My recent Mai Tai at the Tonga Room was bittersweet. Now that the death of the Tonga Room is imminent, it’s impossible to sip on one of their giant umbrella laden concoctions without feeling anger and sadness. The closure of the Tonga Room is one more in a string of historic bar closures in San Francisco, a precious jewel that can never be replaced.
Those of you who have shunned this palace of tiki in the past, thinking it too touristy, too garish, you must mend your ways immediately. Ignore the table filled with fanny packing tourists and their baby stroller, and take in the history, the elegance, the regular refreshing thunderstorms so welcome to any weather starved San Francisco local.
The Tonga Room gets quite crowded at night, and the drink prices rise drastically, so get there between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. to take advantage of their happy hour specials. The early buffet is $9.50, and the food is forgettable, but it is all you can eat. Try to snag a spot by their fantastic hurricane bar, and you can get lost in watching their signature drinks being made under the watchful eye of a colossal tiki.
Talking about the Tonga Room’s upcoming demise while inside it’s sacred halls seems sacrilegious somehow, much better to smile and drink and enjoy the singular ambiance. Did I mention that there is a lake inside? With a bandstand in the middle? Make haste and raise a toast to the Tonga Room while you can!
San Francisco, CA 94108