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 318 people

1

10

Detail
Everyone You
Decor 9.7
Drink Quality 7.1
Drink Selection 7.4
Food Quality 7
Food Selection 7.3
Mood 8.5
Music 5.9
Service 7.5
Tikiness 8.9
Tilt 8.4
Vibe 7.8

Upcoming Visits

Regulars & Visitors

View all 607 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

Miyako Nui
Miyako Nui has visited Tonga Room.
December 9, 2018, 1:15 PM
Great old-school Tiki!... before 8pm when the house band floats out into the pool with 70ís and 80ís music.
The decor is classic, the rain shower every 30 minutes is so amazing. Our waiter was excellent - he had been there for 30 years!
The food was average and the drinks were average too - good, but not great.
Itís a place you have to go at least once in your life! For the history!
Raider273
Raider273 has visited Tonga Room.
November 6, 2018, 9:39 PM
Last week my wife and I attended the second annual "Rumtoberfest" hosted by the Tonga Room. What a train wreck!! Terrible food, terrible drinks, terrible music. Paid extra for the VIP area which got us unlimited access to under cooked, cheap fried finger food. Gone was the roasted pig from 2017. Gone was the Chinese food from 2017. Gone were Hawaiian dancers from 2017. Whoever managed this event should be quartered then shot!!

Felt like an Oakland Raider fan. I so want to support the Tonga Room, but just like the Raiders, if they're not going to take it seriously, why should I!

Gave the Tonga Room a decent rating following a 2017 visit. No more. While the pool is cool, there are so many decent tiki destinations in the Bay Area- don't waste your time and money. Hit Pagan Idol, Smuggler's Cove, Forbidden Island, Trader Vic's, Kon-Tiki Oakland instead- all worthy of your patronage.
JustinS-NewTikiLover
JustinS-NewTikiLover has visited Tonga Room.
November 3, 2018, 6:13 PM
The design of this bar is wild! Really cool bar. Drinks were slightly better than ok, but the crowd was not the right crowd (Think very wasted business convention). Still had a great time though.
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Articles in Critiki News

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