Legend has it that back in 1918 French immigrant to Los Angeles Philippe Mathieu was preparing a sandwich in his deli that he had opened 10 years earlier when he accidentally dropped the bread into a pan of beef drippings. The result was the now ubiquitous "French Dip" sandwich, so called because of Philippe's heritage. Almost 90 years since that happy accident Philippe's continues to churn out the signature sandwich.
Celebrating its 100th year this year Philippe's is an iconic institution. In many ways it is the quintessential American Delicatessen serving an ethnically and economically diverse clientèle, there is a real sense of egalitarianism here as both rich and poor line up for 10 cent cups of coffee and the famous French Dip.
The "original" French Dip sandwich
While Philippe's is not the sole claimant to title of "originator" of the French Dip in Los Angeles they are the only one still open. Coles P.E. located on East 6th street also laid claim to the title but it closed as of March 2007.
Although the beef is cooked all the way through it is sliced thinly enough to remain tender. The spongy French bread becomes delightfully soggy with the rich beef au jus but remains intact enough to hold together. While the Beef Aficionado would love to try a rare version of the sandwich the way it is served is delicious.
The pancakes at Philippe are amazingly good, a crispy golden exterior gives way to a fluffy, airy interior. The generous butter and side of syrup make for a decadent breakfast, especially with the side of extra crispy bacon.
While the corned beef hash is tasty it appears to be canned, too bad because with all the roast beef Philippe's sells they could make a spectacular roast beef hash from scratch.
While the main draw at Philippe is obviously the French Dip sandwich I was also impressed with the breakfast, especially the pancakes. Of course you can have the best of both worlds since you can always get the French Dip at Philippe, it is served from 6AM onwards.
1001 North Alameda Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012