Early in 1998, three deli-loving friends and I were arguing over which deli had the best pastrami in LA. The debate led to a plan to spend a day crawling from deli to deli across LA and comparing their pastramis on rye. We discussed over a few weeks whom to include. We knew the hype about Langers, but we had all eaten Langer's pastrami, and we agreed their pastrami was too fatty and very overrated. We knew there was no way it would top any of our lists. We settled on four. In each we ordered our favorite non-pastrami thing to eat there, and a lean pastrami on rye, hold the mustard, to go. Here was our itinerary:
(1) JFD Studio City (where we had matzo ball soup)
(2) Art's (where we had a reuben)
(3) Nate 'n Al's (I think we had blintzes there, not a fan, I must have passed)
(4) Canter's (where we had latkes)
Once home, we put Beaver mustard on each sandwich, cut them into four, marked the plates underneath and mixed them up before taste testing them. These were our results:
(1) JFD: fine, nice texture, not a lot of flavor
(2) Art's: dry
(3) Nate and Al's: the best texture by far, got the vote of the two men
(4) Canter's: nice, peppery flavor, but not too overwhelming, got the vote of the two women
It's been almost 10 years, all of these friends have moved on to other parts of the world, and my new crowd doesn't like delis. I'm left wondering if anyone has done anything like this more recently, and if so, what do you have to say about these results? Can Canter's or Nate and Al's still stand up to the rest? Are there others we were crazy to leave out? New contenders?
And for the record, Nate and Al's black and white cookie won hands down, it wasn't even close.