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 258 people

1

10

Detail
Everyone You
Decor 9.7
Drink Quality 7
Drink Selection 7.3
Food Quality 6.8
Food Selection 7.3
Mood 8.6
Music 6
Service 7.5
Tikiness 9.1
Tilt 8.5
Vibe 8

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Regulars & Visitors

View all 472 Tonga Room regulars & visitors

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

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
Raider273
Raider273 has visited Tonga Room.
August 21, 2017, 9:42 PM
Had "date night" with my wife at the Tonga Room last night, Sunday, August 20, 2017. Booked a table about a month ago for 6pm. Arrived a little early and had a round at the bar (Mai Tai and Jet Pilot) followed by dinner. Our waiter, Bash, was extremely friendly and attentive. Set aside that you're paying Hotel and San Francisco prices; we had a great time. Food and drinks weren't the best we've ever had but the overall experience was a lot of fun- just what you expect from any good tiki experience.
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Upcoming Visits
Mik-Tai
visiting on
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
for the first time
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View all 472 Tonga Room regulars & visitors