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Best pastrami in L.A.

Personally, I like The Hat in Alhambra, but I was wondering what everybody else thought. I like hand sliced, but sometimes the meat becomes too much the star of the show. I like mine with lots of pickles and mustard, which can be drowned out by thick sliced meat. I like Langers, but I think it is way overrated. Canters is OK, too.

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  1. Not a pastramatist personally, but I've heard from many sources that the Johnny's Pastrami on Adams just east of Crenshaw is excellent. I've heard people claim they flew in from Colorado just to get one. They've been there for many decades, FWIW. Supposedly the Culver City Johnny's (near Tito's Tacos) is not nearly as good.

    1 Reply
    1. re: broncosaurus

      The one in Culver City is "Johnnie's" and we love it.

    2. My Favs in this Order:
      Modica's in Long Beach

      1. The Oinkster rules my dreams....

        1. I like Langer's and Brent's Deli which is a lot closer drive for me.

          1. Avoid delis for the kind of pastrami you want. If you think Langer's rates below The Hat then you just aren't into Jewish Deli-style Pastrami as nothing beats Langer's for that.

            People who like The Hat also seem to like Johnnie's Pastrami in Culver City.

            1. Not to quash your post, but I think besides the best pizza, the best pastrami has been one of the most discussed and debated issues on chowhound.

              6 Replies
              1. re: mrfood16

                Yes, I've seen many threads. I wonder whether all of these establishments rub and smoke their own, have independent producers make it to their own proprietary specifications, or just purchase pastrami made elsewhere off-the-shelf, and then finish it in their own proprietary manner.

                1. re: ganeden

                  Well said!!!
                  True HOMEMADE pastrami is hard to find...(cured and smoked right in the store)
                  Most places are what we call "SLICER JOINTS'!!
                  (phrase coined by my good Roadfood.com buddy "Baah Ben")
                  The restaurants buy National brand, or Hebrew National, etc, then just slice it and warm it up....
                  the sad reality....

                  1. re: ellen4441

                    Love that term "SLICER JOINTS". The Hat is a great Slicer Joint....who cares?
                    My all time favorite LA pastrami was at the Stage Delicatessen in Beverly Hills.

                    1. re: ellen4441

                      It makes a lot of sense that these would be what you call "slicer joints". I figure they might go through 10 or more briskets per day. Not only would they need to smoke that much per day, at least a day in advance, but if they were doing their own corning, each 10 brisket lot would take from 1 to 3 weeks to pickle, meaning they'd need refrigerator space for 70 to 210 briskets during the curing process. That's a lot of refrigerator space. And for the most popular places, I may be way underestimating the amount of pastrami they go through, though my estimate may exceed reality on the less popular places. But in any case, there are not that many smokers that can handle 10 briskets at once either, without taking up a great deal of floor space.

                      Is the most popular place (Langer's) a "slicer joint", or do they make their own? Because if they purchase their pastrami, how hard would it be for someone to get the same meat and produce similar product, either commercially or at home? And if that's the case, why all the popularity of pastrami joints rather than saving money and doing it at home?

                      1. re: ganeden

                        I've heard rumors that Langer's gets the Pastrami from a meat packer in Burbank. And they steam & hand slice it themselves

                  2. re: mrfood16

                    I think "best burger" is comes in ahead of "best pastrami".

                  3. Hands down the Oinkster. Yum.

                    1. Langer's is consistently outstanding... EVERY time. Went to Junior's on Westwood Blvd. recently and the pastrami was delicious, but someone told a friend that it's hit and miss with the pastrami.

                      1. Nobody has made a better pastrami than Johnny's. It's heart-attack inducing, and some of the most fatty and flavorful sandwiches I've ever eaten. The Hat's not a bad place, but maybe because I live too close to one, I'm not as appreciative of it. But the mere thought of Johnny's makes the drool happen.

                        1. Brent's Deli --the best pastrami hands down

                          All of these places listed don't even compare.

                          Almost as good as the famous Katz Deli in NY

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: A5 KOBE

                            You can't go wrong with any of these:
                            The Hat

                            1. re: magic man

                              Yeah I have been to these places, Brent's is still my top.

                              Although haven't been to Langer's in a while, maybe I'll have to take a trip out there.

