Pastrami is one of those foods that has moved from an ethnic, limited background to a food that a wide variety of people enjoy. This cured, peppery meat was invented in the late 1800's and has developed a devoted following. Many years ago, you could only find it in a Jewish deli. In 1951, however, The Hat started, with the mission of spreading the popularity of pastrami to a wide area and a diverse group of people. With ten locations, they seem to have done a great job of that.
The star of The Hat's menu is of course, the Pastrami Dip. Thin, steamed slices of beef pastrami are piled high on a bun dipped in the juices from the pastrami.The meat is extremely tender with just the right amount of fat to accent the lean pastrami. The French roll style bun is simply served, sliced in half and wrapped in paper. For condiments, they have a supply of plastic packs with regular and hot mustard, relish, horseradish sauce and ketchup. Most aficionados prefer it simply, with the hot mustard and a nice wallop of horseradish sauce to bring out all the flavors. The roll is strong enough to stand up to the moist, flavorful pastrami, although the sandwich is layered with so much meat that it tends to fall out the sides. That is the entertainment at The Hat. Some people just eat the meat as it falls, others wait until they have finished the sandwich. Many just use their fingers while others make sure to grab a plastic fork so they can spear every piece of the pastrami. Regardless of how it is done, however, these sandwiches are eaten to the very last bit. The combination of the juiciness of the meat with the peppery pastrami topping makes a sandwich that few can resist.
The Pastrami Dip may be the star, but there are other options at The Hat. The pastrami itself is available on a pastrami burger. The combination of the beefy burger along with with spicy and beefy pastrami works quite well. It makes a big sandwich and is quite popular. Various other burgers are on the menu as well as hot dogs, chili dogs and a variety of cold sandwiches. These cold sandwiches include turkey, ham, tuna and chicken salad. Bar-B-Que Beef sandwiches are available on the same roll as the pastrami.
To accompany the sandwiches, there is a selection of sides. The onion rings are large, nicely breaded, full of flavor and come in a very generous portion. French fries are available in two sizes and are nicely crisped on the outside.As with the onion rings, the portions are extremely generous and well suited for sharing. The french fries are also available as chili fries or “wet” fries, topped with gravy. A side order of chili is available and potato salad can be purchased for those who prefer not to eat fried foods.
The Hat has done a nice job of covering Southern California with several locations. In Orange County, locations in Brea and Lake Forest ensure that a trip to The Hat is not far away. A word to the wise, however. Take plenty of napkins to your table. These delicious sandwiches are messy!
Orange County Locations
1210 E Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
Lake Forest Location
23641 Rockfield Blvd
Lake Forest, CA 92630