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LA DOwntown: Phillipe's, Langer's, and other

  • m

old school diners, coffeehouses which has good selections of food, and good delis-
where is your favorite?

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  1. Add to that list Cole's, and The Pantry.
    Phillipe's is my personal favorite for sentimental reasons. I don't think any of their food is that great but atmosphere can't be beat.

    21 Replies
    1. re: cls

      Cole's is M.I.A. right now, and I doesn't sound like what will return - managed by bar magnate Cedd Moses, menu overseen with Grace's Neal Fraser - will really count as the real Cole's. It will be the grass-fed, herb-crusted, soy-glazed gourmet version of Cole's. Not like what was hanging around at the end was all that wonderful, but it's a bit of a leap, going from Salvation Army to Salvatore Ferragamo.

      1. re: Woolsey

        Much to my and countless COLE'S PE BUFFET fans' bitter lament, the COLE'S as we knew it, will be history where once it was historic. Many folks, the esteemed Jonathan Gold among them, preferred their version of their French Dip to the more popular and easily accessible PHILLIPE'S. It's a sad irony that COLE'S location is what is ultimately leading to its demise as everyone and their mom is redeveloping downtown.

        Anyway, PACIFIC DINING CAR, just west of downtown over the 110 on 6th is far from value-priced but, it is old school, traditional and, IMHO, they serve up the best steaks and roast beef hash in the city.

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        Pacific Dining Car
        1310 W 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90017

        1. re: Kris P Pata

          If I had to choose between the two sandwiches, I'd have to go for Philippe's. It was just so much more flavorful than the Cole's sandwich was, both with the meat and the jus. It's just a part of that neverending rivalry between Philippe's and Cole's; everyone is a partisan. That being said, one didn't have to wolf down the Cole's French dip relatively quicky to avoid its becoming in edible mush of beef-flavored gluten in a matter of minutes as happens with Philippe's, and Cole's sandwich with the side of jus is the in the style most associate with the classic French dip presentation.

          I'm not sure how to read "easily accessible" with Philippe's (Do you mean the food or the locale?) and the remark about Cole's location. After all, Cole's location is hot now with loft developers, but they had long languished down under the street, on the "wrong side" of Main, away from the tourist and office worker traffic that kept Philippe's vibrant.

          The main section of Cole's cannot be altered because it's a city historic landmark, but Moses can rework the annexed portions beyond. I imagine he will try to clone that old bar feel, but you can't just clone that. My biggest fear is walking into Cole's and seeing it turned into some sort of gourmet "historic" Bennigan's or TGI Friday's. The thought saddens me greatly (even if I am in Camp Philippe's). Even if the room looks much like it did when it closed, I doubt that old group of regulars will be hanging around the bar after it's turned into Downtown's newest hipster hang, and can one really consider it Cole's without them?

          1. re: Woolsey

            I meant "accessible" as in locale. PHILLIPE'S, as mentioned below, has its own parking, multiple entrances and far more seating. You hit it on the dot about COLE'S being on the "wrong side of main" and my irony comment was directed at the new downtown boom. The hope was that it would lead to a rediscovering of the area and the venue. Instead, it got priced out. And I couldn't agree with you more about it becoming a "hipstoric" TGI Bennigan's. Egad.

            1. re: Kris P Pata

              Agreed on locale. I think Philippe's was also more accessible foodwise, having a bigger menu and one more suited to a lunch crowd. The hot food lunch buffet at Cole's suffered under the heat lamps, waiting for a crowd that, too many days, did not come, and it looked more unappetizing than it likely would have been had it been served up fresh from the kitchen.

              I won't miss the bad smell on the tables. I won't miss the soggy cabbage. I won't miss the bad things about Cole's - it wasn't all wonderful. But in a city where the detractors say history is constantly torn down, Cole's was a real piece of history. I would much rather see a very nice, careful restoration than this rather disturbing-sound renovation/revamp that sounds like it's going to produce some sort of erstaz Cole's.

              Still, I guess we should wait and see...

              1. re: Woolsey

                Only went to Cole's once, and couldn't get past the fact that it smelled like a public restroom. Also, one of the best things about Phillipe's is the blazing hot mustard, which was obviously missing.

                1. re: David Kahn

                  OH! That is one vital piece of important information for a pleasant dining! NO eating place should ever resemble where the output goes:namely public restroom

          2. re: Kris P Pata

            I always preferred Phillipe's to Cole's, but it is really sad that Cole's is gone.

            The back room of Cole's had table tops made from sides of the old Red Cars. That's what they looked like, unless they were reproductions. If they were originals, I sure hope that LA Conservancy steps in to make sure that they're properly maintained somehow.

            As to access, Phillipe's does have all that easy-access parking, while Cole's is across from a bus terminal.

            1. re: slacker

              I forgot where I read it, but the back room apparently is NOT a part of the protected structure. The management has the right to make whatever changes they like to that part of the restaurant they please.

              1. re: Woolsey

                Since tabletops are not fixtures, hopefully they'll be saved. I guess if they had to have one room to destroy, the back room would be the one to be sacrificed.
                Wonder what they're going to do with all the photos of movie and tv shoots.

                Sure hope the new place will serve up food that will make us feel: okay this place invaded the space of the oldest restaurant in downtown Los Angeles, but the food is great and we'll actually come to this location more often now.

              2. re: slacker

                OK-- everyone- I am confused and probably has not caught up with this yet- but is COLE's GONE???

