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Explain to me why I like the pastrami at Oinkster better than at Langer's?

Let me preface this by saying two things up front: (1) I am by no means a pastrami expert and (2) because of the former, I have never been a fan of Langer's.

That said, today I tried a couple of bites of the pastrami sandwich at Oinkster and thought, "Gee, this is better than the stuff I remember having at Langer's!"

Now I'm just wondering if there is a difference between the pastrami at Oinkster and at Langer's? Is the former, not serving "true, authentic" pastrami?

Or, do I just not have a well developed palate for pastrami and can't really appreciate the real thing?

For the pastrami experts out there, what do you think of the stuff at Oinkster?

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  1. I haven't had the pastrami at Langer's, but I pass by the Oinkster frequently, so maybe I'll check this out. I thought they only sold pork. Is pastrami pork? I better look this up. :)

    I looked up pastrami, and it's supposed to be made of beef. In any case, can you describe the sandwich a bit more ? It sounds pretty good. How much was it, and is there anything else on the Oinkster menu that you recommend?

    4 Replies
    1. re: katkoupai

      The pastrami was 7.50. I had the BBQ pulled pork sandwich, which was 6.50. It wasn't too bad.

      Not a destination locale, but a nice neighborhood place.


      1. re: katkoupai

        I've had a couple of very good burgers at Oinkster (and a couple of not-so-good burgers, too - seems to depend on who's in the kitchen and whether or not they pay attention to what the customer's requested) - and the fries, extra-crispy, are really quite good. (Or maybe I'm just a sucker for the aioli that's served for dipping.)

        1. re: ElsieDee

          I'm a sucker for that sauce, but my last experience with the fries was not so good. They were not crispy at all. Soggy and a little undercooked. All other times, the fries were perfect. But then again, we went there around 8:45pm ( littler later than the norm for us) and they might have been closing soon. The kids in the kitchen probably wanted to go home.

      2. much, much, much subpar to Langer's perfectly steamed hand cut pastrami,

        although oinkster should be given some credit for the smokiness that they have imparted into the meat. oinkster is a better version of the fast food pastrami dip served around town from the hat to johnnie's.

        1. I have to agree that the Oinksters pastrami is not nearly as good as Langer's. But it could be for you that you apreciate a thinner sliced pastrami than that of Langer's. I would suggest the hat. There are many in Southern California but the closest one to the Oinkster is Pasadena. Although some will disagree with me, I love the Hat and Langer's equally for their two very different types of pastrami. And let's face it... Sometimes I don't feel like paying $11 for just a sandwich.

          9 Replies
          1. re: Rhachel

            Hmm, I've been to Hat. And I really don't like their pastrami either.

            1. re: ipsedixit

              Never been to Oinkster, but i like the hat better than Langer's. But for me the best pastrami around is at a little dive up in the mountains on the way to Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear called the Original Kitchen. Every time we go up there we stop on the way up and again when we come back down. It blows those other places clean out of the water!

            2. re: Rhachel

              I agree - I love both The Hat and Langer's - but they are completely different animals (not really, but you know what I mean). I have not made it to Oinkster's (yet) but I think I remember seeing something about the owner of Oinkster learning from? or getting pastrami tips from? or knowing Langer? and taking it from there.

              1. re: WildSwede

                I believe Andre Guerrero was paying homage to Langer's. That gives him a lot of wiggle-room, I suppose.

                1. re: ozzygee

                  Andre spent much time with Al Langer in learning all there is to know about cooking pastrami, but keep in mind when comparing them, that the Oinkster does not put its pastrami on rye, but on a roll, and thus the whole sensation will be different, even if the pastrami was the same.
                  The Oinkster is pepperey, moist, and very flavorful plus you can add saucing as needed if an aioli or any other flavor might be of interest, as opposed to Langer's where mustard is the ONLY option.
                  As to the Hat, the less said the better - it does not belong in this comparison. Overly greasy kid-stuff, and fatttttttty - oh, my!
                  The one thing the Oinkster has is a quality burger, pulled pork sandwich, superb belgian fries, an ube shake with Fosselman's ice cream, Boylan's root beer, etc. as optional add-ons. Hardly the case at the house of purity - meaning Langer's, which when in that neighborhood, is one of a VERY few places I would even consider eating. Yet if not in a deli mood, I opt elsewhere.
                  check the menu at www.oinkster.com for more info.
                  ps - very good parking!!!!
                  pss - some nice belgian ales, among other beers, and rumor has wine on the way.

                  1. re: carter

                    Mustard is the only option?? Try the #1 bub!

                    Also, Langer's curbside service is a wonderfull thing.

                    1. re: carter

                      In comparison to the Oinkster pastrami, the Hat comes out ahead. It is tastier and not as spicy. The Hat is not my favorite pastrami on a french roll, but it is better than Oinkster's. I was burping all day after heating the much too peppered and spicy Oinkster cured pastrami sandwich. The hamburger at Oinkster was better than the pastrami, but still tasteless and nothing special.

