When you visit a new city, aside from being a tourist and visiting the local attractions you MUST visit some of that city’s oldest and most respected eating establishments. That is exactly what we did during our recent visit to the Los Angeles area. Philippe The Original, one of the city’s oldest and most known restaurants welcomed us with open arms.
We walked in as guests but left out with an experience that will last a lifetime. Managing Partner and family member, Andrew Binder shared with us this history of Philippe’s. Philippe’s was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the “French Dipped 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.” Fast forward 80 years and “The French Dipped” is still one of the biggest sellers along with the 65-cent iced tea and 75-cent lemonade. Some other customer favorite sandwiches include the Pastrami Dip, which is fairly new but a hot commodity and the Lamb Dip. The sides that don’t go unnoticed include the potato salad, kosher pickles, beef stew and the very vibrant hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice and spices.
The way the service works is just as interesting as the menu. There is a long display counter with 10 servers, (referred to as “Carvers”), many of which have been working at Philippe’s well over 20 years. Each Carver has everything she needs to prepare your meal. You get into one of the 10 lines, and when you reach your Carver, she can take care of your whole meal; make your sandwich or fix your hot dish, serve salads or soup, give you coffee or a glass of wine, add it all up and take your money. The plates are paper, the service is fast. There are ceiling fans, neon soft drink and beer signs, sawdust on the floor, a few booths and long wooden tables with stools. Seating is family style. It is not unusual to sit with people from all walks of life at the same table. There are press clippings and civic citations on the walls, and you can weigh yourself on the same scale that was used by Norman Rockwell for the Saturday Evening Post. You can make yourself at home.
Make sure you stop by and visit Philippe’s when your are in the area.