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Langer's, finally

  • t

Alright, so I'd never eaten at Langer's - tried about 4 times, it was closed every time.

Yeah, well, my girlfriend and I split one simple pastrami on rye, and one #... #... whatever, the rye and coleslaw and Russian and pastrami.

Anyway, yeah. What have I got to say about it? Ummmm...

I swear to you, this is not an exaggeration. I am trying to be as neutrally accurate as possible. But it was literally unbelievably good. I mean, when most people say "unbelievably good", they don't mean it - it's just some sort of extra emphatic nonense. I mean it. I actually had some sort of bizarre disassociative experience, where I stopped believing that I was there eating that sandwich, because there was no way a pastrami sandwich could be this good.

I mean it.

This has never happened to me before with food. Only, say, in college, after years of steady rejection by girls, when girls first started getting interested in me - for about 6 months, I would regularly, during moments of intimacy, experience a similar sense of dissasociation. The belief that no girl could possibly dig me was far stronger than any sensory input about what was actually in my arms.

I haven't felt that for years, until this sandwich.

I think it wouldn't have happened without the bread. I mean, the pastrami is fantastic - FANTASTIC - but it is still barely within the realm of the believable. It is the softness/crunch of the bread, and the combination's utter carnal satisfaction, that really pushed it over the edge. And I think it wouldn't have been so unbelievable had I not done a pastrami tour of New York, and found what I had previously thought to be the Outer Limits of Pastrami.

Anyway, I'm babbling now. I'll stop.

The pastrami there - first of all, am I the only one that has a hard time believing that it's beef? It's beef, right? That's what I'm told. Hard to believe. Weird. Anyway, the pastrami has this sort of intensification-of-meat-flavor going on, with this wonderful intense near-crunchy crust... the only analogue I can think is certain pork barbecue. The best pork experience I've had was at the Interstate BBQ in Memphis, and this is the second best. Even though it's not pork.

It's not pork, right? Christ. It doesn't exactly taste like pork. Yet I compelled by its sheer porkiness....

Probably something to do with association to barbecue.

Anyway, yeah, I have nothing else to say. I figure the split of the pure and the doctored sandwich was just about right. Pure pastrami could have been a bit too overwhelming. But I would've missed it, without any...

Anyway, yeah. I was actually moved at the end of the meal, round about the time that I actually came to believe that I was actually eating what I thought I was eating. There was a little lump in my breast, like you get when you're watching a sad movie and you're trying to not get those little man-tears. Anyway, whatever. Nobody's going to believe this. But I'll say it anyway: I was actually moved.

Thanks, Chowhounds.


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  1. Welcome to the life-long addiction that is called Langer's! You are absolutely right, the pastrami is indeed divinely porcine, perhaps the closest you can get to pork and still be kosher? Now I am jonesing big time for the #1 Special, I think I will stop by tomorrow!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ernie

      I'm still tasting and dreaming about the pastrami and chopped chicken liven sandwich we had there last week.

    2. Speaking as a card carrying member of AARP, I just want you to know Thi, you are now in Middle Age when you start experiencing carnal feelings about food, and the food gets better than the sex.

      1. My first time was a couple of months ago and I had pretty much the same experience. I've actually been a little bit scared to go back: I think if I try it one more time, I'll end up sleeping on the street in front of the door, spening all my time and money in there, like some cocaine fiend.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Tom P

          Oh, is THAT what happened to some of those people hanging out on the sidewalk around there....

        2. I ordered the sandwich with the cole slaw and russian dressing and felt that I had somehow muted the intensity of the experience. The pastrami is great, no arguement, but that bread..........

          2 Replies
          1. re: Just Larry

            Suggestion from years of going with the kids: go there on the Red Line -Westlake stop- the walk is only a short 1/2 block on Alvarado St. It's bustling, very colorful and feels safe. If you drive, the parking lot is about a block east on 7th St and the walk feels much less friendly (and the guard carries a gun, which small boys find endlessly interesting, but I don't). Also, order the root beer float for the young ones - a full can (yes, it's a can) of root beer with about a half pound of ice cream.

            1. re: Just Larry

              I liked having half a pure, and half a cole slaw/russian. The cole slaw pastrami sandwich was like a sort of... mellow respite from the pure rigorous intensity of the pure sandwich.

              If someone were going alone, by all means, pastrami and rye and nothing else.

