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Where can I get the best French Dip sandwich in NYC?

NellyNel Jul 11, 2012 07:13 AM

Hi -

I am looking for a sit down restaurant, not a sandwich takeaway.

I used to like Les Halles version, but they have changed it now, (at least at the downtown location)and although they call it a French Dip - it's not - its a sliced steak sandwich with a side of brown gravy. Tasty, but not a real French Dip.

Please help!
I am on a quest!

  1. s
    Sneakeater Jul 11, 2012 08:40 AM

    Minetta Tavern lunch

    6 Replies
    1. re: Sneakeater
      NellyNel Jul 11, 2012 01:07 PM

      okay, Sneakeater!

      1. re: Sneakeater
        howdini Jul 11, 2012 08:46 PM

        Are reservations needed for lunch, or is walk-in doable?

        1. re: howdini
          Sneakeater Jul 11, 2012 08:54 PM

          Completely doable.

          1. re: Sneakeater
            howdini Jul 11, 2012 09:09 PM

            Awesome, thanks! I've never been there, and my teenage son is a burger fanatic; we've had Spotted Pig's a bunch, and I'm dying to give this a try. Is the consensus that the regular is preferable to the Black Label? The latter seems a bit frou-frou...

            1. re: howdini
              Sneakeater Jul 11, 2012 09:29 PM

              I prefer the Black Label.

              But it's almost, like, Not A Burger. It's so fatty, it's more like a mousse or something. The regular is more like a regular burger.

              It's not my money, so it's easy for me to say this. But I think if you and your son are only going to be there once, you ought to collectively try the Black Label.

              1. re: Sneakeater
                howdini Jul 11, 2012 09:37 PM

                Thanks again!

      2. h
        HippieChick Jul 12, 2012 02:38 AM

        Nothing could possibly be as good as Philippe's in L.A. The French dip beef is amazing. The lamb is even better. Second best is the Buffalo NY specialty beef on kummelweck. Again, nothing like it in NYC. If there is, somebody please tell me!

        18 Replies
        1. re: HippieChick
          fourunder Jul 12, 2012 07:15 AM

          I waited about an hour on line before I got to place my order at the counter at Philippe's......got three sandwiches.....beef, pork and lamb. All very good, but nothing I would classify as exceptional......except the hot mustard.

          1. re: HippieChick
            roze Jul 12, 2012 12:11 PM

            HippieChick- Mile End has a Beef on Weck listed on their menu...I intend to try it along with their poutine this weekend. I agree there is nothing like a Beef on Weck from Buffalo I'm anxious to see how it compares.

            1. re: HippieChick
              NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 01:14 PM

              oh, lol - I don't know why I thought you were talking about somewhere in Los Angeles (Phillipes) that didnt exist here in NYC - I see there is a branch in NYC

              Someone at work was just flabbergasted that I havent heard of it...I am out of the loop...

              Thats a 3rd for my list!

              Thanks HC

              1. re: NellyNel
                Sneakeater Jul 12, 2012 01:20 PM

                Isn't Phillipes in New York a (terrible) (expensive) Chinese restaurant?

                1. re: Sneakeater
                  NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 01:30 PM

                  You are correct!

                  I went back to Google, and realized Phillipes the French Dip place IS only in LA

                  So, Phillipes is the originator apparently, of the FD.

                  I looked at their web-site, and I want to fly to LA tonight!
                  They don't give you a side of Au Jus, they actually do *dip* the sandwich!
                  You can get it once dipped, twice dipped or "wet"
                  I think I'd get it twice dipped...

                  1. re: NellyNel
                    Sneakeater Jul 12, 2012 01:55 PM

                    You should go out to Brennan & Carr or Roll 'n' Roaster deep deep in Brooklyn.

                    I'm not saying they're great. I'm not saying the meat isn't an unpleasant and vaguely suspicious shade of gray.

                    But they are what we have here for a beef & jus culture.

                    1. re: Sneakeater
                      NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 02:11 PM

                      Wow - Roll 'n' Roaster!!!!
                      I'm from Brooklyn, so I know it well...
                      God, I haven't thought about RnR in YEARS!!
                      It was pretty good, you are right!
                      I'm almost surprised it's still there....Do they still do a great sweet potato?

                      1. re: NellyNel
                        Sneakeater Jul 12, 2012 02:25 PM

                        Things change slowly at RnR.

                        (Did you know they had an East Village branch for a couple of years?)

