Johnnie’s Pastrami Review | Judy Asman

For “Hungry? LA:” Johnnie’s Pastrami

johnnies4017 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, 310-397-6654 | Down-home pastrami joint | $$ per person | Full review appears in Hungry? Los Angeles … family edition

Dip this.

A lot’s changed since Harry S. Truman was United States President. But, for the most part, Johnnie’s Pastrami has stayed the same. Hallelujah. What else can you ask for from a down-home, pastrami sandwich and burger joint, which—since 1952—has served God knows how many pounds of tender and juicy pastrami, dipped generously in its classic and famous French dip?

No pretenses here. If the expression “hole-in-the-wall” seems overused, we need to use it once more to refer to Johnnie’s. At this widely appreciated, artery-clogging joint, it’s come one, come all for pastrami, hot dogs, chili cheese fries, burgers, crunchy tacos, fried chicken and so on and so on.

The lunch crowd is probably the truest indication of the clientele Johnnie’s attracts, which is just about anyone under the sun. Men and women in suits, parents and kids in T-shirts and shorts, blue-collar workers in jeans and Nomex, and groovy young Hollywood types in fashion wear with tattoos and piercings. What they obviously share in common is the humble, inner-city feel that accompanies the sinfully filling food.

Inside, each table has a jukebox, as does the center counter, where one is placed in front of every other seat.

While places like Johnny Rockets or Ruby’s work hard to simulate the 1950s diner feel, Johnnie’s is really that. All you need to do is observe the vintage flooring, counter tops and brown vinyl booths to be convinced.

At night, they dim the lights and spark up the fire pits in the patio, creating a new ambience to satisfy a late night, post-party craving.

While you can smoke outside, you’ll want to leave your pets at home. There’s plenty of traffic and bus noise to remind you you’re in old school LA and with Johnnie’s being somewhat close to LAX, it’s a great stop-and-eat spot for people who either just landed or are getting ready to take off.