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Top 10 Delis in LA

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Here's what L.A. Magazine nominated as the 10 best:

1. Brent’s
2. Langer’s
3. Nate n’ Al
4. Art’s
5. Pico Kosher
6. Marv’s
7. Canter’s
8. Factor’s
9. Billy’s
10. Label’s Table

Thoughts?

Of the ones I've been to, I did like Nate n' Als. Probably the best pastrami meat I've tried, and its small enough relative to some of the other Delis that there is at least some semblance of intimacy. Canter's has always been good to me, but I've always had at least 8 cocktails in me when I've been there, so that could bias things. Factor's had decent food but I couldn't get over stale & no-personality atmosphere.

IMHO, best/favoriteDeli is more of a personal preference than an absolute as there are so many factors like what items you order off of their expansive menus, types of pickles, bread preferences, % grey hairs, bakery quality, even mustards (I like Izzie's as they always have out 3 types of Beaver mustards). The one thing I can't figure out is why every Deli believes the lighting should be as bright as an E.R. operating table. But tell us what you think of the Top 10 List nevertheless...

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  1. i did not read the article so i am not sure what criteria was used but my first reaction is ...italian deli's are not worthy ? bay cities ? my personal fav ...Claro's...i guess you can call them "markets"...i feel they are deli's and i purposely minimize my visits to claro's to once a month because i always buy/spend too much there !!

    5 Replies
    1. re: kjs

      I would add Greenblatts to the list!

      1. re: bubbles4me

        I second the greenblatt's Delicious Deli food + top wines -- a great treat in my book.

      2. re: kjs

        The article really seemed to be focusing on Jewish and Jewish-ish delis. There were references to rude waitresses, old school decorations, and things of that sort. I haven't been to all 10, so I don't know if they're all the same, but that's what I got from the 5 minutes I browsed the article.

        1. re: MeAndroo

          Correct.

        2. re: kjs

          Claro's is a great place where the employees are really knowledgable and friendly. I think they are even coming close to a big anniversary. They have a few locations but I've only been to the original on Valley Blvd.

          I've never thought the Jewish delis were anything to rave about but I do like that some are open 24/7.

        3. What? Barney Greengrass is chopped liver now? ;-D

          4 Replies
          1. re: Servorg

            actually, i was surprised by the way they practically ignored bg. they included a sidebar about 'appetizing stores' and quoted gary greengrass, but the restaurant didn't make the list. it sorta bummed me out that they didn't give it a little more attention...i like that place. it may not be l.a.'s best, but as a transplanted new yorker, a meal there brings back good childhood memories for me.

            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Although the menu is now a little broader than just fish and dairy (all that was offered when it first opened), those remain the focus and the menu is more limited than a typical deli's would be on the meat end. My recollection from growing up in NY is that such places would be called "appetizing stores" rather than delis. I presume that was the reason for its not being considered for the Top 10--though I think Barney Greengrass is far and away the best in town for deli-style fish (I love the nova, eggs and onions there, with a toasted bialy please!). By the way BG also has a delicious egg cream.

              1. re: New Trial

                sure, back in the day greengrass, zabar's, russ & daughters, etc. were all called appetizing stores. but at this point bg has a full-service menu. i definitely consider them a deli and imho, think they should have been considered.

                agree with you on the nova egs & onions....that's precisely what i had the last time i was there! sans bialy, unfortunately...but still, where else are you gonna find a kossar's bialy in l.a.?

              2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                Barney Greengrass deserves a mention if for no other reason than that they sell salted belly lox, which is an incredibly rare find outside of the NY metro area. (I've heard that "Nosh" in Beverly Hills sells it as well.)

                I even went to one of the Hasidic fish shops on Fairfax and talked with the owner about belly lox.... she had no idea what I was talking about!

                Mr Taster
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            2. I don't know that LA has enough Jewish delis to merit a top 10 list. How many are there that didn't get on?

              3 Replies
              1. re: sku

                Notably, Greenblatt's

                1. re: sku

                  Junior's didn't make it. Kind of surprised by that.

                  1. re: GuidoTKP

                    Me too, especially since Canter's gets on there, which I attribute more to its fame than any fare served.

