Ben Canter and his brothers had been manning the counter of their deli in Jersey City, New Jersey, for five years—familiarizing faces of regulars and catching their culinary stride—when the stock market plummeted in 1929. Like many, they were forced to scrape together the little they had retained, a mere $500, and head west. Los Angeles in 1931 wasn't a delicatessen owner's dream location, but they opened Canter's Deli nonetheless.
Throughout the next 80 years, three generations of Canters would do their parts to help the displaced deli fit into its Hollywood setting. They moved to their current location at the old Esquire Theatre, added a cocktail lounge named the Kibitz Room, opened a new store in the "O" of the Hollywood sign, and watched their doors open to a who's who of celebrities, including Marilyn Monroe, Jack Benny, Elizabeth Taylor, Wilt Chamberlain, Prince, and the band members from Guns N' Roses.
The Canters overhauled their menu in 2012 to reflect the changing times and West Coast tastes. Among the newcomers are panini-style deli melts (all less than $10) and updated burgers such as the Black and Blue, which comes loaded with thick-cut bacon. The best East Coast staples remain, of course. A good example is the hot corned-beef Reuben served on rye bread that's double-baked in-house and grilled to perfection. Available 24 hours a day, the expansive selection of deli fare and baked goods has garnered an equally expansive amount of press, including the monte cristo’s designation as one of Esquire's Best Sandwiches in America.
As a microcosm of the deli's convenience and culture, the staff validates parking for up to 90 minutes in its parking lot, where muralist Art Mortimer's seven-panel collage-style mural depicts Jewish history in Los Angeles.