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Phillipe's or Cole's

selfportrait93 Mar 10, 2009 07:07 PM

I have tried Phillipe's several times and preferred the double dipped beef, pork and/or turkey together with the nasal cleansing mustard. However, I have never been to Cole's.
I was wondering if anyone has tried both and can provide a comparison on their french dip sandwiches.

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  1. p
    peterboy RE: selfportrait93 Mar 10, 2009 08:23 PM

    the double-dip turkey was great. I had it today, with a fat tire. but the mustard is pure masochism.

    1. rednyellow RE: selfportrait93 Mar 10, 2009 10:47 PM

      I much prefer Coles. I miss the old grungy Coles, but the new fancy version is good and much better than Phillipes

      1 Reply
      1. re: rednyellow
        flyingpigeonLA RE: rednyellow Sep 8, 2009 06:56 PM

        Phillipes has great rice pudding! Cole's now is a bit high end experience for a french dip. It's just the way of the modern world that it seems the haves are co opting cuisine that was typically for the have nots. Phillipes is great for the cultural and social aspect. Sitting elbow to elbow between a lawyer and city road worker while the 80 year chinese men discuss the news across from the 70 year latino mean makes for great ambience with meal at a decent price. Cole's is about double price for everything on their menu compared to Phillipes. Guess someone has to pay for the recent renovation!

      2. sku RE: selfportrait93 Mar 11, 2009 11:07 AM

        I vote Philippe's. Here's a recent thread:


        1. n
          nosh RE: selfportrait93 Mar 11, 2009 12:49 PM

          I may be the wrong person to comment: I like Philippe's, but I much prefer their pork or lamb dip sandwiches to the roast beef -- I find the former two much more moist and tasty. But I find all of Philippe's dips to have become chintzy and overpriced, with premeasured meat in most instances and not nearly enough to fill me up at lunch without a side and a big bowl of chili or stew. Cole's dip sandwich is considerably bigger and the roll is crustier, a lot more roast beef but more expensive, and to me it got a bit monotonous. It is also extremely expensive or inconvenient to try to park near Cole's for a weekday lunch. For me, the winner is option #3, Eastside Deli, off of Fig to the west of Chinatown for one of their huge, drippy hot beef and pastrami or meatball or sausage sandwiches -- now that is a tasty, filling, and good value lunch.

          6 Replies
          1. re: nosh
            malibumike RE: nosh Mar 11, 2009 04:06 PM

            Nosh: you are so right on, the lamb is good, the beef too dried out and I would have to have at least 2 to be satisfied. But like you said, just about a mile west of Philippe's is Eastside market and deli, my favorite is the #7 hot roast beef and pastrami with cooked peppers, marinara and cheese. I just wish John would relocate closer to me.

            1. re: malibumike
              monku RE: malibumike Mar 11, 2009 04:38 PM

              Is the #7 at Eastside the sandwich or hot plate?
              I usually get the hot plate with the hot beef and pastrami and they give include a roll for free. So I make a sandwich with the roll and there's plenty of meet to take home for another meal.

              1. re: monku
                malibumike RE: monku Mar 12, 2009 09:09 AM

                Good idea, I may try that, the #7 is the sandwich, the #8 is the plate.

                1. re: malibumike
                  monku RE: malibumike Mar 12, 2009 01:51 PM

                  Same price as the sandwich $6.80. Think they give you more meat on the plate, with all the stuff you mentioned.

            2. re: nosh
              pharmnerd RE: nosh Sep 28, 2010 03:19 PM

              "But I find all of Philippe's dips to have become chintzy and overpriced, with premeasured meat in most instances and not nearly enough to fill me up at lunch without a side and a big bowl of chili or stew."

              Had same experience recently. Beef dip had barely 1/2" of meat, so needed a Nong Shim afterwards. Hopefully things will return to normal when the recession lets up.

              1. re: pharmnerd
                monku RE: pharmnerd Sep 28, 2010 04:09 PM

                When there was no recession they bumped up the prices and maintained the meat portion. That's when they started losing me.

            3. Mr Taster RE: selfportrait93 Mar 11, 2009 01:06 PM

              I just tried the new Cole's and was totally impressed, both with the food and the renovation (it feels no less "old timey" inside, just cleaner and less shabby).

              They've clearly taken the time during the renovation to ratchet up the quality of the sandwiches.

