Recession Obsession: French Dipping Like It's 1909 at Philippe's

Recession Obsession: French Dipping Like It's 1909 at Philippe's by Caleb Bacon
Pork French Dip With Swiss, Pre-Spicy French Mustard

The Official Recession has enveloped us for sixteen official months. It’s still no reason we can’t enjoy life. This is LA — we have a ton of inexpensive options! A Recession Obsession is truly fantastic, regardless of whether times are good or you've recently been downsized. We last obsessed over some ramen on the West Side, and some real inexpensive Guatemalan fast food. Today, we obsess...

Many call Philippe’s an “institution.” But is it really? Let’s run it through The LAist Institution Qualification Test:

  • Has it been around longer than The Grove? Check. 1901.
  • Does it have a signature dish? Check. The french dip sandwich.
  • Is the venue unique? Check. There’s sawdust all over the floor.
  • Does everyone have an opinion on the place? Check. Over 600 reviews on Yelp.
Philippe’s surely is an institution (LAist has been here before for breakfast.) This institution happens to be priced perfectly for these tough times. Their signatures sandwiches (of beef, ham, pork, lamb or turkey) are $5-$6 each (the lamb being the only over $6.) Most drinks are under a dollar too. That’s why Philippe’s is LAist’s latest Recession Obsession.


LA's Sandwich

Phillippe's menu goes far beyond the french dip. Most of it's pretty cheap too. The glass counter reveals inflated pies which seem to smile at you. A slice is about $3. You can have that hunking slice but it may push your bill over $10 -- you don't want that. You know you've got late bills. Perhaps you want macaroni salad, some cole slaw, or boiled eggs. These old school fixings aren't expensive, and, while we come here for LA's most storied sandwich, the best thing Phillippe's has to offer may be a free condiment.

Set atop each table, ready to blast your sandwich, are squirt bottles of Phillippe's own spicy french mustard. The spice can make you sweat, but when used sparingly it provides a complimentary burst of color that will have you fighting your friend for the bottle. This addictive stuff is good enough to take home. You can for $3.50/bottle.

Phillippe's, The Original?

The french dip sandwich does not hail from Eiffel Tower's home. This delectable French Roll-encased-meat-dunked-in-au jus (hot juice) was conceived (and born) in Downtown Los Angeles. Where downtown is the question. Phillippe's claims to have created this dipped sandwich in a delicious happy accident. Cole's, another downtown eatery, claims this meaty creation was their doing. Congrats to whomever it really was, LAist thanks you both for your wallet-friendly culinary service.

  • Philippe's Chinatown-ish | 1001 N Alameda Street | Los Angeles 90012 | (213) 628-3781

Photos by Caleb Bacon for LAist

Are you a big dipper or a little dipper? Comment below!