Walk up to a “carver” behind the counter at Langer’s Delicatessen-Restaurant on Alvarado and 7th and ask for the famous #19 sandwich. Knowing what to ask for ahead of time will save 20 minutes of head-scratching over the deli’s enormous and comprehensive menu with authentic deli offerings like whitefish on a roll and a pastrami and corned beef combo. The #19 joins thick, hand-carved slices of pastrami with crunchy coleslaw, tangy Russian dressing, and a slice of Swiss cheese on double-baked rye. The double-baking gives the rye an ultra-crusty exterior but preserves the soft and moist insides.
If a hot sandwich seems more palatable, two downtown Los Angeles restaurants make a French dip sandwich that some say rivals the best on the east coast. Both Philippe the Original and Cole’s opened in 1908 and claim to have originated the French dip concept. Regardless of origin, both French dip sandwiches claim a place in history for juiciness, flavor, and quality. Philippe the Original’s customers select roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham and have the sandwich single-dipped, double-dipped, or wet from the natural gravy of the roasts. A dot of hot mustard adds an extra zing to the juicy flavor combinations. Cole’s provides its own house-made atomic mustard to complement lamb and goat cheese as well as classic French dip sandwiches.
The Godmother sandwich at Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery sits too far from downtown to be useful at the workday lunch break, but the sandwich merits a drive into Santa Monica any other time. Italian bread piled high with Genoa salami, prosciutto, mortadella, coppacola, ham, and provolone cheese makes for a tasty combination. Adding “the works” means mayo, a choice of 3 kinds of mustard, onions, pickles, tomatoes, lettuce, Italian dressing, and pepper salad, but purists insist on a dash of oil and vinegar over the mayo and mustard. The Deli also sells Italian groceries, wines, and other Italian foodie paraphernalia.