Down in Southern California for my brother’s funeral — it was the last time, I think, that I’ll ever be able to feel that traveling to California is “going home” — I was thoroughly (and sometimes painfully) immersed in bittersweet nostalgia.
Around noon today, though, ready to hit the road back up to Utah, my family and I indulged in something that wasn’t bittersweet at all. Or, at least, not very much. It was delicious.
We ate pastrami dip sandwiches at The Hat. The first iteration of this San Gabriel Valley chain — shown in the photograph above — opened in 1951, at the corner of Valley Boulevard and Garfield in Alhambra. So it was still relatively new when I was born, and it’s among my earliest memories.
I grew up going to it. It’s still there, and the sandwiches are still absolutely wonderful. (My wife isn’t a particular fan, but she grew up in Colorado and can therefore be pardoned her lack of good taste.)
I’ve got a Hat tee shirt, and, in memory of my parents, I’ve been dropping by for a pastrami dip every time I find myself in the appropriate part of Southern California. Now I’ll do it for my brother, too.
And because I love the sandwiches.
A warning, though: The portions of French fries and onion rings are enormous.