Since its introduction in 1962, with a little help from the endorsement of announcer Vin Scully, the Dodger Dog has been a beloved staple of the Dodger Stadium experience.
Yes, the Dodger Dog is the thing to eat at a Dodgers game. But it's not the only food institution of Game Day. Dodger fans are just as engrossed in their pre- and post-game eats. And two restaurants stand out above all others to fulfill Game Day tradition.
Before the Game
On the top end of Calle Olvera, the historic "first street" of Los Angeles, sits an unpretentious food stall under a somewhat battered looking plywood sign. This humble kiosk, Cielito Lindo, has been selling taquitos doused in a house-original avocado sauce since 1934.
Few Angelinos know that the history of Cielito Lindo involves an abandoned wife, Aurora Guerrero, traveling up from Mexico, kids in tow, in search of her husband who had come to the U.S. under a work program in the 1920s but never returned. Even fewer would care that this work program, called the Bracero Program, brought more than 80,000 temporary farm workers up from Mexico during WWI and the years after, or that less than half returned to Mexico at the end of the program. But most Angelinos would agree that LA is all the better for the desperate attempt of Sra Guerrero to eek out a living here in the city, and that her now-legendary taquitos and avocado sauce are worth the inevitable wait. And never more so than on Game Day, when Dodger fans will be lined up down the block, waiting to indulge in this celebrated pregame tradition.
Address: 23 Olvera St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Cielito Lindo Hours: Sun-Thurs 9am-11pm, Fri & Sat 9am-midnight
Honorable mention: dating from the new millennium, Guisados is signifcantly younger than Cielito Lindo, but born of the same tradition of home-style Mexican cooking. Guisados is literally around the corner from Dodger Stadium, and is fast becoming its own tradition with Dodger fans, who can be seen lined up out the door on Game Day.
Address: 1261 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026
After the Game
If the lines of blue caps and jerseys at Cielito Lindo before the game, or at the Dodger Dog stands during the game weren't enough, one more en masse dining experience awaits the true Dodger fan after the game: a French dipped sandwich at Philippe the Original.
Open since 1908, Philippe's claims to have accidentally created the French dip in 1918, when owner Philippe Mathieu dropped a roll into the roasting pan, drenching the bread in the juices of the meat. The customer liked the inadvertent creation so much that he brought friends back to the restaurant the next day to try it, and a culinary institution was born.
Almost a century later, much of "the original" in Philippe the Original remains, particularly the unique queuing system for counter service. Separate lines form in front of each of 10 "carvers," or servers who prepare the entire order at their own counter station. Lines don't move terribly quickly, but the post-game ambiance is lively amongst fellow queuers, and the final product merits the wait, even for those who don't generally thrill at the thought of a sandwich.
To augment the sandwich, Philippe's provides a house-original hot mustard. Although the restaurant prepares about 80 gallons of the mustard a week, diners are advised to use sparingly. Other meal accompaniments include cole slaw, potato and macaroni salads, pickled hard boiled eggs, large Kosher style pickles, black olives and hot yellow chili peppers. Interestingly, Philippe’s also serves close to 300 pounds of pigs feet in a week.
Note: thank you to the readers who pointed out that Philippe's closes at 10p.m. When the Dodgers play at night, hit Philippe's before the game. Then head to Cielito Lindo after the game; they're open 'til midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.
Address: 1001 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
Philippe's Hours: Daily 6am-10pm
Honorable mention: While Philippe's is our favorite, it is worth noting that another LA restaurant claims to be the originator of the French dip: Cole's. The Cole's legend asserts that the French dip was an intentional act by their chef in 1908, to assist a customer who had "bad gums." These days, don't expect help from the chef; sandwiches at Cole's aren't served pre-dipped. Rather, diners dip their own sandwiches in a bowl of au jus provided with their meal.
Address: 118 E. 6th St., Los Angeles, CA 90014
Open Wide the World readers have suggested more great Game Day eats, with comments on this post and on our Twitter page. Check them out, then add your own favorite! We'll add reader suggestions all summer.
- Eastside Market Italian Deli - from Eddie V. (comment on post)
- King Taco - from @Eric666 (twitter comment)
Do you have a different pre- or post-game favorite food stop?
Drop us a line in the comments, and we'll add it to our list!