A Westwood Village Institution is Born–Fat Sal’s Deli Sets Up Shop
I’ll admit I was skeptical going in–a new eatery called Fat Sal’s Deli was setting up shop in a street-side shack previously housing a beloved cheap sub sandwich dive. The name itself, the professional-looking branding and design, the slogan–“We’re makin’ sandwiches over here!” presumably intended to be said with east coast attitude and accent–the flat screen TVs, the higher prices, all felt a touch slick. I was glad to find beneath the franchise-ready exterior, there’s heart here. From the name on down–there actually is a Sal behind the counter, a chatty and amiable good guy, though maybe not as fat as you might hope–Fat Sal’s is a proper joint. Not just a place to eat, but a joint with soul. I quote Sang N. on Yelp:
“Fats sals is great place to eat and just hang out. I did take my girl on a date here but i had a feel for Fat Sal’s to be a place to just chill and hang out.”
The anchors of the deep menu are the eight $8 “Fat” hero sandwiches that are crammed with anything and everything you can might find in a typical American diner. Take the “Fat Mona”, for example: fried eggs, ham, bacon, sausage, peppers & onions, american cheese, mozzarella cheese and fries (cross-section depicted above). Or the “Fat Juanito”: cheesesteak, chili, jalapeno poppers, fries, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onions, ranch and Tapatio hot sauce. Basically, this is archetypal hangover food, perfect for Westwood. There are burgers, wraps and salads for the ladies (KIDDING) and carne asada and Korean steak sands for the trendy types, but really those do seem like periphery concessions to what is the crazy, artery-challenged beating heart of menu, the fat sandwiches. I’ve had the Fat Joey (solid if not transcendent reuben) and the turkey club (excellent real turkey but could use more, bigger bacon–depicted below) and have been satisfied.
I think the initial takeaway from all this is that a place like this doesn’t live and die solely on the taste and quality of the food; it just has to be reliable. It has to be there for you when you need it (it’s open till 3 a.m.) and just be good enough and provide fair value on the deli/diner standard of fast, greasy eats. Think Barney’s Beanery, as a rough comparison in these regards. That Fat Sal’s is beyond satisfactory on a price-to-taste ratio is just gravy. (Brown gravy, coincidentally, is an ingredient on the Fat Sal.) One quibble is that the fries at this point are the weak link in the menu right now, but I sense Sal knows this and will address the fry issue at a later date once they work out their opening kinks. Here’s to hoping Fat Sal’s takes root and sticks around the area for a while.