Is It Any Good?

The other originator of the French Dipped Sandwich…Downtown.

Cole's on Urbanspoon
Cole's on Foodio54

It has the look and feel of the speakeasy. That’s probably because it was in operation in and around the time when speakeasies actually up and running. It’s home is in a dark and barren corner of downtown Los Angeles you never would’ve guessed. Stepping inside is like walking if your own private Noir Film…only in color. This restaurant has been in operation since 1908, a full year before Philippe’s. And claims to be the originator of the French dip sandwich.

You heard me.

No, the Philippe’s review is on the other page. We’re talking about Cole’s.

Yes, Cole’s.

You’re probably thinking if you’ve never heard of Cole’s before this moment, how cold they lay claim to the invention of the French Dipped Sandwich, when Philippe’s has popularized it in this town?

Funny you should ask…

…because I have no freakin’ idea.

Okay, first off, the French Dipped Sandwich most people throughout the world are familiar with is the kind where you are given a sandwich, a small bowl of Au Jus (dipping sauce), and dip your meal in, one bite at a time.

Why? Well, according to Wikipedia:

According to carvers at Cole’s, Henry Cole first dipped the French bread in jus at the request of a customer who had had recent dental work. The French bread was too hard and it hurt this customer’s teeth, so Henry dipped the bread in order to soften it. Other customers, with perfectly good teeth, saw Henry dip the bread and requested that he do the same for them – and thus the French dip was born.

Yeah, I like the Philippe’s story better. Sorry. #TeamPhilippes.

Cole's in Downtown Los Angeles.

If you order a French-dipped Sandwich anywhere in America, it’ll probably be like this. So maybe Cole’s did invent that French dipped sandwich.

Fine, because I like Philippe’s better. Like I said: #TeamPhilippes.

Still, let’s give credit where credit is due. Cole’s sandwich isn’t bad. It’s a hand carved piece of work on two outstanding pieces of bread. The Pork (The kind I got, has the look, feel and taste of hand-pulled Pork via South Carolina), almost a meal onto itself. The dipping sauce is sweet and light. Couple that with their…was it called “Diablo” mustard, and over all, it’s a pretty good tasting sandwich. I would probably be the most famous in town if it wasn’t for Philippe’s.

So, again, it’s not that Cole’s didn’t do something fantastic, it’s just that I personally think Philippe’s does it better. You may disagree. (I’m pretty sure that the folks at Cole’s do too).

Philippe’s sandwiches are in a way constructed different. There is no Au Jus dipping, they just dunk the whole sucker into the bath, and I personally find their mustard better. It melds perfectly in with the sandwich. The Diablo did a find job of that as well, but I thought the mustard was a bit more standard and tart, than what I think Philippe’s does.

Again, that’s just me.

So, let’s be clear here. Cole’s does not suck. It just doesn’t hold a candle to Philippe’s.

Cole's in Downtown Los Angeles.

And there are a number of difference between Cole’s and Philippe’s even though, I personally feel Cole’s will never catch up to Philippe’s…ever.

For one, while Cole’s does have a seat yourself policy, they do have good ol’ fashioned table service. That means, an actual Waiter will come to you, take your order and get it to you. No busing your own tray like at Philippe’s. Plus, there is a lot more room here at Cole’s, and it’s quieter…

…much quieter than Philippe’s.

Also, Cole’s has great cocktails. There is some liquor at Philippe’s, but it’s not the hand crafted cocktails that Cole’s is rightfully famous for. (I did say speakeasy, didn’t I?)

But you know the real reason why Philippe’s is kicking Cole’s ass when it comes to these sandwiches. Why Cole’s was decently busy while Philippe’s was a madhouse of chaos and activity where you struggled to find a seat?


It cost me $7 to park at the nearest lot so I could eat at Cole’s.

Parking’s free at Philippe’s.

In this town, that’s all it takes.


WHAT SHOULD I GET?: Well, I got the Pork version of their big fancy Sandwich. Like I said before: hard carved pork, beautiful bun. It’s shorter, but fatter than Philippe’s creations, and I tasted more bread than meat. I found it to be a good sandwich, just not in Philippe’s ballpark.

Cole's in Downtown Los Angeles.


IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: We’ll get to the Parking in second. Let me start off by saying flat out, apart from whatever allegiance I have to whatever sandwich in this town, the Cole’s website is terrible.

I mean, it looks sensational, and the little moviola they’ve set up is right out of the menu, frame for frame.

But the buttons don’t work.

Seriously, click on the Menu button and see it if does…well…anything.

And it’s not like it takes you to a 404 error page, it does nothing. Like the link isn’t even there.

Hopefully this is a problem that will be addressed, but at the time of publication, this menu is a turkey.


PARKING: Like I said. $7 bucks.

You’re going to have to find a lot, there’s one at the corner of Main and 6th (That’s where I went). Plenty of spaces…

…cost $7 bucks.

I’ll be thinking of that, the next time I’m having a Beef, Double Dipped.

Which costs just a hair’s bit more than $7. Go figure.

Cole's in Downtown Los Angeles.

118 E. 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Tel: (213) 622-4090

Sunday-Wednesday: 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
Thursday: 11:00 am – 12:00 am
Friday-Saturday: 11:00 am – 1:00 am