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Dec 30, 2004 11:09 PM

the hat - world famous pastrami

  • t

i'm so curious about this place. for months i've passed this place on my way to the gioia cheese factory in south el monte. i think that would be the hat's temple city location on rosemead. then today i passed another of it's locations on lake st in pasadena. both of them look clean but i'd love to know if they're worth my $$.

any information on this place?



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  1. Jewish deli pastrami it aint. Of the various venues where I have sampled the greasy pastrami dip, this is proabably the best. But keep in mind, it is still greasy pastrami dip. If I get gready and order two sandwiches, by the time I am halfway through the second sandwich I've got a hell of a stomach ache.

    Their dogs and burgers are very good. I love their fries. These are not skinny, undernoursihed fries like McDonalds, but nice thick fries, that have a great potato-y taste, great density and texture. Their rings are also very good. You can even get wet fries here. Do not order a large fries, unless you have someone to help you eat them, a regular order is very generous.

    Give the Hat a shot, it's got a hell of a lot more character than some large fast food chain.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Chino Wayne

      TWO pastramis from the hat?? Wow! I can barely finish one. I agree with your review - deli pastrami it ain't, but it is a decent pastrami dip. Adding an order of fries or rings makes it an extremely filling meal. Like you said, it is much better than eating at a large chain. It is definitely worth trying and you will not be hungry afterwards.

      1. re: monkuboy

        Yes definitely try the pastrami. 1 sandwich will fill you up. I've tried the chili at several Hats and I think the best version is in Monterey Park (Atlantic/Riggin).

        1. re: prc49

          The Hat has the absolute worst pastrami I've ever had. The portion is huge but the quality is bad. Try Langers on Alvarado. Probably the best Pastrami sandwich in Los Angeles. They double bake the rye bread and hand slice the pastrami. It's very good. The only place better is at Katz's Deli in Manhattan.

          1. re: dave smith

            The Hat pastrami dip and Langer's pastrami on rye are two entirely different animals, they should not be compared. However, if you only could eat one pastrami sandwich in life, definaely go with Langer's.

      2. re: Chino Wayne

        The original stand is on Garfield and Valley, in Alhambra. That one has the most character.

        I never thought it was that great, but, the standards for burgers and pastrami have really declined. Today, comparatively speaking, it's good, because it's one of the last burger/pastrami/hotdog joints. These must be as rare as burger/pastrami/teriyaki and burger/pastrami/fried chicken. Fortunately, there are still burger/pastrami/tacos/burritos and chinese food/donuts to keep our polycultural fast food traditions alive. :0)

        1. re: jk

          the standards at the various hats seem very different. the one in alhambra always makes me huge sandwiches with lots of juice. the one in glendora (been there 3 times) uses about half the meat, and the sandwich is dry unless i remember to request a double-dip. the one in temple city is decent...

          and i don't like their chili fries. no meat, just drippings in the chili. tastes like meat-flavored starch. sort of like tommy's actually (where i love their chili-cheeseburgers and detest their chili fries as well).

          1. re: Bert

            Interesting. I've only been to the Glendora location and the sandwich is dry. My work takes me to Brea but I haven't stopped at that location yet. Maybe I'll try it and compare.

        2. re: Chino Wayne

          Here's some Hat trivia: Before Corky and Don of The Bellybuster (Alhambra) bought the original location in Alhambra, the burgers and dogs were charbroiled. It was one of those places where the flames from the grill would catch your attention if you went by at the right time. I think they were better then.

          Coffee was 10 cents for the longest time. Since then the other locations just don't have the feel of the original open air corner spot. When the Garfield Theater across the street (now gone) changed to Chinese movies, business at The Hat dropped off. One of the ladies that worked there told me the Chinese people would buy one hot dog and split it up between three!

          I still will go there when visting my parent in Alhambra. It's 1952 American nostalgia in a quickly changing city.

          1. re: Jimbo of TC.

            Nothing ever stays the same, does it?

            Some more Alhambra trivia, the company that owned Shakey's (at least around 1980) was headquarted in Alhambra, right next door to the Shakeys' on Valley just east of Fremont. I used to be able to walk home with a really good peperoni pie in those days.

          2. re: Chino Wayne
            Sylvia McCasland

            I now live in Northern Calif. and TRULY miss being able to dine at The Hat. I could only hope someday The Hat business will expand to Northern Calif. ( San Jose or Hollister, CA) That would be wonderful. Until that day, I make sure I stop at The Hat when I go back home to L.A to visit my family. Always a Hat Lover. Keep up the good job!

          3. "pastrami on white bread with mayonnaise, tomatoes, and lettuce" - Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" :-)

            1. I lived a block from the Pasadena location for nine years. I had a pastrami my first day and never went back. Just a horrible grease/salt bomb. And I like grease and salt.

              Plus, after having a Langers pastrami how can anyone go to The Hat again?

              5 Replies
              1. re: martyR

                Concur. There is a brief blast of pleasure of tucking into all that fatty meat, but soon enough you're sitting there thinking, "Why do I do this to myself?"

                The place is pretty unpleasant inside, if I remember correctly (Pas. location.) All fluorescent lights, Armstrong ceilings, and forty-year-old plywood.

                1. re: Pat

        , paneling, not plywood.

                  1. re: Pat

                    ummm...ah..wainscoting maybe? :-)

                  2. re: Pat

                    LOL! Totally agree with you guys... The hat was a guilty pleasure at my old job (The Monterrey Park location) and at visits to my parents (Brea Location). But not for the pastrami... I could NEVER stomach more than half of those things... but for the Chili fries and onion rings... I know they are SOOO bad and make me feel like a nasty lump at the end of the meal... but the journey is simply so good that it makes me forget that lump part... :D


                  3. re: martyR

                    Don't go to the Hat for the Pastrami--go for the burgers. I enjoy the Hat on (is it) Garvey in Alhambra better than the one on Lake. And I'll take wet fries anyday over chili fries!

                  4. It's 'okay', not remotely in the Langer's league and inf fact not 'deli' style pastrami. If there are no delis around, it's passable but wouldn't go out of my way.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: JBK

                      It's impossible to compare the Hat to Langers. It's like comparing Father's Office or whatever "gourmet" burger place to Tommy's, or In-N-Out. It's two different animals.

                      1. re: Greg

                        I concur. And for what it is, The Hat is among the best.

                    2. s
                      Steve Doggie-Dogg

                      The Hat is one of those places that makes mountainous chili fries and paper sacks full of onion rings for starving students. The chili is mostly flour and the pastrami is watery and salty... not good at all. But the portions are enough to choke a horse. I went there once, and I don't see any difference between The Hat and your average "Tom's #58" burger joint. Whatever you do, don't order a hot dog there. I made that mistake once.

                      See ya