It's a strange thing indeed to love good deli food as much as I do but never make the effort to look for it in LA. I guess it's because everytime I order deli sandwiches or pastrami in LA I'm left disappointed.
I was in New York last spring annd went to Carnegie Deli. Had an awesome deep brain pastrami sandwich there maybe 15 years ago. This time it sucked, machine sliced favorless meat piled high on the bread. Arg.
Someone told me it had changed hands and was a tourist trap now. Directed me to Katz's deli where they slice the meat by hand. Better but long lines and somehow not as intoxicating as I remember original Carnegie.
Some friends recommended Langer's in LA where I had last dined as a 18 year old kid. Loved it back then but did not have the developed palate I do today.
Went there yesterday. Of course I ordered the #1, pastrami with cole slaw on rye. Noticed the following after the first bite:
Hand sliced meat
Very flavorful which comes from the right meat / grease balance
Soft meat, can't pick it up with fingers
Rye bread soft in the center, crispy crust, yeasty flavor
I went outside for a cigarette and noticed 24 year old newspaper reviews taped to the window. One said Langer's was the only deli besides Katz's in NY that hand slices their meat. Another mentioned how they buy their rye from a special baker in LA and then heat it in the oven at 350 before slicing for sandwiches. Sure tastes like it! The heated loaf is only good for 30minutes.
If you want a great pastrami don't overlook what's in your own backyard, a better deli that NYC! No one can top Langer's for pastrami in LA, certainly not Nate n Al's.