Hidden behind this unassuming grey metal door at the base of what city planners have named the “Los Angeles Them Building” sits a rather large secret. The fabulous sci-fi encrusted Encounter Lounge looms on a cylindrical platform several levels above the door, and if you are in the know, you can step inside to experience the highly affordable culinary treats that await you. The City Deli is the best deal in town. Literally. There is no other location at the airport that offers you a hamburger for $4. Formerly an exclusively employee-only restaurant, the deli opened its’ doors officially to the pubic just a few years ago. But you won’t find weary travelers and savvy locals inside this establishment, only airport employees who know the secret to getting the best bang for their buck will be behind this door. (In this case “Orange Bang”, the whipped orange flavored soda fountain drink.) Other than employees, no one else seems to even know this place exists, providing an oasis from the more frantic public areas of the airport.
The interior is very simple. A cafeteria-style ordering line followed by a somewhat large dining area. All airport employees and employees related to the industry get a 10% discount on anything they purchase here, but the prices are so low to begin with the discount hardly matters. All active military also receive the discount.
Breakfast is served in the form of pancakes, French toast, breakfast burritos, omelets and complete breakfast meals until 10:30am. The breakfast menu is pretty complete, and cheap, and delicious. So if you happen to be stuck in LAX early enough in the day this is the first place you should stop.
The lunch menu includes burgers, patty melts, chicken Cesar salads and a design your own sandwich option in addition to a long list of daily specials such as beef enchiladas, chicken cordon bleu and vegetable lasagna. A daily soup choice is also offered. If you just want a quick cheap snack I highly recommend the generously proportioned plate of French fries, which weighs in at just over $2 after tax, the best deal you will find within miles.
The deli closes down early, very early, operating only 6am to 3pm Monday through Friday, but if you happen to be in the airport at this time you will never find a better deal. And its’ location could not be better; it’s literally in the center of everything and can be easily accessed by most terminals. And don’t forget about the Encounter Lounge located above it. It’s really convenient to get yourself a $4 burger at City Deli and then head up into the tower above for a relaxing drink in an elegant space-age lounge with a fantastic view.
Los Angeles Theme Building
209 World Way, LAX
Los Angeles, CA 90045
Photos: John Glass