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'Wich of the Week: Philippe's French Dip

'Wich of the Week: Philippe's French Dip

While I was down in Los Angeles for the PopSugar Tech Party, I couldn't pass up a trip to Phillipe the Original, the downtown LA institution that invented the French Dip. Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Phillipe's (as it's known to locals) offers everything you'd want from a historic restaurant, including old-timey signage, 10-cent coffee, and a sandwich whose construction has been honed over decades to perfection.

Typically, a French Dip sandwich involves hot roast beef served on a French roll with a side of au jus, a gravy whose name amusingly translates to "with juice." But don't expect a dipping bowl at Philippe's; what makes its legendary version oh-so-tasty is that the au jus is built right into the bun. For a firsthand account of my Philippe's adventure,


Originally, Philippe's served three kinds of French Dip: beef, lamb, and pork; in the 1980s, the restaurant added turkey to appease the health conscious. The first time I went to Philippe's, I tried the turkey, but I felt like I was missing out, so this time I got the pork sandwich, "double dipped," with both sides of the roll gently submerged in juice.

The Philippe French Dip is divine in its simplicity. In the words of general manager Richard Binder: "It's no secret. It's meat. It's bread." Of course, it's also the au jus, of which Philippe's makes three enormous batches a day. Each batch of stock uses 50 pounds of bones and a potpourri of veggies, plus drippings from the pans that roast nearly 1,000 pounds of meat every day.

Philippe's high volume and time-intensive preparation makes its sandwiches difficult to re-create at home. The pork is so tenderly roasted that it gives just right when you bite into it, and the juice — rich with hours of flavor — provides a yummy transition between the soft, warm roll and the meat. I'm sure cheese would be good too, but I just flavored mine with a bit of Philippe's hot housemade brown mustard. Remarkably, despite being incredibly moist, the Phillipe's French Dip isn't messy, because the ingredients cooperate with each other so well. Neat, simple, and delicious.

Have you been? Tell us about your Phillipe's adventure in the comments!

Join The Conversation
ashleyheatherr ashleyheatherr 6 years
Houston's Restaurant in Pasadena, CA has the best French Dip on earth. It's off of Arroyo Seco parkway. Try it. I've passed by this place in Downtown and just passed.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I'll pass.
bluebellknoll bluebellknoll 9 years
After seeing this yesterday, I had to make some at home. YUM! I loves me a french dip sammie.
kittyhill kittyhill 9 years
Phillipe's has made me a French dip snob. If it's not a Phillipe's beef French dip, I won't eat it! I love the sawdust on the floor & the long tables that make you sit next to people you don't know--very old-school. My mom works like a block away; she's so lucky! I try to go there when I visit as often as possible. Yum! Can't wait to go back!
Liss1 Liss1 9 years
That looks so good! I want one!
andiself andiself 9 years
Yeah definitely ask for the double dip turkey... it's the best. My friend had lamb and blue cheese double dip and it was awesome. Hot mustard is a must. They also have an old time newspaper stand inside and historical photos of LA. Beware going on USC game day - it's PACKED.
zoinks zoinks 9 years
I get the beef dip with american cheese and the macaroni salad. SO good. I take the train downtown and walk there. Yum Yum Yum. Putting me int eh mood, think I will have to go this weekend.
kia kia 9 years
Dude Philippe's is awesome! Walking distance from Phillips there is such good food too!! If you headed further down the street away from Union Station there is a little cafe that does BBQ outsid mid-week and serves up breakfast to police officers and city workers in the morning. Chinatown is right there and there are all kinds of great places there. Then the taquito stand on the corner as you enter Olvera Street. I can go on and on obviously. These places were some of my staples growing up.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 9 years
i love this place! everytime i visit my grandfather he takes me here for lunch! :)
sonnabobble sonnabobble 9 years
it looks messy and fantastic!
norockstar norockstar 9 years
i'm gonna go out on a limb here: that sammie looks like awesomeness. now, somebody bring me one.
anniekim anniekim 9 years
I like a French Dip, but they are usually pretty mediocre. You can tell if the au jus is from base and it often is. I like the idea of dipping, though. I've never had the pre-dipped style, I'd be skeptical if not for your description. It sounds super yummy. I would definitely get it with lamb--I've only ever been offered beef. Is the pickled egg de riguer as an accompaniment?
MindayH MindayH 9 years
My first french dipped sandwich was from Phillipe's - it's no wonder I am not really a fan unless I can grab one from where they originated!
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
This. Makes. Me. Soooo. Hungry!!!
Just-Oh Just-Oh 9 years
I love Philippe! My favorite sandwich is the lamb, double-dipped. I love introducing people to Philippe and watching their eyes light up when they bite in to their first sandwich. And first-timers' eyes always light up. The sandwiches are that good and the mustard is that scorching hot. Thanks for posting this, it makes me so homesick for my home town!
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