Ah, tongue. All the great meaty flavor, none of the toughness. Falafel Arax does a lamb tongue sandwich that is insane, says peifferc: tongue and tomatoes in a hot-pressed sandwich with turnip pickles on the side. Oh yeah—falafel is good, too.

On the beef front, Attari serves up an excellent Persian-style tongue sandwich, agree several hounds—it tastes more like a roast than the typical deli-style boiled tongue and comes on a good roll.

As for deli-style, go for Nate ’n Al or Langer’s. Speaking of Langer’s, there’s no need to specify hand-cut pastrami, as Nora Ephron pointed out in her ode in the New Yorker a few years ago; because the meat is so tender after its long steaming, it’s always hand-cut.

We’re partial to this Smoked Pastrami Beef Tongue from chef Jonathan Salamon (formerly of The Eddy), which you can definitely turn into a sandwich!

Smoked Pastrami Beef Tongue

  • For the brine:
  • 2 2/3 cups salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 head garlic, crushed
  • 2/3 ounce pink curing salt
  • 1 beef tongue, 5 pounds
  • For the pastrami spice:
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tablespoons red chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons red peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  1. Make the brine. Combine the first 4 brine ingredients in a large pot with 1 gallon of water. Bring to a boil, then chill. Once cold, stir in the pink curing salt and add the tongue. Refrigerate for 4 days.
  2. After 4 days, pull the tongue from the brine and submerge in another pot filled with cold water. Bring the water to a boil and lower to a gentle simmer, then cook the tongue until soft when pierced with a fork, 3-4 hours. While the tongue is still warm, peel off the outer layer of skin from the tongue (use a sharp paring knife to make a vertical slit down the center of the tongue, then simply peel back the skin on either side and keep going until you've worked it completely off the muscle).
  3. In a small, dry pan, toast the coriander and fennel seeds until fragrant, stirring constantly. Combine with the remainder of the pastrami spices and grind in a blender or coffee/spice grinder.
  4. Once the tongue is peeled, portion it into roughly 6-ounce steaks. Liberally dress the portioned tongue in the pastrami spice, pressing to coat all sides. I like to let the tongue air-dry on a rack for a day in the fridge to help ensure a nice dry crust. (Note: Your wood chips need to soak in water this long too, so do them at the same time.)
  5. Smoke the tongue at 225°F for 3 hours until tongue is tender and maintains a crispy exterior. (Note: Refer to the directions for your smoker for best results, but chef Salamon likes to add fresh wood chips every hour or so for the first two hours, to ensure there's plenty of smoke and steam. Be sure that you've soaked your wood chips 24 hours ahead of time.)
  6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or labne, sliced pickled radishes, and fresh herbs and/or greens.


Falafel Arax [Mid-City]
5101 Santa Monica Boulevard #2, Hollywood

Attari Sandwich Shop [Westside–Inland]
1388 Westwood Boulevard, Westwood

Langer’s Delicatessen [Downtown]
704 S. Alvarado Street, Los Angeles

Nate ’n Al Delicatessen Restaurant [Mid-City]
414 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills

Board Links: Slip Me Some Tongue (sandwich) Recc’s
Langer’s: Hand cut vs. Not

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