Spinach, mushrooms, and meat flavor this San Francisco classic
This dish, beloved on the US west coast, was created at Original Joe’s Restaurant in San Francisco.
It looks like breakfast fare. But the dish is so hearty and filling that it may work better for lunch or dinner.
It certainly does for us, because we’re just not that hungry first thing in the morning. Plus, if you serve it for dinner, you can pair it with an alcoholic accompaniment. Win win.
Recipe: Joe’s Special Scrambled Eggs
This dish has become so popular that you can now sample it at numerous San Francisco restaurants, as well as other restaurants along the west coast. And nowadays, in environs beyond.
Joe’s Special contains eggs, of course. And spinach. Usually mushrooms. Often onions or garlic. And always meat. The traditional recipe contains ground beef. Popular meat variations include Italian sausage or Mexican chorizo. And our favorite, bacon.
We use bacon in our recipe because we think the flavor works better than ground beef (but in the Notes we provide instructions for the beef version if you want to try it). Bacon also provides a better balance of ingredients (in the original, ground beef dominates the dish).
This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prepare and serves 2 or 3. We like to serve this with toast or garlic toast, preferably made from sourdough bread.
- 3 to 4 slices of bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 shallot, minced (1 to 2 tablespoons)
- ~½ cup sliced mushrooms (or more to taste)
- salt to taste (maybe ½ teaspoon kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 to 2 handfuls of fresh spinach (about a cup, packed)
- 4 eggs
- ~2 tablespoons milk (optional)
- additional salt for flavoring the eggs (a few pinches)
- freshly ground black pepper (a few grinds)
- grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for garnish
- sourdough toast or garlic toast for garnish (optional, but traditional)
- Add the bacon pieces to a large frying pan placed over medium stovetop heat, then brown the bacon. When the bacon is browned (5 to 8 minutes), remove the pieces with a slotted spoon and let them drain on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Eyeball the amount of rendered bacon fat. If it’s more than 2 tablespoons, you may wish to remove a bit. Add the chopped shallot and mushrooms to the hot bacon fat. Season to taste with salt and thyme. Sauté until the mushrooms are barely browned (about 3 minutes).
- Add the spinach, then stir to combine. Sauté until the spinach is wilted (a minute or two).
- While the spinach is cooking, crack the eggs and add them to a bowl. Add milk, if using, and season with salt and black pepper. Whisk briefly (about 30 seconds), just enough to combine the eggs.
- When the spinach is cooked, add the bacon back to the pan. Let it warm briefly, then pour in the beaten eggs. Using a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until the eggs are scrambled (see Notes). The texture of the dish will be somewhat loose and crumbly.
- Plate the dish, then garnish each serving with grated Parmigiano Reggiano. If you like, you can add a slice of sourdough or garlic bread to each plate (we prefer it toasted).
- Instead of shallot, you could substitute diced onion and/or garlic.
- Ingredient quantities are very casual in this dish – in particular, feel free to adjust the quantities of mushrooms and spinach to taste.
- Instead of fresh spinach, you could substitute frozen.
- We like dried thyme in this dish. Dried oregano is also nice. Or fresh tarragon.
- This dish typically is served with the eggs scrambled until they are fairly dry. But if you prefer scrambled eggs to be soft and creamy, go for it.
- We often add milk when we scramble eggs (a tablespoon or 2 is enough). But that’s optional.
- If you prefer to use ground beef in this dish: Use 6 to 8 ounces and eliminate the bacon. We season the ground beef with salt, then brown it (this takes maybe 8 minutes). Then we remove most of the rendered fat with a spoon, leaving about 2 tablespoons in the frying pan. We push the browned beef to the sides of the pan, then add the shallot and mushrooms (Step 2) and proceed with the recipe.
- BTW, a single restaurant serving of this dish often uses the full 6 to 8 ounces of ground beef. That’s way too much for us, so we divide the dish into 2 servings. Or even 3.
- That’s another reason we prefer bacon to beef in this dish: A little goes a long way. The bacon version is lighter, plus we get more spinach and mushroom flavor.
