Photo of an order of Oyster Shots
Photo by Joshua Lurie

Strip Mall Eats: Cajun Fusion in Leimert Park with a Secret Menu

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To try one of the over-the-top off-menu dishes at the family-run Orleans & York Deli you have to know to who to ask.

Inside this strip mall eatery hangs a photograph of yellow cabs cutting through traffic in front of New York’s Times Square. A few feet away, the large gold letters “O&Y” are strewn with strings of green, purple and gold beads that resemble what revelers might find the morning after Mardi Gras in the French Quarter. This may feel like a disparate fever dream, but both images symbolize Orleans & York Deli, which deftly fuses New York and New Orleans cuisine in a popular family-run L.A. chain.

Orleans & York founder Sami Othman grew up in delis. By the time he was 10 years old, he was helping his father at the family’s deli in New York, and by age 16 the savvy teen had saved enough money to open his own deli. His 1977 debut spawned Long Island spinoffs, but New York couldn’t contain his ambitions. He relocated to L.A. in 1982 after an inspiring trip west.

Orleans & York is the culmination of his take on deli fare. He grew up on hero sandwiches like hoagies and subs, but always had a fascination with New Orleans-style po’boys.

Othman and his wife Maria, who he met in New York, grew up eating Cajun food and continue to visit New Orleans on a regular basis. “The love my parents have for Cajun food is what brought them to create their own unique recipes,” says their daughter, Jasmine Summer.

They created a forum for this fusion at Orleans & York Deli. The eatery debuted in 2013 near Inglewood in View Park and now has seven family-run outposts that feel far from corporate. Their Crenshaw Boulevard branch opened in 2018 at the Patio Shops, not far from Metro’s Crenshaw/LAX line construction site. The space features two-toned gold and maroon walls, blown-up road maps of New Orleans and New York, high-top marble tables and black cushioned stools, overhead LED menus and a “secret menu.”

The owners regularly post a secret menu on social media, or tape a copy to the wall, but never include full descriptions or prices, just a list of cryptic names — until now. They’ve decoded their over-the-top off-menu items, which range from about $9-$25, exclusively for Los Angeleno:

Photo of an order of the Mayor Butts Special
An order of the Mayor Butts Special. Photo by Joshua Lurie

The Mayor Butts Special

This dish features a bottom layer of peppery griddled Dietz & Watson navel pastrami, a blanket of melted pepper Jack cheese and fried shrimp on top. This secret menu item came about when the family’s second location opened in Inglewood in 2014 and quickly drew the attention of the city’s mayor, James T. Butts Jr., who loved their offerings but wanted to skip the carbs.

Oyster Shots

Three large and plump Pacific oysters with a crispy coat topped with scoops of creamy tuna salad and served with sliced avocado and a tangy hot sauce. A customer repeatedly asked for this dish, which has become one of Othman’s favorites.

Dirty Fries

French fries showered with chicken sausage, beef sausage, beef sirloin, bell peppers and onions, all smothered in American and provolone cheese. How did it get on the top-secret menu? A dedicated regular who goes by the name “Omash” would order dirty fries and 10 lil’ hotties (saucy chicken wings) together and the resteaurant decided to combine the two dishes.

Other variations include Riot Starter, which features the same “dirty mix” over white rice with melted cheese, and Chum Killa where they swap out the meat for fried shrimp.

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The Jazz

Named for the most popular musical genre in New Orleans — not Utah’s pro basketball team — The Jazz is one of the deli’s secret sandwiches which combines pastrami with French fries, coleslaw and mayo on a baguette.

Gumbo Mumbo

This stars Orleans & York’s signature gumbo — it’s made with shrimp, chicken, beef sirloin, hot links, bell peppers and onions — then piles it onto French fries smothered with melted Provolone cheese.

Shrimp Inspiration

This favorite from Othman family gatherings features sautéed prawns in a seasoned shrimp broth that’s served with white rice and an entire baguette that’s good for dipping.

Cajun Asian

A fleet of fried shrimp, or chicken, tossed in sweet and spicy sauce and served over steamed white rice alongside an avocado sliced into the shape of a fan.

Orleans 2 Maine

This dish is only available on Fridays and Saturdays when Orleans & York makes clam chowder. For this dish, creamy clam chowder blankets white rice, which in turn is topped with fried shrimp and a drizzle of their signature “Sami sauce.”

Each Orleans & York location has a secret menu available, though not every employee knows how to make the mysterious items. How do you try them? Ask for a manager. Some dishes are too tasty to be kept secret.


Orleans & York Deli

3868 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90008. 323.903.6650

Los Angeleno