VIDEO – It's a special day for one of the oldest and most popular Jewish delicatessens in Los Angeles. Langer's is recognizing National Pastrami Day. And their number 19 is certainly a reason to celebrate.
It's not just pastrami on rye. Langer's claims it's the world's best pastrami, so good that they ship it across the country via FedEx.
This is the Langer family recipe. Al Langer opened the delicatessen in downtown Los Angeles in 1947, in what was a Jewish neighborhood.
Trisha Langer, the third generation to run the delicatessen, says that in its heyday, Langer's was open past midnight. But Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s, took a turn for the worst.
Jews moved out. Drugs dealers and criminals moved into the park across the street. Langer says people weren't coming here to eat pastrami.
But her family didn't give up. They worked with city leaders to clean up the neighborhood, and in 1993, a new subway Metro system opened a block away.
The neighborhood is mostly Latino, but Koreatown is adjacent. Langer's advertises on Korean radio and television. People also travel here from abroad after reading glowing reviews in food blogs.
Meghan Martin heard about Langer's in their home state of Oregon, and traveled more than 900 miles to visit Los Angeles.
She was surprised to learn pastrami came to the United States via Jews from Europe.
People are lining up to experience a little Jewish culture. This line is long not because it's National Pastrami Day, but because it's simply lunchtime. Langer's even provides curbside service for to-go orders.
It's quite impressive especially because a couple decades ago the family almost had to close its doors. The Langer family hopes the neighborhood continues to get better, so they can introduce this Jewish dish to a new generation.
Langer says because of what was happening in the neighborhood, they cut back their hours through the years. They're not even open on Sundays. But she says if the delicatessen continues to grow in popularity the family will consider expanding their hours.