                          2. If you like the Hat, you'll love Oinkster. Personally, I don't like the thin cuts and the chunks of fat in the cut at either place (with Oinkster being the bigger offender). They are in the same league - and, it's obviously a matter of taste and preference, since I think Hat/Oinkster pastrami is disgusting.

                            Langer's is my holy grail for pastrami - and I really like the Pastrami at Pasadena Sandwich Co. I like the think slices and the little fat/gristle quality to them. Plus the flavor is out of this world. I think Hat/Oinkster is way too salty.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: The Oracle

                              The Oinkster pastrami is good. It is made there with their own recipe.

                              Warning.. There is a LOT of pepper in the recipe so it is very different from Brent's, The Hat, etc.

                              It's good though.

                            2. I think the pastrami at the original tops in pasadena (the location on colorado) is MUCH better than the versions at Johnnie's (where i used to eat when i lived in West LA) and the Hat (which is often inconsistent from location to location).

                              for deli-style, you can't beat langer's (i was just there yesterday).

                              there's no comparing langer's to the others, by the way, because they are completely different types of preparations (sort of like a more downscale comparison of ribeye steak and prime rib).

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: Bert

                                Agree with you on the pastrami at Tops being better than Johhnie's, except no one has pickles like Johnnie's.

                                1. re: monku

                                  The Hat puts pickles in their pastrami sandwiches as well.

                                  1. re: A5 KOBE

                                    Have you ever had the pickles at Johnnie's?
                                    They aren't put on the sandwich like a garnish, they are the some of the best pickles you'll ever eat.

                                    1. re: A5 KOBE

                                      Does The Hat put pickles inside their sandwich? Thank god Johnnie's doesn't.

                                  2. re: Bert

                                    I too like Tops pastrami with pickles and mustard over The Hat . The Hat is salty, salty, salty. I think Oinkster is very good quality but for me WAY over seasoned. I will take their Belgian Fries though any time.

                                    1. re: Fru

                                      Fru, Tops is pretty nice. Really mild flavor, little saltiness. I see you are a purist.

                                      1. re: ohdaylay

                                        Thank you for the kind reply. I realize now that you are the original poster. I still have yet to try Langers. When growing up, more often than not, my dad would bring deli home on Sundays rather than the whole family eat deli out as it was considered expensive so I never really got used to the mountains of meat that you get at most places. My sandwich of choice was typically pastrami or corned beef with cream cheese on a bagel. Art's sandwiches were/are so gargantuan it was never appealing.

                                  3. You might consider the Eastside Market, near Chinatown. They put a light marinara sauce over their pastrami. I like the pastrami and beef sandwich. It may not be the best but is something different w/ the sauce.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: CCDiner

                                      At Eastside Deli the best deal is get the hot meat plate which is the same price as a sandwich. $6.80.You get a heaping portion of the Italian beef and a heaping portion of Italian pastrami with Provolone cheese and peppers on it and they give you a roll. You use the roll and some meat to make a sandwich and you have a heaping pile to take home for dinner later. May not be the best pastrami, but its the best marinara sauce.

                                    2. I'll throw in my two cents, or at Langer's twelve bucks: I've never had any pastrami that approaches Langer's. Rich, succulent, tangy, tender, wonderful. Admittedly, it isn't a huge sandwich, and it isn't a bargain. But it definitely satisfies, and supplemented with some crinkle-cut fries (ordered welldone) or a cup of matzoh ball soup I usally have half to take home. Don't underestimate the importance of that perfect twice-baked rye -- crusty on the outaide, soft in the middle. And while I sometimes read of people complaining about Langer's pastrami being fatty, I find that it is sometimes too lean, so I order mine untrimmed with the crusty, fatty bits intact.

                                      I'm not a fan of Johnnie's in Culver City. Too thinly sliced, weird texture, too salty, and way too expensive. For an Italian-style option, I'll throw in a rec for Sorrento's Deli down further south on Sepulveda -- thick hand-sliced pastrami swimming in gravy served in big portions at an amazingly low price. For hamburger stand pastami, my vote goes to Dino's on Pico at Berendo -- huge sandwiches just exploding with meat, though I find it very difficult not to order the crazy chicken special there.

                                      Finally, there are only a couple left on the westside, one on Venice near Robertson and the other off Lincoln near the Costco, but Togo's does a fine hot pastrami at a very good price, a generous portion that is not all gristle and fat. Probably the best thing that they do.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: nosh

                                        I'll agree with this entire post.

