A certain truth the avid sandwich seeker quickly encounters on their roam through Los Angeles is an inferiority complex placed upon our delis by homesick East Coast transplants. As a result, one encounters the term “East Coast style deli” as some sort of gold standard. While I cannot argue the fact that Boar’s Head Capicola seems to pop up in frequency as often as tap water back East, LA arguably has the widest variety of sandwiches, an impeccable deli pedigree and frankly, we don’t need your stinking East Coast Deli badges.
Now that I have gotten my pro LA Sandwich stance out of the way; let me introduce you to Tamarind Ave Deli: a self proclaimed NY/NJ style sandwich shop located in Hollywood and home to one mighty meaty beef brisket sandwich that you should be making plans to get down with real soon.
The $10 you are about to spend is worth every penny. If the aroma of smoked mozzarella doesn’t make you giddier than a gaggle of 7th grade girls at a One Direction concert, you will erupt when you pick the sandwich up. This could be one of the heaviest subs I have ever encountered; needless to say they are generous with the brisket at Tamarind. But this is far from overkill. Unlike some Jewish delicatessens that are notorious for overloading their sandwiches with meat in an effort to justify mid teen prices, Tamarind offers you a balanced act via brilliant sandwich design. The tender brisket doesn’t just get a kiss of smoke from the mozzarella, more like a full on/open mouth, spin the bottle wet one. The horseradish mayo takes you to an old school Prime Rib palace like Lawry’s, but for 1/5th the cost. And really, arugula is the only raw green that could stand up to rest of the ingredients. Part of me wants to indulge my Lawry’s fantasy and suddenly I imagine myself in an episode of Man vs Food creamed spinach in the mix. Silly, I know, but like Carlito Brigante used to say: you gotta dream baby . . .
The feast remains contained thanks to the impeccable bread Tamarind uses. Though not baked in house, it is a top shelf baguette, and sourcing high end ingredients is the sign of an excellent restaurant, let alone deli. Truth be told I have been munching on the #1 for years, it has never let me down, and this is the reason why:
Consistency in the kitchen. The men on the line at Tamarind Ave Deli are as disciplined as Seal Team 6, after hours in Pakistan. Even the most legendary sandwich temple has the same Achilles heel as Quizno’s: the assembly line. You can have the greatest, bread, meat, cheese, produce and mustard with enough French written on it to make House Republicans want to stage a midnight sit in; but if your assembly man is off point, the mission is doomed. These guys are the reason the #1 delivers time and time again:
A savory $10 beef bomb that could go toe to toe with the best French Dips in town, hold the au jus. In this city of Angels, we may not need labels touting East Coast authenticity to sell us on a deli, but we will take all the slow cooked, fork tender brisket sandwiches with a dream team of supporting ingredients that we can get our hands on.