In all my years of life....
I had no idea I loved pastrami.
When I announced as much on social media, I took a bit of heat. I guess it's fair. I'm a nice Jewish girl who grew up eating in delis but I've just always stuck to club sandwiches and corned beef.
Now, I have nothing to compare it to but I doubt anything will ever meet the standard set by Johnnie's Pastrami in Culver City. It's rather unassuming from the outside -- some might even say it's dated. Established in 1952, it has become a Southern California landmark. The jukeboxes on the counters and booths are all original. So are some of the waitresses. But that's really just a part of the charm. They have kept the building, decor and menu simple... and I think a little simple goes a long way to perfection.
They have two quaint, lovely outdoor seating areas though I chose to sit inside and enjoy the endearing ambiance. Everyone is welcomed with a cup of delicious, crisp pickles. I ate most of them -- I think I allowed my friend a couple.
The menu is, again, simple, but offers plenty of choice. But how do you go to Johnnie's Pastrami and not order PASTRAMI?! So there I was, trying it for the first time and just WOW, guys. Corned beef and pastrami are both cured in a sat water solution but corned beef is boiled while pastrami is smoked. And with this sandwich, I definitely got that salty smokiness. The meat was really tender and flavorful... I had a choice of sides and selected - what else - french fries. Those were also simple and perfect and I thought it was a nice touch that they serve their ketchup topped with a dollop of deli mustard.
I mean.... As the kids say, I can't with that sandwich.
I always like to try a few things from a menu when I visit a new restaurant so we also ordered a side of onion rings, which were awesome and also came with the same ketchup/mustard combo.
Fun fact - I took half my sandwich and some onion rings home with me and got to enjoy Johnnie's again for lunch the next day. It was still pretty damned good.
Something else -- Johnnie's has amazing hours, opening at 10 AM daily, closing at 2:30 AM Sunday - Thursday and 3:30 AM on Friday and Saturday. Guess what? I think it's the perfect place to stop after a night out drinking. You know how that goes. The bar kicks you out and you need something really yummy in your belly? That late night snack to cap off a night out? If you're in the area, you have a new place to target.
Part of me is thinking I should close with something like "I'll have to go back and try something else on the menu" but right now, I'm just thinking about how I waited 36 years to try pastrami. I'm such a dumbass. :)
- Parking: They have a lot in the back and ample space!
- On social media: #johnniespastramiLA and/or #johnniespastrami