                                        I had Johnnies 2 years ago after a 6+ year dry spell and it was NOTHING like my memories of what it used to be (like around 2001ish). I've heard from several people that it's fallen off the tracks...

                                      2. Brent's
                                        Roll and Rye, Culver City near Sepulveda....best Rueben !

                                        1. Often not mentioned but profoundly important is the BREAD at Langers. Soft in the middle while still crunchy on the outside, it is the best bread for pastrami sandwiches in the world. I thought the meat at Katz's was close to Langers, but the bread not even in the same league.

                                          1. What do you guys think of the pastrami at Bay Cities in Santa Monica. My friend loves it with everything on it, including tomatoes, pickles and cheese. I had one the other day, but I like it with just pickles and lots of mustard. I think I have found my new favorite.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: ohdaylay

                                              the hot pastrami at sorrento italian market in culver city is a shaver type cooked in juice in a steam pan.. very tasty.. mustard and cheese and good to go. not in the langers et al catergory before you guys blast the place..

                                              Sorrento Italian Market
                                              5518 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City, CA 90230

                                              1. re: Foodandwine

                                                Also note that a regular-size pastrami sandwich at Sorrento's will run less than $4, and a large about $5. Amazingly low prices for fresh, handmade sandwiches assembled to order.

                                                1. re: nosh

                                                  Foodandwine. Nice, that spot is pretty close to my job. Do you know what time it closes?

                                                  1. re: ohdaylay

                                                    Not sure but I think past 6 p.m. or so ( I normally go at lunch ).. Its a good old fashion Italian Deli.. However, if you click on the link that I had posted their phone number is listed, perhaps you can call and find out for yourself. Enjoy!

                                                    1. re: Foodandwine

                                                      Just fyi they close disappointingly early -- 5:30, maybe 6 or so. I definitely second the recommendation to call before you go. And I agree completely about the place. It is run by the nicest people. I want and like to go there just to support that place. It's small, family-run, *bursting* with product and the most endearing "we want to please you" attitude imaginable. An absolute retail oasis in the westside. The sort of place that functions as an antidote and even innoculation against west LA's over-frequented and under-caring establishments. Not mentioned, I think, is that in addition to a large deli counter and some take-out prepared food they sell many tinned and packaged (specialty Italian) supermarket-type foods and even kitchen implements. Gosh, it's been way too long since I've been there....thanks for the reminder. There's parking in the back.

                                            2. if it's jewish deli pastrami i say langer's but i just went to to johnnie's pastrami last night and yum, it was a damn fine sandwich!

                                              9 Replies
                                              1. re: woofer

                                                Out of curiosity how much for a JP sandwich now? Last time I went a few years ago it was $8.

                                                1. re: monku

                                                  I think it's $10.75 now? It's someplace in that neighborhood.

                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                    WOW !!!
                                                    It's "Slicer Joint" joint pastrami from Vienna Beef (I checked out their dumpster one day).

                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                      i think it was $10.25 but .75 cents for cheese

                                                      1. re: woofer

                                                        I haven't been to Johnnie's in a while. I forgot about the price. Guess that's why I like the Hat's. I think its $6.50 or so. Can't beat the price.

                                                          1. re: nosh

                                                            Not only is Johnnie's price obscene but they will take cash only, and have nothing else on the menu but huge mounds of sliced-up formerly-packaged meat. I agree the pickles are good -- eat a lot of them to justify the cost of that sandwich! I went a couple times a few years back but then decided their attitude and price really couldn't ever justify my patronage again. Honestly, they are so obnoxious there as well. Another WLA enigma....

                                                            1. re: aliris

                                                              If you are looking for good food and really nice people who give you friendly and attentive service in that immediate area, drop over to Metro Cafe on Washington Pl. just barely east of Sepulveda. Closed for dinner Monday nights (but they also serve breakfast and lunch too - so not hard to find them open for business).

                                                              Metro Cafe
                                                              11188 Washington Pl, Culver City, CA 90232

                                                              1. re: Servorg

                                                                Yes, thank you for reminding me! This place has been on my "list" for so very long now....like about 15 years. Honestly, I just don't get to eat out anywhere near as much as I'd like! Thanks....