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Oct 28, 2004 04:33 PM

Langer's Pastrami

  • c

Hey Hollywood Hounds - Can you tell me something about this place? There was a post on the NY Board saying this place had better pastrami than Katz's in NYC. Now, that's saying something. Perhaps someone out there has been to both and can get into some specifics.

Is Langer's near Nate and Al's? I've been to Nate and Al's and there's no way it compare with Katz's. But, perhaps Langer's does? Thanks for any info.

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  1. Langers Rocks!!!!!!! The best pastrami you will ever find period!

    1 Reply
    1. re: murrayNY

      As a New York deli afficionado, I am of the opinion that Langer;s pastrami is superior because after it is cured and cooked it is them steamed, so that the otherwise chewy texture and smokiness of other pastramis is alleviated resulting in a better mouth feel and subtler flavor. This being said, the Carnegie in NY still has the best corned beef.

    2. Don't know if it's the best pastrami but it's pretty good. The rye bread is delicious; crispy crust and soft on the inside. They even have a special sandwich with pastrami, cream cheese, and tomatoes. It costs $10.50, a little higher than I expected, but still good.

      1 Reply
      1. I go to Katz's every April in NYC and Langer's still comes out on top. While they don't give you the mountain of pastrami you get at Katz's, the meat is more flavorful (less lean than Katz's) and the rye bread is excellent.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Ernie

          To each his or her own but I don't like pastrimi that is too fatty. Thus Langers strikes out in my book. Langers is too fatty and not a favorite. I have to agree that Brent's is better. Much better IMO.

        2. Langer's is an LA Hound favorite...constantly mentioned as one of the highlights of the LA Chowhound scene. Nate 'n Al's serves there mediocre pastrami in Beverly Hills, while Langer's serves it's heavenly meat in MacArthur Park; it's the last vestige of an old Jewish neighborhood that is now a bustling Central American neighborhood, filled with tamale stands and paleta carts.

          I lived in NYC before moving to LA and I certainly agree that Langer's is better than Katz'. Langer's pastrami is steamed for something like 10 years, giving it a luciously tender quality. It is thickly cut by hand and placed on fresh baked rye. The sandwich I eat is hot pastrami, rye, mustard, that's it. The flavor is strong, the meat is juicy and tender, the rye is crisp and fresh...the gestalt is pastrami sandwich perfection. One of our regular posters, upon his first visit, said the meat was so juicy and flavorful that he thought it tasted more like pork than beef.

          Some New Yorkers who go to Langer's are disappointed in the portions. Unlike a Katz' (or Carnegie or 2nd Ave. Deli) tower of meat, Langer's gives a fairly moderate amount of meat. Personally, I like this, as the bread plays a real role in the flavor and texture of the sandwich. Katz' rye always struck me as just an afterthought...the delivery device for 5 lbs of pastrami.

          A word of caution: Do not stray from pastrami on the menu. Except for the egg cream (one of the few decent ones in LA), no good has ever come to me from ordering any non-pastrami item.

          14 Replies
          1. re: sku

            You really should try the matzoh ball soup; it is served in the most chicken flavor-intensive broth I've found in any deli in the greater L.A. area.

            1. re: sku

              As a neutral Chicagoan, I agree Langer's is best. The bread is also top notch. Sandwiches are pricey and smallish, but great.

              Now, I always eat at Langer's when visiting family in LA, but I have to admit that it's a little bit of a one trick pony for me. For example, I had the chopped liver/egg salad combo and some soup a few weeks back while waiting for my takeout pastramis. As with most of the not-pastrami offerings, nothing to write home about, not by a long shot.

              Also, while the place keeps it's deli-museum charm like so many Jewish holdouts (Manny's here in Chicago and Barney Greengrass, Katz etc. all share this), it lacks the vibrancy of all the places I just mentioned. The idea that I was one of maybe a half dozen patrons at such a place at 11:30 on a weekday boggles my mind. The neighborhood doesn't help business, I suppose, but it's close to downtown and is worth going out of your way for. I really like McCarthur Park, don't get me wrong, but few Salvadorans form the block are likely to come in for a 10-buck sandwich that's too good and too small to split.

              I like my delis/cafeterias a little more raucous (and with a humidor).

              PS, who has ever ordered the "Canned Tuna Appetizer....$8.25" at Langer's, which I just noticed on my cherished take-out menu?

              1. re: JeffB

                I simply don't agree with your assessment of the chopped liver. It's full and rich, with a great flavor, a contrast of sweet and salty. I often get the pastrami/chopped liver combo sandwich-- they compliment each other quite well.

