CLOSED: L.A.'s Iconic Dish: Philippe's French Dip Vs. Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles

Los Angeles is full of people who care passionately about food, and there are plenty of restaurants happy to serve us. We don't all agree on what constitutes "good," but we do know we like our burgers, our froyo, our Korean BBQ, our pizza. (That's right, our pizza. We like it.)

The thing is, we don't have one iconic dish. Nothing that we can point to and say, "This. This is Los Angeles on a plate." So now we're going to find out. KCET Food came up with 16 contenders. You vote on your favorites. Here's the first match-up of round three -- voting for this bracket ends Friday, September 13 at 11 a.m.

Photo by Mia Wasilevich
French dip at Philippe the Original: The French Dip champion.

The History: Philippe's opened in 1908, though not in its current location, which was opened in 1951 after the owners got the boot from their first spot, in order to make way for the 101. This restaurant claims to have made the first French dip, though they say it happened in 1918 and was probably just a case of bread-dropped-in-broth. (Their competitor Cole's lays claim to inventing in 10 years prior, and on purpose.)

The Scene: There are many tourists here. There are also many old-timers who come for the reliable food and cheap coffee and un-changing décor and ambiance. It's an order at the counter situation, which sometimes makes things a little bonkers.

The Food: The food here is good. And sometimes kind of funky, but in that good homespun way: pickled eggs are on the counter, for instance, and one of the more popular versions of the dip is lamb with blue cheese. It's "just" diner food, but a sense of adventure helps one enjoy it.

Photo by Amparo Rios
Chicken and Waffles at Roscoe's: The chicken and waffles combo may not have been invented in our fair city (endlessly debateable), but it was perfected here.

The History: The small chain's first location in Hollywood opened in 1975. To this day newcomers are baffled by the combination of waffles and chicken (even though it makes perfect sense), but they're quickly converted.

The Scene: It's always busy, but the people-watching post-closing time is especially fantastic. There are security guards milling about, but at this point I think it's somewhat for show.

The Food: With chicken and waffles, you either like it or you don't. If you don't, you're wrong, but it's a free country. The combination becomes the Platonic ideal of comfort food, all carb-y with just the right hint of sweetness.


Chicken and waffles at Roscoe's

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