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Agony and Ecstasy - Life Beyond The Tender, Juicy, Heavenly Pastrami at Langer's Delicatessen - [Review] w/ Pics!

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exilekiss Oct 29, 2010 08:22 PM

(Formatted with All Pictures here:
http://exilekiss.blogspot.com/2010/10/agony-and-ecstasy-life-beyond-tender.html

At this point, there's not much more to be said about one of L.A.'s best institutions serving up some of the world's best Pastrami. Their Pastrami is so focused and delicious it's caused followers of New York's famous Katz's Deli to switch allegiances and moved famous writers to wax poetic about this succulent delight. :) But over the years, I started becoming cognizant of other words and letters filling up the menu at Langer's that didn't involve the word "Pastrami." :) Curious, I've been slowly exploring the rest of the menu to see if there is any life after Langer's famous Pastrami Sandwich.

The fact that Langer's has been around for over 63 years(!) (founded in 1947) is impressive enough, but add the fact that they're still packing in the crowds due to their Pastrami is even more awe-inspiring. Stepping inside really feels like entering a time warp to an era of days gone by, with some old (now charmingly quaint) decor and simple rows of booths running up and down the restaurant.

On one of my very first visits, we began with their #5 - Corned Beef and Swiss Cheese, Russian Style Dressing on Rye Bread.

The Corned Beef is delicate, tender and mild. Probably one of the best Corned Beef Sandwiches I've had in years. :) I wish the Swiss Cheese was melted, but it's a minor concern when the Beef is this tasty.

But the real highlight is their famous Hot Pastrami Sandwich. For my first time, I order it plain, and it's served in all its unadorned glory with Rye Bread.

I take a bite...

It's just SO good! (^_^)

If the Corned Beef is tender and juicy, their famous, much-lauded Hot Pastrami is even more moist and delicate and luscious. It's lightly salted and spiced; it's savory and satisfying on so many levels.

The only regret that entered my mind was how I had missed out on Langer's for so many years (despite growing up in So Cal, I never made it out to Langer's until a few years ago). :) This tender, Sugar-Cured Corned Beef that's then smoked for hours is perfectly complemented by the fantastic Rye Bread (made by Bea's Bakery, and finished in the ovens here at Langer's). It's a soft, pillowy Rye, fragrant and lightly tart, with a crunchy crust.

And contrasting their Plain Hot Pastrami, is their most popular item on the menu, #19 - Pastrami, Swiss Cheese and Cole Slaw, with Russian Style Dressing on Rye Bread.

You can tell a restaurant is excelling when it can spawn debates amongst the dedicated food lovers about which version of a dish (with the same base ingredients) is better. :) Their #19 is their lovely Hot Pastrami Sandwich, but with the addition of the Swiss Cheese and Russian Style Dressing and Coleslaw. It's got a sweet tang, the Pastrami is still so lush and satisfying, but for my tastes, it's a bit too complicated. I prefer the Plain Hot Pastrami, but I can see why some people love the #19 so much. :)

One of my guilty pleasures are Chili Fries, so I'm curious how Langer's version compares to the more (in)famous versions around town. :)

The French Fries at Langer's are that ubiquitous, crinkle cut Fry found at many places around town. It's crunchy, crisp and has a decent inside. The Chili itself is mild, slightly saltier than I'd prefer and ~OK at best.

With the lengthy discussion on Chowhound about finding good Corned Beef Hash, I had to give Langer's version a try as well.

Their Corned Beef Hash is well-crisped, nicely seasoned and tastes fresh. There's a real Beef taste, and the layering of the finely minced Corned Beef with Potato chunks interspersed makes this *almost* taste like the canned version of Corned Beef Hash that some Hounds are looking for, but the flavor is still a bit different. It's moist and fatty, and for a restaurant version, it's something I'd be happy to order again if I was in the mood. :)

On another visit, I had the pleasure of hanging out with my 'dachi Noah, from Man Bites World and some other fabulous guests. We began with a classic Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray Soda. :)

Light, refreshing and sweet, infused with Celery flavors, it's an excellent way to start the meal. :)

Continuing on, we try their Matzo Ball Soup.

Their Matzo Ball Soup tastes like a straightforward, basic Chicken Soup with a soft, tender style of Matzo Ball. It's fine, but it's nothing that would make me order it again.

And then the Hot Beef Tongue Sandwich arrives.

