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Great real deli in LA?

I miss my east coast NYC deli food......

where can I get killer pastrami, pickles, and matzo ball soup in LA?


Is Canter's the only place?

(have Carnegie and Katz's withdrawls)

xoxo, Liisa

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  1. Oh God no, not Canter's, Canter's is just chaloshes.

    The very best pastrami in LA is at Langer's and whether it's as good as or better than Katz's is a matter of furious debate on these boards. You must order it hand-sliced, though, and they close at 4 because the neighbourhood is a little skeevy at night. It will totally scratch your itch.

    If you want the whole deli experience, go to Brent's in Northridge. I also like Billy's in Glendale but it's not as good as Brent's (and the pastrami at Brent's is no great metsieh either, but it's leagues better than Canter's).

    If you've absolutely got to stay in the 310, then go to Nate 'n Al's in Beverly Hills. Skip Junior's in Westwood.

    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

    14 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      I forgot the link for Billy's, and also a warning: Izzy's Deli in Santa Monica will probably come up at some point and it's absolutely a shanda and a charpeh and fit only for goyim who don't know any better.

      Billy's Delicatessen
      216 N Orange St, Glendale, CA 91203

      1. re: Das Ubergeek

        I am a huge fan of Langer's and recommend it highly. A pastrami on rye with an order of crinkle-cut fries (ordered welldone) and a cup of matzoh ball soup will make a fantastic lunch. Beware, however, this is not a mile-high sandwich in the Carnegie/Katz's style -- if that is what you are looking for it will seem downright chintzy. But the meat is rich, succulent, tasty, tender, excellent -- I order it untrimmed so I get the crisp outside peppery portions and, yes, the fat. The sandwich makes up in quality what it lacks in quantity.

        1. re: nosh

          You are far too hard on Junior's, which remains one of the better delis in town. Their lox is the best in town, by a fair margin, and the pastrami is no Langer's, but also no slouch. (Yeah, they serve a lot of Chinese chicken salad. It's that kind of town.)

          1. re: condiment

            I guess I wouldn't really know about the lox since I make my own... but their pastrami, feh. Too lean by half and on the worst rye bread ever.

            1. re: condiment

              The fudge cake is excellent. Have no clue about the rest.

          2. re: Das Ubergeek

            Or doctors who are stuck by proximity/location....

              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                I gotta disagree about Billy's. I think it's dreck, too. I love the waitress with the dirty jokes. The pickles on the table aren't bad, but pretty much everything I've ever had there has been mediocre at best. I once went to a wedding - a big Italian family and a big Mexican family and I was practically drooling in anticipation of the food. But, it was catered by Billy's and was awful. I got talked into going there for breakfast last Sunday. Corned beef hash was mushy, characterless and flavorless, eggs horribly overcooked, bagel burnt, I've had better coffee in an old age home. My friend had a pastrami sandwich that I wouldn't even dare taste, it looked so awful (green around the edges.)

                Langer's for pastrami - and I like some of their breakfast stuff also. Brent's for all around. Nate-N-Al for the atmosphere mostly (although it is, IMHO, overpriced and undergood for the price.)

              2. re: Das Ubergeek

                yay!! field trip is in the works!

                thank you for all the info!.it's a mitsvah.

                Watching the reruns over and over of Bourdain gave me the itch.

                and makes me remember Ronnie's in Orlando..... such a fabulous icon.... gone now.

                1. re: missliisa

                  Ess gezunt -- and report back and let us know what you liked best!!

                  Oh, you asked for bagels. You can get H&H bagels at unbelievable markup at Barney Greengrass in Beverly Hills -- flown in every day from Eleventh Avenue. If you want something that's not fifty cents a biss, my recommendation is Bagel Nosh, on Wilshire and 17th in Santa Monica. They used to be open in the Woodbridge Center Mall in New Jersey. Also passable (but not great) is Western Bagel Too in Studio City on Coldwater Canyon and Ventura. Ess-A-Bagel it's not, but until you convince yourself to have a basket overnighted from Zabar's...

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    I've grown to like the Bagel Factory I think it's called in the Vons minimall on the northeast corner of National and Sepulveda (their main store is on Robertson). Could be just slow acclimatization to the melted pot here but I don't yearn for H&H any longer...unless I think too much about it. IMHO Western Bagels are not (and I just saw them in Costco today; can you imagine????). But this subject has been boiled many times over elsewhere on Chowhound.

                    1. re: aliris

                      bagel factory is good. and they have good challah.

                2. re: Das Ubergeek

                  Langer's and Brent's are by far the best.

