Nobody outside of LA wants to hear about how good our delis are. Frankly, that’s because they don’t get it. We’re supposed to be the land of moon cleanses and algae flushes and floating around in weight deprivation pods until we see our futures, right? How could we possibly know what a stack of great pastrami tastes like? Well, we do. And we also have a lot of great places to go get it from.
LA’s deli scene doesn’t just end with a quality reuben and some matzo ball soup though. We have top-notch Greek delis and Armenian delis and French-style delis that have been around for over a hundred years. Here, the official LA Deli Power Rankings, so you never order a bad sandwich again.
There’s nothing more liberating than seeing the look on a New Yorker’s face when someone says LA has the best pastrami. So we’ll go ahead and say it again - LA has the best pastrami. And all you need to do is head down to Alvarado and 7th, and pay a quick visit to Langer’s for proof. The LA landmark has been dishing out the best pastrami in the world (we can confirm through extensive scientific analysis) for over 70 years, with the #19 sandwich serving as its pièce de résistance. Pastrami, swiss cheese, and Russian-style coleslaw stacked between two perfect pieces of rye bread. This is the standard bearer for all things pastrami. Come at us.
Santa Monica isn’t exactly known for its historical landmarks (or buildings built before 1995 for that matter), but its most famous deli - Bay Cities - certainly makes up for that. Since 1925, this family-run Italian deli and grocer has been cranking out the best Italian sandwiches in Southern California. It’s hard to go wrong with anything here, but if you don’t get The Godmother at some point, your opinion of the place is frankly void. Lines are long all day everyday so just call ahead to bypass the plebeians.
Papa Christo’s is special because even after 70 years of business (and setting the bar for all things Greek food in LA), many people still don’t even know about it. But let it be known, this is one of the best delis in the city. Located in a bit of no man’s land on the corner of Pico and Normandie, Papa Christo’s is part deli, part bakery, part Greek grocer, and all things lively big group dinner. You’ll order some moussaka and saganaki and a feta pizza at the deli counter in the back and then push all the tables you need together in the adjoining dining hall. It’s fun, a little drunk, and downright delicious - all things you want for a quality Greek meal. Just save room for the best Greek yogurt of your life.
Any Jewish deli residing in the same city as Langer’s definitely gets a tough draw, but Canter’s has certainly risen above it. Is the food as good as Langer’s? No. But it doesn’t have to be. Canter’s has made its mark on this city by still having some d*mn delicious food, and also making itself available at 3am for everyone to eat it. Open 24 hours a day, Canter’s is where you go after a long night out to take down a perfectly made reuben, and see Scott Disick and your landlord sitting in the same booth together - both drunker than you are. And that’s what LA’s all about.
Philippe’s is one of those rare tourist traps that is actually worth every bit of the hassle. Is it a particularly easy place to get to? No. Are you going to wait in long lines with other sun-visor wearing tourists once you’re there? You bet. But whether this 110-year-old deli is the real birthplace of the French Dip or not (we think it is), the sandwich itself still holds up. As does the mac salad. And potato salad. And everything else chilling behind the glass. Tip: strike up a conversation with any of the amazing ladies behind the counter. It’s worth the trip alone.
For anyone who thinks a good deli has to have been around for decades and decades can head right to Wexler’s to be proven wrong. After opening their original stall inside downtown’s Grand Central Market, it didn’t take long for word to spread - there’s a new pastrami place in town, and it rivals just about anybody. The meat is cured and smoked in-house every single day, and you can taste it - these guys simply give a sh*t. We aren’t in love with the tourist-hell trap GCM has become, but as long as Wexler’s keeps doing their thing, we’ll be in line. (And also at their new Santa Monica location too).
You could maybe argue this isn’t a true deli, but honestly, we don’t have time for it. We’re already in line for some of the best sandwiches in the city. At first glance, Larchmont Wine and Cheese reads like a high-end wine shop, but if you head to the back corner, you’ll be greeted by a tiny little deli where true magic happens. The sandwiches coming out here are minimal, with three to four ingredients a piece - a testament to the quality of each and every one. Just get here early. When they’re out, they’re out.
