Monday, February 8, 2010

# 11 Canter's

#30 Hollywood Walk of Fame
#29 Yamashiro
#28 Hollywood Billiards
#27 Genghis Cohen
#26 Piano Bar
#25 Shmutzville
# 24 Loteria
# 23 The Griddle
# 22 Proximity
# 21 Hollywood Freeway
#20 Kitchen 24
# 19 The People
# 18 Sushi Eyaki
#17 Raymond Chandler
# 16 Jumbo's Clown Room
#15 Skooby's
#14 The Arclight
# 13 The Well
#12 Runyon Canyon

# 11 Canter's

Ok, if someone from back home came to visit for two hours, and they said "take me to the place that best encapsulates Hollywood. That is: the place that has the historic and present-day relevance, the place where people from LA actually patronize, the place that captures the LA imagination, the LA color, sound, and feel, and if they were hungry, I would take them to Canter's.

Canter's means so much more to me than 7 out of 10 corned beef. Canter's was one of the few places I was familiar with before I moved here. Canter's is the twenty-four-hour deli with a full bar, on a stretch of Fairfax known for Judaism, drunk people, and the Price is Right. Essentially, a trip to Canter's can be just for a corned beef sandwich, but it can also be an experience, albeit a subtle experience, that to the untrained eye may appear like any restaurant on Fairfax.

The corned beef is fine. Contrary to several of the self-proclaimed corned-beef experts I associate with, the corned beef is fine. I eat a lot of corned beef, probably more than you, and I'm here to tell you that if you want really incredible Jewish deli food, Langer's is the best deli in the US; but if you want a fucking sandwich, and it's late, or you're not looking to venture downtown, Canter's will ALWAYS do. The place is the size of Dodger Stadium, so you'll never have trouble getting a drink. The server's have been there since before any of us were born, and they let you know it too. The menu is fucking huge, the front bakery display is pretty standard, and the crowd is an amalgamation of Hollywood that is so unique to this part of the country that I already devoted an entire entry to it. Depending on the time of day (or night) you're there, you'll see old Jews, rich kids with their daddy's Benz, bands, families, young couples, drunk couples, gay couples, movie stars, contestants from the Price is Right still wearing their name tag, or even myself, my roommate, or my girlfriend. It's just Canter's.

Now, there are two extra elements that make Canter's unique: full bar, open all night. Here's what this means. It means that the Kibbutz room off to the side is actually a pretty cool place to hang out, see bands, and get a drink. Like legitimately. Usually, trips to a Jewish deli are Sunday afternoons, parents in tow, enjoying the atmosphere and mellowing out. But here, it can be different. A trip to Canter's can be pre-going out. It can be after the bars, drunk and hungry. It can be an evening drink and matzo-ball soup. Or it can be like the time Olsen and I played poker at Commerce until 5:30 AM and left and went to get hash at Canter's. It just changes the entire meaning of the entire place.

Then of course there's the location. Canter's is arguably the center of LA. To me, LA revolves around the strip of Beverly from Fairfax to La Cienega. That's the middle, and as you move away from that nexus, you are moving away from the center of the city and towards the ocean, suburbs, desert, or mountains. So Canter's located just above Beverly on Fairfax is right at the center of the city. What this means is that everyone in LA—everyone—has eaten at Canter's. It's just part of the city, and part of the experience. No, Canter's isn't knocking down any walls in the way of deli or rugula, but it is simply one of the most unique and iconic experiences that Hollywood has to offer.

Look, one of the things I'm most excited about moving downtown, is that I will be 1.7 miles from the best deli I've ever had at Langer's. That's a ten-minute bike ride. 7 out of 10 corned beef, is about to be replaced by 15 out of 10 pastrami. But that doesn't mean by a long shot that I'm done with Canter's. Canter's IS Hollywood, and next time I pick a friend up from the airport, and he wants to experience LA in two hours or less, I'm rolling into Canter's; free parking, decent food, and all of LA under one roof.

No comments: