Philippe the Original | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Philippe the Original

photo by Anne Fishbein

Philippe the Original is mainly billed as the birthplace of the French dip sandwich, and there’s no doubt that’s quite an achievement (though if you ask the folks over at Cole’s, they’ll claim the honor for themselves). But what we find so endearing about Philippe’s, so wonderful, so … essential, is the sensation of wandering, through some kind of time warp, into L.A. circa 1910. Philippe’s opened in 1908 and has added some modern amenities in its 107 years: There are a few neon signs behind the counter along with the wooden ones, and late last year they even started accepting credit cards. But the experience of standing in line, ordering your sandwich and having the meat carved in front of you (go for lamb, double-dipped), then finding a place in the massive dining room, is unchanged. Early in the morning this is a great place to find a kind of club for old-timers and municipal workers, and the breakfast is unbelievably cheap. The whole place oozes a down-and-dirty charm, the true vintage soul of Los Angeles.— Besha Rodell