                      1. re: wojpol

                        Funny, I liked both versions of the Pastrami at Oinkster and the Burger (they forgot the cheese) and the Cheeseburger. Tasty and reasonably priced. And Chef G's Ube Milkshake is the best milkshake that I've ever tasted - ANYWHERE!!! And no I haven't tried the famous shakes at Connal's, I walked out when they would not cook my cheeseburger like I wanted it.

                  2. re: WildSwede

                    There's two distint types of Pastrami, each for a different purpose. Lean and fatty. The lean can be used cold or hot and is what Langer's probably uses, I'm guessing but it's better for cold. The Hat definately uses fatty and cannot be served cold, period! That said, love the Hat, (for hot) they give you so much meat, and never any gristle.

                2. When we had the pastrami at Oinkster it was chunky and gristley... I am afraid to try it again it was that gross. I did love the pulled prok and hamburger. And the good beer on tap is what keeps me coming back. Was my wierd pastrami just a fluke, because the flavor was great?

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: PurpleTeeth

                    wow, they gots beer on tap now, that sounds promising.

                    1. re: kevin

                      Just have to put in my 2 cents - as a former NYer I have had the pastrami at Langers and the pastrami at Oinkster and the verdict is:

                      Langers: OK, but nothing special

                      Oinkster: This stuff is seriously addictive. Have had it more times than I should be eating this high calorie treat.

                      Oinkster probably will not measure up for those who want a more traditional deli type sandwich. As for me, I consider it to be divinely inspired and totally craveable.

                      So, once again, I guess its a matter of taste. Ipse, I'm with you on this one!

                      1. re: jazzlover

                        do you like katz's in ny? langer's is similar, but much better, including the double seeded corn rye bread.

                          1. re: jazzlover

                            As a current NYer I must say that I find it deeply bizarre, and perhaps more than a little transgressive (in a delightfully Californian sort of way), to see people touting a pastrami sandwich from a place called Oinkster.

                      2. So, I can't resist throwing in my two cents either. I like them both. I consider them very different. There are times when I want the thin sliced, piled high, somewhat greasy pastrami of the sort that one gets at The Oinkster or The Hat; and times when I prefer the richer, meatier, more complex flavors of the pastrami at Langer's. I suppose if I had to be stuck on a desert island with just one or the other, I'd pick Langer's. But then another thing to consider is that at Langer's it is the totality of the sandwich - perfect rye bread and the right temperature and proportion of everything, that makes up the pastrami eating experience. I've never sampled just the pastrami alone from either place.

                        1. Dieefernt people have different tastes, and why not?

                          I love langer's, but perhaps I should try oinkster.

                          1. Not a pastrami expert by any means, but I like Oinkster for the simple reason that my non-pastrami friends will go with me. The difference in perceived quality between Oinkster and Langers isn't enough for me to go solo to Macarthur Park as opposed to going to Eagle Rock with friends.

                            1. I have not been to Oinkster, so I'm not sure what style it is, but from the sound of it it's the thin cut, piled high sandwich. For my personal taste, I far far prefer Langer's. Count me in as one of those die-hard Langer's fans, I think it's just a perfect 10 for a sandwich. I agree with the various comparisons it gets with southern BBQ, it has a striking resemblance to the smoked brisket I had in Texas. Goddamn, I could eat one for breakfast right now...I'll have to try Oinksters and see how it measures up.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: fooddude37

                                I wouldn't exactly call it thin or piled high. I suggest you try the pastrami at Oinkster ESPECIALLY if you're a die-hard Langer's fan.


                              2. Perhaps your memory is failing. ;-D

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: mc michael

                                  After reading about all of the Oinkster hoopla, I ventured over for lunch today and ordered a pastrami and was extremely disappointed! The meat was leathery, overly peppery and the roll tasted more like a hot dog bun! I ended up discarding most of the sandwich. Tomorrow I will get my real pastrami fix - Langer's!

                                  1. re: SoCal Foodie

                                    I totally agree with SoCal Foodie on being disappointed with the cured pastrami sandwich at Oinksters. I drove all the way from El Monte to try the pastrami , because I read the many accolades people gave, even saying that it was better than Langers. What a farce!!! The pastrami is horrible and almost unedible. I threw half of it away. First of all, it is very over peppered and left my mouth burning. The pastrami meat looks like bacon , and has a lot of unappetizing looking fat on it. The meat is not soft and tender, but has grizzle and is leathery. This pastrami gave me indigestion later in the day.
                                    To compare this pastrami to Langers is laughable. The pastrami at the Hat, Tops in Pasadena, and most any other place, is a 100 times better than Oinksters. A wasted trip there for me that I will never make again.

