Philpipe The Original, opened in 1908, is one of the oldest continuously operating restaurants in Los Angeles. The restaurant also claims to be the inventor of the French Dip Sandwich.
The owner Philippe Mathieu, immigrated from France to New York in 1901 and moved to LA in 1903. In 1908 he opened Philippe restaurant where he served roast beef, roast pork, roast lamb, liver pate, and blood sausage. In 1951, the restaurant moved to its present location at 1001 N. Alameda Avenue.
There are a few different stories of how the French Dip actually came to be. The website proclaims that 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," Originally, Mathieu referred to this as a dip sandwich. The restaurant was colloquially known as Frenchy's, which eventually developed into a French dip sandwich.
The style of Philippe's is a traditional delicatessen-type sit down restaurant, having old-fashioned traditions such as rows of tables being shared by several parties.
We went on a Sunday afternoon and the restaurant was packed. We waited in a line ten deep in front of the counter. It was a slightly mayhem because there were a lot of large families and different family members would stand in multiple lines. It deceivingly made the lines longer than they were. After about 25 minuets we arrived at the counter and gave our order to the waitress and watched while she made our sandwich. We ordered a beef french dip with swiss cheese, cole slaw, and a lemonade and iced tea. Meals are served cafeteria-style on paper plates so we had to carry our meals on trays while we searched for a table. We finally found a spot upstairs at the end of a table. As a warning, there are jars of hot mustard on each table. Go easy on this, it's like wasabi and goes straight to the nose :)
In addition to their main attraction of French Dip sandwiches, other old-fashioned foods are served, including freshly made soups, beef stew, baked apples, and pickled pigs. Jars of purple pickled eggs are arrayed on the counter. Healthier menu items, such as turkey sandwiches and salads are also on the menu.
The atmoshpere at Phillipe's is great and the food is historic. Even though they make the sandwiches fairly quickly you can tell there is a lot of love in each one. It is definitely a must do when you're in LA!