Lengua. Gyu Tan. Beef Tongue. I love a well-executed version of Beef Tongue whenever I can find it, and Langer's Beef Tongue Sandwich is surprisingly good! :) It's extremely soft and delicate, thinly sliced with a more round and distinctive bovine flavor than the Pastrami or Corned Beef. This is definitely a sandwich I wouldn't mind ordering again! :)

One of our guests is craving a Reuben-like Sandwich, so we order their #44 - Hot Pastrami, Sauerkraut and Nippy Cheese Grilled on Rye.

With a foundation as great as their fantastic Pastrami, it's hard to mess up anything that stems from that, and thankfully their #44 is just fine. :) The Sauerkraut imparts just the right amount of tartness, and the melted Nippy Cheese helps to tie it all together.

But probably the most shocking discovery of the day is their #27 - Chopped Egg and Chopped Liver Sandwich.

I am generally not a Liver fan, but I never thought I'd see the day when the words "stunning" and "Liver" were used by me in the same sentence. (^_~) The balance between the Chopped Egg and Chopped Liver is absurdly good! There's a real clean, focused flavor that shines through. I was bracing myself for the usual metallic, iron-y Liver taste, but instead the Chopped Egg's creaminess really provides the perfect foil for the Chopped Liver which exhibits none of the usual heavy, unpleasant flavors you usually associate with Liver. Definitely something worth trying outside of the Pastrami! :)

I'm pretty happy at this point, but then the Tuna Melt arrives.

As I'm about to take a bite, Noah's astute eye suddenly catches something, and he stops me. He gingerly picks up the Sandwich and then cracks it open. Like gazing upon The Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark, we're awestruck by what my 'dachi has coined "the quadruple crispies." Langer's not only grills the outside of the Tuna Melt (as expected), but the also grill the *inside* of the Tuna Melt on both sides, so you get 4 layers of crispy crunch with each bite! Excellent! (^_^) Sure it's slightly greasy, but it's *so* good! :)

On a later visit, I begin with their Chicken Noodle Soup.

It has that classic Diner taste; a Chicken Soup made with Bouillon Cubes. There's no actual Chicken Meat in the Soup, and the Thin Noodles have turned to mush.

Their Chicken Rice Soup fairs about the same.

It has the same Bouillon Cube taste, with soft Rice floating around in the Soup. It's a touch more enjoyable than the Chicken Noodle, since the Rice grains still have some body left.

Their Knish continues the heartbreaking trend.

It's a thicker version, with a filling of solid Mashed Potatoes. Unfortunately the outer dough exterior is dryish and the filling is so dense that it makes for a hard time eating this, even when split amongst 4 people.

One of the most humorous things to come out of these visits is the attempt to order their Fish & Chips. Fish & Chips are a popular item amongst many people, and I'm always looking for a great version around town. But each time I've tried ordering the Fish & Chips at Langer's, I've gotten sage advice from the veteran servers. The first time, our seasoned waitress gave me the raised eyebrow "Trust me, you don't want to order this" look. :) The second time I tried ordering it with a different server, he politely and quietly warned me to order something else. (^_^)

Their 1/2 Roast Stuffed Chicken arrives next.

Surprisingly, the Chicken is stuffed underneath the skin (between the skin and the meat), instead of the usual center cavity stuffing. Sadly, the Chicken Skin is soggy, smothered in Gravy. The Bread Stuffing is fluffy and comforting, reminding one of Autumn, but the actual Chicken meat is less successful. The white meat is slightly dry (but parts are still moist), but tasting a bit old, like it was reheated. The dark meat fares a bit better but still tastes a bit dull.

Their Home Fries have a great crispiness while still being moist on the inside, with a great crunch to each bite.

Their Fried Chicken is next to arrive.

There's a super crackly crunchy exterior that's well-seasoned with Salt and Pepper and satisfying. :) But sadly, there's still a noticeable amount of subcutaneous Fat throughout each piece of Fried Chicken, as if the frying didn't melt enough of the Fat away, resulting in a slightly off-putting mouthfeel with each bite. Between the two cross-town institutions, I'd have to give the edge to Pann's for their Fried Chicken over Langer's.

Their Hot Brisket of Beef Sandwich is another item I've been curious about for a while.

It has a very light, clean beefy taste, less pronounced than their Corned Beef or Pastrami. Texturally, it's not as pleasing or amazing as the super-tender Pastrami, but it's also less salty and tastes healthier all around.

Their Smoked Whitefish is another interesting dish I've been eyeing for a while.

