It's always nerve-racking to be asked, "what is your favorite restaurant?" It's a form of commitment that I don't wish to undertake, pledging my troth to only one favorite restaurant. A more revealing question would be, where do you eat most often? To that question, well, I might have to answer Broadway Deli. My relationship with Broadway Deli started out as one of convenience. As an Anthropology major, I can assure you that convenience in the form of propinquity is the key factor that determines who you will befriend and date. However, even though propinquity aka Broadway Deli's proximity to my weekly running point had much to do with the start of our relationship, I think it has "legs" because I really love to eat there now. Strangely, in my years of Broadway Deli eating, I've never had the pastrami sandwich nor have I had the corned beef.
I don't really crave pastrami or corned beef. However, I have long wanted to try Langer's pastrami. The fact that it was recently named by hounders to the absolute apogee, the top spot, in Chowhound's restaurants of Los Angeles, seemed inherently just, given that Langer's is a democratic institution with a long pedigree in L.A. (since 1947), although by crowning Langer's the best restaurant in L.A., this, in some measure, acknowledges the cultural hegemony of New York critics who have apparently pronounced Langer's pastrami sandwich the best pastrami sandwich in the WORLD. I mean, who are we to bar the NY food critic's darling from the Chowhound Top 10? I mean, c'mon, we have like 5 delis in Los Angeles that aren't named "Jerry's Deli".
I've long wanted to be acquainted with Langer's, but Langer's lacks propinquity with me. The drive isn't undoable but Langer's closes every day at 4:00 p.m. Two weeks ago on a Wednesday afternoon, I happened to be free and I decided to drive myself down there. I went alone. I was not packing heat. I'm still standing so don't fall for the Westside fear mongerer mentality. MacArthur Park is fine! Just park your car and walk on in. If someone messes with you, kick their ass! No mercy.
So, the cooks. These are the OG Subway sandwich artist. Doesn't the guy on the left resemble Cash Warren aka Jessica Alba's hubby? What is Cash short for? Cashew? Good call Mr. and Mrs. Warren.
Langer's, at least during mid-day, is very much a Masculine enclave. I sat at the bar and was waited on by one of those old school waitresses that come straight from Central Casting, brown and white uniform and all. I believe she called me "hon". I like these old school dames.
I ordered a lemonade which turned out to be a pink lemonade. Of course! It wasn't Hot Dog on a Stick quality but it would do nicely to wash down the copious amounts of salted smoked meat I would be eating.
The Menu has a lovely self-aggrandizing paragraph about the pastrami. Please read it and be charmed. If you have a PC, once again, you know I discriminate in favor of my Mac people. Peruse the Constitution. You are not a protected class. My preference is lawful. There's no state action either. Although maybe the Commerce Clause would kick in to cover that. Hey, it's been a loooong time since Con Law. Point is, PCs cut off the large setting for my pics and ain't a thing I can do about it. Sorry, Charlie.
I ordered the No. 11. There are so many numbers, it's just dizzying how many different ways you can have a pastrami or corned beef sandwich. Dizzying, I tell you. Yet executive decisions have to be made, and so I went with the touted "most popular" sandwich consisting of pastrami, coleslaw and Russian dressing.
The most outrageously fantastic revelatory thing about this sandwich was the rye bread. I've never had such excellent thick soft cushiony UPHOLSTERED rye bread. My word. The crust too was something else. It not only aspired to a baguette like rind, I'm tempted to say, it exceeded it. I know! What on earth! And the strong rye smell. My goodness. It was potent. It was more rye than your rye. It was ryer than thou.
As for the pastrami, it was unusually thick. Not quite steak like but thicker than bacon. It was the thickness of a steakum if you've ever been lucky enough to ingest that meat simulacrum. It was also spicy as all get out. It reminded me of those peppery pieces of beef jerky that had been re-hydrated and then dyed pink. I'm no judge of pastrami but it was pretty good. The coleslaw just ruined my high with its sweetness. I could have done without it. Next time, sauerkraut the Jewish kimchee will be had if there is a next time.
I got a side of freedom fries. To commemorate my rare freedom on a Wednesday afternoon. They tasted like Ore -Ida but because I was celebrating my liberty, they tasted like caviar. And the ketchup tasted like butter.
The rye bread was such that I had to buy a loaf. My waitress warned me that the bread that is sold is not twice baked like the rye I had with my sandwich. I could either buy the loaf unsliced and bake it again or could buy it sliced. I decided to buy it sliced. It was sliced much thinner and the crust was not crusty but it still made a good bread until it grew green fuzz from neglect and I had to bury it. This is why I should compulsively freeze shit like a Korean mom.
Freedom has its price as I learned when I paid $24 for a Deli sandwich, fries, pink lemonade and a loaf of bread. I guess Janis Joplin was right. Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose. Well, I had $24 plus tip to lose at Langer's. But it's an institution so I'm glad I had the opportunity. Long may Langer's be dishing up its pastrami with its "Choice and Costly Spices". We don't want them to economize on the spices nor on the rye bread.