Food is, of course, a necessity. But it is also undeniably an art. And as an art, the quality of any meal is a function of not only the food itself, but the context in which it is consumed.
Which leads us to the French Dip.
An L.A. invention, the French Dip is a part of this city’s DNA, and the subject of decades of debate and oneupsmanship. And while there may well be a “first” French Dip, we do not believe there is necessarily a “best” French Dip. All five of the options you’ll find below are venerable in their own right, and vitally, each provides a unique experience that serves to heighten the meal.
Eventually, you should try them all — though not in the same week, if you know what’s good for you.
Philippe The Original
Often imitated, never duplicated. While there has been much debate about who invented the French Dip, there is no debate when it comes down to quality. Philippe’s has the superior French Dip, with thinly cut beef that quite frankly tastes better. Long live the king.
Cole’s French Dip
They say nobody remembers second place. And while that might be true in the Olympics, Cole’s shouldn’t be tossed aside like some also-ran. Cole’s is a historical landmark, as it is LA’s oldest continuously operated restaurant, and happens to be a fine place to get a drink. The sandwich will always have a (second) place in history next to famous bridesmaids like the Buffalo Bills, Ken Rosewall and Wes Mantooth and the Evening News Team.
The Original Farmer’s Market carries with it a divisive opinion. For some, it’s an LA treasure filled with character and great food. For others it’s an extension of the suburban hellscape that is the Grove. However, we can all agree that Magee’s is much more the former than the latter. Operating in LA for over 100 years and the oldest stall in the market, their French Dip isn’t mentioned with the Philippe’s and Cole’s of the world, but it should be. And if your stomach starts to wander and you’re looking for something a little more corned beef, reuben or pastrami-like, this is the place to be.
The Little Next Door
There is little about the French that suggests they would approve of such a dish like the French Dip, until you walk into The Little Next Door. A Francophile’s dream, Little Next Door looks like it was ripped right off a Parisian boulevard, with more than a few staff members who not only play the part, but speak the language as well. And on their traditional French menu is an excellent rendition of the humble French Dip.
What would a list like this be without a traditional Jewish Deli? The James Beard-winning spot has been open for over 60 years, and knows more than a thing or two about cured meats between two slices of bread. Here, we recommend the pastrami French Dip, and do not skimp on the mustard. Gulden’s mustard is an institution in its own right.
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