North Beverly Drive. Pico. Fairfax. The homes Nate ’n Al’s, Factor’s Famous Deli, and Canter’s Deli respectively. During my time in quarantine and in the spirit of supporting Jewish-owned businesses, I explored the closest Jewish delicatessens the LA area had to offer.
While none of these restaurants are certified kosher, they are kosher-style, meaning the food they serve is typically associated with Jewish culture. They were all worth the hectic drives and rushed walks to make it back to my classes on time. While exploring the delis, I ordered different meals at each restaurant, from matzo ball soup to latkes.
Nate ’n Al’s opened their doors in Beverly Hills in 1945. Founded by Al Mendelson and Nate Rimer, the restaurant reopened in May, following closures in March. LA Weekly ranked this eatery as the number one restaurant for Matzo Ball Soup in Los Angeles. While I did not order the matzo ball soup here, I tried a tuna sandwich and latkes (getting into the holiday spirit) with my brother.
The best decision I ever made was putting the tuna sandwich on challah, and I could not put it down. The bread was fluffy. The tuna was delicious. The pickle spiced things up. After my first bite –– at the risk of sounding hyperbolic –– I smiled and ate half my sandwich in less than five minutes. The latkes were good even though they would have been better homemade, but we live and learn. While $22 was pretty steep for a sandwich and latkes, I really enjoyed my take-out experience and would definitely come again. This restaurant also holds sentimental value as I first came here with my grandparents for breakfast on Saturdays. I used to order eggs and waffles; while not as delicious as my sandwich, I would still recommend the breakfast. I think this restaurant is my favorite out of the three.
Canter’s Deli, established in 1931, also has many accomplishments, including best pastrami according to the LA Times. This restaurant has more of a vintage feeling compared to Nate ’n Al’s and feels like the deli was taken from New York and placed in Los Angeles. Here, I ordered the matzo ball soup via Postmates; predictably, Canter’s gave me too much food to finish in one sitting. While I prefer my mom’s gondi (a similar Persian dish), the soup reminded me of Passover dinner with my family. I do not typically order from Canter’s, so I liked exploring new foods that also felt a bit nostalgic.
Finally, I ended my week of Jewish feasting by schlepping to Factor’s Famous Deli for breakfast. After my morning class, I walked up to the black and white awning to pick up my order of challah French toast. While I have eaten better French toast (it was too egg-y for my taste), the experience felt special. I may be slightly biased as I went to Factor’s since I was a child, but I love the diner-feel of this restaurant.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience traveling throughout Los Angeles for Jewish delis. I don’t know if I’d eat at all three restaurants in the same week, but I’ll definitely be coming back.