by Anthony Vargas
Canter’s Deli on Fairfax is a Los Angeles legend. My family has been dining there beginning with my grandparents in the early ’60s. Nothing has changed since then. The décor, menu and, dare I say, waitresses, are exactly as they were during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In an age when clubs and bands go in and out of style every few months, it is a joy to know that one thing remains constant, day or night, 24 hours a day.
Speaking of legends, Rodney Bingenheimer, the iconic KROQ DJ, has his very own booth at Canter’s. So many stars in Hollywood have their own restaurant booths, but seldom do you ever see any sitting at them. With Rodney, this is not the case at all. He enjoys dining at Canter’s and can oftentimes be seen sitting underneath his plaque. He was kind enough to chat with The Rockit about the food.
Rodney highly suggests the barley bean soup. He tells me it can be ordered extra thick and chunky, which is not mentioned on the menu. Trying it “Rodney Style” is very much worth it, especially if you are not in a meat-eating mood.
If soup isn’t your thing, try one of the famous corned beef sandwiches. The server will bring a plate full of pickles, which are made in-house every morning. Very few delis in the U.S. do this. The sandwich is enough for two people and goes great with a hearty gob of mustard. One of Rodney’s favorites is the grilled cheese on whole wheat with tomato. You can’t go wrong with the classics.
The quesadillas on the other hand, were the worst I have ever had. The cheese was hard, the tomatoes were brown and I couldn’t tell whether it was a corn or flour tortilla. Quesadillas at a Jewish deli, you ask? You will be surprised at how diverse the menu is– pastas, soups, salads and a few other surprises.
After some barley bean soup and a sandwich, if you have room, Rodney suggests the fruit cup. Nature still makes the best desserts, especially under the discriminating eyes of the Canter’s staff, who put the fruit cups together by hand in the mornings.
The wait staff is always very professional in a friendly and caring way. They are unobtrusive and give plenty of time to peruse the menu. We are always seated immediately and the food arrives fairly quickly. Don’t eat too fast at Canter’s. Sit back, admire the old décor and keep an open eye for stars.
Canter’s is on Fairfax between Santa Monica and Beverly Boulevards. The small lot around the corner offers free, validated parking, but too often it is filled and you will have to spend 10 minutes circling around looking for a Yugo-sized spot. Once inside, forget all about parking as you take a seat in the main dining room and stare at the famous fall foliage ceiling. Don’t forget to admire the lighting fixture at the entrance. This is the real thing.
Both Canter’s and Rodney Bingenheimer are Los Angeles legends. One is legendary for its great food and the other for introducing great music to the populace. Now if only Canter’s would play Rodney on the Roq in the dining room, we would have the best of both worlds.
419 No. Fairfax Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036
Close to: The World, Tempest, 7969, The Palladium, El Carmen and The Gig