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    First response is the definitive one!

                  2. There is no real good deli in L.A. but Canter's is the worst of the bad attempts. I would try Frohman's, Arts Deli, Nate and Al's...not great but better than Canter's...way better

                    1. There is no one deli that has it all....it depends what you want. For example, Roll and Rye in Culver City has the best rueben I've had ....Brents has good corned beef and pastrami....the pickles sourkraut and sky high sandwiches are really good at Nate'n Als......Jerry's deli has decent matzo ball soup...Barney's Greengrass has good smoked fish and bagel plates. The lox,eggs and onions is good at Fromans. Of course Langers for pastrami. Nobody makes good potato pancakes....Brents makes their own kishka and its good. ...I like the sweet and sour cabbage soup at Fromans...Broadway Deli in Santa Monica used to have a good selection of smoked fish... I haven't been there for some time so I don't know about now....... Thanks for all the yiddishisms Das Ubergeek ...really gave me a laugh.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: delishdonna

                        roll & rye!!! i always forget about this place - i was never wowed by this place, but it does serve mile high sandwiches that are pretty tasty! i need to go back and try a few more things to get a fair opinion of it.

                        10990 Jefferson Blvd, Culver City 90230

                        langer's is the best. i was disappointed at brent's - i think i just expected too much and it didn't really deliver. i need to go to arts deli. nate and al's is fine. canter's is eh - some people love it and some people hate it. it's just ok in my opinion, but i won't argue if someone wants to go there. juniors is awful. truly. i do my best to stay out of this place.

                        no one has mentioned factor's deli - which i don't know too much about.

                        be sure to steer clear of greenblatts - i would put it at a sub-junior's level.

                      2. P.S there is a kosher bakery on Burbank near Laurel Canyon next to Cambridge Farms market....They have the best biallys outside of New York..there bagels and rye are also very good...Cambridge farms has excellent pre sliced packaged lox from Acme supplier in New York . ...along with all kinds of other smoked fish.

                        1. Langers for killer pastrami.

                          I like the Matzo Ball soup at Jerrys.

                          Bagels: http://www.thebagelfactoryinc.com/ Handsdown the closest to NY bagels.

                          1. You've got to try the kreplach soup at Junior's. It is the best in town. As for Roll And Rye -it's just lame.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Dyspepsia

                              I don't mean to rude but if you like the kreplach at Juniors you have never tasted good kreplach. I wish there was a deli who made good kreplach....I haven't found one yet. Factors is just ok...Arts used to be good ....their prices have gone insanely high now and the quality just isn't there. The last time I was there my daughter and i each had a sandwich and a soda...the bill was over fifty dollars with tax and tip. I'm staying away.

                              1. re: delishdonna

                                Real deli is expensive! Always has been, pretty much - I remember articles bemoaning the price of Canter's and Art's sandwiches back in the '70s. But Art's is exactly the same as it always was - it is we who have changed. And since Art's sandwiches average $14 or so, it's hard to see the $50, unless you tip like the queen of England.

                                1. re: condiment

                                  Second your statement that real deli is expensive, but also,with the caveat that real deli is sometimes kosher, and therefore even more expensive. I happen to make my own pastrami (from uncured brisket, through curing and smoking), so I know I can never compete pricewise with the sliced deli meat market, even in the kosher markets. First, much of the pastrami available is full of water, even the kosher "slicer" pastrami from, say, Meal Mart (a kosher producer), is cheap per pound (for kosher) but full of water. The market next door sells it for $17.99/lb. No doubt it's so high because it's kosher, and kosher is 5-7 times as expensive as nonkosher. I buy kosher brisket wholesale for my pastrami, lose about half the weight in smoking, and it costs me about $15.00/lb just to make the stuff, so I"ve got to sell it for $40/lb. I think the situation is analogous in the nonkosher market, where meat is much less expensive. First of all, if you want fatty pastrami, it's gonna cost more because you're dealing with a better grade of meat than the lean stuff. Second, if you want the care taken to have a more or less artisanal product, the independent producer is going to need to purchase that meat, (Meal Mart, for example, is a vertically integrated kosher slaughterer, so it eliminates one lever of distribution in producing its own deli). Then after processing, the flavor will be more concentrated, one reason for which is the loss of water weight in the finished product. The smoker must make that up somewhere, and it eventually is passed through to the consumer.

                                  1. re: ganeden

                                    I don't think any of the "real" delis in LA mentioned so far are actually kosher -- they all seem to be kosher-style. This confused me for a long time, since a Jewish delicatessen in New York means meat and pareve, and if you want dairy you go to a dairy restaurant.

