Not like Canter's is the ultimate. I haven't made that statement for many years now. But it also feels sort of wrong to prefer a deli in the heart of Beverly Hills instead of one located along the Borscht Belt.
Nonetheless, throughout my pregnancy I've treated myself to Friday lunches alone at Nate'n Al. There's just so much I love about the place. The pickle plate with super delicious green ones and sauerkraut automatically brought to the table totally rocks. The backs of booths are low to make people watching easier. And the hostess treats me so well. The other day, for instance, I put my name on the list before I went off to run an errand, and was seated almost immediately in the packed dining room when I returned 20 minutes later. Must be short-lived pregnancy props.
Then there's the soup, which is a big part of what this routine is about. Granted I'm not always on board with the plain broth-and-balls school (oops, that sounds dirty) because sometimes I like a little stuff in there ala Greenblatt's style. But the chicken soup is clear as the Caribbean Sea and not overly rich or fatty like what you get on Fairfax. (Los Angeles Magazine salutes the "Zen simplicity" of the matzo balls in the Best of L.A. issue.) You get fresh slices of rye instead of Saltines. Egg creams, however, are much cheaper at an unlikely location a few blocks away versus Nate'n Al's price of $3.75.
Which leads me to my most recent Nn'A lunch, when it proved to be the perfect place to fuel up for the Barneys Warehouse Sale madness. Not just because of the caloric intake and such, but because said luxury retailer and famed deli have a small thing in common. Contrary to "popular" usage (you know, since Barneys is so widely mentioned in regular conversation), neither Barneys nor Nate n' Al technically have a possessive apostrophe in their respective proper names. You're also unlikely to find a bargain at either place.
My shopping trip to the airplane hangar was relatively brief and I only wound up buying a Judy Ross pillow, of all things. But thank goodness I had some righteous Nate'n Al in me, otherwise I might've committed a heinous act of road rage on my way home. I can at least maintain my allegiance to humanity, if not delicatessens.