At 2:00 a.m., the old school hip hop of Ice Cube and Eazy-E serenades the still-growing line in front of Fat Sal’s Deli in Westwood, California. A red and neon glow from the neighboring In N’ Out Burger shines down upon the tiny, hole-in-the-wall shop—and to the many college students making their way back to campus from greek row, the glow is a heavenly symbol of beckoning temptation.
Fat Sal’s Deli offers sandwiches, hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes—on steroids. Its most popular menu items are the selection of “Fat Sandwiches,” which feature massive amounts of meat and toppings tightly nestled inside a hero bun. The burgers drip with abundant amounts of chili, meat and sauces smother the fries and the shakes overflow with premium ingredients.
The restaurant’s namesake and my personal favorite is “The Fat Sal” ($10.95). The sandwich includes roast beef, french fries, onion rings and mozzarella sticks, finished with a drizzle of brown gravy on a garlic hero roll. I choose to forgo the mayonnaise. The gravy allows all that bread to be included without the sandwich getting dry. The roast beef is tender and juicy, although I’d like a larger beef-to-topping ratio. The mozzarella sticks and onion rings are a clever alternative to cheese and grilled onions, and the french fries stuffed inside make it a complete meal. The fries, at times, overpower the rest of the sandwich’s flavor. A pro-tip: remove a few before you begin and eat them in between bites. I also like to wash down each wonderful morsel with a sip of Coca-Cola.
Still hungry? Try the “Big Fat Fatty Challenge” ($49.95). If you can consume this monstrosity in 40 minutes or less, Sal will name a menu item after you. The 13-pound sandwich includes cheesesteak, cheeseburgers, pastrami, chicken fingers, bacon, mozzarella sticks, fried eggs, french fries, onion rings, chili, marinara and “fat sauce” on a 27 inch garlic hero. The last person to do it was 5’ 7”, 120-pound Molly Schulyler, who finished in under 15 minutes.
If you’re not a meat fan, then indulge in one of Sal’s decadent milkshakes. The “Caramel Apple Pie Fat Shake” ($6.50) blends together a pint of ice cream, caramel and pie crust—with a whole slice of apple pie to boot. It’s then topped with a towering mountain of whipped cream, sprinkled with cinnamon and garnished with a cinnamon stick. The warm apple of the freshly baked pie combines with the vanilla bean to create an inventive, drinkable take on pie a la mode. It should satisfy your sweet tooth for quite some time…or at least until you need to come back and get another one.
While the line can get long late at night on weekends, it normally moves quickly. You can order online on the restaurant’s website to expedite your sandwich, but the interface is clunky and difficult to navigate. Also, be prepared to stand. The seating is limited to around 10 stools and an L-shaped bar table. Whether you’re a college student headed home from greek row or a hungry businessperson on lunch break, a meal at Fat Sal’s Deli will satisfy your hunger and your tastebuds.