the hat

The Hat
2300 S. Atlantic Blvd, Monterey Park, CA, USA

As my dear sweet mammy lay on her deathbed, diagnosed with that cruelest of indiscriminate ailments (hyperpastramïsm, aka "Deli-man's Complaint"), she whispered an enigmatic phrase.

"The ... hat!" she rasped.

I immediately left the hospital, drove to her apartment, retrieved her favorite Jackie O-style pillbox, and rushed back to her bedside.

"No ... The hat!" she sputtered, her voice a mere wisp.

Again, I drove the 90 minutes back to her place and grabbed the sun hat she always wore on weekends at the cape. And again, she said: "No ... you fuckin' A-hole ... THE HAT!"

This went on for almost sixteen days. Nope, not her tam o'shanter. Not the tricorne she'd wear to tea. Not her sombrero, schtremeil, songkok, or Santa hat. Not her coonskin, her deerstalker, or even her beloved old boater. Which was the hat she so longed for? Which would fill her heart with joy in those final moments?

Unfortunately, she died before I could figure it out. Then it dawned on me. She meant The Hat, the pastrami restaurant! 🤦

the hat

I didn't think of it again until several months later, when I happened to be visiting the Vincent Price Art Museum out in the San Gabriel Valley. As it turns out, it's pretty much just an art museum, not a collection of "ghoulish delights." But imagine my ghoulish delight as I was driving away, and what should I spy, but the Monterey Park location of The Hat! Now, how could I not go? For it was my mammer's dying wish!

the hat pastrami

Now, I've had Katz's in New York City, Langer's #19 in Los Angeles, Kaufman's in Chicago; I've sampled 'strami from Hillshire Farms, Boar's Head, and Vienna Beef. Hell, I've even tried human pastrami while on a trip to South Africa. So I know my way around a 'stram 'stram. So in the pantheon of great pastrami sandwiches, how does The Hat fare?

Pretty darn good, I thought! Tasty sandwich.

Review by Pumboo Dongo-Dohnoh, April 2018