7 Must-Try French Dip Sandwiches in Philly

New and classic takes on the cheesesteak's California kin
September 26, 2014
by Danya Henninger

Somewhat paradoxically, the French dip is a wholly American creation. Invented in California in the early 20th century, the thinly-sliced roast beef sandwich quickly spread across the country. Often made with cheese and always served with a side of hot jus, the French dip is like the the cheesesteak's throwback uncle. Here are seven places to find the diner classic in Philly.

1. Coco’s
John Cokos loves the fact that his Jewelers' Row tavern hasn’t changed much at all in 30 years, including the fact that the food is always surprisingly good. You can add melted brie to the French dip for $1.50 extra, but the hot roast beef on an Italian roll is plenty satisfying all on its own, especially with a 20-oz. pour of lager ($8).

2. Jerry’s Bar
Roasted top round is the beef that’s piled onto a giant roll from Sarcone’s at this Northern Liberties hideaway, where it’s covered with Gruyère and served with fries or a salad, plus caramelized onion beef jus for dipping ($18).

3. Nodding Head
Garlic, thyme and oregano spice the roasted beef that mingles with sautéed onions and provolone cheese beside a bowl of jus at Curt Decker’s second-floor brewpub on Sansom Street ($11).

4. Beast & Ale
The animal theme is strong at Tim Spinner and Brian Sirhal’s new Manayunk bar (see the antler chandelier), and their version of the sandwich is called “Hot Roast Beast.” It’s served with sharp provolone, gravy and a side of horseradish cream ($11).

5. Iron Hill Brewery
At any of the 10 brewpubs around the region, including the one on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill, you can pick up your torpedo roll filled with shaved rib-eye beneath Swiss cheese and horseradish sauce, and dip it into a crock of caramelized onion jus ($14).

6. Mugshot Diner
Get your late-night French dip fix at this 24-hour stop on the edge of Fishtown and Kensington. Roast beef topped with melted sharp provolone is served with twin ramekins of coleslaw and hot jus, plus a tangy pickle ($9.50).

7. Famous 4th Street Delicatessen
The regular sandwiches at this Queen Village deli are large enough, but if you dare, you can upgrade to “zaftig” for a truly belly-filling meal. Hot roast beef au jus is served on the bread of your choice (go for an onion roll) with one of several sides, the best of which is the crisp potato pancakes ($16 regular, $20.75 zaftig).

roast beef
french dip