Growing up in a non-Jewish family, I was late to the world of deli. In fact I always thought that the word “deli” referred to a restaurant, but came to understand that it in fact refers to a whole genre of food.
One day back in my early twenties I happened to be in Los Angeles during lunch time. LA was not (and still isn’t) my “hood”, so I had no idea where to go other than the usual fast food joints which I just wasn’t in the mood for. Fortunately I happened to be on La Cienega Blvd, home to a number of fine deli’s. I wandered into one, ordered a roast beef sandwich, and that was all she wrote.
Over the years I have always sought out great deli food both at home and abroad. One of my favorite things about going to Las Vegas used to be treating my Saturday morning hangover at The Stage Deli in Caesar’s with sour pickles, matzoh ball soup, kreplach, and any number of various sandwiches (always with Russian dressing and slaw).
I am not an expert in deli however, but Bill Handel, the well-known LA morning talk show host at KFI 640 is. He states unequivocably that Los Angeles has the best deli food in the world, and says that the key to knowing if a deli will be good is that “the waiters have to be rude, the waitresses have to be over 80 years old, and have to have smoked for at least 40 years.”
According to Handel, the best deli in America is Brent’s in LA. On this point he has some serious allies. Zagat’s has rated Brent’s as the #1 Los Angeles Deli for 16 years in a row. And even The Food Network has sung its praises as “the best corned beef sandwich I ever ate.”
Handel’s other suggestions for Los Angeles best deli food are Nate & Al’s, Goldblatt’s, Junior’s, Langer’s, and Labels.
And what of the more well known deli’s such as the world-famous Jerry’s Deli? Handel has one word for it.
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