- As noted above, Italian sausage and Mexican chorizo are also good alternatives in this dish.
- Or you could substitute chopped smoked salmon (it’s wonderful with spinach). No need to cook it – just start the recipe with Step 2 (use about 2 tablespoons of butter since you won’t have bacon fat), then add the smoked salmon with the spinach in Step 3.
- If you use smoked salmon, crumbled feta cheese makes a better garnish than Parmigiano Reggiano.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- We like to place hot sauce (such as Tabasco) on the table for those who prefer to spice up their eggs. Plus salt and pepper, of course. And maybe extra grated cheese.
- This dish was created at a San Francisco restaurant called Original Joe’s. The restaurant, in the grungy Tenderloin district, was started in 1937 by Ante “Tony” Rodin, a Croatian immigrant. The location was destroyed by fire in 2007, but in 2012 the restaurant was reopened in the North Beach area. There are other restaurants in San Francisco with “Joe’s” in their name, but Original Joe’s is, well, the original when it comes to this dish.
- In 2012, the mayor of San Francisco designated January 26 as “Original Joe’s Day.”
“So Original Joe’s opened in 1937, the same year as the Golden Gate Bridge,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “But Joe’s tasted better.”
“You’re eggs-actly right about that,” I said. “This dish is eggs-cellent stuff.”
“A comedi-hen you’re not,” said Mrs K R. “Your jokes are bacon my heart.”
Guess un oeuf is un oeuf. Better quit before Mrs K R starts using fowl language.
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Love these kind of eat any time of the day meals. This is perfect for anyone working the midnight shift. You never really know what to eat in the middle of the night so we would just eat breakfast food all of the time. Joe's special scramble would keep you going all night long.
Wow, that looks incredibly satisfying. I agree, looks good for lunch or dinner - but on the other hand, no one needs to twist my arm to get me to have eggs for dinner! I love all the options you present! Thanks!
Hi Bobbi, we love the whole breakfast for dinner thing, so we'll eat this any time of the day, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, we usually have eggs for dinner at least once a week! Love 'em. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Yum! My kind of breakfast.
Oooh yum! This is my kind of breakfast. And definitely prefer bacon to ground beef in the morning!
Hi Pam, good stuff, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, we often prefer bacon no matter what the time! :-) Thanks for the comment.
That looks incredibly delicious and I love EGGS! A perfect meal for any time.
Hi Angie, it IS incredibly delicious. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I wish I could still eat like that -- just go out to a diner and order enough food for 4 of me. And eat it all.
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Mae, yeah, those days are long gone for us too. Darn it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
It does look a fantastic meal -- we have eggs for dinner at least once a week here, too. I have to admit I could eat this without the meat, but Mr. Rosemary is a dedicated carnivore. (I don't mind. ;)
Definitely one of my go to breakfast, nice and easy. Delicious too
Had never heard of the dish but it seems to come from the same family as my frittatas and would fit the brunch or lunch mold very nicely ! As I generally do not keep bacon in the house, spinach and smoked salmon and feta sound very moreish !!
Hi Rosemary, we could skip the meat too, although bacon is a real weakness of ours. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Raymund, really easy, really delicious. Perfect! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Eha, these rather similar to a frittata in many ways. We almost made with smoked salmon and feta for the photos for this post, but decided bacon was truer to the original spirit of the dish. But the smoked salmon version is excellent! Thanks for the comment.
They serve this at The Original Pancake House which is our favorite breakfast spot. SO good! and eggs-actly what I want!
It's a perfect meal for any time of the day.
Hi Abbe, terrific dish, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Pat and Dahn, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I know TheHub would love this and I would happily (and may) make it for him, but I really do not like eggs.
I make omelets for lunch a few times a week---and use many of the same ingredients. Now it's time to add bacon and Parm. Delish!!!
Joe’s Special Scrambled Eggs used to be my brunch go to when ever we visited the city. We make a smoked salmon and shrimp version here about once a month. I also loved Joe's eggplant Parmesan, Eva always went for the fried calamari. Thanks for the memories of Joe's, I hope it's still their...