              The roll is a substantial, dense, crusty, chewy thing and the meat was juicy and generously proportioned. Also, they've got their own equivalent of Philippe's sinus-blasting horseradish mustard, and it's just as good. Overall the price of the sandwich was a few bucks more (I believe it was about $8 for a lamb with bleu cheese) but very enjoyable and worth it. Oh, and the bacon potato salad was phenomenal... perfectly cooked potatoes and generous chunks of bacon. Superb.

              Mr Taster

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mr Taster
                nosh RE: Mr Taster Mar 11, 2009 02:03 PM

                Good report. Where did you park? Did you luck into a meter? Are they validating at a nearby lot? Valet? Or did you walk there or take DASH?

                1. re: nosh
                  Mr Taster RE: nosh Mar 11, 2009 02:15 PM

                  We spent the day in downtown LA-- took public transportation Fairfax area. We got hungry and I remembered that Cole's had reopened, so we walked there.

                  Mr Taster

              2. o
                ohdaylay RE: selfportrait93 Mar 11, 2009 03:03 PM

                Phillipe's. That simple. Coles is more earthy, though. The flavor is a little deeper, but the taste of Phillipe's is cleaner. Really, you can't go wrong with either to be honest.

                1. c
                  ChineseChou RE: selfportrait93 Mar 13, 2009 12:20 PM

                  I'd have to vote for Cole's for the lamb dip at least. They were handcarving the lamb and it was perfectly cooked (pink) with great au jus. And the bacon potato salad was great too. Parking is not a problem because I work 3 blocks from Cole's.

                  Last time I went to Phillipes, I thought the beef was too salty.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ChineseChou
                    hellinkiller RE: ChineseChou Mar 13, 2009 01:04 PM

                    ok i guess it's off to cole's tonight for the lamb i've never been but i love the lamb at phillippe's so i gotta try cole's.

                  2. t
                    Texanrider RE: selfportrait93 Mar 17, 2009 12:16 PM

                    On Tuesday, March 10, 2009, my brother Jesse and I came to Cole’s Restaurant in downtown Los Angeles. Jesse is a native of southern California and had been ranting and raving about “The place that originated the French Dip Sandwich.” I have been living in Texas and eating French Dip sandwiches for years, and I had heard about Cole’s for years, so when I finally made it to Los Angeles after forty years of waiting and dreaming, there was only ONE place to go for lunch!

                    After paying several dollars to park nearby, we made our way to your restaurant. Although the place was not crowded at the time, we waited for several minutes before anyone greeted us or seated us. We ordered two beef French Dip sandwiches, one side order each, and drinks. The total of the bill came to over $40.00.

                    Imagine my surprise when my sandwich came and the beef was too tough to chew! The side orders and drinks were fine, but the main course-the much heralded French Dip Sandwich-was a HUGE disappointment. I managed to find a couple of small slices of meat that were edible, but the vast majority of the sandwich was left on the plate, untouched. When we pointed this out to an employee who identified himself as the manager, his only response was to blame the lack of quality on the kitchen and say, “Oh, well…maybe it will be better the next time you come.”

                    Let me assure you that, after my brother dropped nearly $50.00 on parking, sandwiches that were tougher than saddle leather, and a lackadaisical manager whose idea of placating a dissatisfied customer is a reference to (and a hope that) future visits will be better, there will not be a next time. With all due respect, the customer service sucks.

                    Cole’s may or may not have originated the French Dip Sandwich. The same claim is made by Philippe’s, and the point is really moot. But for the record, the French Dip Sandwich I had at Philippe’s the next day was incredible. When I return to Los Angeles next year, I will return to Philippe’s. Conversely, I will not only avoid Cole’s like a terminal illness, but I will encourage as many others as possible to do the same.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Texanrider
                      selfportrait93 RE: Texanrider Mar 17, 2009 01:00 PM

                      After reviewing all your responses, I came to the conclusion that I did not miss anything by not trying Cole's so far. I probably missed out on the disappointment.
                      Anyway, will continue to patronize Philippe's .

                      1. re: Texanrider
                        Mr Taster RE: Texanrider Mar 17, 2009 01:34 PM

                        Good god man, $50 for parking?? If meters were not available, there are tons of $3-$5/day parking lots scattered throughout downtown (particularly in Chinatown and, closer to Cole's, Little Tokyo), and for 25 cents per ride the DASH shuttle gets you where you need to go, cheaply and quickly.

