You’ll probably be chanting “Tonga Room, Tonga Room, Tonga Room!” after a few of their drinks. They are quite stiff, but you wouldn’t realize it with all the sugar that’s in it – equals bad hangover tomorrow.
If you live in SF, you probably already know about the Tonga Room, SF’s famous tiki bar and restaurant, which is located inside the famous Fairmont hotel in Nob Hill (aka our former neighborhood). Or maybe from Anthony Bourdain’s San Francisco Layover episode? We lived on Powell behind the Fairmont, and the walk to the Tonga Room is literally 1.5 blocks or 5 minutes. I felt like it had to be one of our must do before the moved activity, since we went to the gym right across from it. We would see it a few times a week for the last 5 years but only been there about 3 times.
In 1907, the Fairmont San Francisco opened its door. Then in 1929, a 75-foot pool was built on the hotel’s terrace level and was known as the “Fairmont Terrace Plunge.” It attracted all sorts of local folks and others from around the world including celebrities. Metro Goldwyn Mayer’s leading set director, Mel Melvin, was hired to transform the Terrace Plunge into the Tonga Room as we know it today in 1945. It became a tropical oasis in SF serving up Hawaiian-Asian fares and tiki drinks with periodic light tropical rainstorms, completed with thunder and lightening. It’s quite the show.
We went for their happy hour – Wednesday to Friday from 5:00pm to 7:00pm – and got the buffet which was decent. For $10 per person with one drink minimum (including non-alcoholic drinks), you can’t really complain. There were wings, fried rice, egg rolls, salad, fruit, edamame, chow mein, and maybe another item or two. I went for the wings, of course, and the hubs piled on the chow mein – he loves his noodles. We chowed down like the piggies we are while sipping on our tropical adult beverages. Hehe.
Depending on the day, after 8:00 or 8:15pm, the band starts playing; there’s as cover charge for the entertainment. It’s worth it, if you’ve never been or for a special occasion. It’s really fun. They come out on a boat (pictured below) and play 60’s and 70’s cover songs. I have to say the indoor rain is my favorite.
1. Although the address for the hotel is 950 Mason Street, enterance to the Tonga Room is through the door on California. You’ll see the sign outside that says “Tonga Room” (pictured below).
2. If you enter from the main hotel entrance on Mason, the Tonga Room is located on the terrace level – “T” button in the elevator. Just remember, “T” for Tonga Room.
3. If you go for happy hour, come between 4:45pm to 5:15pm or 6:00-6:15pm to guarantee to get in within happy hour times. The line forms and it gets long.
4. The restrooms are outside the restaurant either to the left (downstairs to the right) or right (down the hallway to the right, then on the left).
For your musical enjoyment…
Uh, who doesn’t enjoy an E-40 song?! From “Hurricane” to “Ghost Ride the Whip,” E-40 constantly delivers us great beats with solid (and super catchy) lyrics. Bay Area represent. I’ve been really diggin’ E-40’s new single “Choices”. Yup, everyone’s got choices and don’t forget it.