Langer’s Deli, Los Angeles

Langer’s Deli, Los Angeles

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  1. Is Nirvana just a theological state of being, or is it something you can taste? Langer’s Deli has the answer to this riddle in sandwich form. I deem this the best pastrami that I have found in Los Angeles… so far.


    This what pastrami should look like


    Don’t get me wrong; I still love Johnnie’s Pastrami in Culver City and Canter’s Deli in Fairfax District, but Langer’s has them beat for two reasons: Canters’ pastrami is too lean; trimming all the fat from pastrami kills the flavor, so if you care more about your cholesterol intake than you do about flavor (in other words, you’re one of those metrosexuals that spends most of his time staring at himself in the mirror while primping and preening; you know, the kind of guys that make you want to punch something), go eat a tofu burger and pretend that you like it. And Johnnie’s pastrami spends too much time in the steamer, which may make the meat tender but leaches flavor from it. Langer’s doesn’t use steamers at the deli counter; they tenderize their pastrami so effectively while cooking it that they can serve it in thick cuts that melt in your mouth.  In addition, they don’t over-trim the meat. You won’t find big globs of fat in Langer’s pastrami, but neither could anyone consider it diet food.


     The first strike against Langer’s is the price. Your basic pastrami sandwich—with nothing on it besides the meat and some mustard—costs over $14, the sandwich is maybe a third the size of what you get at Johnnie’s (and I’m being generous), and the meat isn’t stacked even half as high as are Canter’s sandwiches. One of Langer’s sandwiches will not fill you up, but it is very satisfying, especially because the taste can’t be beat. This is not a deli I would frequent, but now and then, when I feel the need to pamper myself and splurge—and happen to be in the area of Langer’s, which doesn’t happen often as I avoid it like the plague—I’ll treat myself to a Langer’s sandwich.


     Another plus in Langer’s favor is that they package their pickles and pickled peppers in sealed plastic bubbles, so they won’t make a mess when you order food to go. You may break a tooth opening the bag, because rather than buy pre-sealed pickles and peppers, Langer’s seals their own in one of those do-it-yourself-plastic-bag-sealing-thingies. And while the peppers are strong and tasty, the pickles are your standard kosher dills that every deli in the universe serves. My friends ooh and ah over these pickles, but I can’t fathom why. To me, they are bland and pointless. I like a pickle that bites back, one with a pucker factor of about ten, one that after the first bite makes your entire face cave in on itself. So when it comes to deli pickles, I’m just out of luck.


                                One of these people is the owner, but I’m not going to tell you which one it is


    Other than the price, the biggest drawback to Langer’s is its location, kitty-corner to MacArthur Park, not one of LA’s better neighborhoods. I won’t go to Langer’s after sundown, and I’m even hesitant to go there in broad daylight unless I can park on the street right in front of the place, where I can keep an eye on my car.

    Worse yet, the parking lot for the restaurant is a block away from the deli itself, out of sight of the dining room, and costs $5 for every 20 minutes, so if you’re eating in the restaurant and have to park there, eat fast!

    This is the kind of neighborhood where white bread gringo honkeys—like me—feel watched with every step we take, just waiting for some hoodlum to come along and steal our sandwiches at knife point. So please, if you value your life (or at least your too expensive sandwich), either go to Langer’s during daylight hours, or take a bodyguard or two with you.


    Otherwise, if you’re not a metrosexual or an oft publically nude member of PETA, have money to burn, don’t fear the reaper and are able to exercise a modicum of restraint (meaning try not to have more than five pastrami sandwiches a week), you will adore Langer’s sandwiches as much as I do. Just be sure to ask them not to put coleslaw on your sandwich, because sometimes they just can’t help themselves.


    Langer’s Delicatessen

    704 South Alvarado
    Los Angeles, CA 90057

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