Their Whitefish (like their Lox) is outsourced, and there's an intense smokiness that's quite distinctive, and it's lightly briny with a delicate flakiness. But, the amount of sodium used just overpowers everything. Eating it with the Toasted Bagel, some Cucumbers, Tomatoes and Lettuce provided helps to alleviate some of the Salt-overload, but it's still a bit too salty.

We finish up with their Patty Melt on Rye Bread.

I order it medium, but sadly the Patty Melt arrives well-done. It's extremely juicy and fatty, and the melted, gooey Cheese and crunchy Rye with Grilled Onions helps to create a satisfying version of this dish. But after Servorg's excellent recommendation for Pann's Patty Melt, Langer's version falls a bit short. :)

Service is brisk and slow at times. Some servers seem to take their time, but others are on the spot, ready to help alleviate your needs. The fact that they're always at near-100% capacity doesn't help, but it's fine for what it is. :) Prices range from $3.95 - $23.95 for their Sandwiches, with most in the ~$12 - $14 range.

Langer's Delicatessen continues to bring in the crowds, even after 60+ years for a reason: Their Hot Pastrami is noteworthy and standout, being so mouth-wateringly good. :) In exploring the rest of their menu, and finding so many heartbreaking items (made even worse because each "miss" means I missed out on having their wonderful Pastrami again (^_~)), there are quite a few noteworthy things outside of their Pastrami. Their Corned Beef is very good; their Beef Tongue is quite tasty, and their Chopped Egg and Chopped Liver Sandwich and Tuna Melt are very pleasant surprises! Breakfast is enjoyable with their Corned Beef Hash and Home Fries as well. :) But at the end of the day, it's still all about their amazing Hot Pastrami Sandwich: Succulent, soul-satisfying and delicious in every way. :)

*** Rating: 8.2 (out of 10.0) ***

Langer's Delicatessen
704 S. Alvarado Street
Los Angeles, CA 90057
Tel: (213) 483-8050

Hours: Mon - Sat, 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Closed Sundays.

http://www.langersdeli.com/

-----
Langer's Delicatessen
704 S Alvarado St, Los Angeles, CA 90057

 
 
 
 
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  1. e
    exilekiss Oct 29, 2010 08:24 PM

    Attaching more Pics. For all remaining Pictures, please see Link in Original Post above. Thanks!

     
     
     
     
    1. J.L. Oct 29, 2010 09:27 PM

      So you've finally made the trek to Langer's, I see. Nice writeup, as always.

      1 Reply
      1. re: J.L.
        e
        exilekiss Oct 30, 2010 10:19 AM

        Hi J.L.,

        Thanks. :) Well I've been going for a couple years now, but with all the great writeups and press, I didn't feel compelled to just write about their Pastrami. Now after exploring other parts of their menu, I hope this helps add something useful for people read about. :)

      2. ipsedixit Oct 29, 2010 09:50 PM

        I don't like pastrami, and don't care for Langer's #19.

        So whenever I go with friends (who are fans of Langers), I usually end up with a hot dog and an Egg Cream.

        Good to know that my options may have expanded ...

        3 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit
          r
          raizans Oct 29, 2010 10:42 PM

          i love vietnamese-style egg soda, so i tried langer's egg cream once. it was pretty good—very creamy, but not as bubbly and frothy.

          has anyone noticed the chopped liver tasting sweeter recently, or is my mind playing tricks on me?

          1. re: raizans
            Peripatetic Oct 30, 2010 01:51 AM

            Unlike soda sữa hột gà, an egg cream contains no eggs (or cream, for that matter):

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_cream

          2. re: ipsedixit
            e
            exilekiss Oct 30, 2010 10:23 AM

            Hi ipsedixit,

            Totally. I remember your thoughts on Pastrami. (^_~)

            I'm glad as well that there are other things on the menu at Langer's that are worth ordering. I think you might like their Chopped Egg & Chopped Liver Sandwich. The Chopped Egg is nowhere near as artery-clogging as Europane's version :) (but to be fair, it's also nowhere near as creamy and luscious in that respect), but there's something about the combo of the Chopped Egg and Liver at Langer's that makes for a pretty tasty combination.

            Also loved their Tuna Melt and Beef Tongue. :)

            BTW, have you tried their Corned Beef? That might be an alternative to the Pastrami to consider. Thanks. :)

          3. s
            selfportrait93 Oct 29, 2010 10:19 PM

            Good call, as usual, Exilekiss. Love their plain hot Pastrami on rye.

