Philippes: Home of the Original French Dipped Sandwich

Located right near Union Station and Olvera St, Philippes has been serving the French Dip sandwich since they created it over 100 years ago. This corner restaurant has solidified its place in LA history with its constant flow of customers, insane word of mouth and its basic menu and prices. Philippe’s knows what it is doing, and what it is doing is creating killer sandwiches, read on for my review.

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Details

  • Hours: 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily
  • Most crowded between the hours of 11:30 am and 1:30 pm Monday through Friday and on weekends
  • Here is the menu

History

Phillipes Old Picture

Image from philippes.com

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. Philippe’s was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the “French Dipped Sandwich.” One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the “French Dipped Sandwich,” so-called either because of Mathieu’s French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on or because the officer’s name was French. The answer is lost to history.

The Restaurant

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This unassuming restaurant seems like it would be small from the outside but when you enter you realize how big it really is. That doesn’t mean there is space though, when I arrived there was 8 lines of about 10 people each all waiting to order and almost no empty tables. As you know this is a good sign. I was happy to get in line and wait my turn as I looked at the menu.

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One of the first things you notice is that the menu has a lot of cheap stuff on it. Tea itself is only 75 cents and the sandwiches are around 6 dollars. They really have tried to maintain the old feel with the cheap prices for a lot of their food and drinks.

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They also have sawdust on the floor which was a staple of the original restaurant and helped to soak up spills on the cement floor, now it is just a part of the history. Along with that they have a small store that sells everything from clothing to candy and is a great way to buy a souvenir if you are interested in one.

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The Food

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Really, it should come as no surprise that the food here is good. It has been around for over 100 years, if they didn’t know what they were doing it would not have lasted that long. I had the french dip with potato salad and it was an amazing sandwich. It’s unique to see the person that you order from make the sandwich right there in behind the counter and hand it to you without missing a beat or stepping away from the counter.

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I would have to say for me though the highlight was the mustard. They make it fresh every week and man is it spicy, just the way I like it. It really was a great addition to the french dipped sandwich. They also had a jar of pickled eggs that the man next to me seemed to be enjoying, but I did not partake in them.

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All in all I think Philippe The Original is a great places to have a meal. It is fun to dine in the history that this place has created, while still having a sandwich that you will want to tell your family about. Check it out for yourself and leave a comment below.

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  • I love this place! Friends and I will catch the train into town for a Dodgers game. Grab food here afterwards then hop back on the train. And as you said, the food there is amazing.