Philippe’s (pronounced Phil-ee-peez) claims to have invented the French dip sandwich over a hundred years ago. The story is that a carver accidentally dropped a sliced roll in beef gravy and the customer was in too much of a hurry to wait for another roll to be cut and more beef to be sliced. So he took the sandwich “wet.” Today Philippe’s makes French dips from beef, pork, lamb, ham, or turkey. Beef is the classic, available single-dipped or, for serious juice-lovers, double-dipped.
The French dip sandwiches are delicious as delivered at the counter, but connoisseurs know to slather them with Philippe’s roaring-hot mustard. The menu also lists such stalwart lunch room fare as chili and stew and a hearty soup every day; and you can still come to this old joint to eat pickled spiced eggs, which are hard boiled and displayed at the carving counter in big glass jars.
Philippe’s is worth visiting just for its people-watching opportunities. While it does attract its share of culinary tourists, the it also hosts a cast of only-in-Los-Angeles characters. Not the beautiful people who flock to the hot restaurant of the moment, the regular cadre of customers includes municipal employees from the nearby post office and court house as well as Santa Anita touts with racing forms in hand (or on their cell phones).