                    Personally, I have nostalgia for Label's Table, but not for the food, just weekends, particularly Sunday early afternoon breakfast with dad on *his weekends.*

                2. I was born and raised in LA and I have to say that Nate N' Als has always been my favorite. It has become increasingly expensive over the years, but they have the best matzoh ball soup, BEST turkey pastrami (if you like that kind of thing) and the potato pancakes are ridiculous. Factor's isn't that great of a deli, but they have really good salads that are huge. You're right about Canter's- definitely tastes better after a couple drinks if you're like me and used to go to that lame Kibbitz Room thing.... Pico Kosher is awesome, but tiny and just really "mom and pop." And, Art's= delicious. Best Molton Chocolate Lava cake you've ever tried. Label's Table, Billy's, Marv's, Brent's and Langer's....eh. If they were gonna add some of those, they might as well have put Jerry's Famous Deli on there and I think we all know how "good" Jerry's is...

                  1. brents, brents and brents...
                    nothing else even close.

                    LB

                    1. Haven't read the article but I've been told all about it. For me, the ranking depends on what you order. If you want great "x" then you go to Nat 'n' Al's, but if you want great "y" you go to Canter's, and so on.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Bite Me

                        that's pretty much what the article said. the top choices were called out for what they do best. although it sounds as though brent's does more stuff better than anyone else...hence the #1 spot.

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                          In that case it is an even bigger shame that BG was omitted as their fish (especially sturgeon and sable, but really all of them) for both selection and quality blows all of the other places in LA right off the map.

                          1. re: Servorg

                            amen!

                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                              See my comment above about belly lox.

                              Mr Taster
                              -----------------------------
                              Protect Chowhound
                              Boycott Avatars!
                              -----------------------------

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                i did see it. your experience at the fish shop is a testament to the unfortunate reality that certain elements of our cultural traditions and heritage appear to be slipping away. the fact that a fishmonger in a neighborhood with a dense jewish population and wealth of kosher establishments doesn't even know the difference between lox and nova is sad.

                                i used to be an editor, and old habits die hard so i'm a stickler for semantics. it has always driven me nuts to hear someone order 'lox' when they actually want nova. but what i find even more disturbing is that these days, in doing so, they'll actually get what they want...NOT what they asked for. i made the mistake once, many, many years ago, of ordering lox, and the saltiness of that first bite made me choke on my bagel. never again would i confuse the two. but now when i ask specifically for nova, my request is often met with a blank stare...people have no idea what the hell i'm talking about. so i ask for lox...and lo and behold, they bring me nova.

                      2. The top 10 is pretty accurate, in my opinion. Brent's is the most consistently good, and yes, whoever said Junior's should have been on the list is right. Notice how Jerry's did not make the list? Good selections.

                        1. I haven't been to most of these, but I have had Label's and...yuck....

                          1. I think that the deli's in LA are a varied group but I think that the reviewers really missed the mark by not including junior's, the amazing deli in WLA...New decor and great menu and still that deli feel...

                            1. Another vote for Junior's, not so much for classic deli but for the marinated breakfast steak and eggs + thick-sliced cinnamon toast.

                              -----
                              Junior's Restaurant-Deli Bakery
                              2379 Westwood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

                              1. Does anyone know where all the food from the pictures in the article is from. I figure the huge sandwich is Art's. But what about the other stuff?

                                1. I went to Merv's last night, I pass by this cute little mom & pop deli at least twice a day on my way to work, it's about 3 blocks down the street, but I've never gone in. The atmosphere and people were so sweet, exactly what you want from a mom & pop shop. I asked them what they recommend and the lady behind the counter (Marv's wife?) suggested the tuna. I was in the mood for tuna, so I went for it. I was a little surprised that it cost a little over $8 for a tuna sandwich (with no cheese, even), but it makes me wonder if they just started doing that because of the LA Magazine review, or if it's always been that way? Either way, it's LA and I guess what one should expect to pay for a sandwich these days, anywhere you go. It was a good sandwich, but maybe a little bland. It had no tomatoes, no cheese, just tuna salad and a hint of mustard. I have to admit, I've had a lot better. Something is telling me to give them another chance. There were tons of roast beef/pastrami pictures on the wall, maybe that's their strength? I think next time, I'll go for a meaty sandwich. They were the sweetest people, and sometimes, that all it takes for me to make a second trip. I'm a sucker for good service.

                                  (picture and my full review here: http://daily-craft.blogspot.com/2007/...)

                                  1. I love Billy's in Glendale. Their Matzo ball soup is the closest I've found to what Grammy (my dad's mom) used to make.

                                    Another good deli that wasn't on there, but that is fantastic (especially their potato salad) is Ben's in Burbank.

                                    Ben's Catering & Deli
                                    271 E. Orange Grove Ave.
                                    at corner of Third St.
                                    818-846-6227