When you mention Mendocino Farms, all I think about are sandwiches. Known for their fresh and farm to table ingredients, their sandwiches are some of the best in the business. You can bet that every ingredient in their sandwiches is organic and cultivated locally. This extra care and fresh ingredients do make a difference in the taste and quality of the food. Mendocino Farms is a nice and fresh lunch or dinner idea for something tasty and somewhat quick and affordable. Marina del Rey, lucky you for having a Mendocino Farms.

I go here for one thing and one thing only. It is their Kurabota Pork Belly Banh Mi. It is under their “Foodie Favorites” menu, and I can see why. Growing up in the SGV, I had some awesome Vietnamese sandwiches. Theirs was something new and fresh that was a good twist on the classic sandwich, but didn’t stray too far away from the original. The star of this sandwich is that beautiful kurobota pork belly. It is braised and caramelized — this created a nice sweet note. The fat and the meat were so tender — it just oozed off. The house made picked daikon and carrots helped in the crunch department. It also helped counterbalance the fatty pork belly. The cilantro, cucumbers, and jalapeno gave it a nice background flavor, giving this sandwich some depth. All between a panini pressed chiabata, and lathered on with chili aioli, the sandwich was spot on. The balance in flavors and textures really worked. This could be one of the best sandwiches in Los Angeles.

Mendocino Farms knows what they are doing. The fresh ingredients and quality meats really make a difference. Waiting for my sandwich, I was able to try some of their market items as well. Everything was fresh and delicious. That sandwich though, I can eat that all day. Why do I think every sandwich needs cheese? How can a sandwich with no cheese and no cured meats be delicious? Is it the pork belly? Before I just ramble on and start asking random questions (too late), I will just say this. The price is just right at Mendocino Farms, and you get much more than what you pay for. I know I paid just as much for a sandwich that was half as bad. There are many locations around Los Angeles. You can find them in Downtown, West Hollywood, West LA, and their new location in Sherman Oaks. I for sure will expect more shops to pop up elsewhere soon.

Mendocino Farms on Urbanspoon


Johnnies Pastrami is a Culver City landmark. The 50s styled restaurant is small. It has a diner feel with the central bar area — everything is just smaller in scale. Their pastrami sandwiches though, are quite large. I will undoubtedly compare this to The Hat. If you want to stop reading, I will tell you right now. I like the pastrami at The Hat better. Call it biased if you wish, but I call it how it is–you can read the comparison below.

The pastrami sandwich at Johnnies was packed full of meat. The sandwich was just pastrami in between a sliced roll. Granted, you can get it with coleslaw and cheese, but I wanted the pure pastrami sandwich to shine (for the sake of the comparison). Bread for bread, both Johnnies and The Hat was a tie. As for the pastrami, Johnnies was a bit on the dryer side and had less flavor. The Hat’s was more juicy and saltier (in a good way). Both was probably achieved with a dunk in their special au jus. Sorry to say, The Hat’s pastrami was better than Johnnie’s.

But wait… There is something that Johnnie’s kills it in, and that is their pickles. These pickles were tart, salty, and crisp. It went so perfectly with the pastrami sandwich. I finished the whole bowl of complimentary pickles that was offered. These were probably some of my favorite pickles I have ever eaten. I did dream of eating these pickles with a Hat pastrami sandwich from the SGV. In hind sight, I should have bought a jar of them. Interestingly, the pickles were better than their pastrami.

I guess in comparison, it should be Hat’s pastrami a sandwich vs. johnnie’s pastrami with the pickles. If that is the case, it would be a much tougher comparison. Honestly, the Tito’s Tacos neighbor is a hot sport for late night diners in Culver City. I understand you can’t drive all the way to the SGV to get the best “thin” pastrami in LA. I guess you can stay in Culver City for pastrami, but it would only be 2nd best. And all of you “how about Oinkster pastrami?” folks, you can just keep those kinds of irrelevant questions to yourself. :)

Johnnie's Pastrami on Urbanspoon


Founded in 1937, Carnegie Deli is a New York landmark. Fortunately, I don’t have to travel to the east coast to enjoy one other their sandwiches. Lucky for me, there is one located right in Las Vegas at the Mirage Resort. Melding with the casino floor, and not being very big, there was a small wait. Once I looked at the menu though, I knew what I was going to order. It was going to be the biggest thing they had. Famous for their large sandwiches with stacks of meat so high, it almost seems ridiculous, I wanted to go big — Vegas Big! First made famous by the delis in New York, Carnegie Deli is a near replica of the Manhattan deli.

It was great to have a piece of the great NYC in Vegas. Surprisingly, I would think New York New York would be more fitting. I guess it’s all under the MGM giant, so it doesn’t matter. I was just happy to have this gigantic sandwich. The Woody Allen, which is a pastrami and corned beef sandwich, was named after him because he was patron at the original location. Woody Allen shot scenes in his film Broadway Danny Rose at the NY location, so the item was named after him. The sandwich though, was huge. It was almost too large. Not only was it too large for my mouth, the amount of meat was insane. It was probably enough pastrami and corned beef for about 10 to maybe 20 sandwiches. The meat had quite the nice flavor profile. It wasn’t too salty or too dry. I prefer the fattier and peppery pastrami over the somewhat dull corned beef. Sandwiched between two measly slices of rye, this was basically a pile of deli meat.