Brent’s is a Valley institution. Since 1967, this Northridge original has been dishing out some of the best (and largest) Jewish deli staples in SoCal. Seriously, their triple-decker hot pastrami and corned beef is a monster, and if you can finish it in one sitting, you’ve been inducted into our non-existent hall of fame. Also, their matzo ball soup is one of our favorites in LA, and they serve breakfast all day. Everybody wins.
We love Eastside Market because even after 85 years, this Italian deli on the outskirts of downtown somehow still flies under the radar. The sandwiches coming out of here are the messy, old-school red sauce variety you simply don’t see around LA. The #7 (roast beef, pastrami, and cheese) is probably our favorite, but if you’re feeling ambitious, the D.A. Special (sausage, meatball, roast beef, and pastrami) is your one way ticket to an all-day pleasure nap.
Beverly Hills has worked long and hard at maintaining its reputation as a traffic-clogged, culture-less void in the heart of Los Angeles. Nothing feels real here and to a large extent, it’s not. Except for Nate ’n Al, of course. Open since the ’40s, this Jewish deli in the heart of Beverly Hills is an LA landmark, and still one of the best hangover meals around. Their stuffed cabbage will forever have our heart, but it’s their bagel and lox that doesn’t get the credit it deserves. It’s definitely a scene here, but what’s a Sunday in BH without seeing an 85-year-old in Juicy Couture sweats.
Cape Seafood is by far the newest spot on this list, but that no way diminishes its standing. Because the same guys behind Providence have turned a vacant storefront at the bottom of a Fairfax mixed-user into one of the best places to pick up fresh seafood in the city. And while you can certainly come in and grab a pound of your favorite cut to cook at home, the move here is to head right to their daily specials board, and go all-in on one of their truly incredible house made sandwiches. The menu changes frequently, so don’t get too attached to any one thing. Just know whatever is coming out will be phenomenal.
Wait, there’s a Scandinavian deli in LA? And it’s amazing? Yes and yes. For the better part of six decades, Olsen’s hadn’t been more than a small Swedish supply shop, but after falling into the hands of a former Dan Tana’s maitre d’ (and born and raised Swede), Olsen’s found new life. Now, there’s a full menu with everything from pickled herring to meatballs to shrimp skagen (the lobster roll of Scandinavia). And don’t worry, there’s an entire side room with over 70 different kinds of imported candies. Swedish fish for everyone.
In case you haven’t been keeping up with the Kardashians, LA has the largest Armenian population outside of Armenia. And that means we have some of the best Armenian food around. Nowhere is it better showcased that at Tarzana Armenian Deli, the family-run institution operating since 1972. They claim to be the originators of the pita wrap, and in the spirit of generosity, we’ll give it to them. Because either way, those babies are delicious.
The OTHER Hollywood Jewish deli open late night, Greenblatt’s tends to get passed over somewhat in favor of nearby Canter’s, but let it be known - the food here is still really good. Are the employees at little more high-strung and are you paying Sunset Strip prices? Yeah. But it’s also 1:30am, and all you want is their corned beef and pastrami reuben in your mouth ASAP. Courtesy reminder: Greenblatt’s is also a fantastic wine shop.
Art’s is yet another true Valley classic. Smack in the heart of Studio City’s Ventura Blvd. strip, the old-school cafeteria has been dishing out monstrous sandwiches to Valley kids since the mid ’50s, and has the authentic Americana vibes to show for it. $20 might seem a lot for a pastrami sandwich (and it is), but when half a sandwich can possibly feed a family of four, it’s not such a bad deal. Get the noodle kugel too.
This place might just be the pride and joy of all of Northeast LA. Located in vastly underrated Eagle Rock, this neighborhood deli and bakery has been building some of the best cold cuts in the city for over 40 years now. But it’s not just about the sandwiches either. There’s a full market with imported goods and a bakery with all sorts of Italian desserts. Promise us now you won’t leave without getting their cannoli.
Label’s Table boasts proudly to be one of LA’s few authentic Chicago-style delis. And to be honest, we haven’t really figured out what that means. But who cares when the food is this good? Down on Pico in south Beverly Hills, Label’s has been around since the 70’s and is known for their no-frills space, dirt cheap price, housemade pastrami, and tongue. Yes, their tongue. GET INTO IT.