Bay Cities Italian Deli & Bakery With the still warm loaves of ciabatta<#i> baked in batches every few hours, the mix of Boar's Head and imported meats, the spicy pepper blend, and the splash of Italian vinaigrette, we'd devour a spicy Godmother sandwich anywhere, anytime—if they'd ever call our number at the crowded deli counter. » 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica, 310-395-8279.
Billy's Deli & Café If you're looking for a bowl of chicken soup that's five times more effective than a flu shot or a sky-high corned-beef sandwich east of the L.A. River, you don't have to hop a jet: This unassuming Glendale deli is your destination. The plate of piquant pickles are all the more satisfying when delivered by one of Billy's waitresses, with tongues as sharp as a mohel<#i>'s blade. »<#strong> 216 N. Orange St., Glendale, 818-246-1689.
Brent'sYou'd be hard-pressed to make a misstep ordering anything off the menu at the insanely popular Brent's, an outpost of Lower East Side authenticity in a Northridge strip mall. Try the matzo brei, cabbage soup, the rightfully famous black pastrami Reuben, and Grandma Eva's noodle kugel. » 19565 Parthenia St., Northridge, 818-886-5679; 2799 Townsgate Rd., Westlake Village, 805-557-1882.
Factor's Famous Deli From its killer whitefish salad to its bargain-basement children's specials spanning latkes and quesadillas, this Westside classic offers all things to all palates. Worth singling out on a menu that's more encyclopedic than the Cheesecake Factory's is no. 323, the Factor's knish: Ground meat, potato, or spinach-potato packed in a tender, crusty envelope, it's enough for three square meals and weighs in at $5.75. » 9420 W. Pico Blvd., West L.A., 310-278-9175.
Great Western Steak and Hoagie For more than 40 years this shabby stand on a deserted Venice block has been improvising on the traditional Philly cheese steak. Through the order window, watch onions cook down, steak slices brown, and Swiss, provolone, or mozzarella cheese melt directly on the griddle. Everything comes together with an optional squeeze of tomato sauce on a puffy white French roll. We advise you to wait at least ten minutes before scarfing down this scalding mess. Cash only. » i>1720 Lincoln Blvd.,< Venice, 310-450-4545.
Langer's Since 1947, the Langer family has approached the art of making pastrami as if it were the 11th commandment: Thou shalt pepper, smoke, and sugar cure, slice thickly, heat judiciously, stack between slices of double-baked rye bread with a hard-edged crust, accompany with sour pickles, and devour. Some swear by adding Swiss cheese or coleslaw; we take ours neat with a dab of brown mustard. » 704 S. Alvarado St., MacArthur Park, 213-483-8050.
Mario's Italian Deli & Market Behold the triple-deck-er structure of Mario's sub from the top down: toasted hoagie roll, tomato, shredded lettuce, onion, roasted peppers, more hoagie roll, Italian meats, and yet more hoagie roll. It's awe inspiring. The extra layer of bread helps soak up the drips of mayo mixed with balsamic dressing (available on request). Fillings include everything from sopressata and imported mortadella with pistachios to liverwurst and garlic-roasted pork. » 740 E. Broadway, Glendale, 818-242-4114.
Philippe The Original The floor is covered with sawdust; the diners form lines and inch toward the counter where the legendary French dip sandwiches are served. Or are they constructed? The beef- or lamb-filled sandwich is as sleek as anything dipped in jus<#i> and crammed with warm carved meats can be. A choice of garnishes such as pickled eggs, tangy coleslaw, and hot mustard ramp up flavors that never lose their touch of homeyness. » 1001 N. Alameda St., downtown, 213-628-3781.