rednyellow

                              If you like a good Ruben you should give the "Rubenesque" sandwich at R&D Kitchen on Montana just barely west of 14th Street a try. Stunningly delicious version.

                              R+D Kitchen
                              1323 Montana Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90403

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Thanks, I'll check it out. Rubens are one of those cravings I get once in a while thats worth a drive.

                2. Hi... Sounds as if you've given Langer's a fair try after several visits. However, in your attempt to discover a quintessential *sandwich* experience there, I do believe you've set up several barriers between yourself and a primal *pastrami and rye* experience. Ordering the gussied up #19 with all the extraneous accoutrement (fine for those who are already on board with Langers) is akin to traveling to an exotic locale in search for a natural (dare I say, virginal) beauty, then taking said beauty to Rodeo Drive for a make-over. Stick to the NATURAL BEAUTY! Pastrami and Rye, mustard if you must, and a seltzer to sluice the tongue and free the gums of extraneous pepper. Focus just on the meat and bread, no distractions! Crunchy slaw, sweet dressings, gummy cheese, distractions all! Now, I'm not saying that some relationships (with sandwiches, as with women) don't eventually benefit from a bit of distraction such as 'make-overs' and add-ons afford. Sure, five years down the line, a bit of crunch and tang and innovation (toast the rye!) will spice up 'the usual'. But first, treat your pastrami and rye like the natural beauty that it is, an unpolished gem that your lips and teeth and taste buds can rhapsodise over, chew afterter toothsome chew...

                  1. Not sure what to say... I was there on Saturday at 1pm, got the #19 and it was pastrami nirvana for me as always. Everything seemed consistent with how good it always is. As someone who's lived in NYC for 5 years, I feel confident in saying that Langer's beats anything in New York hands down.

                    1. I think you REALLY have to be in the mood for a Pastrami. I think it's a GREAT sandwich, but honestly, most days I'll take a bay cities godmother over it anyday...


                      1. i have to admit that i haven't been to langer's in more than a year. but i used to go every now and again and it was by far the best pastrami i'd ever had. i did notice a year or so ago (maybe longer?) that they had started slicing the pastrami on a machine and it wasn't at all the same. when i brought it up with the waitress, she said that "hand-slicing" was a special order now (and maybe an extra charge?), but she happily replaced my sandwich with a hand-sliced one. and i happily ate it. turns out there's a big difference in quality between machine-sliced and hand-sliced. who knew?

                        1. never had a bad experience at Langers. In fact it remains the best pastrami sandwich probably anywhere,hands down. Of course if you're not a pastrami person, it's not going to knock your socks off and then the question: why bother going in the first place?

                          1. This is what we get when I go Jet Skiing for a week?

                            What I'm about to relate are the Facts and Nothing but the Facts! LANGER'S is the ONLY Deli in the USA to ever win the James Beard Award , ever!
                            It's kicks the Crap out of everything in NYC. One of my favorite experiences is watching my friends from NYC and aquaintinces "choking up" when they taste the first bite. Is it perfect every time , NO?
                            But is Katz better , NOT! or anything else in NYC. Game Over!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: russkar

                              That's your opinion, too bad it's wrong. Katz is much better. Been to Langers twice and a few times they didn't measure up. And if their pastrami doesn't measure up, nothing else is worth getting.

                              I think even the Langers fans will agree it's a one trick pony.

                            2. Been to Katz and Langer's many times, Langer's wins by a mile. Katz's pastrami is good, but Langer's is excellent. The meat is more flavorful and the bread cannot be beat at Langer's. Also the fries are crispier and much better coleslaw than what I have had at Katz.

                              1. Now, first off I need to admit that I prefer corned beef to pastrami, but neither of those sandwiches that I've had at Langer's have been the best in the city for me.
                                I prefer the corned beef at billy's in glendale
                                and the pastrami at tam o shanter's (though tam's can be wildly inconsistent - one sandwich i had was the best pastrami i've ever tasted, several have been very good and one was several degrees below mediocre.)
                                So i'm with ipse here: a transcendent sandwich langer's is not, for me, partly because i just don't like the pastrami cut so thick.
                                but i sure do love their poppyseed desserts!

