This is the first in a two-part series.
I have returned from the most epic, delicious, salt-infused expedition of a lifetime. It was the most glorious tour one can take of this fair city. Should you choose to take the journey yourself, I shall volunteer to steer the course.
He is Jack Swiker, a fellow enthusiast for just about any concoction you can cram between two slabs of crust. At his weekly blog, www.thedangersandwich.blogspot.com, Swiker takes his readers to sandwich joints around L.A.
I asked if he could recommend any places in Burbank, and before I knew it, we were in my Mirthmobile cruising the best that Burbank’s delis have to offer.
Like mayonnaise scraped over a Kaiser roll, we spread out. We had to — Danger Sandwich and I learned the hard way that most of the mom-and-pop delis in Burbank aren’t open on the weekends.
Luckily, Moore’s Delicatessen was. Situated at Third Street and Orange Grove, its proximity to Cartoon Network makes it a favorite hangout of artists who have staked their claim on the walls of the back room. There, characters from just about every animated series produced in Burbank form a mural welcoming diners to their seats.
We tried the City Hall, Moore’s version of a Reuben. You have to ask for it grilled, but you’ll be happy you did. The light cole slaw on the sandwich lends a satisfying crunch, while the pickle from A1 Eastern Pickle Company in L.A. was a nice treat on the side. You can’t beat a free side of potato salad, either.
The meat itself was slightly salty and a bit dry, but tender and not overpowering. Danger Sandwich told me it’s hard to do cold pastrami because when the fat congeals from cooling, it can sometimes add a too-chewy texture. No such problems were found in the City Hall.
We learned that nearly every place in Burbank serving pastrami will say it has the best pastrami. Such a claim was made at Burbank Deli & Market.
For two East Coast natives, this shop was a welcome taste of home. No frills, no big sandwich production line. Just a guy behind a counter ready to make you whatever you want.
The sign above the counter boasts, “The best wurst in town.” Unfortunately, the shop hadn’t carried it for seven months. Our host, Jonathan Garcia, said if you want a hot sandwich, the pastrami is the way to go, but as Danger Sandwich and I were just coming down from a pastrami high, we chose the Assorted instead.
A return trip is already in the works.
The Assorted was truly a taste of home. When I return to my parents’ house in New York, my mother usually packs the meat drawer with cold cuts. Inevitably, I take a little of everything just because it’s there.
The taste combo is a delicate balance, and Garcia got the right mix of bologna, salami, ham, roast beef and a mild provolone. Topped with pepperoncini, mustard and mayo, it was a satisfying snack while watching the world go by on Alameda from the plastic patio furniture out front.
We next made our way to Giamela’s on Magnolia, north of Victory. I realize this is not a deli in the traditional sense, but its popular pepper steak is the stuff of legend, and Danger Sandwich was appalled that I had yet to try it. For about $8, a large will come close to feeding a family of four.
You’d be smart to have a bib handy — the melted cheese drips through the juicy beef to produce a rich broth that is not unlike the taste of winning, of happiness, of unfettered glee.
On another suggestion, we tried the deli counter at Handy Market, where it was recommended I try an Italian sub with everything.
And this 8-inch slice of heaven only costs $4.99.
“You’re getting your money’s worth,” said fellow customer Dana Avallon, who purchased the bologna-and-salami sandwich to split with her husband for dinner that night.
Loaded with lettuce and onion, I was apprehensive that the store makes up for the price with less-costly ingredients. One bite and I was hooked — the amount of meat here, strung together end-to-end, could probably reach across Burbank.
OK, the deli counter anyway.
Next week, Bryan and Danger Sandwich visit some of Burbank’s oldest delis and discover the secret to a great deli starts with community.
BRYAN MAHONEY is a recent transplant from the East Coast. When he’s not slurping down pastrami, he can be reached at 818NewGuy@gmail.com and on Twitter @818NewGuy.