On Fairfax, stores that once might have run specials on Riga sprats now sport indoor skateboarding ramps. Canter’s remains L.A.’s quintessential deli. It offers everything to everyone, from suburbanites buying rugelach at the bakery to hipsters holding court in the Kibitz Room. “What commotion?” it seems to say of the neighborhood changes. “You should have seen Janis Joplin in here after a concert.” Breakfast has its own pace. The waffles are superb, and the corned beef with eggs sliced warm at the counter is best. When the bread mixer upstairs is rumbling, everything in the dining room, from babies’ cheeks to Jell-O, seems to jiggle. No one looks up. That’s the beauty. It sounds like an earthquake, but it’s only the challah.
Best Waffles, April 2005
A good waffle is more than just an ironed pancake, something greater than the sum of batter and syrup. It must be crispy and golden on the outside, but not crunchy. It must be light and chewy on the inside, but not mushy. Most important, it must be able to stand on its own, to entice without resorting to creams and fruits—in short, to be breakfast and not dessert. Canter’s Delicatessen is such an unlikely venue for waffle perfection that it may take a few minutes to even find the $4.75 dish on the menu. But the search is worth the effort: What you get is a thick but airy discus stamped with muscular grooves and creases, unassuming yet unabashed. It needs nothing more than butter, which comes in a saucer, already melted.