Canter's Deli at night
|Food type||Jewish delicatessen|
|Street address||419 North Fairfax Avenue|
|Other locations||Las Vegas, Nevada|
Canter's Deli is a Jewish-style delicatessen, opened in 1931 in Boyle Heights, and later moved to the Fairfax District of Los Angeles, California, near the border of West Hollywood, where it is now. It has been frequented by many notable movie stars and celebrities.
The restaurant has continued to serve traditional Jewish food items, including: lox and bagels, corned beef, matzoh ball soup, or challah. However, it is not certified kosher, being open on Saturdays and offering many non-kosher menu items (e.g., ham sandwiches). Canter's has remained open 24 hours most days, except on the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
The Canter family originally opened a delicatessen in Jersey City, New Jersey in 1924. They came west along with many Jews from the northeastern United States, and in 1931 they opened a delicatessen on Brooklyn Avenue in the Boyle Heights neighborhood, which at that time had a substantial Jewish population. After World War II, the Jewish population of Boyle Heights left en masse for the Fairfax District, West Hollywood, and other West Side neighborhoods (as well as the San Fernando Valley) and Canter's followed the influx of Jewish businesses west. A location at 439 North Fairfax Avenue opened in 1948; in 1953, the restaurant moved up the block into the former Esquire Theater (which had previously shown Yiddish-language films), resulting in a delicatessen much larger than its previous spaces. The restaurant was further expanded in 1959, and the Kibitz Room cocktail lounge opened in 1961. The Boyle Heights location remained in business until the 1970s.
Canter's quickly became a hangout for show business personalities, given its location and late hours. It has remained such ever since. In the 1960s, Canter's became a late night hang out for hippies, rock musicians, and other countercultural types, partially for the same reasons. Also, many rock musicians had grown up in Fairfax and West Hollywood, and the Sunset Strip was only a half-mile (0.8 km) away. Canter's has remained a favorite of rock musicians to the present day, and is still open 24 hours. Canter's is open every day except for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Canter's is known for its traditional deli favorites, such as pastrami, corned beef, matzoh ball soup, challah, lox and bagels, and brisket. It also has a large menu of other breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and has been awarded for its food many times over the years. For example, Los Angeles Magazine named Canter's waffles the Best Waffle in Los Angeles. Esquire magazine called their Monte Cristo sandwich one of the best sandwiches in America.
The bar in Canter's, called the Kibitz Room, has its own history and has been a favorite of music personalities. Chuck E. Weiss. a regular at Canter's who has his name on a plaque at the booth he would sit at, wrote a song about the Kibitz Room called, "Rocking in the Kibbitz Room." Although the restaurant is open 24 hours, the Kibitz Room closes at 2 am. They have live music every night, and were the launch pad for several bands, most notably the Wallflowers, Fiona Apple, and Rick Rubin's new project, the Vacation. The Big jam has had plenty of "A List" musicians sit in, including Phil Everly, Jackson Browne, Melissa Etheridge, and Marc Canter's high school friend Slash. Marc Canter, now the restaurant's owner, recently published a book about the early days of Guns N' Roses.
The restaurant has been featured in several movies and television shows, including HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm in the episode "The Blind Date" (2004) and AMC's Mad Men in the episode "Time Zones" (2014). In 2007, Adam Stein, finalist on the FOX TV show On the Lot, filmed Dough: The Musical at Canter's. Canter's is also mentioned in the song, "Oh Daddy," by The Turtles.
On 14 October 2008, Canter's celebrated their 60th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the deli reduced the price of their "famous" corned beef sandwich to its 1948 price of 60 cents, limited to one per customer, for a period of 12 hours.
Today, the restaurant is not certified kosher, being open on Saturdays and offering non-Kosher menu items, such as ham sandwiches.
On July 24, 2014, President Barack Obama surprised the lunchtime diners and staff when he visited Canter's.
In recent years, Canter's has served:
- 4,900 pounds (2,200 kg) of pastrami per month
- 1,500 US gallons (5,700 L) of chicken soup per week
- 4,000 knishes per week.
Canter's is also prominently featured in Ann Patchett's novel, The Magician's Assistant. Canter's is mentioned in the song Oh Daddy, by the Turtles. Chuck E. Weiss wrote a song about the bar in Canter's called, "Rocking in the Kibbitz Room."
- Leilah Bernstein, "The Soul of Fairfax Avenue: Canter's moved west from East L.A.'s Brooklyn Avenue in 1948 and has been keeping up with evolving traditions ever since." Los Angeles Times, March 24, 1999.
- Review of Canter's Deli, giving award for Best Waffle, Los Angeles Magazine, April 2005.
- The Best Sandwiches in America, Esquire Magazine, February 2008.
- "Guns N' Roses: Appetite for Pastrami," LA Weekly, March 7, 2008.
- Canter, Marc (2007). Reckless Road: Guns N' Roses and The Making of Appetite for Destruction. www.recklessroad.com . ISBN 978-0-9793418-7-8.
- "Canter's Celebrates Legendary Sixty Years on Fairfax With Corned Beef Sandwiches The Earth Times, 14th October 2008