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The Ultimate Guide to Canter’s Deli

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Canters Deli

Canter’s Deli is one of the most legendary Jewish Delis in the United States. Of all the delis I’ve written about on this site, it’s the one that I have been to the most and over several decades. In short, I LOVE this place!

If you’re looking for a classic deli experience in Los Angeles, Canter’s is the place to go. This iconic spot has been serving up traditional Jewish fare since 1931, and it’s still going strong today.

Canter’s offers a wide range of delicious deli favorites, from matzo ball soup and latkes to pastrami and corned beef sandwiches and black and white cookies.  The portions are large and the prices are reasonable, making Canter’s a great option for budget-minded diners. And it has an extensive bakery so you can get some cookies and deserts to go.

The atmosphere at Canter’s is casual and relaxed, and the service is friendly and efficient, and sometimes you will even get some sassy attitude from you server at no extra charge!

Canter’s Deli is a Los Angeles Institution

Canter’s Deli is a Los Angeles institution, serving up some of the best Jewish deli food in the city. The deli has been around for over 90 years and is still going strong, as the management has rotated through different generations of the Canter family.

The deli is a true LA landmark, and has been featured in countless movies and TV shows over the years.

Canter’s made our list of top Jewish Delis in the United States – be sure to see who else is on the list!

Recently the Financial Times named it as one of the 50 greatest food stores in the world.

Canter’s Deli History

The Canter family originally started with a delicatessen on the east coast in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1924. Eventually they migrated west and in 1931 opened a deli on Brooklyn Avenue in the Boyle Heights neighborhood which was a popular Jewish neighborhood at that time.

After World War II, the Jewish population migrated to other parts of Los Angeles such as the Fairfax District, West Hollywood and other parts of LA. Canter’s is currently at 419 North Fairfax Avenue.

In 1948 it opened its first Fairfax location nearby at 439 North Fairfax Avenue. A few years later in 1953, they moved up the block into the Esquire Theater (which has previously shown Yiddish films) and that move expanded the size of the restaurant.

In 1959, the restaurant expanded further. And 2 years later in 1961, the Kibitz Room cocktail lounged opened. The deli quickly became a favorite of Hollywood celebrities and moguls, who loved its hearty sandwiches and traditional Jewish fare.

In the 1950s, Canter’s began staying open 24 hours a day, which made it a popular late-night spot for Hollywood party-goers. Over the years, the deli has been featured in numerous films and television shows.

Today, Canter’s is still owned and operated by the Canter family. It remains one of Los Angeles’ most popular restaurants, serving up delicious food 24 hours a day.

Canter’s Parking Lot

First things first – make sure you know about the parking lot. Canter’s is located on Fairfax which is an incredibly busy street. There is some street parking available but no big garages nearby.

So you should definitely park in their parking lot. Parking is covered for 90 minutes while you are eating inside. The parking lot attendant will give you a ticket and be sure to get it stamped/validated with your waiter or at the register on the way out.

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The parking lot is on the corner of Oakwood and Fairfax.

Canters Parking Lot Address: 7915 Oakwood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036

Canters Deli Parking Lot

Inside Canters – The Restaurant Has Three Sections

When you walk into the iconic restaurant, you will notice essentially three separate areas:

The Bakery, Deli Counter and Main Dining Area

This part opened in the early 1950s.

The bakery counter has amazing treats like an old school Jewish Deli – Cheesecake, babka, apple strudel, rugelah, Mandelbrot, black and white cookies, Tea cookies, brownies, bagels, challah, sour cream coffee cakes. These and many more are baked on site.

Canters Deli Counter

Second Dining Area (up the steps)

Many years later, Mr. Canter bought the next-door deli, and that became the second dining area.

Canters Upstairs Dining Area

The Upstairs Dining Area at Canter’s Deli

Kibitz Room

This is the bar area that is famous for all the famous musicians that have performed there over the years and more recently for up and coming comedians. See below for more info.

The Ambiance at Canters Deli

Canters Deli has been a Los Angeles staple since the 1950s, and it’s easy to see why. The minute you step inside, you’re enveloped in the deli’s unique atmosphere. The walls are covered in photos of celebrities who have eaten at Canters over the years including President Obama, and the chatter of people enjoying their meals fills the air.

