Historic Los Angeles French Dip

Mary Ann Fitzmorris November 15, 2019 07:14 Dining Diary

We are in Los Angeles, and coincidentally, Tuesday of this week was National French Dip day. Even though we didn’t get here till the following day, it’s fun to mention a Los Angeles institution, Philippe. It is deep downtown, a block away from the very origins of Los Angeles. It goes back to 1908, even though the famous sandwich accidentally happened in 1918.

The sandwich shop served a lot of working people who stopped in for lunch, and one day a policeman came in for a roast beef sandwich, Philippe Mathieu, who owned the place, accidentally dropped the top bread in the au jus. The policeman took it anyway, and came back the next day with friends for one of those “dipped sandwiches.”  Now Philippe serves dipped sandwiches of all varieties: roast beef, roast pork, turkey, leg of lamb, pastrami, and ham. 

Philippe’s started as a dumpy sort of place, as they all were then, with sawdust on the floor. Not a lot has changed for present day. You still step down and it seems underground. There is not a shred of design to this place, and therein lies its charm. The original building was lost to the building of the Hollywood Freeway, but the current Philippe’s has been right by the train station since 1951.

It may be one of the original fast casual-places with order at the counter shutes of lines, but it is still much the same in menu and feel. Vibe somehow doesn’t apply to a place like this. The menu is massive, including breakfast, soup specials, salads and other sandwiches. There are side items straight from the past, like boiled eggs, pickled eggs, and pickled pig's feet. But Philippe's is not about the past. They also serve gourmet coffee, and bottle their own signature hot mustard, available for purchase online. But it all goes back to a very simple idea: a sandwich of a fresh-baked roll filled with roasted meat, dipped in the juices of that meat. What could be better than that?


1001 N Alameda  Los Angeles


Daily 6am-10pm