14 April 2008

LA Fast Food Tour: Philippe The Original

Philippe's, Home of the French Dip Sandwich. It's unique in Los Angeles, a place where patrons share tables with strangers and make use of any available seat. In business for over 90 years, it clings to its original ambiance with sawdust on the floor, servers that keep the food line moving, and vintage photos and newspaper clippings that proclaim:

"...one of the best food bargains in town." The New York Times Magazine, MacDonald Harris, March 1990

"...the best french dip we've ever had." The Food Paper, Fall 1991

"Best reason to go downtown" "...a landmark among landmarks." Los Angeles Magazine, The Best of L.A., November 1990

In addition to Philippe's specialty -- beef, ham, pork and lamb french dip sandwiches, -- the menu includes several other sandwiches; soup and stews; salads; and more esoteric items such as pickled beets and pickled pigs feet, and hard boiled eggs. You can buy a jar of their special hot mustard to carry Philippe's home with you. They even have a wine list. [What kind of wine goes with pickled pigs feet?] And there's one other trademark item on Philippe's menu: a 10-cent cup of coffee.

Check out Philippe's website for a look back at Philippe's history through vintage photos, including the train that jumped the track and nearly took a shortcut through the restaurant's front door. Quoting from the website:

Philippe The Original is one of the oldest and best known restaurants in Southern California. Philippe's was established in 1908 by Philippe Mathieu, who claimed the distinction of having created the "French Dipped Sandwich." One day in 1918, while making a sandwich, Mathieu inadvertently dropped the sliced french roll into the roasting pan filled with juice still hot from the oven. The patron, a policeman, said he would take the sandwich anyway and returned the next day with some friends asking for more dipped sandwiches. And so was born the "French Dipped Sandwich," so called either because of Mathieu's French heritage, the French roll the sandwich is made on or because the officer's name was French. The answer is lost to history.

Philippe's is located a block from Union Station in downtown Los Angeles and from Olvera Street. Here are Mapquest directions from the Marriott. It will take about 20 minutes to go to Philippe's from the Marriott in non-rush hour traffic.

09 April 2008

LA Fast Food Tour: Fatburger

It's time to move on to the next stop on the LA Fast Food Tour. Scattered across several US states you'll find The Last Great Hamburger Stand, Fatburger, which originated in Los Angeles. Fatburger's website gives a glimpse of the company's history:

In 1952, Lovie Yancey created something unique. A culture. A phenomenon, if you will. She created the biggest, juiciest hamburgers anyone had ever seen. So obviously, there was only one name for them – Fatburger.

Half a century later, while other places are just discovering taste, we're still making hamburgers the way she did. Fresh lean beef, not frozen patties. Cooked-to-order, just the way you want it, every time.

The only thing Lovie loved as much as hamburgers was music. So you'll hear some of the best music ever blasting from kickin' new jukeboxes: Rock'n'Roll, R&B, Hip-Hop, and Classic Soul that'll keep you groovin' in your chair long enough to finish that big juicy burger. We'd love to tell you about the late night talk show hosts and rap stars who've made us the happenin' place—but our attorneys won't let us. (And, of course, restaurant critics keep naming us the best burger in town, but you don't care about those guys.)

The menu includes burgers and cheeseburgers in a variety of sizes; chicken sandwiches; chili; fat fries, skinny fries, chili fries, and home-made onion rings. Also available are hot dogs, chili dogs, and veggieburgers.

Locations close to the Marriott include:

Studio City
10600 1/2 Ventura Blvd. (& Lankershim)
Studio City, CA 91604
P: 818-769-8725

Van Nuys
6162 1/8 Sepulveda Blvd. (& Victory)
Van Nuys, CA 91411
P: 818-989-2695