Health Check: 13 Coins (Seatac, WA)

Here at Offbeat Eats, every once in a while we do a “health check”, revisiting one of our old favorites and see how things are doing. In this case, our planned backpacking trip to Mount Rainier with Fitpacking had us all rendezvousing at a hotel by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. After going to the airport at 0-dark-30, by the time we arrived at Seatac we were quite hungry, it was lunch time, and, conveniently, our walking route to the hotel took us right by one of our favorites for airport dining: 13 Coins (our previous review from 2014 is here).

As I wrote back in 2014: “If it weren’t for the decor, I’d call them a 24 hour diner… but that’s not the decor. The decor is…. 1967 supper club. Seriously, walking into 13 coins is like walking into the 1960s, or at least your stuffed-leather, dim light, and white-clad waiter stereotypical vision thereof.” Our arrival at 13 Coins shows that the decor and ambiance are essentially unchanged from 2014 minus a few revisions from the Covid era, like a plexiglass barrier between the captains’ chairs along the counter and the cooks, and…. reduced hours. Yes, one of the major attractions of 13 Coins in the past was that it was a true 24/7 joint available for weary travels, and while the sign out front still proclaims in foot-tall letters “24-hour dining”; the reality of staffing shortages in the post-pandemic era resulted in their paring back their hours: instead of true 24/7 operating, they are now open between 6am and 11pm (2am on Friday and Saturday). So still some impressively broad operating hours, but no longer an option if looking for a very late dinner or a pre-flight breakfast before that annoying 6am flight that Seatac seems to be particularly known for.

Aside from that, however, the experience is mostly unchanged. Our friendly, white-jacketed maitre d’ offered to store our luggage (always a nice touch), and then showed us to a cozy booth across from the service counter. Since we were definitely on vacation, and it had been a long flight, I decided to unwind with a cocktail as I perused the menu, opting for their “Kentucky Calling” cocktail, with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Oloroso Sherry, Molé Bitters, and Amaro. A good, well-executed cocktail

I ended up settling on a classic: the Prime Rib Dip. Thinly sliced prime rib on toasted French bread. Served with au jus, creamy horseradish sauce, and fries. I know some might scoff at this since this dish is usually leftovers from the previous night’s prime rib… but I don’t care. It’s actually a great way for a restaurant to serve up a good sandwich, and this hit all the notes a good French Dip should: beef tending on the rare side, a good, slightly crusty roll, enough horseradish to give some bite to things… and some decent fries. I was perfectly satisfied with this sandwich, and it was a great way to relax after our long trip in an environment substantially more pleasant and relaxing than the airport.

So, while the reduced operating hours should be noted (and are hopefully temporary), 13 Coins passes its health check with flying colors: they still offer up a great quirky refuge for the travelers of Seatac, with some good food, and an ambiance full of mid-century charm. It’s definitely worth checking out.

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