Coffee? Nope. Soda? Oh, please. Black, green, or passion fruit infused, iced tea is the official beverage of lunch. Its bitter kick too mild for the morning but too brisk for the dinner table, this chilly refreshment is exclusive to the hours of Cobbs and clubs. Shun the pink and blue packets—a lemon wedge will do.
Los Angeles is largely to thank for the concept of salad as entrée, now a lunchtime staple. The folks at La Scala coined the phrase “chopped salad,” and the 54-year-old restaurant still hand chops more than 400 a day. As for the Cobb, it was invented in 1937 at L.A.’s legendary Brown Derby. To sensible lunchers everywhere, you’re welcome. » 434 N. Canon Dr., Beverly Hills, 310-275-0579 or lascalabeverlyhills.com
The pastrami at Langer’s is one of L.A.’s seven wonders, and we’d put it in the running for best in the world. But what makes it so tender? “We steam the meat for two-and-a-half to five hours to bring it to 209 degrees,”says owner Norm Langer. At this temperature the meat is soft enough to allow for those thick, juicy, hand-cut slices. » 704 S. Alvarado St., L.A., 213-483-8050
Zach Brooks started Midtown Lunch (midtownlunch.com) in New York when he tired of the same ol’ food chains near his office. The former music programmer relocated to L.A. in January, where he seeks out affordable, everyday options that are worth a little extra effort. “The blog is about getting off your butt and taking that hour—which you have every legal right to—and enjoying yourself. It makes the last four hours of the day a lot easier, unless it’s an all-you-can eat buffet.”
Photographs courtesy: istockphoto, David Lauridsen (2). Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham