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Langer's VS Canter's

We have been to both and we are just curious to know everyones opinion.

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  1. I go to both for pastrami both close to what I like but if I had to choose I would go to Canter's like the grilled version with swiss on rye (russian on the side)

    ducatipilot

    1. For me, nothing comes even close to Langer's.

      3 Replies
      1. re: omakase

        I agree with Omakase. Nothing comes close to Langers.

        Also, I've never understood the appeal of Canter's. For me, it is as befuddling as Pink's.

        1. re: Tom P

          I'll add onto the dogpile. Canter's is really poor quality, something best left for the tourists in the daytime and the drunk kids at night. In a way, it's sort of Deli 101, where a lot of people who aren't exposed to Jewish deli food - like those who move to L.A. from areas without Jewish communities large or old enough to sustain such delis - will start off because it's probably the best-known (that or Jerry's), but, if one cares about good food, one moves to more serious places like Langer's.

          To my thinking, the phrase "Langer's vs. Canter's" is in the same league as "Cut vs. Sizzler."

          1. re: Woolsey

            I know I'm in the minority in not liking Langer's, but as I mentioned a few days ago in a thread I started about comparing pastramis side-by-side, all of us who took part in the taste test rejected Langer's at the outset because we'd all had it before and none of us had liked it. Canter's and Nate and Al's tied for the best. Our group included two New Yorkers and a deli-loving, card-carrying Jew who had spent part of his adulthood in New York. Everyone but me had eaten at all the famous delis in New York. I think if you like your pastrami lean, you're just not going to like Langer's. I do hear that you can ask for it lean, though, so maybe it's time for me to go back and try it again.

      2. Langer's will win this debate 100-1.

        Unfortunately (for me) Langer's is utterly inaccessible. It's far from home, far from work and has crappy hours so you can't eat there in the evening.

        For me, Langer's having the best pastrami sandwich is like New York having the best pizza. I don't disagree, but since I never go to either place, it doesn't matter.

        I'd just like to know who has the second best pastrami sandwich and doesn't close after lunch.

        4 Replies
        1. re: PaulF

          Although I get a kick out of being contrary on this board, I will be one of the 100 for Langer's. I don't even see any comparison other than the convenience. Canter's food seems tired while Langer's retains a real vibrancy from the bread to the corned beef and pastrami. Even the service is more alive.
          As for the hassle factor, if you can get to a Metrorail station, Langer's is 1/2 block from the Red Line Westlake station. And the $2.50 round trip is cheaper than most parking.

          1. re: Griller141

            Canter's has free parking with a validation, there's plenty of free parking on the street in the evenings, and during the day the meters are 25 cents an hour. How is $2.50 to take the Metrorail to Langer's "cheaper than most parking"?

            1. re: Hackenbush

              OK, you are right about the parking at Langer's. But let's see...gasoline at $3.25 per gallon or the 44.5 cent price per mile cost of driving a car (see http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0... - and the IRS is not known for overly generous expense estimates)... Even if your car were free, the gas alone - at 15 miles per gallon in heavy city driving - limits you to living 5.7 miles from Langer's. If it's a real car you would have to live within 2.3 miles to break even with the Red Line. But you're right - the parking, if you use their lot a block away up the street and walk down and don't mind waiting for a space to open up, is free.

          2. re: PaulF

            nate 'n al's in beverly hills does, imho.

          3. After 4pm and on Sundays, Canter's has Langer's beat just by dint of being open--any other time, at least as to the pastrami, Langer's wins in a (soon to be skipped) heartbeat.

            1. Given the choice, I prefer Canter's. Yes, the pastrami is better at Langer's but it isn't so much better than it makes up for the bad location, inconvenient hours and poor parking at Langer's. I also prefer Canter's potato salad to Langer's, as well as a number of other menu items.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hackenbush

                Langer's has a parking lot 1 short block away. They will also bring your food curbside if you want it to go.

                1. re: Josh90004

                  Langer's also has a subway stop on the next block. The NIMBYs in the Fairfax area two decades ago made sure there would never be one near Canter's, preferring the superior alternatives of mind-numbing gridlock, expensive lots, and impossible-to-find street parking instead.