                                    That said, I agree that kosher meat is more expensive than non-kosher, but I don't see the 5x-7x factor you're claiming.

                                    Art's (to stay on topic) has "triple decker" sandwiches (which, personally, I can't imagine one person eating -- and I am no mincing Minnie!) for $20.95, so if you bought two and two sodas I could absolutely see a $50 check. A pastrami sandwich, though, last I checked, was $14.

                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                      Some of the delis in NYC are kosher; just as many if not more - including most of the famous ones - are not. Los Angeles have some kosher delis here, of course, notably the Pico Kosher Deli and Jeff''s Gourmet Sausages. Jeff's doesn't feel much like a deli, but it is the only one in town as far as I know that cures its own pastrami.

                            2. Just wanted to show a little love for Canter's. I've enjoyed all the meals I've had there lately.

                              I'm especially happy there when I get one of the servers who's been there for years. They're either there for a few weeks or there forever. The longtime employees seem to know how to get the best out of the kitchen.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Hackenbush

                                I'm an east coast transplant - loved the Carnegie, Katz's not so much. I've been going to Langer's since the early, early 80s - when it was open into the night - and I still love it. If you're in the West Valley, you should also check out Weiler's - quite excellent.

                                FYI - there was a thread here a few weeks or so back with much praise for Canter's - to which I concur. Yes, it's possible for someone to enjoy both Langer's and Canter's.

                                1. re: Briggs

                                  There is considerable love here for Langers and the Pastrami, however I am a Corned Beef kinda guy.. the 1/2 sandwich combo of Corned Beef with Mushroom Barley Soup is my go to at Canters.. along with a few sweets from the bakery on the way out.. Im happy..

                              2. Juniors has decent Pastrami (remember to order it "LEAN" or else risk a mouthful of fat). so does Factor's Deli on Pico. Jerry's still has my favorite Matzo Ball Soup in a restaurant, but it's only a B to B+. Nothing bubbe would make. Jerry's pastrami is mediocre and can be very fatty.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: OC Mutt

                                  But fatty pastrami is kind of the point, otherwise you get dry mouth and who wants that? Of course if the pastrami is cold then the fat gets chewy but if the pastrami is warm like it's supposed to be the fat just melts in your mouth.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    I agree Das...the pastrami should have some fat...Juniors does not have good flavor or texture .

                                    1. re: delishdonna

                                      There is a huge difference between pastrami with huge %'s of fat, and dry. No one likes dry, but some pastrami can visually be 1/3 - 1/2 fat. that's just gross, no matter what the temperature is. Of course everyone is entitled to their individual tastes so to each his/her own.

                                      1. re: OC Mutt

                                        You do know that every deli essentially gets its pastrami from the same place, right? The difference is in how it's treated, which is where Langer's extra-long steaming comes in. But still, there's no conspiracy: if you like lean, ask for lean; if you're offended by dry pastrami, ask for not-lean. All of the major delis will be happy to do exactly what you want - MOTs, the customer base, are pretty much the pickiest people on earth.

                                2. Everyone I know who transplants to Los Angeles from New York and misses what you're describing will only eat at Brent's. None of them will waste their time anywhere else.
                                  They are outspoken about it...:).

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    Brent's in Thousand Oaks -- the only one I go to, because of its proximity to the 101 -- has California style, and the look is about as far as you can get from the Carnegie or the former Pastrami King in Kew Gardens, but the corned beef is excellent, even if the bread is a little too soft for my taste and lacks good crust. Those oversized eclairs are also mighty good.

                                    1. re: latindancer

                                      "Everyone I know who transplants to Los Angeles from New York...will only eat at Brent's"
                                      You might want to add an addendum in there: "and who lives in the West Valley..." And in fairness, I like Billy's 'cause it's the closest to me, so the same comment might apply to Billy's and other deli partisans. OTOH, I DON'T live near Canter's and I still think it's great. Brent's not so much...

                                      As for the comment about the Billy's catered affair - much like pizza, NO Jewish deli travels well. After a few minutes out of the steamer - feh...

                                      1. re: Briggs

                                        "NO Jewish deli travels well"??

                                        To the contrary, <insert_appropriate_Yiddish_phrase_supplied_by_Ubergeek>! Good delis are movable feasts if you treat 'em right. For example: ask for the pastrami and corned beef cold, keep it refrigerated until about an hour before eating, allow it to come to cool room temperature, and then steam *lightly* while occasionally lifting and stirring the meat with tongs.

