CLOSED: L.A.'s Iconic Dish: Langer's #19 Vs. Donut Man's Strawberry Donuts

Los Angeles is full of people who care passionately about food, and there are plenty of restaurants happy to serve us. We don't all agree on what constitutes "good," but we do know we like our burgers, our froyo, our Korean BBQ, our pizza. (That's right, our pizza. We like it.)

The thing is, we don't have one iconic dish. Nothing that we can point to and say, "This. This is Los Angeles on a plate." So now we're going to find out. KCET Food came up with 16 contenders. You vote on your favorites. Here's the fourth match up of the second round:

VOTING CLOSED.

Photo by Amparo Rios#19 at Langer's: Even New Yorkers agree that New York's got nothing on Langer's pastrami.

The History: The restaurant opened in 1947, essentially in its present location, when MacArthur Park was bustling and had a strong Jewish presence. Though it's been a long time since the restaurant's had opening hours after dark, Langer's has been a neighborhood stalwart through all the area's ups and downs.

The Scene: It's no surprise that there are often lines here. These restaurants with their iconic dishes, people like them.

The Food: So, the thing to get here is the pastrami, which is widely considered to be the best in the U.S. (Though the corned beef's pretty darn good, too.) The restaurant also takes great pride in its rye bread, for what it's worth -- it's served hot, which is nice. And the most iconic sandwich on the menu is the #19, which is hot pastrami, Swiss, coleslaw, and Russian dressing on rye. It is truly a work of art.

Strawberry donut at Donut Man: Midnight munchies worth the drive.

The History: This donut shop -- one where they actually make the donuts in-house -- has been open for 40-some years, under the same ownership. The strawberry donuts came a few years after the store opened, and then there were peach donuts, too. Thought L.A. is absolutely lousy with donut shops, Donut Man is one of the few known and requested by name.

The Scene: You know how donut shops are. There are usually some characters milling about, along with the parents and kids and the food tourists and, after dark, the people who feel as though they might totally die if they don't get a strawberry donut now.

The Food: The owners are really on to something here. They took something absolutely ubiquitous to Los Angeles, and they elevated it with something else very L.A.: fresh fruit. Do you have a sweet tooth? You'll like the strawberry donut. (Which is only available a few months a year, adding to its allure.)

#19 at Langer's
Strawberry donut at Donut Man


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About the Author

Katherine's role as the Living editor at KCET.org keeps her running from farms to markets to restaurants to pop-up swaps all over SoCal. She's been living in and writing about this area for over a decade.
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