If you know the Valley, you know how silly it is when wags from Westwood and Silver Lake rave that the (admittedly) stalwart Brent's is the best deli on that side of the hill. Please. Country Deli, tucked up in northwest Chatsworth, with its Western motif and murals of old cowboy stars, and its outdoor dining porch that overlooks a lane of 90-year-old olive trees, is the wonderful secret the Echo Park types don't know about. It's got the brassy waitresses and front-desk gal, the piled-up blintzes and waffles, the smoked fish, the huge menu. But sandwiches are the thing. The juicy-yet-crunchy, salty-yet-sweet Monte Cristo must have 1,500 calories, so we go for the best and leanest: rare roast beef (get it with added tomato), or lean New York–style pastrami served on rye or as a French dip. God almighty, they pile up about four inches of beef or pastrami. It's tender and moist. The sandwich is so tall, you have to bite first from the bottom, then the top. There's no talking at first. The waitresses bring a pickle tray, so ask for pale, garlicky “new pickles.” Unlike the egregiously overpriced and overrated Jerry's, with its icky, watery milk shakes and pointlessly expensive sandwiches, Country Deli's sandwiches run about $10 to $12, and the shakes are thick and divine (order chocolate with fresh banana). 9901 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Chatsworth. (818) 709-5612.

—Jill Stewart

LA Weekly