                                1. My reaction to the original post is simply that not everyone brings the same set of personal, cultural or experiental parameters to any new thing. My own Langer's experience was most definitely a function of many years of cultural/food/preference development, forming ingrained taste biases. The same thing is true, I think, of what I condsider outstanding pizza, bagels, and Chinese food.

                                  The pizza/bagel/pastrami thing is mostly geographic and cultural for me. The Chinese food thing is the result of many years of travel throught Asia. In each case, I have an underlying standard to which I hold each new experience with a basically familiar food. While I feel that I can appreciate new things, and new styles, on their own terms, there are some basics that are just too much a part of me to allow much room for variance.

                                  All the above is based on my presumption that your 'disappointment' with Langers' pastrami was not in comparison with other pastrami icons, but simply a reaction to the #19 on it's own. I thought it was a near-etherial experience myself.

                                  1. I know many here are very fond of Langer's, but it's never worked for me. As for the perfect rye bread, the always fresh, crusty rye at Nate n Al's is among my favorites. The pastrami there is passable, but I've not found anything out here to beat the Carnegi Deli and several others in NY since Carnegie closed their ill-conceived Beverly Hills place years ago.

                                    1. I'm a former NYer and know the Carnegie, the Stage, katz's, etc,and in my honest opinion Langers is the best pastrami.
                                      That said, their coleslaw is too sweet as is their Russian dressing...But on pastrami alone, it's Langer's OR pastrami's first cousin Montreal Smoked Meat from Schwartz's in Montreal.

                                      1. I love these Langer's threads, just love 'em. As far as a "deli" is concerned, those saying (as I have said repeatedly) that Langer's is a one-trick pony (or two, if you count the pastrami and double-baked rye seperately), are absoutely correct. All else is unremarkable. There are much better delis if you're willing to travel. Again as others have observed, don't screw up your first Langer's experience with the #19 or anything other than the bread, meat, and, maybe, mustard. There's nothing special about their condiments (the half-sour sour dills are good, but I wouldn't put them on a pastrami.) Who needs this interfearance especially when slathered on that heavenly meat? Why adulterate that great sap with dresssing? Why make the incredible double-baked rye soggy with slaw? I'm not saying that the #19 or any other combination is not pretty good, but my preference is crisp, warm bread, sappy meat and a tang of mustard. As an aside, during peak periods those loaded sandwiches can sit on the counter for a while and become sludge, but during non peak periods the same sandwiches are darn good. Personal preference only and only a recommendation. Yes, you must order "hand-cut," although I've never heard that hand-cut is a special order. I've seen the counter-men cut my requested "hand-cut" meat on the machine (rarely but it has happened without warning but only during peak periods, or perhaps due to confusion) so I go and stand right at the counter and watch them cut my meat. Compulsive, I know, but mistakes are inevitable and this little effort prevents the "thin-sliced" horror described below. If you are fortunate enough to be downtown in the post-1:30 PM zone, are humgry, can get to 7th and Alvarado and already have your quota of green cards, go. The meat has had a good steam and is putty. I find it much more flavorful and tender than that available a lunch-hour. And yes, I reported some time ago that that their Rye Supplier has shifted to Edie's Bakery in Tarzana because of supply probems with the former source. I haven't asked since because the double-beaked rye seems to me as good as ever.

                                        1. I agree, less is more with Langer's pastrami and hand-cut is plenty of meat. No. 19 has way too much gilding on this lily.

                                          However I do not consider them a one-trick pony. Their corned beef, kaiser rolls, and fountain drinks are also great stuff and crisp crinkle cut Ore Ida style fries very comforting.

                                          1. Repeating what everyone else says.

                                            When I go to Langers, I order one of the two following things.

                                            1. 1/2 sand and soup - usually a giblet soup with a 1/2 pastrami. I put on a little mustard. Done. Period. I go for the pastrami. There are better places for other deli in the city, corned beef, stuffed cabbage, mushroom barley soup, flanken, etc. Pastrami is the only reason to come ehere, imho.

