Philippe's...you make me want to live closer to Downtown
1001 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
I like the word institution. Besides the fact that it's been used to simply describe LA's Philippe's, it also reminds me of being crazy. What makes this interesting though is I would say that you'd be crazy to NOT go here... religiously. Now on the other hand, once you've had one of their French Dip sandwiches(of which they are noted as being the arguable creators of), you can realize what addiction is about on a small level cause it causes cravings which can be maddening.
It's located about a city block away from Union Station, residing there since 1908. It has lasted this long thanks to a couple of factors. I'll start with the fringe factors. They have a charming location on a corner close to a major travel hub, that being Union Station. Back in the day when that was the major form of transportation, Philippe's neon sign was clearly visible as soon as you stepped outside and looked down the street. Once inside the family owned establishment, you're treated by old school business at it's best. You get a sense of Depression era hardworking workers mixed with customer brotherhood. I feel I could sit down with just about anyone there and have friendly conversation.
You get in line in front of the counter and when you reach the front(which never takes long with how quick everyone works), the person who you give your order to is the person who handles your entire order, from taking your order, to receiving your food, and then finally paying them. It all happens in a super short time...think normal meal but done warp speed!
Word of mouth plays an important role as well in how long they've been around. People like me who've had an amazing meal and just decided to tell others about it have kept this place gaining fans since their inception of the French Dip. Story has it that the first Dip was a mistake where their original owner dropped the sliced French roll in some still hot roasting pan drippings and the officer who he was serving it to was in hurry so he took the sandwich anyway. He came back the next day with some friends who wanted the exact same thing and so a fad was born that really hasn't died down. Fact of the matter is that it's hard to find a normal diner type place that doesn't make their own French Dip.
But really what makes Philippe's so special is that though they are often imitated, they still reign as one of the best if not THE best. Quite simply, there's little to go wrong with. They have perfected their au jus sauce (not salt rich) and their cuts of meat are soft tender pieces of meat that seemed like that's all they were designed to do. Just to sit inside of an ever so crisp French roll. I can't tell you enough how good they are as I really can not come up with enough adjectives... you'll just have to take my word for it and get on down there.
As you can see they open at 6AM, and most likely most of you will not be up for a French Dip sandwich that early(though I can eat them anytime of day). For you, they have traditional breakfasts that were made for the All American hero. Fluffy pancakes or French Toast (which I love), eggs that are picturesque (hence the picture), sausage that savors in the mouth, coffee which is .09...that's right NINE CENTS, or for you non coffee drinkers they have their lemonade which is 65 CENTS! Old school prices all around when you think about, seeing as how the most expensive thing on their menu is their Ham Steak or Two Pork Chops with 2 eggs combo at a whopping $8.35. That's an incredibly hard to beat value.
Here's some food for thought I was thinking about while writing this. There's a debate as to who created the Dip sandwich. While I don't claim to know much about the full history, I do know the claims. Philippe's has the legendary story of how the bread was dropped by mistake and a legend was born in 1918. Down the street, Cole's P.E. Buffet (which opened the same year as Philippe's in 1908) said they invented it shortly after they opened in 1908. Now considering the way people and businesses operated way back when, it should be obvious as to who invented it. You know what I mean, a time when there wasn't much talk going around except for the little things, like food and sports. You would think that in the amount of 10 years it would be obvious that Cole's invented it, and yet that is not the case. Not only that, word would have gotten around that there's this amazing place that makes this new hot sandwich that is to die for. I am so not knocking Coles' dip, which is pretty rocking in it's own right, but I do find the discrepancy of 10 years as to who created it pretty odd. I'm not solving the mystery but adding logical fuel to the age old war of devastatingly good sandwiches in LA.
Free Drink Refills: No, but they might as well be with how cheap it is!
Entree Price Range: The French Dips range from $5.15 to $6.25 and the breakfasts range from $3 to $8