Two L.A. restaurants claim to have invented the popular roast beef sandwich.
Among the many delicious items you can have for lunch in Denver at Gunther Toody’s is the French dip sandwich. A classic menu item at diners and many other restaurants, the French dip consists of roast beef on a roll, usually sturdy French bread, and is served with a cup of au jus for dipping the sandwich. The bread soaks up the flavorful broth that is traditionally made from the drippings in the pan that roasted the beef, making for a wonderful moist sandwich. Depending on the establishment, other items such as cheese and various condiments can also be added.
The origins of the French dip sandwich are somewhat uncertain and there are a variety of stories. But the primary theories involve two restaurants in Los Angeles who both claim to be the inventors. The first, and most widely accepted as the originator, is Philippe’s The Original. According to their story, in 1918 owner Philippe Mathieu was making a sandwich for a police officer and accidentally dropped the roll in a pan filled with the roasting juices. The officer didn’t care and told Philippe that he’d take the sandwich just like that. The next day the officer returned with his friends and asked for more dipped sandwiches. There is further uncertainty about why the dish is called the French dip. It could be due to Philippe’s heritage, the French roll it is served on, or because the police officer’s name was French.
The second restaurant that claims to have invented the French dip is Cole’s, also known as Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet. Cole’s is the oldest continuously operating bar and restaurant in Los Angeles. According to them, the sandwich was first made when a customer who had recently had dental work complained that the bread was too hard for him to eat. So owner Henry Cole dipped the bread in the juices from the roasting pan in order to make it softer.
While the true inventor of the French dip may never be known, it is certain that people will continue to enjoy the sandwich for many years to come.