                        1. re: Sneakeater
                          NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 02:34 PM

                          Really? how long ago?

                          1. re: NellyNel
                            Sneakeater Jul 12, 2012 02:36 PM

                            Maybe like four or five years ago? Maybe a little longer ago. But not much.

                            1. re: Sneakeater
                              Sneakeater Jul 12, 2012 02:38 PM

                              Wow. Eight years ago. (Time flies when you're old.)

                              It opened up the same week as Blue Hill at Stone Barns!

                              1. re: Sneakeater
                                HippieChick Jul 12, 2012 11:25 PM

                                I ate a LOT from Roll-N-Roaster, and was so very sad when they closed. It wasn't on a Philippe's level, which I still maintain is fabulous (and so do all the nearby passengers when I whip out my nice double-dipped lamb sandwich on the plane home), but it was pleasing in a very, well, pleasing sort of way.

                                Roze, I'll try Mile End's beef on weck as well...but you probably do need to be in Western NY to get the true experience. My favorite, surprisingly, isn't in Buffalo but in Olean about 60 miles south, place called Beef 'n Barrel. Sublime.

                                1. re: HippieChick
                                  Sneakeater Jul 13, 2012 09:08 AM

                                  Hey, the existing Roll-N-Roaster is still only a subway ride away.

                                  (OK, a looooonnnnnnngggggggg subway ride.)

                                  1. re: Sneakeater
                                    ellenost Jul 13, 2012 09:11 AM

                                    But in the summertime Sheepshead Bay/Manhattan Beach are lovely, so it's worth the trip.

                                    1. re: ellenost
                                      Sneakeater Jul 13, 2012 09:23 AM


                                  2. re: HippieChick
                                    roze Aug 11, 2012 08:54 AM

                                    OMG I dream of the Roast Beef dinners from Beef and Barrel! With that amazing gravy....I need to plan a trip just to get back there.

                                    1. re: roze
                                      HippieChick Aug 22, 2012 04:03 PM

                                      If you go, let me know. I'll ride shotgun and pay for the gas!

                2. re: HippieChick
                  SomeRandomIdiot Aug 8, 2012 01:39 PM

                  Haven't had Philippe's but the lamb dip at ilili is great.

                3. NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 06:15 AM

                  I had a peek at a photo of Minettas French Dip, and it actually looks quite pedestrian ...but looks can be deceiving - I know!
                  If I do go there, it would be hard not to order the burger, (and the bone marrow...and the pasta dish, and the beets - all of which look amazing!!)but I guess we'd have to get one of each!!

                  1. princeofpork3 Jul 12, 2012 06:35 AM

                    The french dip at Defeontes on 3rd and 20 is unreal.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: princeofpork3
                      NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 06:50 AM

                      Eh - I know Defontes has great sandwiches - BUT - I don't see proper French Dip on the menu...

                      "20. Hot Roast Beef roast beef, fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, natural jus"

                      Hoboken has a few places famous for their Hot Roast Beef with Mozz. sandwiches...when I finally tried one - I was thoughoughly unimpressed...almost thought it was gross. In my mind warm mozz and RB just do not compliment each other. Have you had the sandwich sans eggplant and mozz, Prince?

                      1. re: NellyNel
                        princeofpork3 Jul 12, 2012 07:31 AM

                        So funny you should say that. I always order mine without the mozz. I do like the egplant though. I also always get the Au Jus on the side, never purded on top.

                        1. re: princeofpork3
                          NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 07:47 AM

                          lol - me too - Au Jus on the side!

                          I think I would love almost any sandwich with a slice or two of fried eggplant...but not on a RB sandwich...
                          But, all my life I have always liked bare RB sandwiches...
                          No nothin'!
                          (except salt, and depending on my mood - mayo)

                          Hillstone...hmmm - I'll have to check it out!

                          Thanks everyone - keep 'em coming!

                          1. re: NellyNel
                            princeofpork3 Jul 12, 2012 11:03 AM

                            My favorite RB sandwich growing up was, Roast Beef, Swiss, Cole Slaw and Russian Dressing. Just awesome.

                            1. re: princeofpork3
                              NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 12:19 PM

                              oh wow. no.


                        2. re: NellyNel
                          tex.s.toast Jul 12, 2012 07:38 AM

                          I love me some defontes but i just dont think this is their best sandwich. the couple times ive tried it i felt like it really needed salt (and when i put the salt on it it was good, but not amazing - which is why i go back for the steak pizzaolo, firehouse, peppers and egg, or nicky's secial or valentino if i want a cold sandwich)

                          1. re: tex.s.toast
                            princeofpork3 Jul 12, 2012 11:03 AM

                            Love the firehouse but the Broccli Rabe has too much garlic in it for me. I swap it out for the hot salad.

