Philippe’s Is As Classic LA As It Gets

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One of our favorite Los Angeles classics is Philippe The Original, which has been in business since 1908.

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The charming deli/counter ambiance is enhanced with sawdust on the floor and shared high tables surrounded by stools. They also have booths in the back if that type of seating is preferred.

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For over a hundred years Philippe’s has been a cash only establishment and recently altered their policies to accept credit cards.

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The menu above the counter is small yet full of the favorites that have kept them going strong for 108 years.

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Philippe’s “French Dipped Sandwich” is the specialty of the house and consist of either roast beef, roast pork, leg of lamb, turkey or ham served on a light, freshly baked French roll which has been dipped in the natural gravy of the roasts. Swiss, American, Monterey Jack or Blue cheese may be added.

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To accompany your sandwich Philippe’s offers options such as tart, tangy cole slaw, homemade potato and macaroni salads, hard boiled eggs pickled in beet juice and spices, large Kosher style, sour dill or sweet pickles, black olives and hot yellow chili peppers.

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Daily soups are warm and comforting, like the navy bean on special the night of our visit.

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A crumbling of saltine crackers brings the down home feel.

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We are addicted to the lamb and have it with either blue or swiss cheese.

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We prefer it double dipped with both the lower and upper halves of the roll dunked in roasting juices.

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The pièce de résistance is the addition of their hot mustard which clears the sinuses and adds a mustard, vinegar spice tang that is the perfect accompaniment to the roasted meats.

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We simply can’t get enough of the mustard and purchase jars of the stuff to take home.

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The sour dill pickles feel right at home alongside the sandwiches.

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Cakes are moist and flavorful and the coconut cake is high on our list of great ways to complete a Philippe’s meal.

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For a taste of classic Los Angeles from one of the first purveyors of the French dip, Philippe’s is the spot to go retro.

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Philippe the Original, 1001 North Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone – 213-628-3781          web site – philippes.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Overflowing Italian Market

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Claro’s Italian Market has been serving Southern California for almost 68 years. Joe Claro, started the business with his wife Mary. He soon became partners with his son Frank and wife Geraldine. In 1958 Joe retired and his son took over the business. Today, the tradition continues with their two daughters, Rosemarie and Mary Linda, along with their husbands, Bob and George running the stores.

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They have grown to six retail outlets and import many items from Italy. The vast array of products provide everything needed to prepare Italian meals, with a little Greek, French and Argentine thrown in for good measure.

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Be sure to allow ample time to wander and peruse the shelves piled high with delicious ingredients.

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The deli case is a wonder to behold and the place to order slices of cured meats, cheese and their famous sandwiches.

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A long list suggests some of their best meat and cheese combinations or guests can custom order sandwiches that bring them the greatest joy.

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We went with the two most popular sandwiches. We had to try their beloved  Grandpa Joe, which unifies lettuce, tomatoes, pepperoncini, mortadella, capacollo, dry salami and provolone. We were also attracted to the Spicy Mike, a soft roll topped with capocollo, casalingo salame, hot calabrese salame, hot pepper cheese, sliced pepperoncini & oil dressing. Both subs are very meaty and satisfying with a small being more than sufficient at $5.99, or for big eaters they have a large for $6.99, which looks to be almost twice the size.

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In house whipped up deli salads, marinated vegetables and olives take up a portion of the deli case.

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While the far end houses a hot food bar, all well within reach price-wise.

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Strategically placed counters on the way out, house pastries and desserts cases.

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We couldn’t resist the dense, almond rich wedding cookies.

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We asked about cannoli and they were happy to fill a shell for us with the freshest ricotta, studded with chocolate chips and candied fruit. The cannoli are creamy, thick, dense, mildly sweet, cheese filled crisp shells that should not be missed.

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For old school, ready made Italian delicacies along with an impressive selection of imported and locally sourced Italian goods, Claro’s is an amazing go to and to go resource.

Claro’s Italian Market, 1003 East Valley Boulevard, San Gabriel, CA 91776     Phone – 626-288-2026 web site – claros.com

Pastrami Paradise

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We’ve been hearing so much good buzz about Wexler’s deli we finally decided to pop over and give it a shot.  It’s been a while since we visited Grand Central Market and we were surprised to find the one hour free parking replaced with $2.00 for 90 minute parking.  Guess it was bound to happen.

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The menu at Weller’s Deli is straight up Jewish delicatessen, with all our favorites lined up and calling to us.  The talk has been about the smoked fish and pastrami so that’s where we went.

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There is counter seating or the option of taking orders to go and we did both.  Our favorite indulgence is bagels, lox and cream cheese and knowing that Wexler’s smokes their fish on the premises, we had to try their smoked salmon.

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We normally order an onion bagel, but that wasn’t an option, so we chose a toasted everything bagel which tuned out to be a more than respectable substitute.  They can prepare it fully loaded , which means with capers hiding under the lox and a smattering of paper-thin slices of red onion on top.  The loaded option turns out to be just the ticket.

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The fish is fresh, light and melts away in your mouth like cotton candy. The pink lox is sliced thin, with blemishes and imperfections removed, so all we get is the clean, lightly applewood smoked flavor of high quality salmon. Fresh cracked pepper is the finishing touch that accents the perfect balance of ingredients.  They also sell half pound packages of house smoked salmon and sturgeon if a more comfortable environment is preferred.

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After devouring the fish, we ordered pastrami to go and found each component packed individually, keeping everything pristine until we’re ready to assemble the masterpiece.  We were warned not to ever reheat the meat in a microwave and we took that suggestion very seriously.

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We baked the thick, hand-cut, well-marbled pastrami in our toaster oven and watched it turn bright red under 350 degree burners for about 10 minutes.  The kitchen smelled of smokey meat for the rest of the day.

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The fresh brown rye bread has a soft chew and with a slather of deli mustard, is the perfect container for any of the sandwiches Wexer’s puts out.  But it’s the hit of smoke, spices and a desirable fat to lean ratio that makes Wexler’s pastrami so monumental.  We love pastrami and have had our share, but we have never experienced anything that tastes like this one.  We don’t know if its the dedication to tradition, new spins on smoking and spicing or simply huge love that goes into this beautiful meat, but whatever it is we want more.

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At a time when Jewish Delis seem to be disappearing before our eyes, we are thrilled to find Wexler’s bringing back a commitment to tradition, craftsmanship, and quality that shows up in every bite of the finished product.  Thank you for continuing this tradition and setting the bar higher than we knew it could be set.

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Wexler’s Deli, 317 South Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone – 213-624-2378       web site – wexlersdeli.com