Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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125 Boren Avenue North
January 18, 2010 8:28 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. Décor 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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