Although NY is a great food town, it's not always easy to find affordable good eats. And sad to say there are still a few food items that are scarce -- I mean, sure, you can find good deep-fried gerbil, but where to get a decent corndog?
But one thing I can cross off my list is a decent French dip. I have fond memories of the delicious French dip from Philippe's in L.A., not only the original inventors, but still hand sliced and dipped by the hairnet-wearing ladies in the squishy white nurse shoes. Nothing could come close.
The Philippe's is still the Holy Grail, but I'm happy to say I found an acceptable delicious French dip here in our backyard with the Roll n'Roaster in the EV (3rd and 11th). I've gone back 3 times so far, just to make sure the yumminess was consistent. Cheap ($4.21 with tax), but with nice meaty roast beef flavor. There's a good beef-to-bun ratio, and I was particularly impressed with the quality of the bun -- crisp outside, very fresh, with a nice chewiness (not too much). The bun is round, a kaiser I guess, not the oblongs like Philippe's.
This part is critical: Without instruction, they will only dip the top half of the bun. It is imperative that as you order, ask for both sides to be dipped, resulting in lots of juicy gravy flavor. You can also at this time ask for grilled onions (free), which I like as an extra level of flavor, but not necessary for full sandwich enjoyment.
They offer other variations, but I haven't tried them. I don't see the point, plus my personal philosophy is to order the specialty -- it's usually what's best. The lemonade is above average, but stay away from the greasy, flavorless onion rings.
Atmosphere is clean fast-food, all surfaces are laminant, lighting fluorescent. Not the place to impress your friends, just a refuge to slip in for a quick roast beef jones.