Hold your own dunk contest with French dips and other broth-boosted sammies.
La Grande Orange Pizzeria
4410 N. 40th St., Phoenix
Two Los Angeles restaurants in the early 1900s claimed to be the birthplace of the French dip, the famously bare-bones beef sandwich served with a side of beef jus. One reported that a cook accidentally dropped a sandwich in a pan of meat drippings; the other maintained it was a cover-up for stale bread, hence the dipping. Years later, Valley restaurants are playing it loose with the formula. La Grande Orange Pizzeria serves a turkey French dip ($14, pictured) made with California Diestel turkey breast that’s brined and slathered with an herb- and chile-flecked rub, then slapped on the rotisserie for slow roasting. Reserving the turkey bones to make the jus, the chefs carve the tender, smoky meat and lay it on a griddle-toasted roll from LGO Bakeshop that’s been rubbed and perfumed with hot garlic, then finished with a sprinkle of fresh parsley. One bite and you’ll wonder why all dips aren’t made with turkey.
111 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Layered with succulent wood-roasted pork loin and smoky bacon, the St. Francis pig dip ($16) lives up to its swine-y name. When chef/owner Aaron Chamberlin put the pork-centric dip on the menu five years ago, he wanted to create a sandwich that nobody else was making. After being featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, the dip became a home run. Chamberlin conjures this delightful bite by smearing a toasted baguette (from local MJ Bread) with tart Dijon mustard, then piling it with thin slices of brined roast pork, caramelized onions deglazed with red wine vinegar and a dab of sugar, nutty Gruyère cheese, and fat-edged bacon. The multi-textured dip comes with turkey jus spiked with Worcestershire sauce and a mound of crisp fries.
20469 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
When you need to feed that red meat craving and turkey and pork just won’t do, go old school with Tavern Americana’s French dip ($16). Owner Tim Houdek starts with fresh MJ bread – what else? – then fills it with razor-thin slices of rosemary-, salt- and Tabasco-brined prime rib, melted Havarti cheese, sweet caramelized onions and sautéed crimini mushrooms. Houdek pulls the flavors together by topping the juicy sandwich with a dollop of mild horseradish cream. For dipping the sandwich and requisite french fries, the kitchen provides a rich, veal-based jus finished with a splash of hearty red wine. “It’s very popular. We usually sell out by 7 p.m.,” Houdek says. You know what to do. Get there early. Dip, eat and repeat.