Founded in 1947, Langer’s Delicatessen and Restaurant has served generations of patrons for more than 66 years. What better introduction to Langer’s than this, by David Shaw writing for the James Beard Foundation in commemoration of our America’s Classics award:
In Los Angeles, where any business that stays open for more than five years is likely to proclaim itself a “legendary institution,” Langer’s Delicatessen is the real thing. Langer’s is also a living microcosm of the Los Angeles story, from dramatic post-war growth through all the triumphs and tribulations, changes and challenges that have followed.
Opened in 1947 with just 12 seats, almost forced out of business by recession and the urban blight of drugs and gangs in the early 1990s, then rescued by — of all things in Los Angeles, a subway! — Langer’s lives on, serving what many deli aficionadoes on both coasts consider the best pastrami sandwich in America. Norm Langer started working for his dad, Al, in 1963, and he’s been there virtually every day since. His father, who passed away shortly after the restaurant celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2007 — would come in for a few hours three or four days a week to help out with the lunch rush and greet longtime customers, many of whom recognize the children in the family photos on the walls.
Just west of downtown, in a neighborhood more shabby than chic, on a street corner at Seventh and Alvarado in a heavily Latino area, adjacent to a burgeoning Korea Town, it draws an eclectic and loyal clientele — including at least one Korean businessman who calls Langer’s pastrami “Jewish kimchee.”
The late Nora Ephron, writing in The New Yorker, graciously provided a fitting tribute to our hot pastrami sandwich:
The hot pastrami sandwich served at Langer’s Delicatessen in downtown Los Angeles is the finest hot pastrami sandwich in the world. This is not just my opinion, although most people who know about Langer’s will simply say it’s the finest hot pastrami sandwich in Los Angeles because they don’t dare to claim that something like a hot pastrami sandwich could possibly be the best version of itself in a city where until recently you couldn’t get anything resembling a New York bagel, and the only reason you can get one now is that New York bagels have deteriorated.
. . . .
The resulting sandwich, slathered with Gulden’s mustard, is an exquisite combination of textures and tastes. It’s soft but crispy, tender but chewy, peppery but sour, smoky but tangy. It’s a symphony orchestra, different instruments brought together to play one perfect chord. It … is, in short, a work of art.
Located across from historic MacArthur Park, Langer’s is an important part of Los Angeles’ rich cultural heritage, a tradition carefully managed by Norm, his wife Jeanette, and daughter Trisha. Visit us soon.