I figured that if I would review P.E. Cole’s, I might as well review the far better known and still venerable Philippe’s, which also claims itself as the inventor of the French Dip sandwich.
Situated across the street from Union Station in the Chinatown neighborhood of downtown Los Angeles, Philippe’s has been satisfying hungry travelers, Dodger fans, Chinatown tourists, and the downtown LA blue collar and white collar lunch crowd alike for decades. The one advantage that Phillipe’s has over Cole’s is that it has parking in addition to metro accessibility from Union Station.
There is no table or waiter service, all ordering is done at the counter and seating is cafeteria style in multiple large rooms. Not fancy at all, Philippe’s still has sawdust on the floor.
The menu variety is wide and relative inexpensive. One is not limited to a classic beef dip but has the option of a ham, turkey, pastrami, lamb, or pork dip as well. Philippe’s also serves breakfast.
Patrons should not fear getting adventurous or committing cultural offenses. Blue cheese on a Philippe’s beef French Dip is a perfectly welcome Angelino custom. If you enjoy a kick, try out the hot mustard for your French Dip. And for those who enjoy desert, one will not be disappointed by the wide selection of pies.
A pro-tip: always tip the person behind the counter who takes your order. Although they do not bus your table, they do make your sandwich for you and prepare your order.