The smell of fresh-baked bread wafts through the restaurant, making your mouth water in anticipation of your meal. Whether you’re grabbing a quick bite or sitting down for a leisurely lunch, Canters is the perfect place to enjoy some classic Jewish comfort food.

The restaurant’s decor is very much a mid century vibe including neon signs on the exterior, and vinyl banquettes and Sputnik lights on the inside, and stained glass windows on the ceiling in the main dining room.

The Food at Canter’s Deli

If you’re looking for a classic deli experience in Los Angeles, Canter’s is the place to go. This LA institution has been serving up delicious Jewish deli food since 1931, and shows no signs of slowing down.

The menu at Canter’s is extensive, and includes all of your favorites. From matzo ball soup and latkes, to pastrami sandwiches and black and white cookies, there’s something for everyone at this deli. And you can even find Kreplach, which is increasingly hard to find these days.

And the portions are large, so come hungry!

The service at Canter’s is also noteworthy. The waitstaff are attentive and friendly, and they make sure your dining experience is a pleasant one. And you might also get a bit of sass from your waiter or waitress at no extra charge, LOL.

Bronx Special

This is my personal favorite, but honestly it’s a lot of food and very intense,  so I can only order it a couple times a year.  This is a pastrami and chopped liver sandwich served open face. On Rye of course. And with a choice of coleslaw or potato salad.

Canters Deli Bronx Special Sandwich

Corned Beef and Chopped Liver

In this picture my mom is very excited about her corned beef and chopped liver sandwich!

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My Mom's Corned Beef and Chopped Liver Sandwich at Canters

And a picture from 2018 when I was fortunate to visit with BOTH my Mom and Aunt!

2008 Canters Visit With My Mom and Aunt

Pastrami on Rye

The classic sandwich is always a solid choice. It’s a lot of Pastrami. Here is a great picture of it, with a side of cole slaw.

Canters Deli Pastrami Sandwich

Meatloaf

My friends Izzy and Emil love to order the meatloaf when we go to Canter’s. As Izzy says “it tastes just like a good meatloaf should – all meat without extra things added!”

It comes with delicious gravy, mashed potatoes and a side of corn.

Canters Deli Meatloaf Plate

The Matzoh Ball Soup

Their Matzoh Ball soup is perfect. Excellent flavor and not too salty. Here is a recent picture from November 2022. This is a cup that you can get as a side or with a half sandwich.

Canters Matzoh Ball Soup

 

Canter’s Potato Latkes

Canter's Potato Latkes

If you like latkes you will love these. These are the best ones I’ve ever had that were not home made. Solid potato flavor and of course served with apple sauce and sour cream.

The Mish Mosh Soup

The Mish Mosh soup is one of my most favorite items on the menu. Take a bowl of matzoh ball soup, add noodles, some rice and a kreplach, and you have this lovely combination.

Here’s a picture of my mom from 2014, about to start enjoying her bowl of soup!

Canter's Deli Mish Mosh Soup

In this picture from 2017, my Aunt Norma is delighted as she is about to enjoy the Mish Mash soup.

Aunty Norma Canters Deli

And here is a closeup of the soup – so delicious!

Canter's Deli Mish Mosh Soup Closeup

Many Famous Celebrities Have Dined at Canter’s

Over the years, Canter’s has seen an endless stream of celebrities including: James Corden, President Obama, Jim Carrey, Mark Ruffalo, Queen Latifah, Lena Dunham, Lana Del Rey, James Franco, Ryan Gosling, Haim, Guns N’ Roses, Brie Larson, Mick Jagger, Sarah Silverman, Nic Cage (proposed to Patricia Arquette at Canters in 1987!), Joan Rivers, Gene Simmons, Marilyn Monroe, Arthur Miller, Rachael Ray, Frank Zappa, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Bernie Sanders, Lea Michelle, Andy Dick, Wayne Gretzky, Taylor Swift, Moby, Larry King, Joe Jonas, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Mel Brooks, Jakob Dylan, Dave Navarro, Mick Jagger, and many more!

