yeah. another place you can’t go. well SUCK IT UP. i’m almost done.
located in the heart of LA’s chinatown district is the birthplace of the french dip sandwich (or is it??… let’s just say it is) – philippe the original. i’ve always been a big fan of the french dip, and once i realized that philippe’s was in LA, i knew i had to check it out. i was not disappointed.
philippe’s is old. real old. like 1908 old. yeah, i know… you’re amazed that man even knew how to make shelters like this back then – trust me, i was too. but apparently they could! when you enter the building, you go down a few steps and it opens up into the large communal dining area/food counter. it was actually a lot like the cafeteria in elementary school; there were long tables with benches, and a counter running along the walls of the room. so you had to sit with other people. this prospect frightened me, so i sat in the corner, attempting not to make eye contact with any neighbors. i was lucky enough to avoid most social interaction, although there was one point when an older gentleman tried to talk to me (kept saying something about his left arm…). i pretended like i was reading something on the wall, and after a few moments he just stopped talking altogether. that fool… there was nothing on the wall at all! hahaha… joke’s on him.
anyway, you order at the counter, behind which work the kind staff. there are a lot more items to order than just sandwiches, but i tried to keep my order simple. after you pay, they hand your food over the counter to you. the whole process would be really quick, except for the fact that there were long lines of people waiting to get food. still, it was worth the wait.
i ordered a double-dipped beef sandwich, a cup of chili, a baked apple, and a 40¢ glass of tea. the sandwich was a bit smaller than i was hoping for, but what it lacked in sized, it made up for in deliciousness. the meat was tender and juicy (obviously juicy… it had been soaked in au jus). it may not have been the best roast beef i’ve ever had, but it certainly ranked up there. the french roll it was on was crispy and totally held its own against the au jus… in fact, the outside didn’t appear to be dipped at all, which i really liked. that way you had both the crisp crusty texture playing against the soft, warm underside of the bread soaked in the juice with every bite. great combination. on every table sat an innocuous looking squeeze bottle, which contains philippe’s own hot mustard. and it is super hot. with a good taste of it, you will feel a tingle run through the front half of your head, effectively clearing your sinuses for the next month or so. it made a great combination to the sandwich, and though i don’t typically care for that horseradish-type burn, i ate most of my sandwich with it.
philippe’s chili is their own all beef blend (could be ordered with beans… if you’re a pussy), which i found to be excellent. i am somewhat particular about chili, but i definitely approved of this. it was the perfect side dish for the sandwich. the cinnamon baked apple was a nice finish to the meal; sweet, simple, and delicious.
it was a great experience. the place has history, and the atmosphere is very pleasant. oh, and they have a parking lot! that may not sound like a big deal, but in downtown LA, it is. so if you’re in LA’s chinatown area, stop by. it’ll make you wish the chinese restaurants around here carried french dips.