              But I liked having the cole slaw to alternate to. It had a... mellowness, a gentle combinatory vibe, I dunno, it was sort of cool. The pure sandwich is like talking with your best friend who you haven't seen in a long time about the meaning of life, and the coleslaw sandwich is like hanging out with them late at night on the beach smoking pot.


            2. Thi, let me know when you publish your first book, OK. I want to buy a dozen or so copies.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Thi

                Hmmm... I didn't post that. I wonder who did?

                Or was I sleepposting?


                1. re: Thi N.

                  Dorothy was so overcome by the power of your pastrami prose she started channeling you there for a moment in time.

                  1. re: WLA

                    Dude, it's funny, everytime somebody posts "you should write a book" or something (this is probably the third), I'm typically at some strung out point in my program where I would rather cut off my legs than write more philosophy. Are you guys psychic? Are you guys trying to seduce me away from my program? I'll tell you, if I had an agent right now, at this moment...


                    1. re: Thi N.

                      I had an Agent once, unfortunately it was Agent Orange.

                      1. re: Thi N.

                        really you should write books i bet you would become a ny times best seller

                2. Last summer I was driving by on Alvarado and decided to stop for a couple of #1s. Had a kosher pickle and marveled at how intense the meat flavor was, but also how it was so delicate ..falling apart almost. Sat there and split one with the significant other and packed the other one to go. Trekked to Griffith Park. Walked around a bit on one of the trails behind the golf course. Ended up on a slight hill under a tree overlooking the huge play yard, with families grilling carne asada, and pinatas hanging from the trees. Opened up the second #1 and enjoyed it room temperature, marveling that I was eating pastrami surrounded by mariachi music coming from a radio from one of the parties yards away.I sat there happily,all the while shooing away the swarm of bees that congregated around my meal.

                  1. Thi,

                    Thanks for one of the best posts ever on Chowhound. Certainly one of the best written.

                    I've never made the pork-pastrami-barbecue connection before, but of course you're right.

                    1. Those who enjoy Thi's writing will enjoy Los Angeles ChowNews, a weekly email newsletter wherein Thi boils down all the best tips appearing on this message board (and we look up address, phone, and map links and organize it all tidily). It's an amazing resource that ensures you never miss a hot tip. The accumulated issues constitute a unique chowcyclopedia!

                      Subscriptions are a ridiculous $15 for six months and support Chowhound.com (and there are also editions for SF Bay and for NYC Tristate...many hounds subscribe to several, as stored issues constitute a killer resource when visiting those cities). See link below.

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                      1. Brilliant post...exhilirating, really, to know that there are others who get this way about food.

                        1. Welcome to the wonderful world of the Langer's sandwich. Isn't it exciting to know that there still are TRUE food epiphanies out there left to be enjoyed? Aren't you just excited to know that there will be more of these in the future? And aren't you totally pissed that it took so long to discover?!?! Those were all the thoughts that went through my head when I had my first Langer's... WOW, TERRIFIC, WONDERFUL!, I AM ALIVE!, WHAT?!?! I COULD HAVE EATEN THIS YESTERDAY, LAST MONTH, YEAR AND DIDN'T?!?! SUCH WASTED TIME!!!!

                          I guess it's time for another trip to 7th and Alvarado....

                          1. I agree also. Ive been three times now and every time has be heavenly

                            1. Great post Thi, thanks. Langer's pastrami on rye is perhaps the only sandwich I've had where it is best with nothing else on it. Even mustard is superfluous. Just the meat and bread - perfect.

                              1. s

                                This post is pure poetry. Thank you for sharing. Langers is one of those LA institutions that people can't believe I've never been to even though I grew up in Los Angeles (I've also never been to the Apple Pan or a Tommy's). You've inspired me.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: SpongeBobSquarePegs

                                  If you ever do decided to try Tommy's, don't try "a" Tommy's, try "the" Tommy's, Beverly & Rampart.
                                  The "shack" is the place!

                                  1. re: Curt

                                    The "shack" is the place!

                                    Particularly so after about 2:30 AM on a Saturday or Sunday morning!

                                    1. re: Curt

                                      The shack is quintessial LA with all the patrons looking as though they were hired by Central Casting.
                                      Wonderful wonderful tasty greasy burgers and Pepsi from the soda fountain that is so strong that it keeps me awake two nights in a row.

                                        1. re: Curt

                                          Hey, that's me on the corner, with a cup of "coffee"!