                                            2. Pastrami sandwich on rye. One half gets a bit of mustard, one half gets a little horseradish. Hand cut is nice. Not imperative.

                                            It is possible, ipse dixit, that you just don't like the standard here. Not a stretch. My dad doesn't really like most CHinese or other East Asian food. I had an uncle that couldn't stomach Cantonese food (yes hong kong etc) because he couldn't consider any meal without bread to be food. I've gone to Langers with several friends of the New York and Jewish persuasions (i mean both here) and to a wo/man they were all blown away by both the corn rye and the pastrami. One ordered the sandwich to go in a way i'd never seen here - he explained that this was how one did it in new york - you get the sandwich to go and immediately remove the filling and wrap it in wax paper to keep the bread from getting soggy. Reheat it lightly at home and put it on the corn rye. He even told me that his mother, for years, had complained that the quality of the corn rye in new york had deteriorated, that it was no longer chewy and you couldn't get it with the crisp tangy crust. He said that he didn't really understand what she was describing until he had eaten at Langers.

                                            So if you HAVE to try it again, just get a simple sandwich. SIMPLE. no crazy reubens or swiss cheese or cole slaw or macaroni noodle spam julienne topping. no pastrami musubi - as delicious as that might be.

                                            OR just be satisfied that you've given it a fair try and it isn't for you. I'm certainly impressed that anyone goes twice if they don't really love it, it's kind of a pain if you don't work downtown or in the area. ANd I'm very impressed that OP (i.d.) has been more than twice. Kudos on a valiaint effort and a desire and hope for fairness - how many off-days can a place really have?

                                            1. You know, I've never had the Kaiser Rolls at Langer's. They are my bread of choice for almost everything else except pastrami and corned beef. And tongue. But my experience with their corned beef is alright but just ordinary. But wait...I've never asked for it to be hand-cut. Their pastrami, if not hand-cut, is merely ordinary. So, thicker-cut, late in the day, who knows what magic they may do with corned beef?

                                              1. Langer's is a place that makes me question my own Chowish credentials.

                                                Because the reason I don't eat there much is that it is just so inconvenient. I never find myself near Langer's during it's odd hours and (this is the reason I question my credentials) I just don't get motivated all that often to be at Langer's during their open hours. I'm positive that if Langer's were open late, I'd be there much more often. But I can't contort myself or my schedule to get there for a sandwich -- even if it is the best sandwich in the city.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: PaulF

                                                  Paul, I bet if they had ice cold beer on tap and chilled mugs at the ready, you might be more inclined :-)

                                                  1. re: PaulF

                                                    Well, the area they're in is not known for its savoury qualities by night.

                                                    Langer's was my must-go-to when I had jury duty downtown, because it was more or less directly on top of a Red Line station (and the courts pay for a day pass if you get put on a case). Now my jury duty would be in Santa Ana and it's just so much less... pastramiful.

                                                  2. i can't stand how inconveniant it is. but i do love the old place. love pastrami and swiss and cole slaw sammich

                                                    1. I was born and raised 66 years ago in New York City. In 1959 I moved to Los Angeles. I got a summer job that year and discovered Langer's about 3 blocks from where I worked. It was amazing to me that here was a deli in LA that was even better than any I had been to in New York. I have continued to go eat there ever since. Their pastrami is hand sliced and is the most tender I have ever had. I asked them about it one day and was told that they cook it longer than other restaurants. Most don't like to do it because they lose too much in shrinkage. Also, Langer's rye bread is perfect. It is always very fresh with a crisp crust. This restaurant is very special.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. Just to ADD this note on LANGERS et al 'jewish delis' :

                                                        even though US 'jewish delis'
                                                        are somewhat universal in the food they prepare,
                                                        IF WE were back 30 or 40 years
                                                        the Deli's catering to the Jewish population
                                                        would be somewhat if not only Kosher.

