Norton, one of these days...

The deli slicer repeats its hum, hum and gives a little shiver. Paper thin slices of fresh pastrami collect in the plastic bin below. The effect is almost hypnotic. I’m sitting at the small counter at Norton’s Pastrami in Santa Barbara. It only seats four, and I’m glad to have it to myself for the moment. Donna Summer’s “Last Dance” drones on the radio. The crew is taking a breather following a brief rush. It’s business as usual here at Norton’s.

Norton’s is small. I mean really small. Just four tables and the counter.

It’s a shame that there needs to be signs on the wall that request “Please share tables” politely signed by the Pastrami itself. One would hope that patrons would do so without urging, but such hope is probably baseless in this century.

Something’s wrong here at Norton’s Pastrami. It doesn’t feel like Santa Barbara in here. There are no tapas, no smoothies, no lattes, no garden burgers, salsa bar or patio seating. It feels more like an east coast deli, but not quite. There’s a unique vibe in here. Norton’s isn’t trying to be something that it’s not. No tofu and no apologies. If you don’t want meat, you don’t eat. As its name suggests, this is the place to get a classic pastrami on rye. The pastrami is lean and flavorful and the portions are generous. The onion rings are a must. Large and light and not too greasy.

If pastrami isn’t your thing, try the corned beef, the French Dip or the Ham and Swiss. Make sure that you give the Matzo Ball Soup a try. It’s all good.

The pickle slices offered up as a condiment are a nice touch. I just wish that they were better. In my opinion, a good pickle should be crisp and tart. Mine were a bit rubbery. Perhaps I just got a bad batch.

All in all, I’d have to say that I really like Norton’s. A place like this is a rare find. Tucked away on West Figueroa, just off the beaten path, it’s like finding a hidden treasure in downtown Santa Barbara.

Norton’s Pastrami is located at 18 W. Figueroa Street and is open Monday through Saturday from 11AM to 8PM.

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