                        I'm not sure if it's a local thing or not, but at Philippe's (and now Cole's) the thing to get has always been the lamb. I know from my time in the midwest that you guys are not big lamb eaters, and certainly in Texas the default meat is beef. But that doesn't mean you should order it here-- at Philippe's I've had very dry turkey, pork and beef French dips, but the lamb is always moist and tender. On my one recent visit to the revamped and renovated Cole's, the lamb was succulent as ever, with the added bonus of being on a crusty, chewy roll (whereas Philippe's serves up a much more limp, thin roll).

                        In addition, the quality of the side order we got (bacon potato salad) was extraordinary--chunky, perfectly cooked potato with generous pieces of bacon mixed in, with just the right amount of dressing-- not too thin or gloppy. It was leagues beyond the sort of church picnic quality stuff at Philippe's.

                        Now don't et me wrong, I love Philippe's and have enjoyed their lamb dips, cream pies, great prices and ambiance as a sort of neutral zone for all Angelenos for many years. But speaking strictly on quality of food, Cole's blew Philippe's out of the water.

                        Mr Taster

                        1. re: Mr Taster
                          a213b RE: Mr Taster Mar 17, 2009 03:05 PM

                          Just to point out, I read it as $50 for parking, food, etc altogether -- not $50 just for parking.

                      2. r
                        rftc2121 RE: selfportrait93 Mar 23, 2009 12:22 PM

                        I made a trip from the westside a few saturdays ago. Although the ultimate goal was drinks at Varnish, which we found out opens at 8pm, we arrived at 6 thirsty and in need of a bite. First, the drinks at Cole's were fantastic. Everything from the 1926 Cosmo to the Old Fashioned and Death in the Afternoon were expertly crafted by the bartendar and full of flavor. More importantly, the double dipped turkey sandwich was delicious. The meat, encased in sturdy roll, was moist and sliced to not too thick/not too thin. Finally, the decor is great. Unlike Phillipes which is great for a quick meal before a game or when I'm downtown, Cole's is built for the long haul. We spent two hours drinking and eating, and were as relaxed as can be.

                        If you add to that the fact that Varnish is encased in the rear of Cole's, there's really little reason to go to Phillipe's (outside of the parking situation which can be trying on Main street).

                        1. sweeterpea RE: selfportrait93 Mar 24, 2009 04:18 PM

                          We had beef double-dips at Phillipes and the beef was fresh and juicy -- wasn't expecting much, but I was very impressed. Someone next to me had the turkey and it looked dry. Lemonade was a pleasant suprise, it was very good as well. I'm a hearty eater and I would call the sandwiches medium-sized.

                          I'm picky about food and Phillipes was great. We would go back.

                          1. SilverlakeGirl RE: selfportrait93 Sep 28, 2010 05:01 AM

                            I prefer Philippe's. Lamb dip to be specific.

                            1. Midlife RE: selfportrait93 Sep 28, 2010 12:01 PM

                              After viewing the YouTube review by GBot................. Maybe Cole's originated the French Dip where you dip the sandwich, and Philippe originated the 'dipped' French Dip. I've never been to Cole's but the video shows the traditional sandwich served with a side of au jus. I HAVE been to Phillipe and they dip the bread in au jus as they put the sandwich together. Phillipe's method applies the au jus to the inside of the roll evenly and I really like the way they do it.

                              I've had the French Dip at Houston's/Rutherford Grill many times and it's served in the same way Cole's serves it. I love it at Rutherford Grille, but I think it's the quality of the meat and bread that does it for me there.

                              Not really fair to vote but my intuitive nod would go to Phillipe's, based on the video.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: Midlife
                                Mr Taster RE: Midlife Sep 28, 2010 02:35 PM

                                Props to GBot for putting it out there, but please don't be swayed by the video. He gave NO specific reasons for why the sandwich was better, other than the ample free parking. That's rather ridiculous. He didn't describe the quality of the meat, or the bread, or the potato salad other than to say it was chunky with a "buttery flavor" (I'm guessing he's referring to the bacon fat) and he was surprised by bacon. (What about the lamb, GBot??)

