While there are innumerable ways to take your pastrami, there's little dispute that this New York native from the 19th century has become a beloved American deli classic. From its beginnings in brine to a final steam to render its marblings, pastrami—like grilled cheese—is a practice in the art of comfort food. Go traditional (pastrami on rye and some mustard), or try "the works," otherwise known as The Rachel, complete with coleslaw, Russian dressing and Swiss. Prefer a pastrami dip on a French roll? No judgment here. Whether it be a BBQ joint or a new vendor in Grand Central Market, there's a place that satisfies your cured-and-smoked meat needs on this list of the best pastrami sandwiches in Los Angeles.
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L.A.'s best pastrami sandwiches
It's no wonder this San Fernando Valley gem—both their Northridge and Westlake Village locations—is always packed to the gills. Their pastrami is not only the best in the Valley, it's among the best anywhere in Los Angeles. Choose between the standard pastrami, which is available on its own, and the cult favorite Black Pastrami Reuben, which seems to be what everyone orders here. Slices of the brined, smoked and steamed meat with extra seasoned edges are piled between a layer each of Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and two slices of grilled rye bread. Request extra lean or even fatty meat if that's what you prefer in your pastrami, but one thing we love about Brent's pastrami is that it's flavorful and juicy without any of the residual grease. $15 with sides
Westsiders will find their best restaurant pastrami inside the Brentwood Country Mart at Farmshop. You can find it on a plate with eggs and charred red onion at brunch, but lunchtime diners can order it in a more traditional form: as a sandwich, served alongside radish kraut, Spring Hill Farms white cheddar, Mendocino mustard and a McClure’s pickle for a truly Californian presentation of the classic plate. Regardless of what form it takes, this is some of the most flavorful pastrami you can find in LA, and that's all that matters. $17.50
Next to The Laugh Factory on the Sunset Strip—and open daily until 2am—is Greenblatt’s Deli-Restaurant and Fine Wine Shop, an often overlooked gem that opened back in 1926, when Sunset was just a dirt road. After nabbing one of the free parking spots in the back lot, grab a booth and order from the pared down menu, where the pastrami Reuben (with sauerkraut and Swiss) is the most popular item. Greenblatt's rye bread is the default for all their pastrami sandwiches, but the tender meat shines no matter how you prefer it. It usually comes sliced, but you can also order the meat hand-cut—it’s that good—for thicker slices that would make it a New York-style sandwich. While you're at it, grab a bottle of Beaujolais to enjoy in the shop with your sandwich or at home. $13.95 including one side
Established in 1952, Johnnie's Pastrami continues to serve up thin slices of tenderness at their Culver City location with the original booths, counters and countertop jukeboxes intact for an authentic old-time feel. If you go with the Pastrami Dip, the meat is dipped in their special sauce before being stuffed into a fluffy French roll, perfect for trapping all the meat and juices. The sandwich is also available on rye but without the dip action, because two slices of rye would fall apart under the au jus. If you're into a kick in the pants, don't forget to ask for a bottle of their housemade hot mustard to keep nearby. Dress your sandwich accordingly. $12.75
What can we say about James Beard American Classics Award-winning Langer’s except that it still is the best pastrami in town? No one achieves that perfect pastrami balance like Langer's, with just the right about of smoke, brine and moisture in each hand-cut slice of tender meat. Many trumpet the #19—what you probably know to be Langer's Rachel sandwich (pastrami, Swiss, coleslaw and Russian dressing). Feel free to let all the nuanced flavors of the meat shine on its own in any form: the #1, or any other options like sauerkraut, nippy cheese, chopped liver, and more. Get off at the MacArthur Park stop on the Metro Red Line and save yourself the headache of parking. $14 and up
The popular sandwich purveyor finished construction on their smokehouse facility recently, and customers at Mendocino Farms' West Hollywood location are tasting the fruits—or meats—of the first harvest. Order The 1887 for hand-cut slices of a very flavorful, 12-hour pecan wood-smoked pastrami with a layer of apple coleslaw and Swiss cheese between two slices of Drago Bakery rye bread. A dipping sauce combining three different mustards is the finishing touch. Much like their other meaty sandwiches, Mendocino Farms' pastrami is never greasy or overdone. $14
This delicatessen has been thriving in the heart of Beverly Hills since 1945 and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. With both a deli counter and dining room, Nate 'n Al's is one of the originals, the place for that go-to traditional pastrami. You could opt for the turkey pastrami, but why mess with a good thing? Best bet is to order one of the beef originals, which include The Nate 'n Al, with lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing; The New York, with coleslaw and Russian dressing (add Swiss cheese to make it a bonafide Rachel); or simply the hot pastrami in all its original glory. Request the latter on double baked rye, and it's all gravy. $13.95
There's certainly no shortage of pastrami at The Oinkster, where three different varieties are on hand. Try the House Cured Pastrami, which can be dressed up with their homemade mustard, or go to the next level with The Oinkster Pastrami or the Reuben Sandwich. The Oinkster Pastrami is a sweeter version of the original, with caramelized onions, Gruyere and purple cabbage slaw—sacrilege to some, delicious to others. In the Reuben, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing add some fermented and creamy notes to the applewood-smoked meat. Though it's standard on the Reuben, you can always get your pastrami sandwich on rye instead of a French roll—just remember to request it. $9.50-$10.50
Wexler’s Deli is one of the new kids at Grand Central Market, but their excellent pastrami tastes as if they've been around since the market's inception. You’ll find a line at their stall most mornings for smoked fish plates and bagels and lox, but the pastrami sandwiches aren't available until 11am. The sammies are impressive for the sheer amount of meat alone, but the quality—its tenderness, flavor complexity and juiciness—is top-notch. Order The O.G., which showcases the pastrami meat in all its glory with a little bit of mustard, or go with the MacArthur Park, Wexler's version of the Rachel featuring crunchy coleslaw, melted Swiss and creamy Russian dressing. It's a quality sandwich at a price point that's more than reasonable. $11-$12