                  Of course, I take it with this hypothetical, all the other superior delis have also been obliterated, which is why Canter's is the only remaining choice?

              2. Canter's is a vile place...some of the worst food and rudest service available in LA

                4 Replies
                1. re: Simon

                  As I understand it, Langer's pastrami is re-cooked somehow, and that's what gives it its special color and texture. Perhaps it's the best "twice-cooked" pastrami around, but it's certainly NOT the best pastrami. On the west coast, Canter's is clearly better, and on the east coast, Katz's, or even the Carnegie, will easily blow Langer's in the weeds. The problem with Katz's, though, (NOT shared by the Carnegie, Canter's, or Langer's) is the rye bread. At Katz's, it's seedless and sort of uniformly tan, without (as I remember) a good crust -- sort of like Oroweat's commercial imaginings of what rye bread ought to be like, or what you get at a cheap coffee shop when you order "rye" toast.

                  1. re: bagdoodle

                    in the late '80's three other bicoastal folks and i (all jewish, all brought up in new york), did a taste test of nate 'n als vs 2nd av. deli over the course of 3 days (i.e. we tasted the second av. deli offerings on wednesday, flew to LA the following day, and tasted the nate 'n al offerings on friday).

                    we all ended up agreeing that nate 'n al's won in all the sandwich categories. i can't remember which side dish(s) were better at the 2nd av. deli.

                    none of us liked the ny carnegie deli enough to even consider adding it to the list for testing-- we agreed that they didn't trim their meat at all, and served the fatty trimmings, which should have been thrown away, as meat.

                  2. re: Simon

                    Living half a block from Canter's, I have eaten there a hundred or so times, if mostly out of convenience. I won't argue about the food which I find variable just okay to more than decent. But I have NEVER had rude service.

                    1. re: wutzizname

                      on my last and final visit to Canters, i went there with three friends...it was a late weeknight, very off-hours and the place was almost empty...

                      we ordered a lot of food and while waiting for our food we pulled out laptops: the 60-something waitress attacked us!...she screamed that she hoped we didn't expect to sit there all night (we'd just arrived, hadn't been at the place more than 5 minutes and were just getting some work done while waiting for our food to arrive)...

                      i pointed out politely that the restaurant was almost empty (thus we weren't keeping anyone from a table: even if a hundred people were to show up at once) and we weren't planning on staying there long in any case...she kept being nasty and told us that even though the place was empty, that if we stayed too long in her section we'd be keeping her from getting her rightly share of the night's tips!!!...(we'd literally been sitting down 5 minutes when we got this tirade)...

                      Stupid on her part, as my friends happen to be excessive tippers, and she would have probably been more than compensated had she even given average grumpy service...one of the rudest people i've ever been served by in any restaurant in the world...

                      i would never return there...

                      but happy you've never had the same experience...*smiles*...perhaps that waitress retired or died...

                  3. I like Langer's for the famed pastrami. However, any non pastrami dish I've had there has just not been good. Langer's Matzo ball soup is just awful. Other stuff there is, "eh".

                    So I'd say Langer's for can't bet it pastrami, Canter's for other stuff.

                    Frankly, though, I like Brent's better than Canter's, and Art's for non pastrami sandwiches.

                    Have yet to find worth it latkes anywhere. I find the matzo ball soup at Jerry's ok, but not much else.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Diana

                      Langer's matzoh ball soup is usually pretty meh, but I went in and ordered a bowl a few weeks ago when I had a cold, and it was actually pretty darn good. I thought to myself, Wow, they got their act together with this matzoh ball soup today! (Of course, the last time I'd ordered it, they'd plonked a cold matzoh ball into the broth, so it's not like they had far to go for improvement.)

                      Canter's does get some respect for having kreplach soup, though.

                      1. re: Woolsey

                        langer's clam chowder is also not good. but their FRIES OMG THEIR FRIES. so good extra crispy

                        1. re: ns1

                          Langer's is more or less a one-trick pony. They have amazing pastrami and their twice-baked rye takes their pastrami sandwiches to another level altogether. Katz's wishes they had bread like Langer's.

