Langer’s, the deli corner-classic surviving on the edge of MacArthur Park since 1947, recently ran neck-and-neck with Providence, the elegant and artistic seafood restaurant, for Chowhound readers choice of The Ultimate L.A. Restaurant. That it finally ruined Providence’s three-year stand at the number one spot sounds correct as far as “ultimate” and “L.A.” are concerned. Then we read the criteria. Based 75% on food, and the other quarter on “everything else,” the contest seeks to determine what “you would recommend…for a special occasion.”
While Chowhound describes the race between these disparate places as proof of the “depth and breadth of Chowhounders’ tastes,” we say it’s comparing water with wine. There’s no denying that Langer’s is more dear to L.A. for its history, location, and story than Providence will probably ever be. Nor can we corn-beef with its divine cuts and pastrami sandwiches, one of the sure reasons L.A. was named the best deli city this year and what makes it a true treasure in the cheap eats category.
But for food to eat during a special occasion, as Chow states, we’d rather be in the bosom of a restaurant with two Michelin stars that offers a diverse selection of delicately handled sea creatures and pastries too attractive to tear into. While the view outside of Langer’s window might yield urgent scenes of L.A.’s true story and/or the first local shooting you’ll see, Providence is one of the finest and most exciting experiences on our dining horizon and has raised the bar city-wide. True, Langer’s is essential, ultimate L.A. But come time to pop the question or meet the parents, we’d choose Cimarusti’s house.