Hi Anne, TheHub will thank you if you make this for him -- he'll love it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, you can easily turn this into an omelet. Enjoy! And thanks for the comment.
Hi Ron, I believe it is still there (been quite some time since we've been in San Francisco, and then there's this COVID thing). Like the idea of shrimp! Gotta try that. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Looks delicious 😀!
Hi Shirley, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Scrambled eggs is one of our very favourite Sunday night meals in our house, on toast. I often add bacon, mushrooms and spinach, but have never thought to use minced beef. I love to plonk a handful of grated parmesan cheese into the eggs instead of milk too. Love the backstory to your dish. Thanks so much KR, and to you both for your very clever repartee. Best wishes, Pauline
Hi Pauline, you'll have to try this some Sunday. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I live an hour away from San Fransisco but I never had Joe's dish or been in Joe's restaurant. It looks like a wonderful dish and I have to give it a try. Thanks John, Gerlinde
Hi Gerlinde, it's definitely worth trying sometime! Good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Eggscellent! I love a good scramble for dinner and have made meals like this often lately with the crazy hours I've been working. I've put all kind of combos together to use up leftovers and it's always delicious. Have a great weekend! :)
Hi Martha, scrambled eggs and whatever just work! Hope your hours get much less crazy soon. Thanks for the comment.
You Mrs. Kay are very generous to share this with him! There’s no way that that would happen in this house. :) We’re not big breakfast eaters either, so this would definitely be something we can try for dinner or a special lunch.
Hi David, we love breakfast -- just not for breakfast. :-) This is definitely dinner for us. Thanks for the comment.
Love all the vegetables in this omelette. Looks delicious and a great meal for breakfast or dinner.
Hi Judee, it's the spinach and the mushrooms that really make this -- the bacon (or other meat) is just along for the ride. Thanks for the comment.
As a Bay Area native, I can attest that this classic dish totally rocks. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and savor it for brunch or dinner. You'll be a fan for life.
Great combination of veggies especially mushrooms- I always look for easy recipes to make mushrooms more palatable to my daughters budding tastes and your recipe seems like a comforting win. Thanks!
Hi Carolyn, I figured you'd know this dish. :-) So good! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Haseen, funny how kids often don't like mushrooms, then adore them once they're older! Thanks for the comment.
I am a big fan of eggs, John. And, this is exactly how I love my scrambled eggs but I never added Parmesan. May be I should try it now.
Hi Balvinder, the Parmesan adds a nice hit of flavor -- definitely worth a try to see if you like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I've never heard of Joe's eggs. What a very hearty meal. You're right - these are a little heavy for breakfast, but what supper. Not being a fan of ground beef, bacon is the perfect alternative, but when is it not. :) We eat eggs quite a bit for dinner so I've pinned. Oh and hot sauce on the table - absolutely.
Hi MJ, we love eggs for dinner! And this is perfect. :-) Thanks for the comment.
so hard to go past bacon! but me and Mr P. don't eat it anymore. oh woe to that diet of ours... this looks delish!
Hi Sherry, it IS delish. Probably pretty good without bacon and extra mushrooms. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi R, it's really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Dear friend! Firstly photos and presentations look perfect! Really good job. And this special scrambled eggs look fingerlickingly delicious.
Hi Ana, it's really a great dish -- loaded with flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Oh these scrambled eggs are packed with so many delicious and hearty things - that's definitely a nice breakfast, lunch, or dinner situation (I vote for dinner...just because of possible pairing with some wine :)
Hi Ben, definitely dinner for us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I'm always up for breakfast for dinner, especially if it looks this good!
Hi Laura, breakfast for dinner is one of our favorites. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is a new one for me, John! And I agree this would definitely be lunch or dinner for me, too. One hefty meal!
Hi Frank, it is hefty. Definitely dinner fare for us! Thanks for the comment.
I like the way you're thinking lately--margarita with "sloppy joes", unspecified alcoholic beverage with scrambled eggs... But I am a bit breakfast for dinner (or lunch) fan too. And in fact I'm about to post a veggies scramble myself!
Hi Inger, looking forward to your veggie scramble! Sounds like dinner to us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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