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The Original Philippe

PHOTOS: Holly Liss

What’s the one thing that Mt. Rushmore, Plymouth Rock, and The Alamo have in common? It’s not that they all have very important places in American History (though that is true), or that you were probably forced to go to one of them on a fifth grade class trip (also true). No, there’s something much deeper that ties them all neatly together.

They’re all lame as sh*t.

Shockingly small, grossly overrun by tourists, or just flat-out uninteresting, it’s always fun realizing the historical attractions of our elementary school textbooks aren’t even close to what you imagined. And historical restaurants are often the same exact deal. If we had a nickel for every “classic” restaurant that disappointed in one way or the other, we could’ve paid to have Pink’s Hot Dogs shut down by now.

But luckily Philippe The Original is hardly a disappointment. Why? It’s only a 107-year-old establishment and oh, the birthplace of the French dip sandwich. Like THAT French dip sandwich. The one you dream about at night. Is it mind-blowing, life-altering food? Perhaps not. But it still checks off all the boxes for what you want out of a significant culinary attraction. Delicious food? Authentic vibe? No elbows to the temple from a rabid tourist gang? Check, check, and check.

It’s important to know that Philippe The Original is not a restaurant. It’s a deli. A gigantic, well-run deli. You’ll stand in one of the fast-moving lines that lead to the counter and marvel at the genuine old-school allure. Is it the weird little candy counter off to left, the sawdust on the floor, or the fact that every lady behind the counter has been working there for 30+ years? Who knows. But it feels right. And while you’re obviously ordering the Beef Double Dip (with the tableside spicy mustard on top of course), don’t hold back if something else catches your eye at the counter. Philippe’s is stocked full of delicious deli staples.

Its Chinatown locale is admittedly not the easiest to get to, but with an authentic atmosphere and good food that’s remained untampered with all these years, Philippe’s is worth the trip. Quick midweek solo lunch? Fun dinner with friends before a night out in downtown? Mom and Dad are here and demand culture? Philippe The Original does not disappoint.

Now that’s a field trip we’ll always sign up for.

Food Rundown

Double Dip Beef

Whether you believe this is the original or not, the fact remains that it’s goddamn delicious. Dipped not once but twice in au jus (but really, who’s counting?), this culinary staple delivers. The beef is melt-in-your-mouth and despite spending a portion of its life soaked in juice, the bread retains a solid crunch as well. The (extremely) spicy mustard waiting for you at the table is a MUST add-on as well.

Tuna Salad Sandwich

No one will call this the best tuna salad in town, but it’s still really good and proof that Philippe’s is much more than the Double Dip.

Mac Salad

See above. This is a full-functioning deli after all, and if you don’t journey off the sandwich path a little bit, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.

Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwich

This is insane. It’s literally Peter Pan peanut butter and Welch’s grape jelly on white bread, but when made by the hands of a mother of three named Jan, it just tastes better.

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