Friday, November 02, 2007

There are two things you can't do when you are doing the jury duty thing.

You can't bring a camera.

You can't bring your knitting.

These both suck for various reasons. The knitting thing is obvious, but cameras? Well naturally I'm not talking about taking pictures inside the courthouse, that'd be illegal. But see here's the thing. I've got almost two hours to kill for lunch each day, I'm in the coolest part of downtown LA with Olvera Street, Chinatown, Union Station and other places within walking or DASH distance, and I can't take any pictures.

How on earth can I be all, "I'm so blogging that!" without pictures?? It's hard, folks. Plus, I like to take random pictures of old buildings and you can't really get away from them down there. I love architecture and in particular I love urban architecture from around the late 1800's to early 1900's.

Yesterday I walked over to Olvera Street on our mid-day break. They were having their annual Dia De Los Muertos celebration. It was kind of a cacophany of noise and happy people, little kids were running all about with their faces painted into skellies, bashing each other over the head with confetti filled paper pods. There were ofrendas all over the place set up by various organizations or individuals. There was a nifty exhibit downstairs in Pico House across the square from Olvera Street. They were showcasing different cultural artforms with the timely theme of death. Shiny!

While I was on Olvera Street, I scored a little bride and groom muertos set for my grandparents, a couple of skelly cards and I could have spent SO much more if I'd let myself. Hard to tear myself away but I did manage to remember that the whole point of my little excursion was to get lunch. Once I managed to rip myself away from the folk art, I found some serious foodie heaven. Just 2 blocks past Olvera Street, at Alameda and Ord, is Philippe's - the home of the original French Dip Sandwich. OMGponies. The yum was exponential.


Philippe is one of those old LA places where things haven't changed much in 40 years. This is a GOOD thing. You walk into the old building, there's sawdust on the floor, there's long communal tables so you just sit on down with whoever is there, where ever you can find room, the candy counter sits next to the door and the long counter is in back where you step up to order your sandwich. A cup of coffee still costs $.10. The french dips are a little more pricy, but still a steal at less than $6 for a huge, gorgeous, meaty sandwich. I got a side of cole slaw and it was probably the best slaw I've ever had. I'm damn picky about my cole slaw, too. This stuff was manna - crisp, tangy and perfect. Even better than the slaw over at The Pantry (another old LA institution that hasn't changed much over the years) which until now had been the undisputed best ever. Add in a coke and lunch was less than $8, not counting a tip.

I have a feeling I'll be hitting Philippe's a lot over the next few weeks. The Pantry, alas, is a little far to walk, though I might be able to map out a DASH route that'll get me close. Time might be better spent exploring other lunch options, maybe up in Chinatown.

Anyone know of a good place to eat on Olvera Street? There's a ton of restaurants there, but I'd love to know a really good one.


Anonymous said...

Alas, I don't know of any good restaurants on Olvera, I rarely made it up that far. But you have made me very hungry for a french dip, which are completely unheard of here. Might have to try my hand at making one... :)

if time exists said...

No knitting? Damn. I guess it makes sense. I should find out if crochet hooks or drop spindles are ok. They aren't pointy, after all...and I have jury duty in a few weeks.

BellaKarma said...

WOW,thank you for reminding me of a time when I went with my Nana and Papa to Phillipe's! It had to be over two decades ago, but I still remember the inside. I also vaguely recall walking around Olvera Street with 'em too. Must get back to both places.