                                Since the renovation the quality of the food at Cole's has leapfrogged Philippe's. Bear in mind, I really do like both places. And I really want to like Philippe's more, simply because Philippe's is still real... whereas the hipster takeover of Cole's bothers me. However, a few years ago when Cole's was still "real", it was kind of a scary place, and the food sucked. So you've gotta make your choices in this world, and live with the consequences. The food at Cole's definitely better since the hipsters got their hands on it, and in this instance I'm willing to be uneasy bedfellows. Just please remove your tiny, trendy hat before coming indoors, please.

                                Philippe's side dishes are tasty (to varying degrees) but are strictly old school cafeteria fare. Cole's recipes have the distinct hallmarks of being touched by an actual chef. The potato salad is really, really good. The skin on potatoes are perfectly cooked and the smoky bacon adds a really nice contrast in flavor and chewy Q texture. Contrast this with Philippe's pasty, mayonnaise-y mash. The bread at Cole's is also far superior-- this is a hearty, chewy loaf that could actually stand up to a double dip, unlike Philippe's bread which basically disintegrates minutes after the double dip. The lamb itself is relatively comparable, though I've never gotten a mouthful of gristle at Cole's the way I have at Philippe's. (It's rare, but it has happened).

                                Again-- I LOVE PHILIPPE'S. But Cole's is just better. (And more expensive.)

                                Mr Taster

                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                  ipsedixit RE: Mr Taster Sep 28, 2010 03:25 PM

                                  "The bread at Cole's is also far superior-- this is a hearty, chewy loaf that could actually stand up to a double dip, unlike Philippe's bread which basically disintegrates minutes after the double dip."

                                  Therein lies the difference between C and P.

                                  For the P devotees, they actually *want* their bread to be limp from the au jus, so that it's almost like eating an open faced sandwich smowthered with gobs of gravy. This is a "denture-safe" creation.

                                  For the C crowd, they want their dip to resemble more of what you get at, say, The Hat or a deli. Where the beef is sliced thicker, the bread more dense, and all of it better combined to stand up to the au jus.

                                  Whichever one you consider better -- be it C or P -- is really a matter of personal preference. Whopper? or Big Mac?

                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                    lurker RE: ipsedixit Sep 28, 2010 04:00 PM

                                    Have either of you actually been to Cole's lately? It's tumbled downhill. The bread is stiff and almost stale, sometimes the fries are soggy. The service is atrocious.

                                    1. re: lurker
                                      Mr Taster RE: lurker Sep 28, 2010 04:17 PM

                                      My last visit to Cole's was several months ago. The service was never great, but I never have expectations for service (and I'm never disappointed). The bread was great-- dense, chewy, crusty.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                        lurker RE: Mr Taster Sep 28, 2010 04:47 PM

                                        If by "dense, chewy, crusty" you mean bread that has been left in a low oven overnight. But hey who knows, maybe you hit them on a good day.

                                      2. re: lurker
                                        reality check RE: lurker Sep 28, 2010 04:47 PM

                                        For me, the bread being stiff is a good thing. The Copy Cat's bread is nothing but a mushy mess, even when it is a single dip.

                                    2. re: Mr Taster
                                      wutzizname RE: Mr Taster Sep 29, 2010 09:21 AM

                                      I tend to agree with Mr. Taster’s assessment. Food at Cole's is generally far superior since the redo. I still love Philippe's, but for me it's more about the atmosphere and the history, and the prices. I don't order Dips at Philippe's anymore, as I always found the quality of the meat somewhat disappointing. Instead I get their chili and their pies and their 9-cent coffee and enjoy the experience. I also like breakfast at Philippe's. But if I want a sandwich, it's Cole's all the way, specifically their Lamb Dip with...wait for it...goat cheese...which I was skeptical about when a waitress first heartily recommended it, but I was a quick convert. Great stuff.

                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                        flowerofhighrank RE: Mr Taster Jan 3, 2011 10:26 PM

                                        Absolutely. Furthermore:
                                        -Cole's has the best cocktails. A margarita with a Dip = yes, a glass of red wine with a Dip = I guess you couldn't get a margarita.
                                        -Cole's has fries, not just bags of Fritos. If the passive-aggressive waiter tells you you can't get the fries well-done, you tell him 'yes we can, be like Obama'.
                                        -you can eat outside (although passing street-people have asked if they could have my fries) (no, they couldn't).
                                        -Philippe's is across the street from...a parking lot. Cole's is across from the best pet store in the city, PUSSY AND POOCH. Lithe ex-models bring in their Italian Greyhounds, flashing cleavage so deep there's an echo.
                                        -Cole's is pronounced 'Cole's', with a long O. Philippe's...is it Felipe's? Philip's Phil-lip-ees? Hell with it.