                          I always laugh to myself about a "Kosher Style" deli that serves Ruben sandwiches but this post made me laugh out loud...a Kosher-Style deli should take it as a matter of pride if they make lousy clam chowder.

                          1. re: ns1

                            clam chowder at a deli?

                            caveat emptor.

                            I bet their chow mein sucks as well.

                        2. re: Diana

                          Brent's and Art's just about totally satisfy my deli yearnings. I've been to Langer's but the location is horrible. Canter's failed on nearly every level.

                        3. Good non-pastrami items at Canter's: the pickles; the monte cristo sandwich; the fruit 'cup' ; the brownie in the bakery case; the kishka; the scrambled eggs w/salami; the out-of-fashion plank-like fries that actually taste like potato; and the no-nonsense martini w/sidecar in the Kibbitz Room.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: silence9

                            I had to chime in here and comment that Canters has a really wonderful bakery.

                            1. re: SIMIHOUND

                              Agreed - their almond horns are divine. Their black and white cookies are not, but I haven't had any other bakery item from there I didn't enjoy. I also think their latkes are very good, but I like them crispy.

                          2. Langers has the best pastrami and tuna sandwich I've ever had outside of Makorski's in Omaha special.

                            1. langers though its no katz's

                              1. The REAL comparison would be between Langer's and Katz's for straight up pastrami. Have been to both many times and for me it goes back and forth. Since I now live on the west coast I would probably give the slight nod to Langer's due to their bread. But whenever I say that and then go to Katz's on a NYC trip, I say wow, this is as good (maybe better) than Langer's. Clearly, there are worse things in life than to eat pastrami from either. Canter's in my opinion is a distant third to either Langer's or Katz's. But I guess that wasn't the question.

                                Big Caveat - my opinion is based strictly on the pastrami based products of said establishments.

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: woojink

                                  Woojink, I just don't see how you and others can compare Katz's (and other NY delis) pastrami to that of Langer's or other LA delis. They are a very different product. Katz's and other NY deli's pastrami is a lean highly spiced/peppered meat which can be seen at the following site: http://www.katzdeli.com/shopping/inde.... Langer's and other LA pastramis is a fattier (no matter how you cut out the fat) and blander meat, not that remarkably different than corned beef. It is fair enough to say that one likes Langer's pastrami as much as or even better than Katz's (although I certainly do not), but they are very different. Yes, Langer's has hand cutting and its bread, but that is not focusing on the pastrami product. I really doubt very much that the original poster or others would have been able to tell the difference in a blind test between Langer's pastrami and that of many other LA delis, if all that was being tested was the pastrami. On the other hand, one look at Katz's pastrami side by side with Langer's would allow anyone to pick out the difference. Where have I gone wrong here?

                                  1. re: brwencino

                                    you were wrong right here:

                                    "I really doubt very much that the original poster or others would have been able to tell the difference in a blind test between Langer's pastrami and that of many other LA delis, if all that was being tested was the pastrami."

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      Perhaps, but it is not much like Katz's or most other NY deli pastrami products and I would still like to see the LA pastrami blind test made, including pastrami from Langer's and such Delis as Izzy's and Juniors.

                                    2. re: brwencino

                                      Clearly, I didn't say that the pastrami at both places were the same. The bread is also very different, as I pointed out. The pastrami experiences at both are comparable as pastrami experiences go. Nowhere did I say they were the same. Re-read the post. Different doesn't mean you can't compare. LA and NY are totally different experiences, doesn't mean you can't compare or have debate. Dude. You wid me?

                                      1. re: woojink

                                        Yes, yes, I understand, but most posts I have seen here make it sound as if it is really the same product, but folks like the Langer's version better. Also, I am not a NY person for those who might wonder and in many cases I believe LA food is better. For example, I never could dig what is called NY chinese food, which I think is a bland and Americanized version and no where closs to what is available here, particularly in the SGV.

                                        1. re: brwencino

                                          to each his or her own, I guess

                                          1. re: brwencino

                                            That's because NY people think they invented Chinese/Italian/etc food.

