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Needin' A Beefy French Dip

Okay, help me here - I've a serious craving going on for a French Dip. A good-size pile of thin-sliced roast beef, on a roll that's tender enough to soak-up the jus but firm enough not to fall into squishy muckiness. And an au jus that's rich and fragrant and salty but not too salty ... . Darn, now I'm drooling.

I've had Phillipe's - not thrilled (both times I ended-up with more gristle than meat). Hope to find something in the Pasadena area, but I'll drive if it's worth it.

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  1. Coles. Downtown on 6th and Main. The first and the best.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rednyellow

      With all due respect there has GOT TO BE a better french dip sandwich than Cole's. I like atmopshere as much as the next guy but this place just seemed dirty, and not in a good way.

      Last time I went to Phillipe's (over the holidays) I had a lamb double dip and it had a surprizing amount of gristle. I still ate it, and I liked it enough to go back (again and again), but it was noticable.

      I've been thinking about Gelsons too as over the holidays I saw that carving station and the roast beef looked FAB. I imagine it would make a tremedous sandwich if they can get the bread right.

      1. re: Pate

        Coles certainly has a "unique" atmosphere. Perhaps Bukowskiesque at best but I've yet to find a better french dip sandwich. I'd love to though. There are plenty of great steak or prime rib sands. around town like Houstons and Tam O'Shanter, but for a traditional french dip, I'm sticking to Coles until someone tells me of a better one to try.

    2. Houston's Restaurant
      (626) 577-6001

      Houston's Pasadena branch for their prime rib french dip sandwich with their hot horseradish sauce on the side.

      320 S Arroyo Pkwy
      Pasadena, CA 91105

      2 Replies
        1. re: tony michaels

          I second Houston's best french dip I've ever tasted. YUMMY!!!

        2. How about The Hat? When I'm in the mood, nothing is quite like the Roast Beef with gravy and an order of their chili fries.

          Or maybe try the Barney's Beanery that just opened up in Pasadena.



          1. Not a french dip per se but, I guarantee you'll be more than satisfied: http://www.esmdeli.com/

            1 Reply
            1. re: JAB

              Totally agree...forget those other places when you need a sandwich. I usually get the meat plate and the owner's son usually throws in a roll anyway..enough for two sandwiches.

            2. Houston's' French Dip is very good, but the slightly different version at Bandera in WLA is even better. Lightly grilled and softer bread than Houston's, and the meat tends to be more tender as well. Pricey for a FD ,but well worth it and the shoestring fries are great too

              1. I second Houston's. They also have awesome fries and slaw. My favorite though is the French Dip at The Palm, which seems to be a floating lunch special. If you can get there on a day that they are serving it, it is the best - made from their prime rib from the previous night. Amazing!

                Phillippe's is so overrated it hurts. ©

                1. Another vote for Houstons. pricey, but excellent.

                  1. As others have said, Houstons. Consistently great. Fries and slaw are awesome, too.

                    1. I'll add to the Houston's partisans.

                      Pretty good, but not quite on that level, are the ones at Champagne Bakery Cafe. They added it to their menu in the past 6 months or so, at least at the store I go to in Irvine. Actually, I'm not sure if the other locations across the chain serve FD or not, but give a try.

                      1. Thanks to all who've replied - I'll be checking out Houston's for lunch tomorrow and shall gladly (I trust) report back.

                        On a semi-related note, I was looking on-line for a copy of the Houston's menu to no avail - ended-up at hillstone.com (parent company), but they don't seem to have menus. Frustrating.

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Ugh - I keep forgetting about that site. Many thanks. (Is it reasonable to assume that the menu is pretty much the same/prices close for the Pasadena location?)

                            1. re: ElsieDee

                              Yeah, I think that would be reasonable. Menus are pretty uniform across all Houston's.


                              P.S. I still prefer The Hat, however ...

                        1. Tam O'Shanter Inn for a prime rib sandwich from the ale and sandwich bar. They also serve roast beef.

                          1. Just moved to L.A. but I have been to Houston's and I'm sure there are diners that have good french dip, but Houston's is one where you want to make an immediate return trip to order the sando again.

                            1. Gelson's in Silverlake has a steam tray with tri-tip roast that is GREAT and they will make a sandwich with it. I usually just get horseradish but you can get au jus which I bet is great and any other condiments you like. I just decided I have to have one right now. I wonder what time they start serving?

                              1. i had a friend recommend langer's in macarthur park. she said the au jous was inky and delicious.

                                1. Sorry. Houston's is a mostly bland, dreadful corporate chain.
                                  Phillippe's is a classic, an institution that's endured for decades. For a reason. They do make the best dips in town.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: JPomer

                                    Philippe's is a $5 sandwich, and Houston's is a $16 sandwich. It's silly to compare the two.

                                    I've had the FD at Houston's. It's pretty good, actually, but 3 from Philippe's would be far more satisfying, with a healthy dollop of mustard on each.

                                    I really want to like Cole's, but I've never been able to chew the meat they serve. I've tried it several times, and it's basically been an inedible (and unchewable) mass of meat-flecked fat. I shouldn't need a fork and knife to eat my sandwich.