Rock ‘n Roll’s Favorite Jewish Deli

Canter’s Deli is borderline synonymous with Hollywood, but it is just as well loved by rock ‘n rollers as it is movie stars, and it was the late night place for the bands of the 1960s, and it’s said to be the only Jewish deli on the west coast to rival one of the east coast.

Canter’s started all the way back in 1924 in Jersey City, New Jersey, with three Canter brothers, who decided to make the big move to California after the stock market crash of ’29. In 1931 they opened Canter Brother’s Delicatessen in what was then the Jewish center of Los Angeles, Boyle Heights. After a couple of decades there, Canter’s made the move to Fairfax, where their popularity grew, and in 1953, they purchased the old Esquire Theatre, moving just up the street, to their current location.

Canter's sign outside, black with yellow letters reading "Canter's" smaller letters read "restaurant, bakery, delicatessen"

Canter's on Fairfax, tall palm trees line the street, Canter's rooftop sign juts from the top, a black diamond shape extends upwards with a large red rectangle reading "Canter's" a circular sign below reads "Deli"

Vintage neon of a large baker carrying a tray with loaves of bread. "Bakery" reads across the bottom.

Canter's case of baked goods.

Inside Canter's - large cream walls with tan text reading "Canter's" and a faux stained glass ceiling features an autumn leaf pattern.

Canter's menu, featuring an illustration of two chefs surrounded by sausages and bread.

Interior of Canter's - Vintage UFO style gold light fixtures hang from the ceiling.

Me sitting at the table enjoying their mac & cheese.

The counter at Canter's - a three tone yellow swirls adds to its retro vibe.

Half circle booth of cream vinyl resides against a wood panel wall and mid-century modern room divider.

Strawberry cheesecake! One inch of cheesecake, an inch and a half of strawberries on top!

A vintage "Now Serving" number reader resides behind the counter.

In keeping up with the times, they opened up the Kibitz Room in 1961, a cocktail lounge and venue with small stage, featuring open mic nights and scheduled acts.

Kibitz Room sign inside located on the wall behind the small stage

Inside the Kibitz Room, dark wood paneling, and black vinyl booths line the walls.

Exterior sign of The Kibitz Room, a white, black, and red sign.

The large sign on Canter's rooftop, a black diamond shape extends upwards with a large red rectangle reading "Canter's" a circular sign below reads "Deli"

Canter's sign outside, black with yellow letters reading "Canter's" smaller letters read "restaurant, bakery, delicatessen"

So, who as dined here over the ages? Hollywood’s favorite blonde, Marilyn Monroe frequented Canter’s after her then husband, author Arthur Miller, introduced it to her, as well as Elizabeth Taylor, Sydney Poitier, Dick Van Dyke, and Mel Brooks. But according to Jimmy Greenspoon, the keyboardist for Three Dog Night, it was the spot for rock ‘n roll stars and their girls in the 1960s, with Frank Zappa and company, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, and the Sunset Strip’s bad boys, The Doors. By 1968 it has been mentioned in The Turtles’ song “Oh Daddy” with the lyric “Oh what are the kids at Canter’s going to say?” It’s infamy with rock ‘n roll was cemented when Guns N’ Roses was photographed here early on in their career, and people like Mick Jagger and Gene Simmons have still been known to dine here.

Guns n Roses sit at a table in Canter's in 1982

In recent years, Nicolas Cage, Madonna, Brad Pitt, and even President Obama have made Canter’s a place to visit. It’s also been a filming location, including episode one, “Time Zones” in season seven of Mad Men.

A screenshot from Mad Men when they filmed at Canter's. Today it appears virtually the same.

Canter’s is open 24 hours a day, and only closes for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper.

Canter’s is located at 419 N. Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles. Learn more on their website.

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