TV Shows: Entourage Season 6 (episode 10), Mad Men Season 7 (episode 1), Private Practice, Transparent (2014 Letting Go Episode, 2017 Standing Order Episode), Some Jerk with a Camera (2015 Escape from Tomorrow Part Two),  I’m Dying Up Here (2017 Pilot episode), The Simpsons.

Movies: Be Cool (2005), Disaster Artist (2017), Sunset Strip (2000), Deadly Exposure (1993), Nobody Walks in LA (2016), Closing Time (2010), 8ubbles – Dangerous: Live from the Legendary Canter’s (2021),

A spontaneous afternoon visit with my nephew Ray in 2016.

Me and Ray at Canters in 2016

The Location

Canter’s Deli is located in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. The area is known for its large Jewish population, and Canter’s has been a staple of the community for decades. The deli is open 24 hours a day, and it’s not unusual to see a line out the door at 2am on a Saturday night.

The restaurant is casual, and the menu is simple but classic. There are no frills here – just good, old-fashioned Jewish deli food. The matzo ball soup is legendary, and the pastrami sandwiches are massive. If you’re really hungry, try the ‘Monster’, which comes with a pound of meat!

Canter’s is also famous for its desserts. The bakery case is full of tempting treats, and the waitresses are always happy to give you a sample (or three). The chocolate rugelach and old school cookies are my personal favorites!

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There is Often a Line

Whether you’re looking for a late-night snack or a hearty meal, Canter’s Deli is definitely worth checking out.

Be prepared to wait, if you go at a popular time. This is a short line, but it’s well worth the wait!

People in line at Canters Deli

Famous Bands at Canter’s Deli

Canters Deli in Los Angeles has long been a popular spot for musicians, actors, and other celebrities. The deli has hosted some of the most famous bands in the world, including The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who. Canters is also a favorite spot for actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. The deli has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows, including Seinfeld and Entourage.

The Kibitz Room

Canters Deli Kibitz Room

The bar and cocktail area at Canter’s is the Kibitz Room. It opened in 1961 and has been a favorite of musicians and hipsters ever since.

The name is a reference to the yiddish word Kibitzer, which refers to a spectator who offers often unwanted advice or commentary. The verb kibitz can also refer to idle chatter or side conversations. Some also interpret as someone who offers friendly advice and makes wisecracks.

Some of the famous bands that have visited and performed here include:

  • The Wallflowers
  • Fiona Apple
  • Jackson Browne
  • Melissa Etheridge
  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • Joni Mitchell
  • Rick James
  • Guns ‘n Roses
  • and many more!

Comedy – in recent years, it has become more popular as a very small venue for up and coming stand up comedians too. A few big name comedians such as Jeff Ross and Bill Burr have also made appearances too.

If you want to see what bands and comedians are performing, be sure to see the upcoming events schedule at the Kibitz Room.

Kibitz Room Hours: Daily are from 10:30am to 1:40am.

Call (323) 651-2030 for more information.

 

Canters with my nephews ben and ray
2016 visit with my nephews Ben and Ray

A recent 2020 Haim performance from the upper part of Canter’s Deli. It’s a good song that is worth a watch and also a good view of the upstairs dining room area.

Video: Behind The Scenes at Canters

If you want to see more about what goes on behind the scenes, especially the deli counter, this video is a must watch!

 

In summary, if you’re looking for a classic deli experience in Los Angeles, Canter’s is the place to go.

With an extensive menu of delicious food and great service, it’s no wonder this place has been around and thriving for over 90 years!

Another great meal at Canters in 2017 with two of my best friends from High School, Rob and Rob.

Rob Rob Jay At Canters

Canter’s Deli Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Canter’s Deli Kosher?

No, Canters is not Kosher.

 

Sources:

https://laist.com/news/food/rip-alan-canter-patriarch-of-canters-deli-dead-at-82

https://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-canters-after-hours-20111014-story.html

https://www.insidehook.com/article/los-angeles/canters-jewish-deli-la-music-mecca

https://www.latimes.com/food/la-fo-canters-after-hours-20111014-story.html

https://www.discoverlosangeles.com/eat-drink/canters-deli-the-story-of-an-la-icon