Archives for posts with tag: moca

it has long been argued who is the originator of the french dip sandwich: cole’s pacific electric buffet or philippe the original? both were established in downtown los angeles in the year 1908, and both claim to be the original. philippe’s website claims it wasn’t invented until 1918 when,

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.”

whereas cole’s website doesn’t tell a story, but still lays claim. regardless who invented it, i was curious as to who does it better?

i only live a few blocks from cole’s and have had their pastrami french dip a few times, but never the one from philippe’s. before going to moca’s art in the streets exhibit for my second time, a few of us met at philippe’s for a late lunch. i thought this will be the test. i had been once before in my early days of living in los angeles, way before living downtown, and definitely before i knew of the debate, but i seem to remember i just got a turkey sandwich.

you place your order from one of the ‘carvers’ at a counter (similar to katz’s in nyc, but less deli and more diner) and they make your sandwich right in front of you. there is sawdust on the floor, booths or short stools at communal tables to sit at, and often before a dodgers game you will see quite a few fans (including the opposing team) come in to get food.

as it turns out, they don’t have pastrami at philippe’s, so i ordered the beef, with a side of macaroni salad and a pickle.

it was probably twice the size of cole’s, and they pre-dip the roll in the jus, instead of putting it on the side. my first bite told me it was way too salty, and i didn’t like the pre-dipped aspect. frankly, it just makes the bread soggy. i liked the quality of the meat, but it was too thickly cut for my taste, and halfway through, i was wishing they offered half sandwiches, or at least the jus on the side so i could take the rest to go without it being a mushy mess later. the pickles were good, nothing spectacular, but the macaroni salad was delightful, reminding me of something my grandmother once made.

since they didn’t have pastrami at philippe’s, that meant i had to go back to cole’s and try their beef in order to do a direct comparison. so, the next day i got on my trusty steed and biked over for lunch. (side note: sit at the bar. it is the only place i have received decent service. the bartenders are really knowledgeable and very nice. the table servers are either really understaffed or just bad at their jobs.)

i ordered the original (beef) french dip, otherwise known as the little dipper, and a side of spicy garlic fries. one pickle wedge is complimentary, extras are $.91.

the only difference between the little dipper and the big dipper is the amount of meat they put on the bread. the loaf is the same size. they also have a skinny dip, which is half a dip with a side of fries. fyi, the fries come in a basket and are big enough to share. happy hour from 3-7p has the skinny dip for only $5, but i seem to remember the portion of fries is smaller and not in a separate basket.

i have to say even though cole’s beef was good quality and sliced thinner than philippe’s, it was a bit bland. perhaps it was just in contrast to how salty philippe’s was, or maybe that the pickles and fries at cole’s are extremely spicy in comparison, but i wont order it again. i prefer the pastrami, which has the right amount of flavor, thinly sliced meat, and jus on the side. although, i must say i enjoyed the macaroni salad at philippe’s as a side compared to the fries at cole’s.

philippe’s wins a price comparison hands down at $6 for the sandwich, $1.20 for a side of macaroni, and $1.10 for a whole pickle. cole’s little dipper is only $6.38, but in order to come close to how much meat is on philippe’s you’ll have to order the big dipper (and still doesn’t have as much meat as philippe’s) which is $9.11. a side of fries goes for $3.19. personally, a little dip or half a big dipper is enough for me especially with a side, but if quantity is important, you’ll have to pay for it.

so, as far as which beef french dip is better? philippe’s is too much meat, too salty, and soggy, whereas, cole’s is sparing on the meat and bland, but at least the jus is on the side, and i could always add salt. i guess i’d vote for cole’s, but i’ll stick to the pastrami, and swing by philippe’s for a side of macaroni salad.


after a small group of us went to see art in the streets at the geffen contemporary at moca today, we headed over to wurstküche for lunch. it was a short walk and good for a group. you order at a register, so there is no worry of splitting up the check, and there are huge communal tables with benches that can fit groups of almost any size. i was hoping since it was close to 2p on a friday afternoon that it wouldn’t be too crazy busy, and thankfully as we turned the corner the line had barely creeped out the door. believe me i have been there plenty of times to know if the line is down the street you can be waiting upwards of an hour or more depending how long it is.

the nice thing is that when you eventually get in the door there is usually some nice person to hand out menus and take drink orders, so you can enjoy a cold beverage while perusing the menu. it is fairly simple, basically sausages, belgian fries and beer, but there are many options from which to choose. they have over 20 sausages, 4 toppings, 10 dipping sauces (for the fries), and 40+ beers (mostly belgian and german). not to mention, a few wines and several non-alcoholic beverages as well. you will find it helps to know what you want before you reach the register. not only does it make the line move faster, but it seems to keep those behind you who are regulars from tapping their impatient foots, and huffing a bit. (i kid.)

i usually order the rattlesnake + rabbit with jalapeño, and sauerkraut as a topping, but for some reason i was thinking about changing it up a bit and trying something i hadn’t had in a while like the duck + bacon with jalapeño. well it must have gotten into my subconscious enough, because that is what arrived at the table. i don’t even remember ordering it, but i am so glad i did, because it was a reminder to try new things and not always go with the status quo.

i also ordered a small fries, called a klein, with the chipotle aioli and blue cheese walnut and bacon dipping sauces. one sauce comes with the klein, and 2 come with the groot (large), but i can never decide between them, so i order them both if i get the klein. they have 5 different kinds of mustard, as well as ketchup, at the tables. i prefer the whole grain, but now having tried the duck again, i would probably try a different topping like the onions and sweet peppers and go with the honey mustard. regardless, it was still juicy and delicious.

(as a side note: i have been here in the past and have gotten a sausage so well done that i had to send it back, and they did so happily. twice. not in their defense, because there is no way they should have sent a sausage out that well done, but it was an extremely busy night, and the staff has always been really friendly and accommodating. the owners often walk around, talk with the guests, and bus tables.)

for beer i decided on the blanche de bruxelles, a witbier, which normally pairs really nicely with the buttery mildness of the rabbit sausage that i usually get. although, the duck was pretty rich, so next time i order it i might go for something like a bitburger or spaten pilsner. the staff all seem very knowledgable and would most likely be able to tell you what beer might suit a certain sausage, and if they aren’t too busy (which is almost never), they have been known to give tastes of beer just to make sure it is what you want. this will happen more at the back bar than the front register, being that those pesky regulars are breathing down your back to hurry up and order. (another joke.)

be aware that this is a hip, happening, popular place, so the music can be a little on the loud side, and the line can be ridiculously long, but it rarely disappoints. it is a stylish but casual local neighborhood hang out that isn’t pretentious, but rather it feels very inclusive. i have seen all sorts and types there. perhaps it is the large open room, with warm wood tones, or the shared common tables, but the vibe is social and friendly to everyone. perhaps it is simple as what they have put on their FAQ page:

“Q: Are children and grandparents allowed?

A: Absolutely, the more diverse the crowd the better.”

as were were finishing up, at the next table a college aged kid wearing usc shorts was helping what seemed to be his 90+ year old (great?) grandmother maneuver into her bench cane in hand, and i thought it seems as though they mean it.

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