1001 North Alameda
Los Angeles, CA 90012
On the plane back from New York to LAX, my Mom had one of her best ideas in a long time. She said, "How about after we land we head over to Philippe's for a sandwich?" So instead of heading down the 405 freeway, after our five hour flight, we headed to the home of the French dip sandwich Philippe's.
I am not saying Philippe's is old, but their was a rumor that their first sandwich was made from dinosaur meat! Okay, that was a bad joke, but Philippe's has been around for a long time. 1908 to be exact. Their signature sandwich, the French dip has been around almost as long, 1918. The story goes that a police officer ordered a roast beef sandwich and the bread was inadvertently dropped into the pan drippings. The officer was in too much of a hurry to wait for a new sandwich, so he took the sandwich anyways. From that day on, the officer always ordered the sandwich like that and told his friends about it. Thus the French dip was born.
My parents were not around in 1918, (although some days they look like they were, just kidding Mom and Dad!), but they have been coming to Philippe's for as long as they can remember. Like their parents bringing them here, they passed down the tradition to my sister and I. The restaurant has not appeared to have changed in the years that I have been coming here.
Ordering is done at the counter, where the carver creates your sandwich, and any other items that you may want. They only take cash, so remember to stop by an ATM before heading over to Philippe's. After receiving your meal, find a seat at one of the communal tables, and dig into the food.
At Philippe's they offer five versions of their famous dip sandwiches, beef, pork, lamb, turkey, and ham. The debate always rages which one is best. I am not going to get suckered into that debate, I will dodge the question by saying, whichever one you choose, you will not go wrong. The one above is pork. The bread is the first thing you notice when biting into the sandwich. Soft, but sturdy, it holds together nicely and soaks up the au jus nicely. The meats are all roasted on the premises, and are all very moist and have a great flavor.
Here is an inside view of the Lamb sandwich. Never gamey, with moist, flavorful pieces of lamb. The sandwich is not overly large, but there is a decent amount of meat on these.
Katie had the Beef French Dip with Swiss cheese added. I snuck a few bites of her sandwich as well. At Philippe's you have the option of having a single dip, double dip, or having your sandwich wet. These sandwiches are all just dipped, but next time I am going to be having mine wet.
I had never had their Potato Salad before, so we tried some this trip. This scoop of salad was topped with cayenne, but the potato salad was just average.
Another thing that makes the sandwiches here so legendary, is the hot mustard. This is not to be played with. I like heat, and this needs to be used in moderation. Not sure but I think this mustard is horseradish based, and if it catches you by surprise, you will be feeling it for awhile. It does go well with the sandwiches though.
Philippe's is not fancy, as you can see from the picture above. Appearing like it has for many years, sawdust on the floor, barren walls, and food served on stiff, brown paper plates, this restaurant has become part of Los Angeles culture. Southern California has so few food icons, let alone ones that have stayed the same for well over a century, that this one should be celebrated.
Out of five pigs feet, (because according to their web site, Philippe's sells 300 pounds of pigs feet a week), five being best to zero being worst, Philippe's gets 3.5 pigs feet.
For more information about Philippe's, click here: http://www.philippes.com/