Albert Langer was working as a meat-cutter at Canter’s (L.A’s older famous deli), when he decided that he was ready to open his own place across town. Despite watching the neighborhood around him change from immigrant-aspirational to skid row-depressing, Langer’s place remains and has kept a loyal following of customers willing to travel for a taste of cured meat greatness.
The menu has the endless options typical of a Jewish deli: soups, dozens of sandwiches, diner plates, and even some added L.A. favorites like pastrami-chili-cheese fries and French beef dips. They’ll even put avocado on a sandwich. Although it’s not kosher, most of the Jewish deli staples are represented, such as kishka, chopped liver, and matzo ball soup. The matzo balls are custard-soft and rich with schmaltz flavor, making for a highly-recommended companion to the famous sandwiches.
Pastrami is hand carved, but sliced thinner than most other delis that use this technique. The corned beef is machine-sliced extra thin. While the pastrami looks more appetizing and is more celebrated, we’re big proponents of the corned beef. It has a delicate and thoroughly infused brining spice and is spoon-tender. You can’t go wrong either way.
The things that New Yorkers might object to about signature sandwich #19 are that there is a manageable portion of meat rather than the Rubenesque versions found in Manhattan delis and that the kitchen uses coleslaw rather than sauerkraut. Furthermore, the bread is not grilled. Otherwise, it truly is Reuben-esque: a perfect West-Coast counterpoint to a New York deli Reuben, although softer, lighter, and cool enough for a city that celebrates permanent summer.
The meats at Langer’s rival New York’s finest, but its “double-baked” rye bread is the real star. It’s served hot from a warming drawer, which leaves the middle soft and gives the edges audible crunch. Although sandwiches here might seem scant compared to other famous delis, the meat levels are prime enough to appreciate the exquisitely crisp-crusted rye.