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Apr 1, 2011 11:28 AM

What are L. A.’s best (and worst) Reuben* sandwiches?

* To avoid apples-and-oranges comparisons, for purposes of this thread let’s agree that a Reuben is made with corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese on either rye or pumpernickel, with thousand-island or mustard on the side. I know many would disagree, but imho a pastrami sandwich with the same toppings is meant to be called a Rachel sandwich. And I’ve had very good Rachels and similar variations made with turkey/turkey pastrami, but they aren’t Reubens as far as I’m concerned. If you disagree, start your own thread ;P.

I have a soft spot for old-school dining haunts along the lines of Musso and Frank and the Ranch House in Ojai, but not to the extent that I forgive bad service and/or mediocre food. Which is why I’ve been avoiding the Smoke House in Toluca Lake for a few years — my recent experiences there were less than favorable on either point.

So when the Smoke House was suggested last night for dinner, I decided it was time to give the place another chance. Given my most recent exposures to their cuisine, I can’t really explain why I chose to order a Reuben, since a badly made Reuben is a ghastly thing.

Well, whaddya know. I can now say that the Smoke House makes the best Reuben sandwich I’ve ever had in L. A.

What struck me on the first bite was the perfect balance of ingredients, and that it was perfectly and evenly cooked.. Even with good ingredients, it’s impossible to make a good Reuben if you overstuff the meat. You end up with cold corned beef, hot sauerkraut, hard cheese and burned bread. Can you say Jerry’s Famous?

The Thousand Island should always be on the side. Fries can be a bit heavy as a side order; I was okay with the Smoke House’s housemade chips but I might have preferred coleslaw even at the risk of cabbage saturation.

I’ve read about the Rachels at Brent’s (yes, I *know*, they call them “pastrami Reubens” … sigh), but I don’t know if they make them with corned beef. I will make every effort to try a Reuben the next time I’m at Langer’s, but it’s hard when that pastrami starts singing to me before I’ve gotten off the Red Line.

So, there it is. What’s you’re idea of a perfect Reuben sandwich in L. A., and what in your experience is the worst version you can bear to think of?

Smoke House Restaurant
4420 W Lakeside Dr, Burbank, CA 91505

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    1. I'm not an authority on reuben sandwiches, but i like the one served at Victor's Deli in Hollywood.

      Victors Square Restaurant
      1917 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

      1. Confirmed online that Brent's makes a corned beef Reuben. Is it as good as everyone says about their Rachel?

        I don't make it to Victor's Square as often as I'd like (not the former Victor's Deli at the same corner). At the rate I can eat Reubens at my age and physical condition, this is going to take a *long* time ...

        Brent's Deli
        19565 Parthenia St, Northridge, CA 91324

        Victors Square Restaurant
        1917 N Bronson Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90068

        22 Replies
        1. re: maxzook

          R&D on Montana makes a delicious Reuben.

          1. re: maudies5

            I stated this in a previous thread, the corned beef at R&D is not deli style.

            1. re: JAB

              Neither is the corned beef at the Smoke House, for what it's worth.

              1. re: JAB

                Well, it may not be deli style (they use coleslaw instead of sauerkraut) but it is absolutely delicious (and their corn rye is wonderful).

              2. re: maudies5

                R+D *used* to make the best Reuben, but no longer. They changed it. It's no longer grilled, it's cold -- blech. And the meat is now really fatty, so hard to bite into. blech, again.

                I've given it two or three tries, and just got grossed out. I've ordered it the old way (they let you do that), but with that meat being so fatty, it's just not the same.

              3. re: maxzook

                At the rate I can eat Reubens at my age and physical condition, this is going to take a *long* time ...///

                You'd better hurry. exilekiss could be breathin' down your neck. w/ pics!!!!

                1. re: mc michael

                  MAX'S S.O. (looking over my shoulder at this thread): Jesus, you can't eat that many Reubens!

                  MAX: Yeah, well, whose idea was the Smoke House, anyway?

                2. re: maxzook

                  I agree with you on the distinctions, but then I believe that a Martini must be made with gin. Call me old-fashioned.

                  It's been a few years, but if memory serves, the Reuben at Brent's is quite good.

