Good Plain Food Since 1908

Philippe’s Dipped Roast Beef Sandwich with Pickled Egg

Martine has always liked good plain food, preferably old-fashioned American chow. There are fewer and fewer places which serve that type of food. One of the best is Philippe’s The Original, which sits at the corner of Alameda and Ord at the edge of Chinatown and just a few steps north of Olvera Street and its Mexican restaurants. Also, it is within walking distance of Union Station.

Philippe’s was opened 114 years ago and has been popular from the first. Whenever there is a home game at nearby Dodger Stadium, the lines could run out the front door. On any given day, you can find policemen, firemen, railroad employees, and God only knows. Everyone could use a great sandwich. Once Martine was there when there were even a bunch of Contra Costa County cops from Northern California chowing down on Philippe’s famous single-dipped roast beef sandwiches.

Philippe’s Restaurant

At a time when there are any number of “creative” chefs building little towers of unlikely ingredients into tasteless messes, it is good to find a place that knows how to (1) keep it simple and (2) keep it tasty.

I do not share Martine’s requirement for simple food, my preferences being Asian and Mexican; but I do appreciate having a restaurant in town where I can take her without giving her a pain in the tum. And I actually like their food, too.

In East Los

Downtown L.A. as Seen from East Los Angeles

Today, I drove Martine to her ophthalmologist in East Los Angeles. As she is on MediCal, her doctors are not always conveniently located. I don’t mind, however, partly because I find East L.A. (colloquially: East Los) to be a fascinating neighborhood. And the Adventist Health Care Center on Cesar Chavez Avenue seems to be well run. (It is a far cry from the Budapest Hospital I visited in 1977, where patients and staff smoked incessantly and dogs roamed the corridors.)

First I took Martine out for lunch at Philippe’s French Dip Sandwiches on Alameda, just at the fringe of Chinatown. The place has been in business since 1908 and is still very much a going concern. In fact, we had to wait in a 30-minute line to place our order. But my beef stew and Martine’s French dip beef sandwich were both winners.

It turned out to be a hot afternoon: 93º Fahrenheit, 34º Celsius. I set in the Adventist Health Center’s ground floor waiting room, enjoying the air conditioning while waiting for Martine’s tests to be performed. In the meantime, I read Ted Lewis’s British noir classic Jack’s Return Home, on which the 1971 film by Mike Hodges called Get Carter was based.