Chopped Steak Sandwich
Though it's hard to put your finger on it, there's something about Wexler’s Deli on Santa Monica Boulevard that feels strikingly familiar. For one, it’s the same Jewish deli you’ve been going to since you were a kid. There’s lox in the counter window, rows of pickle jars on the shelves and a variety of fresh bagels lining the walls.
But then, it’s also your typical Santa Monica lunch spot. The trendy kind you like to hang out in during your lunch break or post weekend snaps with your friends. Because, if you look carefully, Wexler’s deli is definitely not your average deli. At Wexler’s, next to the lox in the window, there’s smoked salmon collars and Wexler brand caviar for sale. Gone are the standard brown vinyl diner booths, replaced with bright yellow cushy chairs that line the service counter. Yet while the “Hey heyyyy smoke fish every day” t-shirt hanging on the wall is a millennial shoutout to Dr. Dre’s 2001 hit single, the sandwiches served up from the open kitchen are the real #throwbacks, celebrating classics that date back to around a century ago.
Though crafted with mostly homemade, top quality ingredients, from their mayo to their house cured meat, the Wexler sandwiches resemble the deli sandwiches you already know and love. The aim at Wexler’s is not to create new, cutting-edge creations but to perfect the classics. They’re celebrating traditional deli sandwiches by making them the best they can be. And after just one of bite of the Off The Menu chopped steak sandwich, we can tell you that they’re succeeding.
But before unabashedly wolfing down the sandwich in less then five minutes, we sat down with chef and owner, Micah Wexler, to talk about the Wexler’s Deli OTM item and what makes their sandwiches so, so good.
Why the Chopped Steak Sandwich as your Off the Menu item?
It’s a sandwich that we’re planning on featuring at our new restaurant in Century City, which opens in August. We plan on having a unique item at each of our branches. At the Santa Monica location, it’s the Matzo ball soup, at Century City, it will be the chopped steak sandwich. We chose the chopped steak sandwich because we wanted to have something that was burgeresque but fit with our deli culture. Chopped steak is a classic old-school americana type diner throwback and we wanted to put that in sandwich form.
How do you make the chopped steak sandwich?
We do it on toasted challah bread. It’s got this really great melty cheese-pull kind of cheese on it. It’s all made with our Wexler’s brisket, which is a “Never Ever” product so it doesn’t get any hormones, antibiotics, or steroids. It tastes good and it’s something you can feel good about eating too.
What makes your sandwiches special?
We make everything in house, that’s kind of our mantra at Wexler’s. Everything down to the mayonnaise in the Russian dressing is made by hand here in the shop. We also cure and smoke all of our meats and fish. We don’t bake our breads in house but we do work with some local artisans that do the recipes to our spec.
Which drink and side dish on the menu pairs best with the Chopped Steak Sandwich?
We’re doing it with a pickle and a potato salad or coleslaw. And drink wise, I think a black cherry soda would be great with it.
What else would you recommend that an OTM member orders?
If you’re gonna come here and have one thing, I would recommend the O.G., which is pastrami, mustard, and rye. A lot of people like to go after the Reuben or the Macarthur but I’m a purist, and for me, the O.G. and the bagel and lox are the clearest expression of what we do.
What’s the story behind the deli?
We started three years. My business partner Mike and I, our backgrounds are in fine dining and Michelin starred restaurants and we had this idea for a while to remix the Jewish deli and update it. We’re taking something that’s traditional, bringing it back to its roots, and doing a very true version of what we think a great deli should be.
What’s the inspiration behind your sandwiches?
Our sandwiches are very old school. Everything here is about craftsmanship. We’re basically doing the same thing every day and trying to get closer and closer to that perfection mantra.
How do you come up with the names for your sandwiches?
Most of them I made up but they all have inspirations from different things. The O.G. speaks for itself. The Macarthur park is a nod to my favorite deli growing up, Langers, which is right across the street from Macarthur park. It’s kind of their classic sandwich. Boyle heights is an old classic Jewish area, and most old-school jews tend to prefer corned beef over pastrami, so that’s where that name comes from.
What do you like to cook at home?
I like to make all kinds of stuff. I cook at home quite a bit, it just depends on what I feel like. I made gnocchi last night, which turned out pretty good.