Bar & Restaurant
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Fri & Sat 5pm-12:45am
Defunct tiki not included,
distances are as the crow flies.
Oct 21, 2010
Jul 25, 2006
Oct 4, 2005
Rainstorm in the central lagoon at Tonga Room in San Francisco
May 2009, photo by Eric October
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The Tonga Room is a great 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 as a cruise ship (the S.S. Tonga), then a Chinese restaurant, then finally the current theme of a Polynesian paradise. Before becoming a restaurant, the space was the hotel's swimming pool.
The room is unusualóat the center of the restaurant is the remnant of the room's swimming pool past: a water-filled lagoon with a small ship in the middle where bands play. Every thirty minutes a thunderstorm erupts, and rain falls into the pool. The Happy Hour at the Tonga Room, which goes from 5-7pm Monday-Friday, is quite popular and can get very crowded.
In early 2009, the Fairmont announced plans to add a new tower of condominiums, and this plan will displace the historic Tonga Room. This has prompted a fight against the removal of this unique San Francisco landmark.
How to find it:
The Tonga Room is in a lower level of the Fairmont Hotel, two floors below the lobby level. Since the Fairmont is on a hill, there is a south-side entrance to the building on California St. That entry is on the same level as the Tonga Room, if you enter here, follow the hall to the other end of the building.
Parking in this neighborhood is extremely difficult. There is a mix of free parking and 2-hour limit metered parking (until 6pm or 8pm) in the neighborhood. If you try to park in the neighborhood, expect to spend about 15 minutes to find a spot about four blocks away. The Fairmont has a valet parking lot for about $20, and there is another parking lot just west of the hotel for about the same amount.