classic

Tonga Room

San Francisco, CA
Bar & Restaurant
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950 Mason Street
San Francisco, CA
Opened in 1945
Wed-Thu 5pm-11:30pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-12:30am
Sun 5pm-11:30pm
closed Mon-Tue
(415) 772-5278

Critiki ratings

Tonga Room

7.8

Overall

by 266 people

1

10

Detail
Everyone You
Decor 9.7
Drink Quality 7
Drink Selection 7.3
Food Quality 6.9
Food Selection 7.4
Mood 8.6
Music 6
Service 7.5
Tikiness 9.1
Tilt 8.5
Vibe 8

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Humuhumu’s description

The Tonga Room is a great example of an old, classic Polynesian restaurant. It can be found in the basement floor of the upscale Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. The Tonga Room has gone through several incarnations over the years, themed initially in 1945 as a cruise ship (the S.S. Tonga), then in the '50s as a Mondrian-esque Chinese restaurant, then finally in the '60s the current theme of a Polynesian paradise took hold. Before becoming a restaurant, the space was the hotel's swimming pool.
The bar area of the restaurant has some impressive nautical theming, complete with a large ship's mast and sail, and plenty of rigging. There are two long dining rooms. The left dining room lies beneath a peaked-roof A-frame structure of impressive scale, with gorgeous carved details. The right dining room includes tables clustered under smaller round thatched huts, each one filled with large, colorful float lamps. Around the entire restaurant there are no shortage of old carved pieces tucked in between tropical foliage.
The dining rooms and the bar wrap around the real star attraction: a water-filled lagoon (the remains of the room's swimming pool origins), with a small tapa-lined boat with a thatched roof, where a band plays. Every thirty minutes a thunderstorm erupts, and rain falls into the pool. Unfortunately, this grand spectacle is also where the Tonga Room experience goes sadly sideways: while earlier in the evening the soundtrack is appropriate Hawaiian music, the house band plays dance hits of the '80s. The band starts playing at 8pm, at which time a cover charge is added to all bills (adding insult to the injury). The more low-key Happy Hour buffet at the Tonga Room, which goes from 5-7pm Monday-Friday, is quite popular.
In early 2009, the Fairmont announced plans to add a new tower of condominiums; this plan would have displaced the historic Tonga Room. This led to a fight against the removal of this unique piece of San Francisco history. The end result was positive: the Tonga Room is now protected under special landmark status by the City of San Francisco. The owners could still choose to close the Tonga Room, but every artifact within must be painstakingly cataloged, tracked, and preserved, and hopefully that daunting task will stave off any dreams of converting the space. The hotel has since changed ownership, and the new owners have no interest in the old condo plan.
In 2013, the menu was revamped; the tropical drinks being served are now much truer to the traditional recipes, and prepared with more care. Tonga Room's management has said that this new menu has led to a dramatic increase in bar sales, giving hope that this new trend towards a higher quality experience at the Tonga Room will continue.

Comments

December 3, 2017, 10:12 PM
look the tonga room rules.

it's in a fancy hotel in san francsico, and they could have put in pool, except they DID put in a pool, but only so a band could come out and play surf music or hawaiian music or covers of margartitaville and they could MAKE IT RAIN every 15 minutes.
so the crowd is terrible and the food is kinda meh and the bartenders are annoyed but there is a band on a raft and it rains.
done.
rules.
KevinCrossman
KevinCrossman has visited Tonga Room.
November 12, 2017, 11:49 AM
We had an outstanding dinner at the Tonga Room. We arrived shortly before 5:00 on a Saturday but the line to get into the bar was huge. We were finally seated but one of the last to get a bar table seat. We immediately put our names in for dinner which starts at 6:00 and they said they had a private event at 8;30 and didn't exactly instill confidence they'd be able to seat us. Nonetheless, almost immediately at 6 they paged us to be seated for dinner (and there weren't a lot of people being seated), so I'm not sure what the drama was all about.

Our drinks were very good overall. Nice to see more care with the cocktails than in years past. The menu isn't expansive and could use a few more drinks to round things out. Their Painkiller variant, the Spice Killer was really outstanding.

Dinner went great, with excellent service. My wife had the Mahi Mahi and I had the Sweet and Sour Pork, and we shared some Pineapple Fried Rice. Truly outstanding. The waiter ask if we were celebrating and we told him an Anniversary, so he brought out a small chocolate mouse with berry topping. This was really great and a wonderful way to complete the meal.

They have a variety of new Tiki Mugs. The red lantern I bought was made by Tiki Farm. A little expensive at $35.

Only issue with the Tonga Room was the music, which the most exotic song we heard was a Beach Boys number. Come on, Tonga Room, you're better than that!
tikiboss
tikiboss has visited Tonga Room.
November 8, 2017, 3:59 PM
Updated happy hour menu. Updated food and drinks specials and they no longer have the buffet.

http://www.tongaroom.com/menus/#happy-hour
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View all 481 Tonga Room regulars & visitors