                                          2. re: woojink

                                            Tried Katz's for the first time over the summer. The pastrami was limp, fatty, and had a boiled taste. The only merit they can claim over Langer's is that they handcut their meat. On the other hand, Langer's meat is flavorful, robust, and you can't help but want more. Countless fellow NYers will tell you the same.

                                            1. re: zagathater

                                              Langer's will hand cut the meat, you just have to ask them. Many experts say this is the preferred way to order it.

                                        2. re: woojink

                                          From what I've read from hardcore deli fans, the most comparable deli meat to Langer's isn't the pastrami from Katz's in New York but rather the smoked meat from Schwartz's in Montreal. I can't say from personal experience, though I hope to someday. I will say that Jonathan Gold has in the past compared Langer's pastrami to Texas-style barbecued brisket in texture, and, while I have disagreed with his assessments on many things, this Texas boy can say he's pretty spot-on with that comparison.

                                          1. re: Woolsey

                                            To my taste, Katz's pastrami remains the closer (and slightly lesser) comparison. The smoked meat at Schwartz's has a distinctly different taste from Langer's (or other U.S. deli) pastrami. I prefer the latter but legions of Canadians will defend Schwartz's against all comers.

                                            1. re: Woolsey

                                              I do my own Texas style brisket (low and slow) and that's a very valid comparison at least for the hand cut at Langers. The low and slow cooking process breaks the connective tissue in the meat down in a way that only that method can.

                                          2. Can we all get along? to quote a great sage of our time.
                                            I do like Langer's pastrami, but frankly I'd tend to judge a deli by their more basic and less adorned meats such as corned beef or brisket. In this regard, Nate N'Al's, Billy's & Brent's are just fine. Bread is fair but can be inconsistent as far as freshness. Cole slaw is so-so at all three. Nate N'Al's has the best new pickles, I could put away a peck at a shot. Curiously, the potato salad is middling at all three, Trader's Old Fashioned version knocks the socks right off of them all. With a group, we like to share platters including multiple meats -- corned, brisket & pastrami, say -- Nate N'Al's platters are just dandy despite the disappointing potato salad.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bernardo

                                              I'm a Canter's partisan but I think the potato salad at Nate n' Al's is very good.

                                              1. re: bernardo

                                                The corned beef at Langer's is quite good, too. According to an LA Weekly article about a panel of L.A. deli owners held a few years back at a local Jewish university, the late Art Langer said the reason he promoted pastrami at Langer's over corned beef was simply because the pastrami was slightly cheaper to make, hence it provided more profit for the restaurant.

                                              2. Had my first pastrami sandwich at Langer's yesterday. It was delicious, but it tasted way more like corned beef than pastrami. I expect smoke and pepper in pastrami, and couldn't taste much of either (maybe due to variation between individual pastramis? I read another thread where someone descriped Langer's as "peppery", so maybe mine was cut off an underseasoned one). I also forgot to ask to have it hand-cut. Anyway, I'm definitely in the Katz's camp.

                                                What surprised me was how good the other dishes were, even the much maligned matzoh ball soup - ours were properly light, fluffy, and well seasoned. Also loved the potato pancakes and the chopped liver (LOVED the texture - neither pate nor mousse nor the coarsely chopped liver and onions I've had in the past - I was surprised by its fine, almost fluffy texture). The only real misses were the knishes, which had the tough pastry you get when you microwave a knish. My prior benchmark for Jewish deli classics was 2nd Ave Deli in NYC (which, frankly, I was never really impressed by) - I definitely preferred all of these at Langer's. As people seem overall unimpressed by Langer's renditions, it looks like I have a great deal of LA Jewish deli education ahead of me...

                                                -----
                                                Langer's Delicatessen
                                                704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

                                                Brent's Deli
                                                19565 Parthenia St, Northridge, CA 91324

                                                Nate 'n Al's Deli & Restaurant
                                                414 N Beverly Dr, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                                                Art's Delicatessen & Resturant
                                                12224 Ventura Blvd, Studio City, CA 91604

                                                Canter's Fairfax Restaurant
                                                419 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: daveena

                                                  You really need to remember to request it hand sliced on your next visit. I was surprised at the difference.