The excess of meat was complimented by their coleslaw and fries on the side. Every sandwich needs a side of fries. I think the coleslaw was quite needed for this. With all that meat, it was bound to get dry and tiring. The coleslaw helped with getting the extra food through to my stomach. Their pickles were salty and gave this sandwich a very nice flavor. The crunchy and sour pickles were a perfect condiment to this gargantuan sandwich.

You come here because it’s a part of New York in the Mirage Resort. Who would have thought? Not only do they bring the menu to Las Vegas, the atmosphere is quite similar. Though I have never stepped foot in Carnegie Deli in New York, or New York for that matter, I can only wonder. Carnegie Deli is a fun, with an old school atmosphere. Where can you get the largest deli sandwich in Vegas?

Carnegie Deli on Urbanspoon


The Hat (Alhambra) – OG Pastrami

by Franklin on April 24, 2013

To me, The Hat is that place that I remember most. As I mentioned in my blog about The Hat in Monterey Park, it is one of the first food items I remember as a child. Stuff like that is powerful. I’m not talking about remembering my first happy meal or cheeseburger from Mc Donald’s. I’m talking about my first real burger, or real pastrami. For all I knew, the Hat in Monterey Park was the first. Growing up, I realized the OG, the orignal Hat was in Alhambra. A small stand on the north west corner of Valley and Garfield, The Hat is a classic. Started in 1951, Southern California residents have been enjoying their World Famous Pastrami since then.

Your with your friends? Get the chili cheese fries and pastrami dip. Your with a few of your friends? Get the chili cheese fries, wet fries (gravy on the side), pastrami dip, and pastrami burger. And do share a bag of large onion rings. Your by yourself, home alone after a long/bad day? Get the chili cheese fries with pickles and pastrami on top. Just make sure to take a hot shower right after. Whatever the occasion, The Hat is a stop you must take. If you want the OG, the Original, head to Garfield and Valley.

Hat on Urbanspoon


Langer’s Delicatessen – No. 19

by Franklin on April 1, 2013

It all started in 1947, with just 12 seats. It survived through the recession and survived the rough neighborhood of Westlake on the corner of 7th and Alvorado. With the subway station and Mac Arthur Park just adjacent to it, the restaurant get all kinds of customers. Today, this restaurant is a Los Angeles destitantion for those wanting the best pastrami in the world. No, I have no tried Kat’s deli in New York, nor have I tried every pastrami in the world. How can I claim this to be the best pastrami? I will tell you at the end.

The Westlake area in and around Alvorado can get a bit rowdy, but to me, this is what Los Angeles is all about. When you walk in though, you get a sense of that history. The dark wooden booths and old pictures on the wall really take you back. You kind of forget where you are — there’s nothing dangerous about this place. The mild wooden everything and casual people dining away brings you to a state of comfort.

A lot of people get here for breakfast or maybe a nice bowl of matzo ball soup, but I come here for one thing — the Langer’s #19 Hot Pastrami Sandwich. Of course, the pastrami makes the sandwich. The beef is so succulent and juicy. Each tender bite is made possible by the perfect balance of meat and fat. The dark crust around the meat packs such complex amounts of flavor. The rye bread is perfect with flourescent caraway seeds. The inner is soft and the outter crust is crunchy. The combination of cole slaw, swiss, russian dressing help everything stay moist. The Russian dressing is zesty and flavorful. Each element from the bread, to the pastrami, and to the sauces and cheese make a perfect balance of taste and texture. A bite of the pickle spear to “reset” your taste buds, and you are ready for another bite. This might be the best sandwich ever made.

If you came to Langer’s, and you don’t order the pastrami sandwich, I don’t know why you went. The sandwich is delicious to the exact definition. I remember going to Langer’s for the first time with a friend who also never went. We split the #19, because, well, we were’t ballin’ back then. We aren’t ballin’ now either, but that is besised the point. As soon as I took my first bite, we just looked at eachother with smiles of satisfaction. At that momen, I didn’t know if this was real life or not. It was that good! I don’t ask for this sandwich to be on a pedastal, nor do I expect the chefs to win some kind of James Beard award — though the restaurant did win The Bertolli America’s Classics Award noted for the their history and appeal to the city of Los Angeles. The sandwich is amazing. Anyone who says otherwise is either a pastrami snob or from New York. I never tried Kat’s in New York, and I really cannot wait try their pastrami sandwich. That is definately on my bucket list. Who knows? Maybe my biased self might think it’s better than Langer’s. At the end of it all, it is a pride thing. I love Los Angeles, and I think it’s the best city in the world. Hence, Langer’s has the best hot pastrami sandwich in the world. It’s simple logic, right?

Langer's Deli on Urbanspoon

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