French Dip Originated in Los Angeles. But Who Deserves the Credit?

Two chefs. Two claims to fame.

I’ve always loved a good French dip sandwich … roast beef sandwiched between two jus-soaked pieces of French bread. De-lish. As an L.A. native, I’ve been to both Cole’s and Philippe’s, two downtown restaurants dating back more than a century with claims to the French dip’s creation. Both are wonderful. Both have a story to tell about the origins of the famous sandwich, often re-created, not always as successfully. In honor of National French Dip Day, let’s pay homage to his California creation with’s rundown of the two competing narratives.

“As the story goes, owner Philippe Mathieu accidentally dropped a French roll into a juice-coated roast beef pan while preparing a sandwich for a local worker in 1918. The diner ate the dipped sandwich anyway, sparking interest from other customers to order the new creation. It’s said the invention was originally named the French Dipped sandwich as an ode to Philippe’s French heritage, before it was shortened to French dip.

“The less common version of the French dip’s history goes like this: In 1908, head chef Jack Garlinghouse encountered a hungry Cole’s customer who had sore gums but wanted a roast beef sandwich. In order to soften the bread and make it easier for the customer to eat, Garlinghouse placed the French bread in the roast beef jus and served the sandwich for the first time.”

So, should Philippe’s or Cole’s get the honors? We’re just going to order one of each and call it a good day for eating. Read more about French dip and other California food favorites here.

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