The West Coast might not be able to compete with New York on Jewish deli's, but as a native Angeleno, it's still been hard to get used to lunches in Long Beach without a good one around. You know, the places that are always named with a possessive (Canter's, Langer's, etc.) and serve pastrami on rye with bowls of matzo ball soup on the side. L.A. seemed to possess one for every lunch meeting my father had when I was growing up, but in Long Beach, I have been hard-pressed to find anywhere that makes their own corned beef.
Then I discovered Mosher's, a Jewish-style deli with two locations in the LBC. The first is across the street from Wilson High School and is a house-turned-walk-up-snack shack with no parking and a small patio on which teenagers can be seen grubbing on calories they won't have to think about for years. The other Mosher's is on the bottom floor of a newer Ocean Blvd. high rise, tucked in a corner across the street from City Hall and with a patio that stretches back into the housing complex's underutilized courtyard.
Many prefer the Ocean Mosher's both for its adult clientele and its resemblance to a one-stop neighborhood grocer. Instead of alienating the majority of their customer base–who may not even know what a matzo ball is–Mosher's has changed its focus and adapted to its role to fit the needs of local residents.
Without a proper supermarket nearby (Top Valu is six blocks up), Mosher's has begun stocking two refrigerated cases full of fresh produce and a fridge of essentials like eggs and milk. The menu also continues to add unlikely items for a Jewish deli–custom juice blends, pork carnitas, pancake breakfasts, Lousiana sausage sandwich–but the classics remain intact.
House-made corned beef can come either hot or cold, its lean salty slices always stacked hard atop each other, pink to perfection. The chicken matzo ball soup is heartier than most with vermicelli and chunks of white meat balancing out the hand-formed al dente matzo ball. And an entire menu of hot dog items exists, each all-beef frank (top price $5.75) loaded up as either a chili dog, sauerkraut brat or Chicago-style. Get a half sandwich and soup combo for $8.95 and try a little of everything.
Some of Mosher's non-traditional dishes are also addicting: french fries topped with the meaty red-bean chili and the tuna Mazatlan sandwich, made with lightly mayo'd tuna that's been tossed with celery and cilantro. Every meal comes with a pickle spear on the side and access to the condiment bar that lays out canned essentials alongside several house-made relishes.
Though not entirely authentic–New Yorkers roll your eyes before ordering–Mosher's is watering a Jewish-food desert with a few key elements. Nothing is piled mile high and sometimes it all comes out a little over salted, but when Greenblatt's is all the way in Hollywood and Jerry's Famous Deli's overpriced matzo ball isn't worth the drive to Costa Mesa, Mosher's is a cheap lunch spot that knows what Long Beach needs.
Mosher's Gourmet, 300 W. Ocean Blvd., (562) 432-6267