Take a trip back in time and introduce your family to 1950’s diner fare at Johnnie’s Pastrami in Culver City, California. This Los Angeles culinary institution has been serving up pastrami with Swiss and coleslaw on French rolls since 1952. The vibe is authentic diner with straight-shooting waitresses, jukeboxes, huge portions and a friendly neighborhood camaraderie. Think of yourself as Norm from Cheers, only with a overstuffed pastrami sandwich!
My family and I settled into a booth to begin our lunch journey. Let me begin by telling you the prices are not from an earlier era. They seem a bit steep until I factored in the high quality ingredients and the portion sizes. We had an amazingly filling lunch and took home enough for another meal! I also appreciate the character and unique flavor of a small independent place versus a national chain that can lower its costs due to big volume ordering. So the price seems worth it to me for a yummy meal and keeping traditions alive.
Before you order also make sure you have enough cash or your ATM card, there is a ATM in the back of the diner, because there are no credit cards accepted here.
Upon browsing our menus, we all picked our favorites. For me the pastrami French dip, my husband went for the Bob Special which is a hot corned beef and our daughter ordered shot dog. Our eyes bugged out like cartoon characters when our waitress Carla brought out our order. Everything looked so fresh and plentiful. I hadn’t even noticed that the open kitchen where the meats were being steamed and drained within view of our table. Honestly we could have ordered half the food and been satisfied.
We were pleased with our meals. The meats were juicy and flavorful. The slices are cut thinner, which to me is easier to rip apart with my teeth (I feel totally barbaric eating pastrami sandwiches). I preferred the pastrami over the corned beef, while my husband was the opposite. They have a similar taste, but the seasoning and the cut of the pastrami had a smokier taste that I favored. We had chili french fries to complement our sandwiches. Holy potatoes! These were the best I have ever tasted! Crinkle cut fries and cheese chili mix that were the perfect mix of chewy and crunchy. Perfection! Believe me, you will lose all sense of propriety and shove these into your face. But no worries, no one at your table will notice since they will be doing the same Our orders also came with a side of pickles. I’m the only pickle fan in our family, so I got to eat them all. They are so popular that they sell them to take home. My daughter was delighted with her choice, maybe in part because it was served in a paper “classic” car. with fries. She couldn’t finish the hot dog. I’d recommend ordering one for two kids to share. We also ordered a round of malted Oreo milk shakes which were super delicious and almost a meal themselves!
The diner is open late but we went in between lunch and dinner time, so it was quiet. You certainly don’t plan a meal here to satisfy your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, but it was a blast spending time with my family and eating comfort foods. We were stuffed but they had a selection of pies that looked yummy.
Be sure to stop by Johnnie’s Pastrami next time you are hungry in Culver City, California!
Our visit was hosted by Johnnie’s. Our opinions are our own.