This Hole-in-the-Wall Life
*This article was updated on Feb. 6, 2008.
Don't let your eyes deceive you when entering PAUL'S DELI in Westminster. Yes, most of the half-sized submarine sandwiches cost $6.50. Yes, many of the whole heroes cost a whopping $11. No, these prices aren't rip-offs. See, Paul's knows you, Orange County. They know the usual six- and 12-inchers just aren't enough for the modern gut, so the dive super-sized their sandwiches long ago. A half-sized sandwich is eight inches; the full, a John Holmesian 16 inches of bread, meat and cheese.
Size isn't everything, of course (and with that, we finish our short run of penis puns—good night, Cleveland!), and Paul's sandwiches satisfy more than your appetite. An egg-salad sandwich will stink your breath for days, but it will also remind you why this has been a favorite for decades: relish and diced eggs over mayo, some provolone cheese and lettuce to add crunch, a sweet mix of chewy and gooey. Pastrami, Reuben, French dip and other capital-letter classics of roadside Americana are available, along with a corned-beef sandwich that will please the bluehairs in your clan. I prefer the Italian selections, and it seems Paul's stocks all, with most of their meats (cotto salami, capicolla, mortadella, veal, even prosciutto) originating from the deli counter that divides you from the cooks. Regardless of choice, everything is fresh—and you can add tartness by grabbing some pepperoncinis from a communal jar.
But Paul's is more than just humongous sandwiches. There are salads, but you can tell they're not a priority, since your choice of salad dressing usually comes in a Kraft bag. Besides, large house salads come with any Italian dinner here, along with crunchy loaves upon which cooks melt cheese and garlic butter. Like the sandwiches, Paul's pasta dishes never seem to end, and the prices will shock you—but this time, by how ridiculously affordable they are. An order of lobster ravioli—fluffy shells stuffed with the buttery crustacean and ricotta cheese and topped with Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses—goes for no more than $8. This part of the menu is resolutely Italian-American—manicotti, fettucine, penne, etc.—and if a dish isn't topped with sugary marinara sauce, then it's topped with cheese, but usually, it's topped with both.
One final, interesting point about Paul's: This is probably one of the best boxing museums in Orange County. All over the walls are old advertisements, pictures, commemorative belts and other knickknacks of pugilists past and present, as well as a picture of owner Paul's brother Mansour Mehdizadeh, a former wrestler for Iran. Stare at the wall while cooks prepare your order—hey, it's better than seeing the Lakers half-ass another game on the television.
Paul's Deli, 6936 Westminster Blvd., Westminster, (714) 898-8445; www.pauls-deli.com.
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