Canter's Famous Pastrami at Canter's Deli
ATwo of the most iconic American delicatessens occupy space in neighborhing casinos on the Las Vegas Strip: New York's Carnegie Deli can be found in the Mirage while Canter's Deli of Los Angeles can be found in Treasure Island. Despite the reputation of these two spots and our obvious deli affection, we have made a habit of avoiding both. Sadly, many times when a popular restaurant expands to a Vegas Strip location the term tourist trap comes into play, and the cuisine is an overpriced, watered-down version of the original. That always has appeared to be the deal at Carnegie, but I can't say for sure because I've never been to New York. The disappointment of Canter's is much more severe because I'm a lifelong west coaster and I've pilgrimmaged to the original on Fairfax Avenue.
But sometimes, you have to give it another try.
The pastrami sandwich I inhaled yesterday was perfect and simple, the way a deli sandwich should be. The bread, seedy rye that always was reliable here, was soft and chewy, with a crusty bite around the edges, and the perfect absorbent for your choice of mustard. There is a quick selection of mustards on each table at Canter's, and if you are wise, you will go with the Beaver brand deli-style, with its whole mustard seeds and grated horseradish. The pastrami was heavenly, tender and moist and not too salty, stacked in abundance. The proportion of fat to meat, something of a problem the last time I ate here a few years ago, has been solved beautifully. Plated with a half pickle and extra crispy shoestring fries, this is the straight-up deli sandwich experience we've been searching for in this city. Canter's Las Vegas is back, and I just have to say: What the hell? Did Mr. Ruffin fix this? MGM Mirage doesn't know how to make a sandwich? It doesn't make sense, but I'm still happy.