                                    1. re: wojpol

                                      wojpol- You state that Oinkster's pastrami is "very over peppered" and the Hat's pastrami is 100 times better than Oinksters. To me, that's weird because what I most remember about The Hat's pastrami (last time I tried was years ago) was how way overly peppered it was-that was the dominant taste sensation.

                                      Chowhounders experienced w/ The Hat's pastrami- Is that still the case?

                                      1. re: burger

                                        The Hat's pastrami to me is not overly peppered, just too greasy.

                                        1. re: wojpol

                                          I have never made notice of too much pepper or grease at The Hat.

                                          1. re: WildSwede

                                            Never noticing the pepper I can see, but you've never noticed the grease?!? As they say in the Simpsons, "It's your window to weight gain."

                                            (As a disclaimer, I like the Hat. Langer's, Oinkster and Hat are all different legs of the same pastrami table, and I'm thrilled to be spoiled for choice. If you held a creme brulee torch to my head, I'd again pick Oinkster for the same reasons as I said in an earlier reply.)

                                2. There is a middle road, the pastrami from Nate N'Al's. Made from spiced and peppered brisket, it leans heavily toward the corned beef end of the spectrum, a bit dry and slightly crumbly, and fatty on the exterior only. Tasty if not to die for, the pastrami nicely complements the almost-but-not-quite Langer type rye with crunchy exterior and chewy interior (but do ask for fresh from the oven), and outstanding all you can eat new pickles, decent coleslaw, and middling kraut and potato salad.

                                  Best bet: The 3 meat cold plate choosing corned beef, brisket & pastrami, ask for lean but not extra lean. Comes with coleslaw, all you can eat bread of your choice (choose seeded rye) & potato salad, My recommended MO is 3 meats piled side by side open face on rye with smear of deli mustard. Along with all you can eat pickles and kraut, of course (even if you order nothing). Very civilized (forget the Mylanta) and easily feeds 2 or even 3 for a paltry $18. And crusty but caring waitresses round out a quaisi-authentic NY deli experience.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bernardo

                                    I was raised on Nate N Al's everything. Grandpa (bless his soul) had a house charge from 1945 when they opened and he bought his big house nearby until, I wonder if it's still active - no I wouldn't do that! Corned Beef, Pastrami, Chopped Liver, Heering in Sour Cream, Tongue, 'Special Hot Dogs' Pickles, Pickled Tomatos, Fish Platters, Borsht for Grandpa (yuk!) and of course Corn Rye, Challah, Bagels, Lox and probably other stuff. Every party at his house was a cornucopia of platters from this B.H. institution! I had not had food from any other deli until I left the country when I was a teen. Well that's not exactly true, I was taken to Canter's once and the heering in sour cream which was gross, the sour cream was the same viscosity as water so, well I have never returned! It's been at least 5 years since I've been to Nate N Al's but I hope it is still as good as I remember!

                                  2. Interesting

                                    I get to LA once or twice a year, and have been to Langers twice. I agree that it is probably some of the best rye bread on the planet, but i found the pastrami itself to be very fatty both times. On the other hand I like Cantor's pastrami, and their bread is really good, although not as good as Langers.

                                    Given all that should I try The Hat or Oinksters or anyplace else? We have a couple of OK places here, but nothing really good when it comes to a deli style sandwich.

                                    1. Taste is such a personal thing. Langer's to me creates a magical combination of tastes and textures with its #1 - hand cut tender pastrami with a perfect blend of spices, layered on soft rye with a crunchy crust, topped off with a layer of slaw and finished with a simple but tasty "Russian Style" dressing (prefer mine on the side).

                                      After a curbside pickup one afternoon, I treated our monthly poker group with a Langer's buffet rececently at our dinner break and it was voted best poker meal ever. The individual components were good, but combined they were a heavenly treat. Yes, some preferred mustard to the Russian Style dressing, but the mustard does not combine for that other-worldly experience for me.

                                      Oinksters is merely a different treatment (as is the Hat). Yes, different meat and different preparation, but well crafted for its style.

                                      A closer second to Langers style for me is the Yorkshire Grill in downtown LA.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Fesdwino

                                        Yorkshire Grill ... a close second? Really?

                                        Never really had their pastrami, but everything else I've tried has been dry and tasteless. Only thing notable was the large size of the sandwiches and ridiculous amount of meat they give you ... the amount of meat reminded me a bit of Pasadena Sandwich Co.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Sorry, did not mean that Yorkshire Grill's pastrami is a close second to Langer's; rather the style of pastrami sandwich at Yorkshire is closer to Langer's than The Hat or Oinksters. I have not had many of the sandwiches outside of the pastrami at Yorkshire Grill, but the Yorkshire sandwich does have lots of meat, decent bread and is not bad if you are Downtown. Certainly not a destination restaurant, but it beats many of the Downtown alternatives.