                                        2. re: Zoe

                                          Remember when they had sodas in *glass* bottles in the coolers there at the end?

                                          1. re: TomSwift

                                            My last trip, they were in cans in the cooler.
                                            Maybe the other line, at the building behind the stand, offers fountain drinks?

                                            THE SHACK! THE SHACK!

                                    2. If we had Academy Awards for Chowhound posts, this particular piece of writing would be a shoe in.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: David Kahn

                                        I am nominating Thi's post for the Pullet Surprise. (g)

                                        1. re: WLA

                                          Needless to say, a gift certificate would be the award.

                                          1. re: WLA

                                            Hey, it's an honor just to be nominated, thi.

                                        2. Couldn't resist your poetry.
                                          The moment I read it, left everything I was doing & drove right to Alvarado & 7th.
                                          Followed your advice:
                                          "If someone were going alone, by all means, pastrami and rye and nothing else."
                                          Absolute bliss.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: RicRios

                                            Langer's owner's brother ran the snack bar at Loyola when I was in law school thirty years ago. The only thing that kept me going in a miserable sexist, classist, racist, religionist and a lot of other ists atmosphere was a sandwich made with Langer's Rye. Gil the owner got fresh bread, pastrami and CB from the deli every day. Heaven.

                                            1. re: Zoe

                                              You said it!! Gil's wasn't much to look at but the pastrami sandwich was tops. Everyone whispered that he got the meat and bread from his brother's deli, Langers, but I'd never been to Langer's and so didn't fully appreciate the connection. If I had a nickel for every pastrami sandwich I ate in a corner booth at Gil's I wouldn't have to practice law now. I haven't been back to the school since they did all the remodeling but I bet they don't have anything even close to those sandwiches. Because they probably don't have Gil either.

                                              1. re: TomSwift

                                                To paraphrase your post, "they don't have anything even close to those sandwiches. Because they . . . don't have Gil either."

                                                When I was at Loyola in the mid -90s, the cafeteria was run on a food service contract with Marriott. Nothing special, just basic coffee shop grill food.

                                                If you haven't seen the remodeled campus, it is worth a trip. You can see the galvanized steel-sided parking structure that Frank Gehry worked up. Don't stand near it on a hot day or you will get singed from reflected heat. It's not a wonder that the Disney Concert Hall neighbors are complaining about the reflected heat--that steel gets damn hot in direct sun.

                                          2. I just want to say, that I was recently at Langer's and had this precise experience again.

                                            Only it was better this time because I know about their homemade egg cream soda now.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: Thi N.

                                              It's so nice to have a place like this in the city... that rarely changes and you still feel like discovering...

                                              Last year, when we had the month long whirlwind of getting married on two coasts and then being sequestered by Amtrak. for over a week afterwards, we 'eased' back into Los Angeles in the only way that seemed 'proper' With a stop by Langers... Ah... the joy of coming back home...


                                              1. re: Thi N.

                                                Ahh... life in the City of Angels...

                                                1. re: Thi N.

                                                  Just a minor nitpick from this New Jersey boy... it's just an egg cream (not an "egg cream soda") :)

                                                  Mr Taster

                                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                                    We really needed a 2 year old bump? How did you even find this thread? lol

                                                2. I just read this again after a few months and I have to say: this goes beyond commentary and delves into art. It's beaytiful. Thi, let's go get some pho.

                                                  1. Started going to Langers in the 1970's --- it was then open 24 hours a day and we'd go in after rehearsals or performances. The N.Y. Times wrote that the place out New York Deli's New York Delis. Quality is first rate-- enough for a James Beard Award. Sadly the hours are diminished and don't include dinner. Something about the neighborhood (which is coming back up) and the riots after the Rodney King verdict. From downtown there is a subway stop half a block away. Good parking is on the next corner in their own lot. My mouth is watering thinking about brisket on rye with Russian dressing and ..... (when they had their anniversary I bought a mug-- that's how hooked I am. And I have the mouse-pad-- since you can phone in an order and pick it up. But part of the experience is to eat right there in a great urban eatery. You might see a movie star at Nat & Al's in Beverly HIlls (also quite good)-- but the star you'll see at Langers will be on your plate.

                                                    New York Deli
                                                    2225 Sepulveda Blvd # 7, Torrance, CA

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: spoileddiner

                                                      The abbreviated running hours simply whets the appetites of the Langer's aficionado's even more acutely than they might be otherwise...