Your humble L.A. editor goes by Reuben. He also hails from Jewish stock. Which makes him uniquely positioned to discuss corned beef, sauerkraut, rye and all things gastro-spora.
And since the High Holy Days are in full swing, he felt it fitting to dedicate this Book of Sandwich to L.A.’s best Jewish deli classics. Consider it the Old Testament.
Now, there are plenty of Jewish delis in L.A. But many — particularly the ones on Pico — are asleep at the switch. Skip those.
Instead, try these eight. We like to call them the chosen ones.
Langers: No. 19
Hands down the best pastrami sandwich in America. We’ll take the Pepsi Challenge with anything New York City has to offer. The thick rye bread with its firm crust and soft interior ... the coleslaw that isn’t over mayo’d … the meat that’s perfectly fatty and juicy. Oi vei.
Del Rey Deli: Pastrami BBQ Style
A strip-center gem, Del Rey Deli cures its pastrami in-house. And while they do offer it the traditional way (Russian dressing, pickles, slaw), we suggest going for the BBQ, which comes slathered in a tangy sauce and melted cheddar.
Trencher: The Reuben
This hipster haunt wouldn’t seem like a likely candidate for a top-notch Reuben, but these guys take serious pride in their sammies. Their Reuben comes out like a patty melt with buttery-crisp bread and gooey cheese. Cancel your plans after this lunch.
Gjusta: Pastrami Gravlax
No, boho Gjusta isn’t your typical deli. The rustic, organic salads are about as close to bubbie’s cooking as a North Carolina Pig Pickin’. But Chef Travis Lett’s pastrami-cured salmon has all the flavor of a proper smoke cure, but it’s delicate and nuanced in a way that won’t weigh you down. Then they top it with soft herb cheese, arugula and cucs. It’s heaven. Honorable mention: the turkey reuben.
Wexler’s Deli: Big Poppa
Micah Wexler cures a mean pastrami, and deserves props for it as a straight-ahead sando. But the Big Poppa, which features the pastrami with an egg and cheddar on a house-boiled bagel? Fuhgeddaboudit. Hit him up at his new Santa Monica location — it’s dine in — or the stand at Grand Market.
Nate ’n Al’s: The Brentwood
My grandparents used to always ask me if I go to Nate ’n Al’s in Beverly Hills, their favorite spot in town. I hadn’t until recently, but have quickly become a fan thanks to the brisket sandwiches with Russian dressing, which was always the leftover creation of choice after High Holy Days dinners.
Brent’s Deli: Chopped Liver Sandwich
Brent’s #13 hot pastrami sandwich is next in line to Langer’s #19, but we’d like to call your attention to their chopped liver, a staple app at any Jewish family gathering. Brent’s places theirs on double-baked rye bread. Get the combo with matzah ball soup.
Greenblatt’s Deli: Hot Corned Beef Sandwich
One of L.A.’s oldest and most consistent restaurants, Greenblatt’s has been on the Strip since 1926 and served many a comedian thanks to its proximity to choice comedy clubs. Get the hot corned beef and a glass of rustic Italian brunello from one of their 28 taps. Where else can you get fine wine and a great Jewish sandwich? The promised land, that’s where.