Why should you have to choose between meatballs and sausages on your sub? Or, for that matter, between roast beef and pastrami? Thankfully, at Eastside Market Italian Deli, you don't.
Though it has been around for 73 years in the same beige and brown corner building, the deli is a hidden gem tucked in the hillside neighborhood just above Chinatown, once a thriving Italian enclave. Current owner Johnny Angiuli came to Los Angeles in 1956 from Adelphia, Italy, at the age of 12. In 1975, lean years for the neighborhood, he invented the hot roast beef and pastrami sandwich. Known to regulars simply as the #7, it is the most popular menu on the sandwich -- and rightfully so.
Like all the sandwiches at Eastside Market, the #7 is big, meaty and sloppy in the best possible way. At only $7.50 each, the sandwiches here are a terrific value.
The countermen are generous with the meat, mounding tender slices of roast beef onto layers of smoky pastrami and covering it all in a warm, tangy tomato sauce. There's a slice of melted Provolone underneath it all, if you can make your way to the bottom layer of bread in a single bite. In all of Los Angeles, this is the second messiest sandwich to eat, rivaled only by the Eastside Market's meatball and sausage combo (the #3).
It's the same bread, loaded with one massive Italian sausage and a couple of meatballs the size of a child's fist, coated in tomato sauce and topped with cooked green peppers. If you're eating either of these sandwiches in front of other people, either they already like you or you don't give a damn about their opinion.
The name, Eastside Market Italian Deli, is something of an anachronism. In the 1970s, Angiuli converted the market section of the store into a dining room and added hot food to the menu. These days, Eastside Deli is popular with detectives and other law enforcement types, who pack the place at lunch, their guns holstered, their badges shining in the occasional shaft of light that pierces the dim dining room.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Along with a giant wooden wine cask, vintage photos of the city and the deli itself line the walls. The place pays homage to a neighborhood long since dispersed and a species of corner market grown increasingly rare. Fortunately, it still has plenty of modern-day fans.
Follow Squid Ink at @LAWeeklyFood and check out our Facebook page. Follow the author at @ElinaShatkin or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.