Did you know that there is a world famous Jewish deli about two miles from where I live? Yeah, neither did I. That’s what happens when you live in Los Angeles. Not only do we not measure things in miles (because two miles can be about 30 minutes of driving depending on traffic) but we have so many food options that we are often overwhelmed.
But my mom came up to visit me this week and I felt she should try a classic Jewish deli out here, especially after our favorite one in New York City closed for a while (Carnegie is back open, so expect a review when I visit NYC in the spring).
The destination this time around was Langer’s Delicatessen, “home of the world famous pastrami sandwich.” It was time to put this claim to the test.
Driving past Langer’s, you’d barely even notice it if it weren’t for its giant sign announcing its world famous pastrami. The neighborhood is bustling, eclectic, and might seem a little grungy to outsiders that aren’t used to the Los Angeles vibe. But when you enter Langer’s, you are immediately sucked into the classic diner atmosphere.
The brown leather booths and funky diner seats were enough to really set the scene. But the friendly staff really brought it home for me. Our waitress was so genuinely nice, even when I asked to be moved to a different booth (ours was next to a freezer full of cake slices and it was, well, freezing), and you could tell that there were a lot of regulars that were laughing and chatting with other employees.
It was hard to choose what to eat. The menu was quite extensive and had many of the staples you’ve come to expect at a Jewish deli (except liverwurst, one of my favorites). I also am not a huge sandwich person but the platters of meat were a bit pricey and hefty for just one person. With a road trip ahead of us, I didn’t want to be uncomfortably stuffed with deli meat.
Well, we knew one thing: we were getting matzo ball soup. That’s always a must. I will order this at any deli. But this matzo ball soup was wild. The broth looked plain but it was packed with more flavor in each spoonful than most matzo ball soups have in the entire pot. This chicken broth was rich and had just the right amount of salt. The matzo balls had clearly been soaking in it, making them also immensely packed with flavor in every bite. They also kept their solid, spongey texture, which made them so satisfying to cut into.
I went with something I’ve always wanted to try: a beef tongue sandwich. I’ve had beef tongue at Japanese restaurants as well as in tacos and Salvadorian plates. But never at Jewish deli. I know, I know. So it was about time.
I have to say, this was delicious. The bread was fresh and flavorful, but still simple enough that it let the beef tongue really shine. The warm slices of beef tongue were bursting with flavor — soft, almost melty, and with a strong, pleasing beef flavor. The sandwich also had a light smear of mustard and I got Russian style dressing on the side, a perfect pairing.
At first, the beef tongue sandwich didn’t seem as massive as other delis. You probably know the ones: they are massive mounds of meat, bigger than your head. But this was honestly more than enough meat for me. I was able to finish one half of the sandwich before realizing that this was an overwhelming amount of beef tongue. I ended up removing the bread from the second half, eating some slices of tongue out of it.
On the side, I got a macaroni salad. This was probably one of the best macaroni salads I’ve had from a Jewish deli — or anywhere. It reminded me of the mac you get on the side of Hawaiian BBQ, just sweet, rich, and creamy. It was addictive thanks to its freshness, deliciousness, and texture. I intended to only have a few forkfuls but ate almost the entire bowl. So be warned!
My mom went to Langer’s with the intention of getting pastrami. After hearing it was world famous, it was a no brainer for her. Go to Los Angeles and get some famous pastrami? Why not? But it became even more heavenly for her when we spotted a sandwich that had both pastrami and chopped liver, her favorite.
Her sandwich featured a great balance of the two deli meats plus a light amount of Russian style dressing. It also had the same bread as mine, which was soft and fresh, adding a great texture to the otherwise soft bites.
“I loved the way those two flavors tasted combined. I would definitely get it again. I would recommend it! Well, if you like chopped liver,” my mom said.
Review By the Numbers:
Ambiance — 9/10
This classic diner-style Jewish deli had a vibe that can’t be beat if you’re looking for a homey, friendly environment. The comfortable booths looked like they were right out of 40s but they were much too well kept to be that old. The staff was friendly and the people were all cheery and talkative around us, creating a community-like atmosphere. I just feel bad for whoever is sat next to that freezer.
Taste — 10/10
This is one deli I will never forget. We all know the feeling we often get when we go to Jewish delis. We just crave them sometimes, okay? Even though we know they are sorta bland sometimes, we just want that comfort food. There’s nothing wrong with that. But honestly, Langer’s was up there with some of the most flavorful food I’ve had. This is not your everyday dry brisket with a side of luekwarm matzo ball soup. This is a food experience that’s worth flying all the way to Los Angeles for if you’re a fan of deli food at all.
Portions & Prices — 6/10
This meal wasn’t cheap by any means. The sandwich, while large, was not a good deal. I believe I paid over $20. My mom’s was close to $18 as far as we remember. You will definitely leave satisfied and full but your bank account won’t be.
Mom’s meal — 10/10
“I recommend getting the matzo ball soup because the broth was very flavorful and the matzo balls had a great texture. The service was very friendly and attentive. It was just a really fun, authentic deli experience.”
Experience — 10/10
If you’re looking for that classic deli experience, this is where to go. Langer’s lives up to the hype. The pastrami was banging, the matzo ball soup was delicious, and the atmosphere was incredible. This is the perfect place to go if you are craving Jewish staples.
TOTAL SCORE: 9/10
Want more deli food still? Don’t blame you. Check out our review of Canter’s Deli, another iconic Los Angeles spot.