Nathan'sBy Larry Levine –

From the Department of Silly Food Bets – Stanley Cup Finals Division –

I realize Langer’s Deli and Pink’s Hot Dogs are Los Angeles icons. And I realize that Katz’ Deli and Grays Papaya Dogs are kind of New York institutions.

But as a former New Yorker, who still has Brooklyn in his blood, and a long-time Angelino, who could be President of the City of Angels Fan Club, I’m confounded by the food oriented bets being made on the Stanley Cup (ice hockey) finals between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings.

Let’s call the bets the bads vs. the fads.

It’s L.A.P.D. Chief Charlie Beck vs. N.Y. Police Commission and former L.A.P.D. Chief Bill Bratton, and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti vs. N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio

The Bratton vs. Beck wager involves iconic delis that are not necessarily the best in either city. If the Kings win Bratton will host Beck for lunch at Katz’ Deli in Manhattan. If the Rangers win Beck hosts Bratton for lunch at Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles.



Last time I was at Katz’ is vowed never to return. Is it because there really isn’t a great deli left in Manhattan so Katz prevails by default? Or does Bratton have some secret grudge against Beck. After all, Bratton is believed to have said, when he left L.A. for N.Y., that one of the things he would miss is Langer’s. And Langer’s certainly is a better deli that Katz’.

I’ve been told by a usually reliable source that when Bratton was in L.A. his sandwich of choice at Langer’s was a pastrami on rye, not the restaurant’s number one seller – the notorious #19. Bratton is originally from Boston, so I guess his east coast orientation kept him from the #19, which is a pastrami slathered in Russian dressing and served on rye bread. I’ve long wondered how anyone could eat that and know if the pastrami was any good or not.

If Beck wanted to look beyond the iconic value of Langer’s and made his selection based on the quality of the pastrami he would have opted for Brent’s Deli in Northridge. But Langer’s is closer to downtown, where police chief’s spend much of their time in L.A. So, I guess Langer’s wins by familiarity.

Not that it matters much. With the Kings up three games to none going into tonight’s fourth game, there isn’t much chance Beck will have to pay off on the bet. Instead, he’ll have to suffer through Katz’.

As for the Mayoral bet, that’s even stranger. It involves hot dogs for a Jimmy Kimmel TV show audience. If the Kings win, de Blasio brings hot dogs for the entire audience from Grays Papaya Dogs in Manhattan and he has to sing “I Love L.A.” on national television. If the Rangers win Garcetti brings hot dogs from Pink’s for the Kimmel audience and sings “New York, New York” before a national audience.

I can understand the Pink’s part of the bet. They may be the only thing that keeps Dodger Dogs from being the worst dogs in the world and they may be edible only when buried under a mound of chili to mask the taste. But there really are no outstanding hot dog joints in L.A. There are some good ones, but not great and Pink’s, with its long lines of tourists stretching up the block, is an icon. I guess.

But Grays Papaya? In a city that is home to Nathan’s Coney Island – the best hot dogs anywhere.  Grays Papaya, which opened a place in Hollywood in 2011 and couldn’t make of it in competition with Pink’s and Dodger Dogs? Grays Papaya, which has closed two of its three Manhattan locations? That’s what awaits the Kimmel audience.

I know. It’s all in fun and nobody takes these sports bets seriously. But to me, when it comes to delis and hot dogs, that’s serious business.

(And the winners are: Chief Beck gets to eat with Commissioner Bratton at Katz’ Deli in NY and the Jimmy Kimmel audience will be eating Grays Papaya Dogs. So, by my judgment the winners are kind of losers.)

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