Sunday 26 January, 2014

The Hat’s Pastrami Burger: Does Guy Fieri Know About This?


Did I miss the episode where Guy Fieri or Adam Richman visited The Hat? I must have--it's not possible that both of those greasy spoon-loving Food Network shows have overlooked this SoCal legend, going on 63 years of heart-attacking a proud populus (ok, don't hate. You're not going to get heart disease unless you eat here every day. Or every week. Or... anytime you can remember the last time you were here).


The Hat's big deal is what they call the "best pastrami sandwich in the world." But let me save you some angry typing: Neither Katz's in New York City or Langer's in MacArthur Park is in any threat whatsoever. The Hat's pastrami is the somewhat unique Southern California style: salty, well done, pre-sliced and sitting in a steamer for hours. I'm not hating--in the realm of that 'style,' The Hat does it right, and they aren't skimpy with the portion on their signature Pastrami Dip.

But I've done that already, so when I was driving by one of their oldest outposts in Alhambra last night, I decided to 'live a little' and switch it up to the Pastrami Burger. I know what you're saying, either: "God in heaven, could two greater things possibly be joined together?" or "What in the name of all that is sacred is wrong with them?" Personally, I mumbled both before placing my order and shuffling over to the pick up window.


What came out, what was built before my eyes (with bare hands no less--the CA State Senate will be shocked to discover that I didn't contract a disease) was a testament to the resiliency of a humble hamburger bun: shredded lettuce, a beefsteak tomato slice, B&B pickles, a slice of American cheese and thousand island on the bottom bun, topped with a beef patty and then a styro coffee cup portion of shaved pastrami (literally, that's how they portion it).

No, of course it didn't all stay inside the buns, but it was there long enough for the fine counterman to wrap two layers of paper around it, just so it could fall apart again as soon as I got to the table. No, it's not possible to eat this without it falling apart--even with paper wrapped around it--but on the plus side, it also doesn't drip a lot of liquid like InNOut.

I'm not saying it's quite the same quality as InNOut--I'm not even saying it's necessarily "good." But I am saying that regardless I couldn't put it down, and even though it was huge, I fairly inhaled it. And I wasn't even intoxicated.


As far as the rest of the menu, I noted that the wet fries and chili fries were incredibly popular--and no surprise. For less than six bucks, it's a huge portion. I mean, massive. When I come back with a friend, this will be the call.

The Hat