Small things set Canter’s apart from other Las Vegas delis

Updated February 24, 2018 - 6:22 pm

“The best pastrami on the West Coast,” Canter’s Deli brags on its website, and it appears they’re not far off.

The look of Canter’s pastrami can be a little daunting to the aficionado used to seeing paper-thin slices stacked high, because it is neither of those. This pastrami sandwich ($16.95) arrives on its podium of freshly baked rye in narrow, thick slices. Not to worry; Canter’s isn’t kidding when it says its “East Coast carvers” who slice the meat warm are the best in the business because the pastrami is improbably tender; it doesn’t hurt that it’s from the navel, or flat, end of the brisket, considered the better half. No, it’s not stacked a foot high but the slices on this manageable handful pack just as much flavor.

Of the side choices of cole slaw, potato salad or macaroni salad the last seemed bland and unremarkable, with a too-thin dressing and no flavor sparks.

The open-face roast beef sandwich ($16.95) was as successful as the pastrami, though in a very different way. A copious amount of tender sliced beef cloaked in a more-than-respectable gravy was piled onto white bread and heaped with a tangle of crisply fried onion strings, their assertive flavor and delicate crunch effective contrasts to the sandwich. Mashed potatoes on the side were fluffy and creamy.

Meals at Canter’s start with a relish tray of piquant pickled tomatoes and two types of dill pickles, sours and the brighter half-sours. They’re a great lagniappe, but Canter’s also offers traditional starters and appetizers, the former listing knishes, latkes and blintzes. Fruit blintzes ($9.95) were stretchy and delicate and creamy and tart in all the right places, and a nice surprise was that the fruit, often served as a compote, was a selection of fresh strawberries and blueberries.

Service throughout was a little sardonic at times for tradition’s sake but mostly efficient. Canter’s, an offshoot of the original in Los Angeles that dates to 1931 (there’s another local spot in The Linq Promenade), has the barnlike proportions of a classical deli, with subway tiles in muted colors and black-and-white photos and graphics covering its walls.

It may be in essence a typical deli, but the small differences at Canter’s are to its credit.

If you go

■ Canter’s Deli, Tivoli Village (also at The Linq Promenade); 702-444-0407

■ The essence: Small things set Canter’s apart — in a good way — from other delis of its kind.

Las Vegas Review-Journal restaurant reviews are done anonymously at Review-Journal expense. Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella onTwitter.

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