The Best “Deli” Is Not In New York, It’s In Los Angeles

Growing up in a WASPy family, I was late to the world of deli food.

Then one day, in my early twenties, I found myself in Los Angeles during lunch time. LA was not (and still isn’t) my “hood”, so I had no idea where to eat besides the usual fast food joints.

Fortunately, I happened to be on La Cienega Blvd, home to a number of fine delis.  I wandered into one, ordered a roast beef sandwich, and that was all she wrote. I’ve been a deli fan ever since.

Over the years I’ve sought out great deli food, both at home and abroad. One of my favorite things about going to Las Vegas was treating my Saturday morning hangover to the soothing relief of sour pickles, matzoh ball soup, and kreplach at The Stage Deli in Caesar’s. Alas, it is now gone.

That said, I am not an expert in deli, however, 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, adding 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 in “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.”

Handel’s other suggestions for the best deli food in LA are Nate & Al’s, Goldblatt’s, Junior’s, Langer’s, and Labels.

And what of the better-known delis such as the world-famous Jerry’s Deli?  Handel has one word for it.

“Inedible.”

Listen To Bill Handel’s Complete Los Angeles Deli Review On The Fork Report.

  • John Grossman

    Bull- I tried it and it is average, not that special. I lived the majority of my life in the east village in the shadow of the Second Ave. Deli and within a short walk of Katz’s. This is an average out of town deli. Like Murrarys in Phila or Jerry’s on south beach. They are ok but they are not coming close to the Deli’s in Manhattan or Ben’s in Queens.

  • No.

    -DT

  • Wife and I will be in Los Angeles for a week starting end of February. Perhaps you’d like to show us to one of your favorite Deli’s?

    • bclund

      That’s a deal. Let’s try for lunch one weekday at Nate & Al’s. DM or Email me a week or so before you get into town and we will set it up.

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Brian C. Lund

Brian C. Lund

Great father. Good friend. Decent trader/writer. Lacking husband. Solid drummer. Sometimes funny. Often A-hole. Terrible poker player. Too smart. Punk rock. Work in an ice cream shop.

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