                                        That's what I did last night with both corned beef and pastrami from Brent's -- it was delicious, especially the corned beef -- and I plan to do the same thing in a few minutes with the leftovers. (A third night is pushing your luck, however -- corned beef and fish have that much in common.)

                                        Incidentally, I went to the original Brent's for the first time yesterday and finally understood that it's a much-different scene from the one in Thousand Oaks. The TO branch is handsome and suburban and well scrubbed; the look of the one in Northridge reminds me of Chicago or Queens, although with a lot less bickering. A very, er, remarkable-looking family I saw confirmed monku's observation below.

                                        1. re: sbritchky

                                          Let me rephrase - From my experience (and I truly wish this wasn't the case), Jewish deli GENERALLY doesn't hold up at catered events, parties, etc., once it leaves the steamer. So even with your TLC, do you truly believe a Langer's or Brent's sandwich is as perfect out of their original environments?

                                          Let's be honest, sbritchky, the methodology (aka potchkying around) you describe might work out okay in a smaller setting/kitchen, but I seriously doubt it would ever be done at a catered affair that the earlier poster complained about. Not to mention it's doubtful that someone entertaining at even a small party would take the time and effort. Unless pastrami or corned beef was the only thing served. And you and I were there to care enough to badger them to do it right.

                                      2. re: latindancer

                                        While on the subject of waste.....have you ever noticed the average "waist" line at Brent's is the largest you'll see at any deli in the LA area if that's any indicator of a good deli.

                                      3. If you go to Brents, be sure to get a Black and White cookie for dessert!

                                        1. I've been to most of the delis mentioned in this thread. I live close to Brent's in the West Valley, so I go there most of the time, and use it as a standard. Here's my 2 pence worth: Art's in Studio City has slipped a lot in the last few years. It's still a great place for people watching, but not so much for the food. Billy's in Glendale is good, not great, but if you live close by, by all means go there.

                                          Last few times in Canter's I felt ripped off. And service was lousy. Haven't been back in about 3 years, and I'm not too eager to return, despite the rave reviews by some Chowhounders.

                                          Nate N' Al's? It's okay. Not great, but certainly beats Canter's.
                                          Langer's? Horrid neighborhood, good deli. Use the subway and don't linger too long.

                                          Brent's is supposed to be the top-rated deli in the US, by Zagat. I don't know. The corned beef I had at Carnegie Deli in NYC was awesome. But I live in LA, near Brent's....

                                          And yes, if there was a Kosher deli in the West Valley, I'd go there. Kosher can't be beat, usually.

                                          1. I love Brent's. Pastrami and corned beef are excellent, or my favorite the pastrami and egg plate with a bagel.

                                            Other jewish dishes at Brent' are great as well. Chicken in a pot is one of my favorites and the latkes are pretty good as well.

                                            Barney Greengrass in BH sells H&H bagels if you want a really good bagel, but its gonna cost you.

                                            1. I'll avoid hashing out what has already been said about langers, brents, nates, etc....as I agree with it all.
                                              Instead, I will try to provide a little insight into kosher delis that are rarely covered. Glatt Kosher.
                                              While most deli's are Kosher style, few are actually kosher. Unfortunately, some of the best sandwiches are not, and can never be kosher (no swiss on that reuben). More importantly, for a kosher deli to get the highest certification, they need to be closed on saturday (shomer f*in shabbos). So, that being said, there is really only one GOOD kosher deli in LA. It's Pico Kosher Deli on Pico & Roberston. Its on the southwest corner, and I remember going often in high school, as I attended the largest orthodox jewish high school in LA, which is down the street.
                                              Now, about the food.
                                              As a kid, I usually got the combination of corned beef and pastrami on seedless rye with extra mustard.
                                              The pastrami is great, though recently I went back and was a little disappointed. I am going to give benefit of the doubt, since I had years of great pastrami sandwiches, and it was right after the agriprocessors shutdown, which is the cause of the serious shortage of kosher beef in the US right now. The pastrami is not hand cut, but is still a well done hot meat.
                                              They also grill up the pastrami as if it were bacon, and throw it on the burgers. Though I still prefer a bacon cheeseburger from many other places in LA...
                                              Dave's special is great too (meat and slaw, like a langers #19, but with turkey i think)

                                              The craziest thing about this place is that its the same employees as 20 years ago.

                                              ....bourdain makes me miss Katz's. Can't wait for NY to thaw.....and im the first jetblue flight out....

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: avidan

                                                I watched that last night and drooled the entire time he was on the LES... April... April...

                                              2. It isn't a deli, but The Oinkster in Eagle Rock has the best pastrami I've tasted in a long time.