            1 Reply
            1. re: selfportrait93
              e
              exilekiss Nov 1, 2010 02:55 AM

              Hi selfportrait93,

              Thanks. Have you tried anything else besides the Pastrami? :)

            2. mollyomormon Oct 29, 2010 10:25 PM

              Great review! I think their crinkle cut fries are pretty damn good too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mollyomormon
                e
                exilekiss Nov 1, 2010 02:56 AM

                Hi mollyomormon,

                Thank you. :) Yah it seems like a commonly found fry, but they fry it up just right most of the times. :)

              2. JAB Oct 30, 2010 01:14 PM

                ek, no doubt the rye bread at Langer's is fantastic but, traditionally, it isn't used for such things as the tongue and the brisket. Those are generally ordered on a Kaiser roll.

                10 Replies
                1. re: JAB
                  t
                  taiwanesesmalleats Oct 30, 2010 03:06 PM

                  Why is that?

                  1. re: taiwanesesmalleats
                    JAB Oct 30, 2010 03:25 PM

                    I believe that it's because the rye bread can be complimentary to some meats such as corned beef and pastrami but, can overwhelm others like tongue and brisket. It could be textural as well.

                    1. re: JAB
                      t
                      taiwanesesmalleats Nov 1, 2010 05:01 PM

                      Good to know for the future. Thanks

                      1. re: JAB
                        BubblyOne Nov 3, 2010 11:04 AM

                        Hey, don't be taking my brisket off rye and putting it on a roll:)

                        1. re: BubblyOne
                          JAB Nov 3, 2010 12:50 PM

                          LOL, as sang in Fiddler on the Roof: Tradition!

                          1. re: JAB
                            BubblyOne Nov 3, 2010 02:03 PM

                            Hey, quite a few delis serve a named brisket sandwich on rye. After all, it is the same meat used to make corned beef.

                            1. re: BubblyOne
                              JAB Nov 3, 2010 04:59 PM

                              However, it's not corned or cured and therefore has a much more subtle flavor.

                              1. re: JAB
                                BubblyOne Nov 4, 2010 11:15 AM

                                Not to hijack this thread, but here was my question and the answer from David Sax, author of "Save the Deli"-

                                "Someone posted the following on a Chowhound site- "no doubt the rye bread at Langer's is fantastic but, traditionally, it isn't used for such things as the tongue and the brisket. Those are generally ordered on a Kaiser roll".

                                I have never had a brisket or tongue sandwich on anything other than rye. In your opinion, is a Kaiser roll "traditional" for these 2 meats? Not talking about BBQ brisket or if it's being used in a dip."

                                Reply-

                                "Never heard of that in a deli. Rye all the way."

                                1. re: BubblyOne
                                  t
                                  taiwanesesmalleats Nov 4, 2010 11:21 AM

                                  The plot thickens!

                                  1. re: BubblyOne
                                    JAB Nov 4, 2010 05:03 PM

                                    Interesting but, that's not the case in this formerly Eastern Jew's experience.

                    2. n
                      nlk Oct 30, 2010 04:19 PM

                      Thanks for the great review.
                      I happen to really like their blintzes. It's a little tacky how they are served with smuckers serving size jam, but i can dig into them anyway. Perhaps there are better versions elsewhere (would love to hear recs, for i haven't really explored other options) besides my grandma's homemade version 30 years ago...but blintzes with langer's pastrami are a glorious, if not completely kosher meal.
                      oh, and their kashe varnishkes, a little greasy, but super tasty.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nlk
                        e
                        exilekiss Nov 1, 2010 02:57 AM

                        Hi nlk,

                        Ah thanks. The Blintzes were something I missed on my visits over the years. I wanted to explore a few more items but by the end, it was too heartbreaking not having their Pastrami for so many visits in a row (while exploring other things :). I'll have to try it next time. :)

                      2. j
                        JosephEBacon Oct 30, 2010 05:59 PM

                        Langers also makes a really BIG Club sandwich!

                        I also like their Romanian Steak Sandwich with their fries!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: JosephEBacon
                          e
                          exilekiss Nov 3, 2010 10:47 AM

                          Hi Joseph,

                          Wow, I missed the Romanian Steak Sandwich completely (must've been too starry-eyed, staring at all their Pastrami options :). Thanks for the recommendation.

