Joe’s Special


Some say this famous San Francisco specialty was devised by a San Francisco chef as a variation on the Italian frittata. Others insist it was created as an after-hours snack by dance-band musicians during the 1920’s. A third theory attributes the dish to miners who frequented the city’s riotous Barbary Coast district in the 1850’s. Whatever its origin may be this hearty mixture of beef, onions, spinach and eggs makes a satisfying meal any time, day or night.

There’s a restaurant in San Jose, California, called Original Joe’s where they make a very good Joe’s Special. It’s located downtown and it’s the perfect place to go after the theater, opera or sporting event. I remember it being a very friendly family type of place, even though the waiters wore tuxedos.  I have changed the recipe to include Italian sausage and peppers. I also sauteed the spinach and served it on the side to accommodate those who didn’t care for the spinach.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 green or red bell peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano, fresh ok
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 pound fresh spinach, rinsed, stems removed (about 4 cups)
  • 6-8 large eggs, lightly beaten

Preparation Steps

  1. Heat oil in a wide frying pan over med-high heat. Cut peppers into 1/2 inch wide slices.
  2. Saute peppers, onions and garlic until onions are soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add spinach, cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes or saute separately for finicky diners.
  4. Chop sausage and beef, add to vegetables and cook, stirring often, until browned. Drain excess fat.
  5. Stir in salt, nutmeg, pepper, oregano and  beaten eggs. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring  just until eggs are softly set.

Serve with plenty of grated Parmesan cheese and wouldn’t some warm San Francisco sourdough bread be delicious?

This serves approx. 6 average appetites and if you are old enough to drink, I would tell you this is especially good with a nice cold beer.

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