The People V. Henry Cole V. Philippe Mathieu

cool, empty rooms await thee insideLadies and gentlemen of the jazz jury, thank you for having me today. If you’ve done any culinary exploring in LA whatsoever, chances are good that you already know way more than you ever wanted to know about the two restaurants downtown that both claim to have invented the french-dipped sandwich in early 1908. At this time I would like to submit the following:

  • Both establishments give you moderately decent food.
  • Both are downtown. Cole’s is in a dodgier location.
  • Philippe’s parking lot is a nightmare.
  • Both establishments guarantee an unnecessarily massive meat-based meal in the sub-$10 range.
  • Philippe’s doles it out to the masses. Cole’s just doles out masses.

Cole’s has stood for years on the sidelines, the 97-year-old underdog that could, adamant in its invention claim, failing to bring in the people like Philippe’s…during the day. While the bar begins to works for them as the evening approaches, the lack of day crowd at Cole’s can be attributed to a combination of elements including Cole’s smelling like a dive bar (it is a dive bar), Cole’s homebase being in a slightly sketchier area than Philippe’s, and years of crucial PR by the Philippe’s gangsters.

Closing argument time. I am now going to tell you once and for all which of these jokers REALLY invented the french dipped sandwich offers a more pleasing dining experience, and why.

I’m swinging to Cole’s when it’s a juiced sandwich I need. The sandwich is larger than Phil’s and slightly less juiced – meaning you can actually pick it up with your hands to take a bite, something that is often important when you are eating a sandwich. But truthfully, one need look no further than the afternoon crowd factor. Here’s a photo taken at Philippe’s in late May. Here’s a photo taken at Cole’s yesterday. Where would you rather be?

Cole’s info

Philippe’s info

Google results for “juiced sandwich”