                          1. re: exilekiss
                            j
                            JosephEBacon Nov 4, 2010 07:52 PM

                            If you want a REALLY GREAT steak sandwich, try it. Also be sure to get a full side of the cole slaw and on my birthday I also ask for Langer's potato salad instead of the fries. Langer's Potato Salad is just plain yummy! ☺

                            Every birthday, I go to Langers for a steak sandwich and I ask for grilled onions with it. It's great!

                        2. u
                          upstarter Nov 1, 2010 04:14 PM

                          I was disappointed with the tuna melt when I had it. The cornbeef hash on the other hand is too die for!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: upstarter
                            m
                            maudies5 Nov 4, 2010 07:44 PM

                            A tuna melt at Langers?! Yikes, sheer heresy. However, you did redeem yourself by having the corned beef hash.:)

                          2. OCAnn Nov 1, 2010 07:40 PM

                            Arrrrrrrrggggghhhhhhhh!!! I'm sooooo hungry now and my schedule won't allow me to get there for another couple weeks. It's been about a year since I've last been to Langers, and your pics have me starving for some pastrami & CBH!!!

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: OCAnn
                              e
                              exilekiss Nov 3, 2010 10:48 AM

                              Hi OCAnn,

                              Definitely let me know how your visit goes. :) I was pleasantly surprised by their Corned Beef Hash (thanks to the Hounds for prodding me to order it :).

                              1. re: exilekiss
                                OCAnn Nov 14, 2010 04:23 PM

                                I got some CBH...and I was pleasantly surprised by how beefy it was and not overly salted as I frequently find them. We plan to go back to try another of my favourites: the potato pancake.

                                1. re: OCAnn
                                  A5 KOBE Nov 14, 2010 09:48 PM

                                  They are excellent. I too am a sucker for latkes.

                              2. re: OCAnn
                                g
                                Ginger9 Nov 3, 2010 07:31 PM

                                I feel the same way! My mouth is watering just looking at all those delicious pics of the pastrami!!

                              3. d
                                daantaat Nov 5, 2010 10:11 PM

                                Hey exilekiss,

                                Another great report! Was this one massive meal or several smaller meals?
                                I'm curious how Langer's chopped liver, whitefish salad and corned beef hash compares to Brent's Deli in the Valley.
                                Are you coming down to San Diego any time soon?

                                -----
                                Brent's Deli
                                2799 Townsgate Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91361

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: daantaat
                                  ChinoWayne Nov 6, 2010 02:30 PM

                                  Did exilekiss have white fish salad, or just straight white fish, big difference in saltiness. I love a pastrami and chopped liver on rye, but Langer's version just does not do it for me, the chopped liver did not stand up to the pastrami. My ultimate pastrami feast is 1) pastrami with mustard on rye; 2) pastrami with chopped liver on rye; 3) pastrami and cole slaw and Russian dressing, no cheese, to round it all out.

                                  1. re: daantaat
                                    e
                                    exilekiss Nov 8, 2010 07:50 AM

                                    Hi daantaat,

                                    Thank you. :) No, no, no, there's no way someone could eat all this food in 1 visit, unless they were Kobayashi or Joey Chestnut. :P This was about ~9 visits or so?

                                    I haven't had Brent's yet (it's on my list, just lots of places to try :).

                                    SD? Maybe. Depends on if my SD friends are visiting me, or if it's my turn to visit them. :)

                                  2. Caroline1 Nov 6, 2010 08:07 PM

                                    That pastrami sandwich looks amazing. I can feel my arteries seizing up just looking at it. Do you think they'd do mail order? '-)

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                      j
                                      JosephEBacon Nov 6, 2010 08:44 PM

                                      Langers does Fed-Ex their pastrami

                                      http://www.langersdeli.com/langers-by...

                                      1. re: JosephEBacon
                                        Caroline1 Nov 7, 2010 05:30 PM

                                        Thanks. I think I'll hold off until next time I'm in L.A. '-)

                                    2. Al Bondigas Nov 6, 2010 11:49 PM

                                      Great review. I have been coming here since I was a kid. The chopped liver is the bombeezie and they also serve it with pastrami on rye. I also enjoy their meat knishes. The meat seems like its everything all ground up. Yummy!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Al Bondigas
                                        e
                                        exilekiss Nov 8, 2010 07:51 AM

                                        Hi Al,

                                        Thanks. That's pretty cool that you have a lifetime of experiences with Langer's. :) I'll have to give their Meat Knishes a try then. Thanks.

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