                                                2. For pastrami, Canter's is average. Langer's is extraordinary. Katz's is good, but Langer's still the best, particularly factoring in the vastly superior sides, e.g., bread, pickles, cole slaw, fries, etc.

                                                  I think it comes down to your personal preference of pastrami, i.e., the boiled/blander tasting type (e.g., Katz, Canter's) vs. fattier and richer (e.g., Langer's). I'm in the second group.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Ernie

                                                    Wow, are we talking about the same Katz, the one in NY? Its pastrami is not bland-it is smoked and steamed, peppered and very spicy-much spicer (as is most NY pastrami) than Langer's or other LA pastrami. The product at Katz and at Canters is very disimiliar. Liking Langers better is fine, but why mischaraterize the Katz product?

                                                    1. re: brwencino

                                                      Yes, Katz in NYC. I've been there several times and have found their pastrami leaner and less flavorful than Langer's

                                                  2. I had lunch Thursday at Langer's. I met an associate from Portland who was freaked out over the location. Being the cynic I am towards out of towners, I told him about the rash of recent gang related murders in the area, including the tragedy of a newborn baby caught in crossfire. Our other associate from the OC told him this was the only pastrami sandwich he would risk his life for. After his first bite into the steaming #1, Mr. Portland agreed, he will gladly risk his life again for the best sandwich he had ever eaten in his 46 years.

                                                    1. Canter's is on my short list of "been there once, never going back," restaurants. It is the most depressing, horrible, smelly place I have ever been. The busboy parked a bucket of black mopwater next to my table, just to drive the point home. It makes me mad that it even exists.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Snackish

                                                        Interesting. There I am trying to avoid eye contact with some of the quirky clientele and staff and dippy digs at Billy's in Torrance while sinking my teeth into a scrumptuous overstuffed corned beef sandwich piled high on fresh baked rye slathered with tangy dark mustard while thinking to myself "...yum, pupppplease God, don't let it go over the edge for me....."

                                                        1. re: bernardo

                                                          I felt Billy's was surprising good too. I went to NY Deli (in Torrance) and walked out after seeing how empty it was and looking at the food in the cold case. And, well, not a Jew in sight. ;)

                                                          1. re: DrBruin

                                                            It's been quite a while for me, but NY Deli had the best pastrami I've eaten, even compared to some of the more traditional places (Brent's etc.). YMMV. I wonder if NYD has changed in the last few years?

                                                      2. Langer's: Better pastrami

                                                        Canter's: Better hours.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Normal Garciaparra

                                                          bad = poor food available 8 hours a day

                                                          worse = poor food available 16 hours a day

                                                          priceless = poor food available 24 hours a day

                                                        2. Okay, I had to respond to this one. I lived in the east village on 2nd street and A for 10 years. If you know anything about Pastrami, you can surmise that I might have eaten Katz's once or twice. For those of you saying that Katz's is leaner than Langer's, you're wrong... it's very close. Katz' is the fattiest of the NY pastramis, and in my opinion... the best. That being said, I think Langer's is fantastic, slightly different, but just as good. Canter's is crap for tourists. I live 5 minute from Canter's in LA now and would gladly drive to Langer's rather than eat at Canter's. Pastrami should be fatty... that's the whole point, it ain't part of your protein diet... like a barbequed brisket the long cooking makes the fat tender. As far as I'm concerned, If you don't have to go home, sit on the couch and breath through your mouth for half an hour after you eat, it wasn't good pastrami. If you know your east and west coast Pastrami.... then surely you know where you should send a salami...

                                                          1. Langers - Hands down. I know they'll never move... or franchise... but they seriously need to move out of that area so I can go more often.

                                                            I enjoyed Katz's too when I lived out in NY.

                                                            I've met the Canters... nice bunch... good food... but, the vote still goes to Langers.

                                                            1. Has anyone had the Monte Cristo at Canter's? I had heard it was good, but I haven't tried it (and it's not really near me). And, Canters has a solid pastrami, until you try Langer's and then pastrami sandwiches just aren't the same anymore.