                            1. re: princeofpork3
                              tex.s.toast Jul 12, 2012 11:38 AM

                              the hot salad is really good - my office is no longer so close but i had taken to asking them to very briefly nuke the rabe for me - not to heat it up but just because i found it excessively cold - never had an issue with the garlicy-ness.

                      2. f
                        fourunder Jul 12, 2012 07:22 AM

                        My vote goes to Hillstone.....they use Prime Rib

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: fourunder
                          Skillet Licker Jul 12, 2012 11:54 AM

                          Nelly Nel its actually opposite: its the burger at Minetta that's pedestrian, albeit very rich, and the lunch-only roast beef that's exceptional. It was a while ago and I can't recall details, but the beef wasn't just grey-brown protein piled into a roll -- it was stand-alone tasty. The roll had perfect give to crunch ratio. And the au jus was on the side for dipping, as it should be, and rich, as it should be. Fries were good. And the scene was vibrant but not unbearable as it can be in the evening. I typically don't subscribe to buzz dishes: they're usually hop-on-the-bandwagon internet and news media creations. But the Minetta french dip justifies the press.

                          1. re: Skillet Licker
                            NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 12:25 PM

                            Oh, thank you Skillet!!
                            I like the detailed account...Especially glad to know the bread is good.
                            I was looking at pics on Yelp, and it looked so bla...and mostly because the bread looked really lame.

                            Hillstones FD does look good...I may have to try both!

                            1. re: NellyNel
                              ellenost Jul 12, 2012 02:01 PM

                              I think Hillstone was f/k/a Houstons, and agree that the French Dip was wonderful.

                              1. re: ellenost
                                NellyNel Jul 12, 2012 02:08 PM

                                Yes, ellen, it was - oh great good to hear!!

                                1. re: ellenost
                                  Yaxpac Jul 12, 2012 02:16 PM

                                  yes, Houston's or Hillstone (when did the name change?) has a wonderful French dip...

                                  1. re: Yaxpac
                                    Barcelonian Aug 13, 2012 02:33 PM

                                    Rumor has it that they changed some of the restaurants to Hillstone from Houston's to avoid putting calorie counts on their menus.

                          2. s
                            sushiman Jul 13, 2012 09:37 AM

                            Not Manhattan, but Walter Foods does a good one in Williamsburg.

                            1. hambone Aug 8, 2012 01:53 PM

                              Waterfront Ale House -- one in Brooklyn, one in Manhattan -- has a really good French Dip. (I haven't had all the French DIps in NYC so I am loathe to claim it is best.)

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: hambone
                                princeofpork3 Aug 9, 2012 12:10 PM

                                The one in NYC is not that good. Very stringy meat

                                1. re: princeofpork3
                                  hambone Aug 9, 2012 02:28 PM

                                  Really? I frequent the Brooklyn Alehouse and almost always get ribs or burger but the times I have gotten the dip it was very good.

                              2. NellyNel Aug 13, 2012 09:33 AM

                                I can't add my 2 cents yet, as I still havent gotten to any of these places..
                                But last week, in some dive bar downtown (no idea of the name) I saw it on the menu and had to at least calm my craving..I was expecting the worst scenerio, but was shocked that it actually did the trick!
                                Good, fresh bread, nice rare roast beef and the au jus was nice!

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: NellyNel
                                  hambone Aug 13, 2012 10:11 AM

                                  After all this, you post that you had a good one but you can't name the bar?

                                  1. re: hambone
                                    NellyNel Aug 22, 2012 07:28 AM

                                    I know - Sorry!!

                                    However, I had a highly lauded steak sandwich from Mark Joseph Steakhouse downtown.

                                    Wow - really disappointed - steak quality was really sub par, which they tried to hide by putting a TON of cheese on...
                                    However, tried my friends burger - which was delicious...we both preferred the others plate, so we switched!

                                    1. re: NellyNel
                                      hambone Aug 22, 2012 07:37 AM

                                      All's well that ends well.

                                      FYI: Peter Luger's has a great burger.

                                      1. re: hambone
                                        NellyNel Aug 22, 2012 07:48 AM


                                        Good to know!!
                                        Thanks Ham!!!!

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