                  I can definitely recall the worst Reuben I've ever had, but it wasn't in LA, it was in Chadron, NE. Naming the worst one I've had in LA is a tough one, but Jerry's is close.

                  1. re: OCSteve

                    Yes....a gin martini. Almost a lost art.

                    1. re: OCSteve

                      Having actually been in Chadron, NE for a square dance at which they served casseroles for "lunch" at 9 pm, I cannot even imagine what they would serve and call a Reuben. I don't think anyone named Reuben has actually even made it through Chadron, NE.

                      1. re: wienermobile

                        A photo of Brent's Reuben. Yum. 1st place. Served on Grilled Rye Bread with Melted Swiss Cheese, Hot Sauerkraut and Russian Dressing.

                        1. re: wienermobile

                          Langer's Reuben. #88 - HOT CORNED BEEF, Sauerkraut and Swiss Cheese Grilled on Rye. 2nd place.

                          Hey wait a minute that looks a lot like pastrami doesn't it? Oops...Sorry, but the corned beef one almost looks the same...

                          1. re: wienermobile

                            >>Even with good ingredients, it’s impossible to make a good Reuben if you overstuff the meat. You end up with cold corned beef, hot sauerkraut, hard cheese and burned bread.<<

                            Second Brent's - enjoyed one this past December. Brent's version defies one of the laws of physics for a great Reuben - the portion of corned beef is warmed through and generous.

                            After chowing down on the first half of the sandwich, I think many eaters are at the tipping point. They could probably take two or three bites of the second half but would probably be hard pressed to finish it.

                            1. re: bulavinaka

                              I recently had my only bad black pastrami Reuben at Brent's when there was actually way too much pastrami stuffed into the sandwich, overwhelming the taste ratio. That problem was compounded by the pastrami being way too hot. But I'm sure that was an aberration.

                              1. re: Servorg

                                First post for you at this time of the morning? You must have either rode an extra few or just woke up from your buttermilk bar-induced coma... :)

                                I guess even a place like Brent's can screw things up - but most places would be too light on the pastrami and too cold as well?

                                1. re: bulavinaka

                                  Both surmises were/are correct! ;-D> I was there at opening, so that may explain the problem. They got surprised by an order of a Reuben at 6 AM by their first (and only customer by the time I left) of the day

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    6AM? A Westsider at Brent's in Northridge at 6AM? You set a high bar mi amigo - I bow to the Servorg!

                                    1. re: bulavinaka

                                      If you've been up for 4 hours by that time it's no biggie... ;-D>

                            2. re: wienermobile

                              Brent's! Easily #1 in Los Angeles.

                              Although I prefer the Black Pastrami Reuben, the corned beef is also quite tasty. Always get my sauerkraut grilled.

                              1. re: wienermobile

                                From the pic, it appears the meat is machine sliced, a huge negative for me.

                                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                  No it is not hand cut at Brent's, but it is a great sandwich.

                          2. I really like the Reuben at Greenblatt's Deli. They have a proper Reuben as well as a Rachel (on the menu as a Reuben with choice of pastrami). They also have a "Reuben with corned beef and pastrami" which, while it may be an abomination, is certainly a tasty one. Unfortunately, at $13.95, it's not the cheapest Reuben in town, but you're paying for quality, location and -- in my opinion -- decent ambiance, service and relative freedom from crowds.

                            Oh, and Greenblatt's has beer: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Reuben sandwiches are a great pairing!.

                            Greenblatt's Delicatessen
                            8017 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046
                            (open 365 days a year!)

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Peripatetic

                              I'm at Greenblatt's a lot.....before and after screenings at the DGA. I agree about the Reuben.
                              And they have a terrific selection of wines to go with the food, too!

                                1. re: Charles Pepper

                                  And there's parking behind the building....which is a huge plus.

                              1. I really like Solley's on Van Nuys. They have a great reuben as well as a super reuben with corned beef and pastrami. Definitely get the New York size if you want more meat. Otherwise, the LA version is much thinner on the meet. They also have great sweet potato fries to go with it.

                                Solley's Restaurant & Deli
                                4578 Van Nuys Blvd, Van Nuys, CA 91403