Langer's Deli

Originally uploaded by illewminator.
Since I just posted about Mama's Hot Tamales, I figured I'd stay on the local tip and write about my other favorite grubspot in Macarthur Park -- Langer's Deli. Long considered an "LA Institution," Langer's is -- in my opinion -- hands-down, the BEST spot to get deli favorites like pastrami and corned beef sandwiches on rye.

The pastrami is out of this world... nothing like the salty slop you get at The Hat (though that salty slop is pretty damned tasty when you're jonesing for a greasy midnight snack... ). The corned beef is also heavenly. And, best of all, you can get both pastrami and corned beef together on one sandwich (like the one pictured above).

I also like the #19 sandwich (billed as their most popular sandwich), featuring pastrami, cole slaw, swiss cheese, and russian dressing on rye.

But for me, what really makes the sandwich is the rye bread: it's soft and warm, but with a great top crust that has a most satisfying crunch to contrast with the soft bread and tender meat inside.

There's also a full menu of other deli favorites, but I have never strayed from the pastrami or corned beef (except to get a cup of matzo ball or chicken noodle soup -- both are rather ordinary... stick to the sandwiches).

Langer's is open for breakfast and lunch only. It's located on the corner of 7th and Alvarado. Parking is a block west on 7th (they validate for 1 hr.). They also offer curbside take-out service -- you just call in your order and they'll bring it out for you so you can do a drive-by pickup. What more could you ask for?

Nora Ephron (the consummate New Yorker) loves Langer's, too:

Mama's Hot Tamales

mamas tamales
Originally uploaded by illewminator.
At Mama's Hot Tamales, you might think you've died and gone to tamale heaven... Begun as a community economic development project to train and provide legal certification for the immigrant tamale vendors selling their edible wares in Macarthur Park, MHT is a place you can feel good about supporting -- and it certainly doesn't hurt that everything on the menu is delicious.

Since the focus of this blog is on grub, I'll skip over the highly worthwhile, do-gooder aspects of this operation and cut right to the tamale chase. On any given day, MHT offers 15-20 various types of tamales from just about every Central and South American country: Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatamala... all have their own variations on these little tasty, individually-wrapped treats.

Tamale styles vary from the Mexican green chile and pork-filled masa wrapped in corn husks to Honduran style tamales with chicken, potatoes, olives and raisin filled tamales inside a lighter, fluffier type of masa wrapped in a banana leaf. There are also sweet dessert tamales -- my favorites are the guava filled number and the sweet corn tamale.

There are also other items on the menu, mostly breakfast and lunch items (since MHT is only open in the mornings and afternoons). The horchata is especially tasty (and you get free refills if you eat in). Prices are very reasonable -- about $6 for a plate of two tamales, rice and beans.

On the particular day featured in the above photo, I bought a dozen tamales to go, selecting 12 different tamales. We brought it home and five of us devoured the entire tray, sampling each one. Standouts included the guava and sweet corn dessert tamales, the Mexican green chile pork & red chile beef tamales, Honduran chicken, Oaxacan chicken mole, and a black bean and pumpkin (or was it squash?) number.

Mama's Hot Tamales is located on 7th St., just west of Alvarado, right across the street from Macarthur Park lake. They also cater and can host meetings or small events in their space. I went to a fabulous tamale-making workshop there that was great fun (and we got to make a bunch of tamales to take home). Run, don't walk, to MHT. And be sure to bring hungry friends so you can try as many tamales as possible.

mamas tamale greg