Name: Philippe the Original
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Meal: French Dip Sandwich, Potato Salad, Pickles, Pie, and Lemonade
Type: Sandwich Shop
Sandwiches, done well, tend to simple, wholesome meals. Philippe’s has primarily been making sandwiches for 100 years; they have mastered the simple and wholesome. Located in Los Angeles on the edge of Chinatown, Philippe’s is a restaurant for the everyman. Regards of who you may be outside the restaurant inside you stand in line and order from the counter just like everyone else. You pay for your food, in cash, and make your way to a shared table often asking your neighbor to pass a bottle of mustard. The reward for checking your ego at the door is a meal that is on many levels satisfying.
The origins of the french dip are debated back and forth but what is important is that it is delicious. Meat is roasted in the oven, sliced thin, and served up a roll which is dunked in au jus at the last moment. The finishing touch of the sandwich is applied at the table when you apply the homemade hot mustard. They warn that the mustard is hot and they are not lying, it is a warming horseradish hot not a spicy, pepper burn hot. I opted for the original roast beef though you can have turkey, lamb, pork, or ham (lamb was a tempting choice). Rounding out the meal you can add a number of different sides: salads (potato, macaroni, or cole slaw), pickles (eggs,pigs feet, olives, etc.), and desserts. I decided that potato salad, two gherkin pickles, and a slice of blackberry pie would make me quite happy. The potato salad was good, soft but not mushy, enough salt with a touch of sweetness, and with a creaminess to counteract the hot mustard of the sandwich.
All together, my lunch at Philippe’s was one of my more memorable in California though as I was just coming off a five-day battle with food poisoning my standards may have been a little off. I know this was a great meal regardless, it had all the benchmarks. History? Check. Simple menu? Check. Diverse clientele? Check. Value? Check. All the things that make for a great lunch spot are there in abundance at Philippe the Original.
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