                                      2. re: Midlife
                                        Nolita RE: Midlife Sep 29, 2010 01:11 PM

                                        I just recently went to Cole's for the first time and I got a sandwich just like the one in the Gbot video, with au jus on the side. There's also an old Food Network video what I'm pretty sure was filmed pre-renovation where they show them dipping the bread like Philippe's. So perhaps serving the au just on the side is something that they've been doing since the renovation. They have an ad where they compare themselves to Philippe's and in the ad they list having the au jus on the side as an advantage over "soggy bread".

                                        I agree that I wish he had described the food a little more. He seems to have like both, but gave the edge to Philippe's for better potato salad and free parking. From my experience (keep in mind I've only been to Cole's once), I thought Cole's served a better sandwich and I do prefer the au jus on the side (although I hear that Philippe's will give it to you on the side if you request it). I liked the crusty bread and the meat tasted better quality. I also loved the potato salad at Cole's, although I'm not sure I'd describe it as buttery. At the end of the day though, I think I'll be back at Philippe's much more often. After you factor in parking and tipping the server on top of Cole's generally higher prices, I just don't see myself being that frequent of a customer (although I do want some more potato salad).

                                        1. re: Nolita
                                          gbotstna RE: Nolita Sep 29, 2010 04:29 PM

                                          Glad you enjoyed my video! The quality of the lamb at both places were comparable, the differences are trivial. I liked them both. I agree with Mr. Taster's descriptions of the bread at Coles -and for the same reasons that he enjoyed it, I didn't as much. The fluffier and thicker slices soaks the au jus up and makes it soggy. It felt like i had to ration the meat juice so I can have enough for the last bite. They charge extra for more. I liked the texture of Philippe's bread, I was able to chew it up along with the delicious lamb and feel that they compliment each other well.

                                          I really liked Philippes hot mustard, it has a nice wasabi kick to it. It squeezed out of the bottle with the consistency of regular mustard so I was able to spread it pretty evenly. Cole's hot mustard came out thicker and chunkier, it was a few notches hotter than Philippes but didn't have the wasabi horseradishy kick to it that I really enjoy.

                                          Coles used to have table tops were made from the varnished doors of retired Red Cars of the Pacific Electric Railway, but they removed them after the remodel. They allegedly moved the tables over to the corporate offices of the developers. The overall feel of the restaurant seems a little too hip for a full service restaurant featuring a working class French dip, the egalitarian feel of Philippes at the wooden communal tables is pretty unique and enjoyable.

                                          Thanks for the input on my first video, I'll be more descriptive on my future videos. Thanks for watching it!

                                          Gbot's Travels and Adventures

                                          1. re: gbotstna
                                            monku RE: gbotstna Sep 29, 2010 09:24 PM

                                            Question...couple poster's thought the roll at Cole's was different than at Philippes.
                                            In your video they looked like the same rolls except one is dipped and one is not. Philippes get's their rolls from Frisco Baking....the one on the sandwich you had at Coles looked the same.

                                            1. re: monku
                                              gbotstna RE: monku Sep 29, 2010 09:55 PM

                                              The bread at Philippes is a bit flatter in dimension and chewier than Cole's bread, these are qualities of bread that compliments my sandwich experience. The bread at Coles is thicker in size and the fluffy porousness soaks up the meat drippings like a sponge. I personally like the au jus spread evenly in the flat bread so I can chew it like a sandwich that it is. I feel that Cole's bread allows too much au jus to be soaked up for me to chew it, perhaps I'll appreciate Coles more when my teeth fall out!

                                              Gbot's Travels and Adventures

                                      3. s
                                        Sam D. RE: selfportrait93 Sep 29, 2010 11:56 PM

                                        I had probably eaten at Cole’s more than 50 times before they changed ownership and closed for the remodeling. I also frequently ate at Phillipe’s but slightly preferred Cole’s. After Cole’s reopened I gave them plenty of time to get their act together before I ventured in. I ordered a lamb dip, potato salad and a drink. I'm just glad I didn't invite any of my friends to join me. The experience I had was so horrible that for certain I will never return. Service especially and also the food were just horrible. If I had my choice, I would opt for a meal at the homeless mission because it could not be worse.

