Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar

IMG_0795 Another San Francisco favorite of mine; a tourist attraction, a relic of another time, a cliche, a place so tacky it crosses back over into having class, and a great place to hang out and watch people.  On bottom floor of the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, the Tonga Room started life as the hotel's swimming pool area.  Some time in the mid-40's it was converted into an over-the-top  Tiki IMG_0810Lounge, and the pool remained as a central feature- but instead of swimmers it hosts a pontoon boat which serves as the lounge's bandstand.   IMG_0807

Ship's rigging from the remnants of the S. S Forester adorn the lounge, as do Tiki Huts, a faux long house, outrigger canoes and more.

A bit over a year ago the Tonga Room seemed destined to close, it had fallen out of favor with many, at least partially due to neglect from management- the food was disappointing, the drinks were OK, but expensive, and it needed some scrubbing.  When word of its potential demise got out, the masses rallied, the Tonga Room was packed nightly- the food and drink got better and the room was cleaned up.  It seems to have recovered and sustained enough business that it is apparently no longer in immediate danger of closing.

During the week there is a happy hour, plenty of appetizers are out on buffet tables, enough to make a meal if you are so inclined.  There is a one drink minimum with the happy hour.  There is also a full restaurant menu for traditional dining options.

About those drinks- they are not cheap (specialty drinks generally start at $10) but they are good, and they are STRONG.  Do not be surprised if odd things start happening after spending quality time in the Tonga Room.



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