                                                        THAT MEANING you
                                                        DO NOT MIX DAIRY WITH MEAT
                                                        thus the TRUE TASTE of a food like Corned Beef or,
                                                        and especially LANGER'S PASTRAMI...
                                                        IT TASTES best best best just by itself
                                                        or with mustard ON RYE BREAD

                                                        THAT IS A 'jewish deli' STANDARD
                                                        and everyone else has (to say it nice) messed it up
                                                        with cheeses and more cheeses and grilling (???)
                                                        you can eat what you want

                                                        BUT THE TASTE is WHAT I WANT.
                                                        ALSO BEST CORNED BEEF is in Burbank
                                                        at a small restaurant called BEN'S DELI

                                                        again "STOP THE CHEESE" !!!!!


                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: videolouis

                                                          Hi Louis, I can understand where you are coming from but you must also understand it is a hard line to follow where culture, religion and food mix with outside cultures(non kosher).

                                                          I've eaten more then a few times at Langers and. I've had it straight up and I've had it all gussied up. Both are excellent. to me.

                                                          Beyond a sandwich would you expect non kosher people to adhere to all the other Kosher rules.

                                                        2. While I haven't been to Langer's yet, the thought of putting anything besides a good deli mustard on pastrami is sacrilegious. Personally, I just take it straight on rye and save the mustard for corned beef. Swiss and dressing on pastrami? Ugh.

                                                          1. Seriously ipse, how would you feel watching someone put ketchup on their xiao long bao?

                                                            Stop it with the cheese, russian dressing, cole slaw, etc. and just order the Jewish deli standard.... meat, bread and some Guldens deli mustard.

                                                            That's all you need.

                                                            Then, stop at Ralph's on your way home and compare their version of a pastrami sandwich with Langer's. Maybe then, even if you still don't like Langer's, you will be able to appreciate why others do.

                                                            Mr Taster

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                              Cheese, russian dressing, cole slaw, etc. are all quite god on a sandwich.

                                                              1. re: rednyellow

                                                                Having a sandwich the way that you like it? Don't be absurd! ;-D

                                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                                  (This is actually more of a reply to videolouis's comment)
                                                                  Seriously, this idea of people ruining traditions/messing with classics is ridiculous. I suppose we should just eat what cavemen ate, because that's the true classic.

                                                                  And if someone put ketchup on my xiao long bao, and it tasted delicious, I would keep doing it. I wouldn't just say, "No, no. This can't happen, because this isn't the way."

                                                                  People love the #19 (myself included) and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

                                                                  1. re: andytseng

                                                                    Hi... regarding "what cavemen ate..". Hmm:
                                                                    * raw bison = carpaccio
                                                                    * raw fish = sushi
                                                                    * raw tubers/roots = truffles, pscilocybin ;-)
                                                                    ... Where do i sign up? But seriously, I wonder if Langer's would do a combo sandwich of pastrami and lox?? Surf and turf !

                                                                    1. re: silence9

                                                                      "I wonder if Langer's would do a combo sandwich of pastrami and lox??"

                                                                      .... words cannot describe how wrong that is. lol

                                                                    2. re: andytseng

                                                                      For anyone who is familiar with ipsedixit's posts, she tends to be traditional in her interpretations of Chinese cookery, and so I was appealing to her sense of tradition with my ketchup:XLB::milchik:fleishik analogy.

                                                                      Traditional food is prepared a certain way for a reason. That's not to say that modifying it with contemporary items will automatically make it taste bad. But in this case, ipse ate the gentile-ified version of a traditional Jewish sandwich, hated it, and asked "what am I missing". So I told her.

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                                                  As you know, Mr. T., we're in the same camp on this issue. However, and I don't know why I didn't pick up on this back in January, your suggestion to compare Ralph's or (insert another supermarket name here) version of a pastrami sandwhich is brilliant. The contrast could not be starker.

                                                                3. Maybe you just don't like the deli style of pastrami. Have you had The Hat in Alhambra? They also have locations in Pasadena and Rosemead, but the Alhambra one is the original and by far best. Their meat is machine sliced super thin and served with pickles and mustard. Super simple and super tasty. Although, I have noticed that their serving sizes aren's so super. If you go, have the chili fries.