Langer’s received a very nice mention in the Cooking Corner: Homemade Pastrami article by David W. Cowles, carried by the Peninsula Gateway (www.gateline.com). In the article, which discusses the merits of and tasks behind creating your own pastrami at home, David discusses the historical background of pastrami preparation, its Romanian roots, and the non-controversy over which delicatessen has the world’s best pastrami:
New Yorkers may be partial to Katz’s, but the reputation for having the best pastrami in the United States (and probably the entire world) goes to Langer’s, a Los Angeles deli that’s been around since 1947.
Langer’s is located at 7th and Alvarado near downtown, a few blocks from MacArthur Park, in what is now a heavily Latino neighborhood. The founder, Al Langer, passed away in June 2007 at 94.
Right up to the time he died, he went into the deli several times a week for a few hours to help with the lunch crowd and to greet old customers. His son, Norm Langer, runs the place. Norm has worked the deli — a family affair — since 1963.
At Langer’s, you order pastrami sandwiches by the number. No. 1 is pastrami, cole slaw and Russian dressing. Add Swiss cheese and the number changes to 19. Pastrami, chopped liver, and Russian dressing is No. 6. A grilled pastrami, sauerkraut and “nippy” (American) cheese is No. 44.
And there are more. These sandwiches are on rye bread baked by Bea’s Bakery in Tarzana.
Thanks for the kind words, David!
Langer’s owner Norm Langer was part of an in-depth look at the MacArthur Park area of Langer’s, which is home to the delicatessen-restaurant. The story focuses on the FBI’s efforts to crack down on gang activity in the area, and includes insight and perspective from Norm:
If you’re looking for a fake I.D., MacArthur Park is the place to go. And even if you aren’t looking, the street dealers will come looking for you. It’s a gritty area, but you can still see the beauty of the MacArthur Park that used to be: a neighborhood with a lake and lots of paddle boats, surrounded by nice high-rise apartment buildings.
That’s the place Norm Langer remembers.
“Primarily it was a Jewish recreation area,” he recalls from inside the deli his father opened 61 years ago. Today, he runs Langer’s Deli and sells its famous pastrami sandwiches.
Over the years, Langer has had a front-row seat to the deadly gang violence that turned MacArthur Park from a mecca to a menace. He even came close to shutting down the family business like so many others in the neighborhood did.
Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant was privileged to be a part of the “Sweet 16” in Los Angeles Magazine’s “64 Greatest Things about LA” promotion (click here for more info). But we were surprised to see in the June issue (on newsstands now – buy a copy!) a short discussion of our spirited participation in the promotion:
Norm Langer, owner of the classic MacArthur park delicatessen that bears his family’s name, told us that his goal had been to make the Sweet 16. If he found himself up against Grauman’s, he knew that he was going to have to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to win that battle. Langer put up posters about the competition in the deli’s window, and he handed flyers to every patron who walked in the door. “My husband and I had our first date here and go back each year for our anniversary,” wrote in one voter. “Simply fantastic.” In the end, Langer was right: Pickles or no pickles, Grauman’s was too formidable a competitor. Probably because, as another voter put it, “Grauman’s Chiense Theater is a household name in most civilized countries around the world. Need I say more!?”
Thank you again, Los Angeles Magazine and everyone who voted for Langer’s in the promotion!
Former Los Angeles mayor and restaurant owner Richard Riordan gave an interview published in the LA Times today in which he is quoted as possibly assembling a landmark restaurant consortium – possibly to include Langer’s? Well, you decide:
…He’s played with the idea of putting together a group of landmark Los Angeles restaurants for a special co-operative marketing push. Besides the Pantry, he’d include Philippe, Musso and Frank, the Apple Pan, Pacific Dining Car and maybe Nate’n Al, “but their food is terrible. I guess I’d probably pick Langer’s before Nate’n Al’s.”
Thanks, Mr. Mayor! (We think!)
Enjoy this short clip documenting the unveiling and dedication of the Langer’s Square signs at the 7th and Alvarado intersection in Los Angeles, in honor of our founder, Al Langer. The event took place January 24, 2008.
Thanks to all our friends and customers who voted for us in the LA Magazine “64 Greatest Things in LA” competition.
We made it to the Sweet 16! We won two rounds and we’re VERY grateful to everyone who took the time to vote for us.