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Detroit-ish Deli at Nate ‘n Al

Pastrami and eggs is a real breakfast.

For a nice little Sunday brunch with the grandparents in Beverly Hills, we headed to an LA icon. This icon is Nate ‘n Al and it’s been hanging out in Beverly Hills since before the hillbillies. Started in 1945 by two good old fashioned Detroiters named Al Mendelson and Nate Reimers, Nate ‘n Al brings the comfort of Detroit delis to Southern California. Supposedly. But I would be the judge of that.

The interior looks just as you would expect from a deli. Reddish-brown booths line the walls and none of the wait-staff seem to have any desire to be actors or models. It really does feel like walking into a deli in Detroit. The menu was huge, with sandwiches galore, but being breakfast I limited myself to some morning options. Yet, breakfast or not, I was not willing to let a little something like time prevent me from eating pastrami. I ordered their Pastrami and Two Eggs Scrambled for the SoCal price of $10.25. I was given the option of having the pastrami scrambled with the eggs and was all like, “hell yeah.” On top of that, I had the choice of tomato, potatoes or cottage cheese and another choice of toast, bagel, roll, English muffin or bialy. It wasn’t easy, but I went with hash browns and a salt bagel with cream cheese.

But how did it taste? Well, kind of like you would expect if you scrambled eggs with pastrami. Essentially, in every bit I looked forward to chowing down on the pastrami more than the egg, because…well…egg just really isn’t the best conduit for pastrami. The flavor of the egg competed more than worked together with the pastrami and it left the pastrami feeling kind of flavorless. Or at least I’m pretty sure it was the egg that made it flavorless. It’s also possible that I’m just spoiled by the pastrami from Langer’s. This was too bad, but it taught me a valuable lesson: If I want to know the truth worth of a deli, any time is sandwich time.

That’s a thick bagel.

As for the sides, I couldn’t have asked for more. The hash browns were cooked to a perfect crisp and needed only minimal salt to turn them into potatoey perfection. The salt bagel, conversely, was overly salted. They all tend to be that way, which is cool with me, especially because by the time it had been desalinated, I found a bagel most similar (in LA) to the bagels of Detroit. Nice and dense, the bagel was a great side that really tied the meal together.

Although Nate ‘n Al gave me some mixed feelings, it is definitely a place I want to go back to. But next time I’ll be sure to scrap the eggs for a really deli sandwich, or one of those delicious-looking hot dogs.