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13 Coins

125 Boren Avenue North, Seattle, WA - (206) 682-2513
Posted By Michael Stern on 1/18/2010 8:28:00 PM
13 Coins is a supper club, a West Coast coffee shop, an inexpensive diner and a high-priced steak house. Open 24/7/365 for some forty years, it has no comparables except, perhaps, Hollywood's Musso and Frank's. D├ęcor evokes the modernist googie era of mid-20th century America paired with a solid Tudor twist. Booths have upholstered backs that reach almost to the ceiling; counter seats are not stools but rather huge padded thrones that swivel to make for easy conversation with a neighbor and provide full-access vision of the short-order chefs at work in the vast open kitchen. The chefs put on an hypnotic show, shuffling sautee pans on the stove, poaching eggs, grilling meats, and griddle-cooking potatoes. Having ordered a Joe Special and eggs Benedict -- both fairly complicated dishes -- I was flabbergasted at all the preparation involved as every ingredient was individually cooked and each plate of food precisely assembled.

The Joe Special was as good as any I've eaten in Joe's home city of San Francisco: heavy with good ground sirloin and ribbons of not-too-limp cooked spinach with just enough scrambled egg to hold the two elements together, topped with a mantle of grated parmesan cheese. In lieu of toast, I chose a biscuit. It wasn't fluffy or angelic, but it had charms all its own. Split and griddled, absorbing hash-house savor as its surface turned crisp, it was Joe's ideal bready complement. The meal's blue ribbon goes to hash browns cooked with clarified butter. Each potato cake is thick enough for the outside shreds of spud turn to hard and chewy while the inside softens but doesn't turn to mush. Whatever else you order for breakfast (or for supper), I highly recommend these fine potatoes.

The menu is gigantic, inviting several return trips for such alluring meals as Hangtown fry (oysters, eggs and bacon), the kitchen's famous French onion soup, a Joe special made with sausage, Dungeness crab Louie, chop-chop salad, and a porterhouse steak priced at $57.95.

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Scorecard

4 - Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Overall: One of the Best - Worth a Trip
Hash Browns
Joe Special
Eggs Benedict
Biscuit
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Whether you come for bacon and eggs or sirloin steak, be sure to have an order of hash browns on the side. Slowly cooked on the griddle with plenty of clarified butter, they offer a hugely satisfying crunch and waves of potato flavor in every bite.
"Whether you come for bacon and eggs or sirloin steak, be sure to have an order of hash browns on the side. Slowly cooked on the griddle with plenty of clarified butter, they offer a hugely satisfying crunch and waves of potato flavor in every bite."
Michael Stern





Biscuits are split and griddle-toasted, sopping up the hot iron's satisfying hash-house savor.
"Biscuits are split and griddle-toasted, sopping up the hot iron's satisfying hash-house savor."
Michael Stern


Watching eggs benedict constructed is one of the perks of sitting at the counter. Eggs are poached to order, dry-cured Canadian bacon is sizzled to a crisp, the English muffin freshly toasted. It's topped with fine house-made Hollandaise.
"Watching eggs benedict constructed is one of the perks of sitting at the counter. Eggs are poached to order, dry-cured Canadian bacon is sizzled to a crisp, the English muffin freshly toasted. It's topped with fine house-made Hollandaise."
Michael Stern


While we suspected the pumpkin pie was not made in-house, it was still a satisfying way to conclude a Thanksgiving dinner.
"While we suspected the pumpkin pie was not made in-house, it was still a satisfying way to conclude a Thanksgiving dinner."
Cliff Strutz


The corn chowder is thick and creamy.
"The corn chowder is thick and creamy."
Cliff Strutz


The San Francisco treat, Joe Special, is topped with a fluffy crown of parmesan cheese. Pictured is the 'Little Joe Special,' a big meal bargain-priced at a mere $8.95. The full-size version, for $13.50, is enough for two.
"The San Francisco treat, Joe Special, is topped with a fluffy crown of parmesan cheese. Pictured is the 'Little Joe Special,' a big meal bargain-priced at a mere $8.95. The full-size version, for $13.50, is enough for two. "
Michael Stern


13 Coins offered a huge plate of food for Thanksgiving dinner, including roast turkey, real mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and green bean casserole.
"13 Coins offered a huge plate of food for Thanksgiving dinner, including roast turkey, real mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and green bean casserole."
Cliff Strutz


In the pan at the right, spinach is cooking for a Joe Special breakfast. The pan on the left is heating up for the ground sirloin.
"In the pan at the right, spinach is cooking for a Joe Special breakfast. The pan on the left is heating up for the ground sirloin."
Michael Stern


We watched as beautiful Crab Louis' were prepared in front of us. Next time here, this is what we are going to order.
"We watched as beautiful Crab Louis' were prepared in front of us. Next time here, this is what we are going to order."
Cliff Strutz


Among the jellies in the condiment basket are packs of peanut butter.
"Among the jellies in the condiment basket are packs of peanut butter."
Michael Stern


13 Coins is hard to classify. Always open and quite informal, it nonetheless supplies diners with thick white napkins and serious cutlery.
"13 Coins is hard to classify. Always open and quite informal, it nonetheless supplies diners with thick white napkins and serious cutlery."
Michael Stern


I've never seen counter seats as plush as these.
"I've never seen counter seats as plush as these."
Michael Stern


Looking for a post-midnight snack or pre-dawn breakfast in Seattle? 13 Coins is the place to go.
"Looking for a post-midnight snack or pre-dawn breakfast in Seattle? 13 Coins is the place to go."
Michael Stern


I found Seattleites wildly partisan about 13 Coins. Some loved it as a grand old city institution. Others turned up their nose about its fuddy-duddy style and tradition-bound menu. Staff of the Seattle Times eat here all the time because it's so nearby and because it never closes.
"I found Seattleites wildly partisan about 13 Coins. Some loved it as a grand old city institution. Others turned up their nose about its fuddy-duddy style and tradition-bound menu. Staff of the Seattle Times eat here all the time because it's so nearby and because it never closes."
Michael Stern



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