This post is a bit of a local spotlight. I can’t truly call it local because I had to drive 2 hours to get there, but the 59er Diner is an institution for people who regularly drive Highway 2 out towards Leavenworth. For those unfamiliar with the area, Highway 2 cuts through the North Cascades and crosses all the way over to Spokane. It’s not the fastest way to get across the state, but there a few more interesting stops than taking the more traditional Interstate 90 route.
The 59er Diner has been at Coles Corner for a long time. It was built as a tavern in 1945, but became a diner in 1994. I drove out to it a couple of times in high school as a post-hike destination, and I used to pass by it on my way to Spokane when I had work in the area. It burned down in 2016, but was rebuilt in 2018 with an even more on-brand exterior. My family was snowshoeing by Lake Wenatchee, and the diner was an obvious stop for us before heading back home at the end of the day.
The menu doesn’t provide too many surprises. You’ll find your typical diner grub with burgers, fries, and milkshakes. They make some heartier dinners (chicken fried steak, meatloaf, spaghetti), and the breakfasts looked pretty great, too. Doesn’t hurt that they supply their own farm fresh eggs! Had I not been duty downed to write a review of their fries I probably would have opted for the Frito Pie. However, a bacon cheeseburger with a side of chili cheese fries was my order for the day.
The Chili Cheese Fries are served with crinkle cut fries, a house made chili, cheese, and onions. I also tried the fries on their own and thought they were really satisfying. They’re not doing anything special to them, but the 3/8ths of an inch thick crinkles were fried perfectly and achieved a crunchy crust. The chili made quick work of that. I don’t mind soggy fries in this sort of context, and ones on the periphery of the plate provide a varied texture to what’s buried under the chili. I think of it as more of a baked potato substitute. Chili on a baked potato is great, and chili on a plate of fries is just different! The starches caramelize a bit, it still gives body to the chili…it’s arguably a more appropriate dish to share with friends. The most important thing is that the chili taste good, and this was good chili. There were hunks of hearty vegetables (onions and peppers), and an overall nice smokiness to it. I would prefer something a bit thicker and more homogenous over fries, but this hit the spot. Part of me wishes that I had ordered the “wet fries” instead of the chili cheese fries (they’re served with gravy instead of chili), but I’ll just need to find another excuse to visit.
So, the fries were great, and the burger was also terrific after snowshoeing for a few hours with the kids. I was tempted to get a milkshake but forgot when I actually placed the order at the counter. When I thought about it again I was already feeling overfull from the plate of chili fries and burger, so I decided against it. That means I will not make it into March’s milkshake count…but maybe I’ll still have a chance to get on the board for 2023.
I recommend dropping into the 59er diner if you have a chance. Maybe you’re visiting Leavenworth (a touristy Bavarian themed town where the Alison Brie movie “Somebody I used to Know” was recently filmed), or you’re going hiking, or rafting, or snowshoeing…whatever the excuse, the diner is worthy of your business. If it was good enough for Guy Fieri, it’s good enough for you. Oh, did I mention that they also rent out cabins?? I’ll need to check into that sometime as well.