                If you want bland chopped liver, go to Pico Kosher Deli (oddly enough!) I don't think they even use any onion at all in that.

                Mr. Taster

                1. re: Mr. Taster

                  Langer's Pastrami/Chopped Liver is sadly lacking in flavor. The blandness of the chopped lever overwhelms any pastrami flavor.

                  1. re: Chino Wayne

                    Go to Pico Kosher Deli.

                    Mr. Taster

                  2. re: Mr. Taster

                    Disagreement is why we're here. Langer's chopped liver seems exceedingly dense and bland to me. Maybe it would make a nice condiment with pastrami, as might Kraft cream cheese (also on the menu at Langer's), but it didn't do much for me heaped unadorned on a bagel half with some onion and a smear of mustard.

                    I'm a chopped liver fan, and order it even when it's no great shakes. My favorite is the kind of whipped and airy version at Barney Greengrass in New York. Never tried it in the LA mini-branch, assuming it's still there. But I have to say, here in Chicago, for example, they give away much better chopped liver than Langer's with the relish trays at Myron & Phil's and Carson's (yes, the rib place, which benefits from a certain phenomenon not unlike "Jewish-Chinese" in NYC). And it's a fantastic, little-ordered appetizer at Gibson's, the steak house. Huge scoops of gribene-studded pate with fine fixins' (capers, onion, chopped egg, cornichons, etc.) It's hit-or-miss at Manny's.

                    Anyway, I love Langer's. But in my humble opinion, the chopped liver doesn't deserve to share space with the terrific pastrami or the rye.

                  3. re: JeffB

                    Langer's is never super-packed, though usually it's busier around lunch than what you described. Still, I don't think I've ever had to wait for a table, which is fine with me. (High turnover is part of it, a friend of mine was asked to leave for lingering too long).

                    You're right that the neighborhood keeps it less than packed. Most of the patrons live and/or work outside the neighborhood. I would guess most of the customers come in from downtown or mid-Wilshire; it's not a long drive, but not just down the block, either.

                    And because of both its history and general race/class fear, there are Angelenos who are still afraid to go the Langer's neighborhood. Even on the CH board, discussions of Langer's will often include a needless post saying "will I be mugged if I go here?" or "be careful." A NY equivalent might be Harlem or Washington Heights -- neighborhoods that were unsafe 15-20 years ago, and have changed a lot since then but still make some folks uneasy.

                    1. re: sku

                      The neighborhood was very unsafe until as recently as last year, when a network of surveillance cameras went in.

                      1. re: Edward

                        The neighborhood is completely safe during the hours Langer's is open.

                        1. re: BeenThereAteThat

                          Have been going to Langer's for over 40 years and never ever a problem.

                  4. re: sku
                    Hershey Bomar

                    I believe it's not hand cut unless you ask for it that way.

                    1. re: Hershey Bomar

                      The pastrami is hand cut if it is too tender to go through the slicing machine they have. That's why its better. But, not all their pastrami briskets are too tender to go through their slicer.

                    2. re: sku

                      You wrote, "Langer's pastrami is steamed for something like 10 years."

                      10 years?!? Steaming the whole time?!? Whoa! Is that possible? I thought it was cured and smoked, then steamed just to heat it.

                      And, Langer's doesn't seem to use as many spices to make their pastrami, so you taste the meat more. I wouldn't describe it as a "strong" flavor as compared to Jerry's or Arnie's as far as spicy. Maybe more beefy?

                      And, Langer's makes the best rye bread I've had.

                      1. re: kc girl

                        Actually, Langer's uses the exact same pastrami as pretty much everyone else in Los Angeles. But they do steam it considerably longer, which renders some of the fat and water, tightens it up, and gives it that delightful, luscious texture we all like so much.

                        The bread comes from Fred's on S. Robertson, which is a treasure.

                    3. What do you mean by "near" Nate 'n' Al's?

                      If you mean geographically...well, they're both in L.A. County. Langer's is near MacArthur Park; N&A is in Beverly Hills. They're only about 8 miles apart, but at any time other than the middle of the night, they're a good 30 minutes apart.

                      If you mean taste, there's no comparison. Langer's has the best pastrami, period. N&A is acceptable, and is arguably one of the two best delis in the entire county not named Langer's (Brent's would be the other).

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Jack Flash

                        I will take Victor's Deli on Franklin & Bronson over N&A any day, and find that it can rival either of the top two when you factor in the convenience factor, or lack thereof.