Home of the French Dip Sandwich

By Kurt Ibaraki

While spending some time looking for something to watch, I stumbled across an episode of Man vs. Food; this one happened to take place in Los Angeles. As I watched Adam Richman enter his first location, he reminded me of a restaurant from my childhood. Back when I used to live in Montebello, California, I played for a youth basketball team. Our games would be played in various parts of Los Angeles so my family and I would go eat at various restaurants afterwards. While I fondly remember those days, one memory stands out more than the others. That memory was when we visited a place called Philippe the Original on the corner of Alameda Street and Ord Street.

Known as one of the oldest restaurants in Southern California, Philippe the Original’s specialty item is the French Dip sandwich. The French dip consists of meats such as pork, chicken, beef, or even lamb, served on a French roll that has been dipped in au jus sauce, or drippings of the cooked meat. The restaurant is named after its owner Philippe Mathieu, who is said to have created the French dip. Legend has it that Philippe was serving a policeman when he accidently dropped the roll into a pan of beef drippings. The police officer took the roll anyways and it became a hit. In addition to the French dip, Philippe the Original has an assortment of other delicious food, such as breakfast items, potato salad, chili, soups, pies, and cakes.

Over the weekend, I decided to revisit Philippe the Original. With my roommate and his visiting cousins, we went down to Alameda Street around 5 p.m. to get our hands on these sandwiches. When we walked in, the first thing we saw was the unorthodox way of ordering. There were about ten lines throughout the entire restaurant, separated by dining tables. The lines were long, as the customers waited for their food at the register. We waited for about 50 minutes just to get to the front. When we got to the front, we ordered pork and beef French dips, with a side of chili and potato salad. Philippe the Original has three levels of au jus servings, single dip, double dip, and wet, so everyone can get their perfect sandwich. We all got the double dip.

Because we were really hungry at this point, we finished our meal in about 10 minutes. Out of the two sandwiches, I preferred the beef, but the pork was almost as equally good. The French roll dipped in the au jus really brought out the flavor of the meat, and my sudden craving for Philippe was fulfilled. The chili I had was pretty standard, and was a nice compliment to the French dip sandwich. Like most great meals, I was sad that it was over, but I am looking forward to going back soon. I cannot wait to try their lamb and chicken sandwiches, as well as some of their desserts. I also cannot wait to take some more friends along to experience a taste of Los Angeles history.

Featured image by Thomas Hawk on Flickr

Kurt is a rising Senior majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Health Care Studies. He was born in Los Angeles, but moved to Yorba Linda. Kurt loves to meet new people and learn about their unique stories. In his free time, Kurt loves to go to the gym, play basketball, dragonboat, and watch TV.