Cole's: Cocktails, French Dip & Bourbon Pecan Pie


This week's Free Lunch took us to one of Los Angeles' oldest restaurants, Cole's. Originally known as Cole's P.E. Buffet, it was established by entrepreneur Harry Cole in 1908. This downtown landmark is located at the base of the historic Pacific Electric Building, so it was very fitting that our guests Alie Ward & Georgia Hardstark opted to get there by Metro. It also allowed them to enjoy a couple of cocktails without having to worry about the drive later.

Cole's bar is called the Red Car, which pays homage to its roots in transportation. However, the restaurant's main claim to fame is the French Dip sandwich, which they invented (or was it Philippe's ?). Alie & Georgia are inventors as well: their McNuggetini video let them quit their day jobs to host a series on Food2.

View looking west on 6th Street at Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. At left is the Pacific Electric Building, which houses Cole's P.E. Buffet, the oldest restaurant and saloon in L.A., continuously operating since 1908 until its recent remodel.

The ladies sat at the bar and started out with a couple of cocktails—Old Fashioned and Pancho's Smoking Gun—followed by the requisite French Dips (they shared lamb and beef), served with a couple of sides: mac 'n' two cheeses, spicy garlic sweet potato fries and bacon potato salad.

Old Fashioned and Pancho's Smoking Gun.

French Dip Sandwich

French Dip Sandwich

Even though Alie & Georgia didn't agree on which sandwich was better, the lamb or the beef, they loved the drinks and dessert equally. They settled on Cole's famous bourbon pecan pie alongside two more signature drinks, the Ginger Rogers and the Garibaldi.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Ginger Rogers

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118 East Sixth Street
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(323) 257-8980


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Love this dynamic duo, but Georgia's right about her mom telling her to enunciate. When she first said "Bourbon Pecan Pie" it sounded like "burr bomb pie." Or maybe it's the booze talking.


Can't wait to try out this place! I love me some French Dip


Cole's created the "French Dip."

Even in the 1960s, Cole used to have the hardest rolls. You had to "dip" them to make 'um soft. - TK


Cole's is also the site of Varnish, an intimate and awesome speakeasy -style bar in the back. Highly recommended.


Loving the boozy free lunch interview!

The actual Cole's dips? not so much. Also, anyone notice if you stand in between Cole's & The Association, the restaurant's ventilation system pumps out a smell that's evocative of... dead cows?