                                        I’ll stick with Philippe’s.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Sam D.
                                          wutzizname RE: Sam D. Sep 30, 2010 09:12 AM

                                          It sucks that you had one terrible experience, but I've been to Cole's four or five times since the redo and loved every one. Service is sometimes spotty, but food has always been great for me. Not suggesting you should give them another try, but I'd say that others should at least go taste for themselves.

                                        2. b
                                          bruin2006 RE: selfportrait93 Sep 30, 2010 10:40 AM

                                          I like both, but prefer Cole's. Cole's has a happy hour special with half dip for ~$5 and $2 beer.

                                          1. l
                                            LuluTheMagnificent RE: selfportrait93 Sep 30, 2010 10:56 AM

                                            Which one of them gives you a tiny sandwich and calls it a large and it's about $12-13?. It comes with a horseradish mustard, and it's delicious, but I always want more?

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: LuluTheMagnificent
                                              wutzizname RE: LuluTheMagnificent Sep 30, 2010 11:18 AM

                                              Not sure. Cole's basic dip is $6.38, and their large with "extra meat" is $9.11.

                                            2. orythedog RE: selfportrait93 Jan 3, 2011 01:18 PM

                                              Just went to Cole's for the first time this past weekend. We had the beef dip (USDA Prime) and the lamb dip, both with extra meat, the beef with swiss, the lamb with goat cheese, and both were sublime. The chocolate cream pie was stellar too.

                                              Next, Phillipes. Will report back soon...

                                              19 Replies
                                              1. re: orythedog
                                                Mr Taster RE: orythedog Jan 3, 2011 02:18 PM

                                                I'd like to make a prediction here.

                                                With the freshly revamped Cole's as your benchmark for LA style French dip, you're sure to be disappointed by the sandwiches at Philippes. (And I like Philippe's, for reasons I've elaborated on elsewhere in this thread.)

                                                However, in order to abate your forthcoming disappointment with the sandwich at Philippe's, be sure to get a slice of one of the cream pies (coconut or banana, as you like) along with a $0.09 coffee. Lemon meringue is great too.

                                                Mr Taster

                                                1. re: Mr Taster
                                                  reality check RE: Mr Taster Jan 3, 2011 10:20 PM

                                                  Sorry, but both the banana and coconut cream pies at Philippes are bad.

                                                  1. re: reality check
                                                    Mr Taster RE: reality check Jan 4, 2011 06:10 AM

                                                    This pie-maker wholeheartedly disagrees! However, this warrants deeper discussion. I'm not at all a quantity over quality guy, but value and convenience is definitely a part of the Philippe's equation (and the ever increasing cost of the dip sandwiches make Philippe's less and less attractive a dining option for me.)

                                                    My wife and I can share a decent, huge slice of pie and 2 cups of coffee for about $3. Plus, you don't have to wait in the huge lines if you just want pie and coffee.... just go to the area on the extreme right side of the counter near the blackboard menu and they'll get it to you straight away.

                                                    Sure, you could get a superior version of banana cream pie and 2 coffees at The Apple Pan if you want to pay $15. I don't.

                                                    Mr Taster

                                                  2. re: Mr Taster
                                                    orythedog RE: Mr Taster Jan 4, 2011 10:18 AM

                                                    You psyched me out a little bit. Now, I don't know if I want to try Philippe's...until you mentioned pie. I am a sucker for good pie.

                                                    By the way, I really enjoyed Cole's and thought the quality was good.

                                                    1. re: orythedog
                                                      Mr Taster RE: orythedog Jan 4, 2011 10:36 AM

                                                      Didn't mean to discourage you. Definitely go, if for no other reason than to experience a true LA landmark. Philippe's is REAL Los Angeles. Cole's is a revisionist vision of Los Angeles (done well, I should add) but it is most definitely not authentic, in that it is old LA as seen through the eyes of douchey hipsters, most likely wearing those tiny hats, trying to cash in on this newfangled 1920s trend without actually having to deal with people or the food that actually existed in the 1920s (i.e. no old people and no cafeteria quality food at Cole's, both of which you will find at Philippe's). But, some things are best relegated to history and it is unfortunately true that the newly revamped Cole's absolutely makes a better sandwich.