                1. re: miffy

                  Yes and no.

                  Cole's shut down in mid-March for renovation. When it reopens, it will be managed by Cedd Moses of 213 Ventures, the company behind the Golden Gopher, Broadway Bar, and Seven Grand bars in Downtown. (He's also taken over managing Casey's according to Downtown News.) Moses has Neal Fraser of Grace and BLD consulting on a new menu for Cole's; the French dips are going upscale, with "braised meats, prime rib and artisanal mustards," according to a Variety article.

                  http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layo...

                  I don't doubt it won't taste nice, and that we will have to pay the price for that, and for Moses' respectful-but-sterile retro patina, as applied to the likes of the Golden Gopher. Still, it sort of strikes me the same as if Roscoe's decided to replace the chicken and waffles with guinea fowl and crêpes...

                  1. re: Woolsey

                    hmmm.. so it may as well be a completely new restaurant at that point

              3. re: Kris P Pata

                hmm.. thank you for the reply! I should try both COLE's and Philippe's I had tried Pacific Dining Car in Santa Monica, but was not so impressed with their sandwitch- but did not go for a steak!

            2. re: cls

              Thank you for the addition to the list! yes those I always hear about too- but again I am guessing that all others also have paralelling great atomosphere- who has the most variety on the menu???

              1. re: miffy

                Explain variety. Most are the types of places that will ignore, insult, or kick you out if you order off the menu, but you asked for old school.
                I wouldn't really call any but Langer's a deli. If you want variety, is Clifton's still open?

                1. re: cls

                  Clifton's is still there, alive and kicking.

                  1. re: cls

                    yeah, I was wondering about the Cliftons-- is it still open? Variety: more items on the menu for eveyone and everyone's taste- like Jerry's have so much on their menu you will find something whether it will taste great or not- or a big CHinese food menu- seems to have every kind of meat from beef, pork, chicken etc etc--

                2. re: cls

                  One afternoon, we went to both to compare while everything was top of mind. Cole's first, then walked over to Phillipe's to build up appetite.

                  In our book, Cole's won the sheer coolness factor of the divey bar and nostalgia of the back room.

                  I thought the beef was equivalent that day, I've had both better and worse at Cole's. The bread I liked more at Coles. But Phillipe's mustard definitely pushed it over the edge.

                  Phillipe's is definitely more in your face with the lines and service. Still, I love going there before a Dodger game.

                  Bottom line, having both around would be better. Neither one is better than the other in my opinion, just different.

                  1. re: Jase

                    Suggest checking out Yorkshire Grill if you like the retro factor. Not necessarily for French Dip.

                    1. re: Jase

                      I suppose I just have to wait until Cole's opens back again- but I guess all will change

                  2. not a deli, but love the taquitos on the corner/end of Olvera Street and then of course there is grand central market

                    1. Yorkshire Grill on Sixth. Matzo Ball soup, baby.

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                      Yorkshire Grill
                      610 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90017

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: mlgb

                          I have not heard of this place yet as I hardly get to downtown but I must try them! I will be checking their menu out ;) Thanks for the recommendation!

                          1. re: mlgb

                            oh, it is just that I need some place for Saturday after 6 PM...

                          2. I'd add the Eastside Market: (http://www.esmdeli.com ) to the list. Also, every once in a while, there's good buzz about Farmer Boys over on Alameda (http://www.farmerboys.com/ ), but I haven't tried it yet so can't say if it's really any good. (And, it's part of a chain, if you care about such things.

                            )

                            -----
                            Eastside Market
                            1013 Alpine St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

                            Farmer Boys
                            726 S Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90021

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: David Kahn

                              The #7, hot pastrami and roast beef, at Eastside is far and away the most popular sandwich, but don't overlook their cold sandwiches. They're also a big draw on Tues and Thurs when they have pasta and lasagna...I'm not sure why, though, since it's average at best.

                              Farmer Boys is a big, hearty chain that does a good breakfast and their signature burger is a meal in itself: 2 1/4 lb patties, guac, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato...by far my favorite fast food burger. Takes a little longer though. I'd consider the Farmer Boys on the outskirts of downtown.

                              1. re: MeAndroo

                                wow! Both Eastside and Farmer Boys sounds GREAT!!! Thank you guys!

                                1. re: MeAndroo

                                  that is a burger that seems to have everything

                                2. re: David Kahn

                                  I second the Eastside Market, great italian sandwiches especially the number 7, hot roast beef and pastrami with cooked peppers, cheese and marinara sauce.

                                3. Phillipe's.
                                  Roasted pork and blue cheese French dip.
                                  Before a Dodgers' game.
                                  Heaven.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: madametart

                                    unless you get the skybox ticket! They has steak dinner and dessert to follow with all you can drink-- and the food was not bad

                                  2. Not a Langer's, Phillipes, etc by any stretch of the imagination but...Ralph's Fresh Fare on 9th & Flower. Available sandwiches include hand carved Tri Tip, Prime Rib and a greater selection of deli-foods than anywhere downtown. Amazing variety. Wine tastings late afternoon and evening with a small walk-in wine cellar. You won't believe it until you see it.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Fesdwino

                                      can you just get a seat there to eat??

                                    2. With this delicious discussion of Phillippe's, Cole's, Eastside Market, and even Langer's, I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't remind folks of Nick's, up on Spring a bit northeast of downtown and Chinatown. U-shaped counter with some tables along the walls, good breakfasts and burgers, and maybe the best ham in L.A.