"The most intact, the largest, and the most ambitious tiki bar ever created in San Francisco."
May 5, 2010 2:17 PM   Subscribe

Save The Tonga Room. The beloved Tonga Room in San Francisco, long threatened with extinction, may soon be a City historical resource, giving it a fighting chance at preservation.
posted by xowie (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh cool! (adds to things to show to do in SF list)
posted by infini at 2:23 PM on May 5, 2010

As a place to go for ambiance, The Tonga Room is amazing.

As a place to get a decent drink for less than $12, The Tonga Room is abysmal.
posted by gurple at 2:27 PM on May 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm surprised they couldn't save themselves at $10 cover charges and $10 mai-tais.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 2:36 PM on May 5, 2010

I once made myself deeply sick on umbrella drinks and the "Polynesian" buffet at the Tonga Room. It was insanity, but glorious insanity. And I willingly paid the terrible price the next day.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:43 PM on May 5, 2010

"If we keep open the Tonga Room where it is, we cannot create a state-of-the-art ballroom connected to other function rooms."

A state-of-the-art ballroom. And right next to that is the antique internet cafe.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:44 PM on May 5, 2010

a menu, please
posted by kitchenrat at 2:46 PM on May 5, 2010

Luckily, things are looking up for the Tonga Room these days.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 2:49 PM on May 5, 2010

i lived on mason between clay and sacramento, the tonga room was the go go girl in that elevated neighbourhood, put a smile on my face most sunny days down powell
posted by infini at 2:50 PM on May 5, 2010

We lost Trader Vics in Chicago and my trips into the Loop are just a little sadder now. Sure the drinks were watered down and overpriced, but they always put a smile on my face. I hate to see any tiki bar go away.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 3:19 PM on May 5, 2010

Huh. I just went there for a birthday party last weekend.

I love the extreme kitsch of the whole thing. Even the music was pretty fun. But so expensive. $30 for a plate of below average (by SF standards) Asian food, not including the $10 cover. I'd go again, but probably not for food.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:21 PM on May 5, 2010

It seems like there's a certain amount of whining from the redevelopment people that they're trying to attract "upscale customers," and that a nasty old tiki bar is going to prevent them from doing so.

"Horrors! Thurston! We can't stay at the Fairmont! They've that dreadful Tonga Room!"

"Too right, Lovey. Book us in at the Sir Francis Drake!"

The last time I was at the Fairmont, you actually had to look around a bit to figure out where the Tonga Room is.
posted by corey flood at 3:51 PM on May 5, 2010

"You drop prices and pretty soon you have a Holiday Inn with RVs parked here, and that's not what Nob Hill should be."

Who's up for a roadtrip?
posted by dhammond at 4:21 PM on May 5, 2010

Whenever I'm in SF, I keep TRYING to go the Tonga ROom, but have somehow failed every time. Now I've got to make sure I see it.
posted by The Whelk at 4:25 PM on May 5, 2010

Talk about government intervention. Can you imagine owning a hotel and wanting to renovate your divy tiki bar and being told "no, no, that was where my buddies got ironic hipster drunk once and now it's a historical resource! So, um, keep it open or else." I love the Tonga Room. I love San Francisco funky old stuff, I love my city. But really, forcing a hotel to preserve one part of its business and freeze it in aspic?
posted by Nelson at 5:22 PM on May 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

The Golden Gate Bridge and the Ferry Building are publically owned. The Painted Ladies on Steiner have far more value to their private owners as they are now than any likely renovation.
posted by Nelson at 6:17 PM on May 5, 2010

Won't someone think of the Tongans?!?

Ahh mattdidthat, I almost want to agree with your ironically sarcastic comment, except those buildings aren't ugly, they're just (like most of the older housing in SF) exceedingly poorly built.
posted by 1adam12 at 6:48 PM on May 5, 2010

Aww, man, I was in SF last weekend, and this place is literally two blocks from the hotel I stayed in. Bummed. Didn't even know it was there.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:07 AM on May 6, 2010

We lost Trader Vics in Chicago

It's reopened in a new location. I've only been for drinks and snacks, which were fine. But I've heard from others that the food in the dining room is still good too.
posted by dnash at 3:43 PM on May 6, 2010

Is Tonga Room tiki bar in S.F. worth saving? "members of San Francisco's Historic Preservation Commission couldn't agree on whether the aging tiki bar was worth saving."
posted by Nelson at 7:24 AM on May 20, 2010

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