                                                      When you go to Philippe's, definitely get the lamb dip, with bleu cheese if you like. I've been disappointed every time I've deviated (dry meat makes me sad). Despite the impassioned testimonials on Chowhound and elsewhere on the Information Superhighway, I suggest that you do *not* order it double dipped, unless you want the already wimpy bread to disintegrate completely in your hands (as ipsedixit says, the bread is "denture friendly"). Don't forget the hot mustard on the table (equivalent to Cole's nuclear mustard, which they completely ripped off from Philippes). Copious globs of that hot mustard elevate a rather fair sandwich to new heights of deliciousness.

                                                      Mr Taster

                                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                                        mc michael RE: Mr Taster Jan 4, 2011 12:37 PM

                                                        I don't know that I'd call Cedd Moses and Ricki Kline "douchey hipsters," more like good businessmen. And if you tire of Cole's scene, you can go across the street to Las Perlas.

                                                        Las Perlas
                                                        107 E 6th St, Los Angeles, CA 90013

                                                        1. re: mc michael
                                                          Mr Taster RE: mc michael Jan 4, 2011 12:51 PM

                                                          Ha ok, fair enough... perhaps my brush was a bit too broad. However, CM and RK certainly do have a keen ability to attract the douchey hipsters in tiny hats, all the to the exclusion of vast swathes of other Angeleno demographics. That's why I have an unending affection for Philippes, even if some of the food falls flat.... it represents LA. At Philippe's, that douchey hipster can be sitting next to a fireman, who is next to a homeless dude, who is next to a yuppie, who is next to an octogenarian couple who have been going there since they were newlyweds. There's few places where you'd get that same kind of crowd. Certainly not at the Newfangled Cole's.

                                                          Philippe's *is* LA.

                                                          Mr Taster

                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                            reality check RE: Mr Taster Jan 4, 2011 01:03 PM

                                                            I liked the dips before Cole's renovated and I liked them now. But, you're right, the atmosphere at Cole's has changed since the reopening. Though you're still wrong about the cream pies at Philippe.

                                                            1. re: Mr Taster
                                                              mc michael RE: Mr Taster Jan 4, 2011 01:29 PM

                                                              If that's where the crowd is comfortable, that's where they go. Also, I think being across from Union Station gives Philippe's access to a broader demographic. What I like about Cole's is that it's one of the few CM/RK productions that actually serves food as opposed to just beer and cocktails.

                                                              1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                SpudEats RE: Mr Taster Jan 7, 2011 12:12 AM

                                                                Funny thing is, to older LA citizens (like my Dad), the current Philippes is considered the "new fangled" one. The original Philippes was torn down to make way for the freeway, and thus moved to the current location (a former brothel).

                                                      2. re: orythedog
                                                        monku RE: orythedog Jan 3, 2011 04:42 PM

                                                        You won't be gettin USDA Prime at Philippes.

                                                        1. re: monku
                                                          ipsedixit RE: monku Jan 3, 2011 05:24 PM

                                                          I'm not even sure Prime Grade beef is necessary for french dip sandwiches. The au jus makes up for any lack of flavor and texture, esp. if the beef is sliced thin and appropriately.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                            monku RE: ipsedixit Jan 3, 2011 05:34 PM

                                                            I'm a bit surprised Cole's uses USDA Prime for a beef dip sandwich.
                                                            Wonder if the poster was mistaken?

                                                            I know at Tam O'Shanter at the sandwich bar they serve a "Prime Rib Sandwich" and it isn't USDA Prime.

                                                            1. re: monku
                                                              ipsedixit RE: monku Jan 3, 2011 06:36 PM

                                                              Their website makes no mention of Prime Grade beef (at least none I could find).

                                                              Only says they use the "highest quality hand carved" meats which could mean anything or absolutely nothing.


                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                monku RE: ipsedixit Jan 3, 2011 06:43 PM

                                                                I checked the menu too and saw no clue as to USDA Prime or prime rib.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  orythedog RE: ipsedixit Jan 4, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                                  The menu on the website does not denote USDA Prime. However, the menu in the restaurant clearly says USDA Prime next to the Roast Beef. Call them if you don't believe me. ;-)

                                                                  1. re: orythedog
                                                                    ipsedixit RE: orythedog Jan 5, 2011 02:37 PM

                                                                    They do indeed use Prime Grade beef (at least that's what I was told). But what I found interesting was the cut of beef that they used ...

                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                      reality check RE: ipsedixit Jan 6, 2011 10:52 AM

                                                                      Top round?

                                                                      Philippe's uses bottom round.

                                                                      1. re: reality check
                                                                        ipsedixit RE: reality check Jan 6, 2011 01:13 PM

                                                                        The counter clerk person said it was tenderloin. Hard to believe.

                                                        2. m
                                                          mc michael RE: selfportrait93 Jan 3, 2011 07:17 PM

                                                          I really like Phillipe's. I like the vibe. I like the mustard. I like the wine. But having eaten a couple of times recently at Cole's, I have to concede that although more expensive, Cole's is better overall on its very limited menu and its terrific drinks.

                                                          11 Replies
                                                          1. re: mc michael
                                                            monku RE: mc michael Jan 3, 2011 07:31 PM

                                                            The vibe is definitely better at Cole's.
                                                            Philippes is like "cattle car" dining....from the waiting lines to the "feed lot" saw dust on the floor.

                                                            1. re: monku
                                                              mc michael RE: monku Jan 3, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                              Feed lot--that's funny. But sorta true. But there's an amusement and familiarity to the feed lot. You go expecting the lot and that's what you get. Cole's is more subdued. Still, the wine at Phillipe's is a good deal. Cole's can only outplay that in cool--which it has. And cocktails.

                                                              1. re: mc michael
                                                                monku RE: mc michael Jan 3, 2011 08:24 PM


                                                                1. re: monku
                                                                  Servorg RE: monku Jan 4, 2011 04:10 AM

                                                                  If attempting to prove that Cole's is better this photo is undoing the argument... ;-D>

                                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                                    Will Owen RE: Servorg Jan 6, 2011 10:23 AM

                                                                    I definitely agree! Standing in line with the other hungry people is a strangely satisfying experience; I wound up feeling nostalgic for something I'd never done before (school cafeterias and military chow halls don't count!), and enjoyed it thoroughly. Lamb dip was superb, potato salad among the best I'd ever had (including my own, which I'm awfully proud of), and the glass of cheap wine the perfect accompaniment. The second trip, in which a group of us sat in one of the very odd back rooms, was even more fun.

                                                                    I've not gotten to Cole's, but at a holiday gathering down the street last week several of the guys were ranting about how the redo "completely ruined" the place. And these were NOT old farts like me, but exactly the sort you'd expect the changes to have been targeted to.

                                                                    1. re: Will Owen
                                                                      Mr Taster RE: Will Owen Jan 6, 2011 10:43 AM

                                                                      All this talk about French dips prompted me to pop in to Philippe's last night. Not busy at all around 8pm. Ordered lamb single dip w bleu (one here, one to go) and coconut cream pie. The really tall pretty blonde woman with the Baltic accent served me. Asked if I had a dog. I say no, why? She said if I did, she would give me the lamb shank bone. I ask where she is from. (Lithuania). I tell her about my visit to Vilnius and the Republic of Usupis. (google it). I tell her I am taking a sandwich to my wife who was at pharmacy school. She tells me how she and another girl are thinking about apply.

                                                                      It was one of those simple, delightful moments of old fashioned human interaction. It was not trendy or stylish or retro or hip. It was real. And that's Philippe's.

                                                                      PS She carved me a damned fine sandwich with not a speck of gristle, and the pie was great too!

                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                        ipsedixit RE: Mr Taster Jan 6, 2011 01:13 PM

                                                                        Great story. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                          Jase RE: Mr Taster Jan 6, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                                          I bet if you went to Cole's wearing a too small for your head trendy hat, you would have had a great story too. LOL!

                                                                          Full disclosure, sometimes when dressing nice, I like to go retro with vest, key chain and hat. It annoys me to be lumped in with hipsters who just put on a hat with their untucked dress shirt.

                                                                          1. re: Mr Taster
                                                                            silence9 RE: Mr Taster Jan 6, 2011 02:09 PM

                                                                            Everything about Mr. Taster's story shared, is right on. Simple pleasures like hearty lamb, cheese, bread, with a side of decency and friendly human contact make for the best meals. The moment is fleeting, but its memory lingers like a song you whistle to yourself...

                                                                            1. re: silence9
                                                                              ipsedixit RE: silence9 Jan 6, 2011 02:53 PM

                                                                              The oldtimers that are there sitting and chatting on the park benches during breakfast and taking full advantage of the 9¢ coffee is also very endearing.

                                                                              1. re: silence9
                                                                                wutzizname RE: silence9 Jan 7, 2011 07:28 AM

                                                                                Nicely said.

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