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Tiki Central Forums Tiki Travel Best Tiki Restaurant in SF? I have one night only...
Best Tiki Restaurant in SF? I have one night only...
royaltiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 75
From: Now in Austin, TX!
Posted: 2009-06-15 11:39 am   Permalink

The wife and I will be visiting SF at end of August for a quick 4 day trip, and driving between Carmel and Napa - I'll probably get a chance on hitting some Tiki spots one of those days as we pass through SF area.

I've checked out the SF threads on here;

http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=30927&forum=16&11
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=11299&forum=16&45
http://www.tikiroom.com/tikicentral/bb/viewtopic.php?topic=11299&forum=16&hilite=francisco%20vintage%20bars

and the ones they link to as well.

If I had to pick ONE restaurant to visit, would the Tonga Room be the best choice?

http://www.fairmont.com/sanfrancisco/guestservices/restaurants/thetongaroomhurricanebar.htm
http://www.yelp.com/biz/tonga-room-san-francisco
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/02/22/tonga-room-san-franc.html

Any locals care to offer a better alternative. It's literally my one chance in the area per year to hit somewhere cool!

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Tiki Statues and Tiki Masks at www.RoyalTiki.com

[ This Message was edited by: royaltiki 2009-06-15 11:40 ]


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leleliz
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 02, 2008
Posts: 1981
From: NorCal
Posted: 2009-06-15 11:45 am   Permalink

If I had one night in town I would do Conga Lounge, Kona Club and Forbidden Island.

I would rather eat bar food and pizza and drink awesome drinks then spend the whole night at Tonga Room.
Personally I like doing that trifecta of bars when I have friends come into town.

Everyone seems to eat and drink just fine.

If I had to choose just one place to go I would go to Forbbiden Island. Drink zombies and eat coconut shrimp and call it a good trip.



 
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royaltiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 75
From: Now in Austin, TX!
Posted: 2009-06-15 11:51 am   Permalink

That is so cool, thanks for the great advice leleliz! I'll look those up instead - so good to hear from people who know rather than relying on google..
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leleliz
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 02, 2008
Posts: 1981
From: NorCal
Posted: 2009-06-15 11:58 am   Permalink

You bet!

Forbidden Island has amazing drinks and enough bar food to stay happy. Sweet Potato fries, coconut shrimp, crab rangoon....and more..all fabulous.

Sitting in Tonga Room is fine but the drinks are hits and misses. You will leave happy from just FI or from the trifecta.

Enjoy!

[ This Message was edited by: leleliz 2009-06-15 12:02 ]


 
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royaltiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 75
From: Now in Austin, TX!
Posted: 2009-06-15 12:02 pm   Permalink

Sounds like we need to find a bed quite close to FI or in the middle of all three Not a night to be driving home lol
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Mai Tai
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 21, 2004
Posts: 1432
From: Exotic Isle of Alameda
Posted: 2009-06-16 02:48 am   Permalink

Leleliz's recommendations are good. If you only want bar food, then that is the way to go.

However, if you want a fine dining experience in a tiki setting, then I would have to recommend the Tonga Room in San Francisco at the Fairmont, and Trader Vic's in the East Bay in Emeryville, right across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco.

The Tonga Room's atmosphere is pretty hard to beat, especially if you haven't been there before. Oh, some people might complain that they cleaned it up too much in their recent refurbishment, and maybe you can see some of the exposed pipes up above, plus the strobe light when the lightning strikes, which to them spoils the magic. But have you ever been to a restaurant where there's a rain and thunderstorm inside every 20 minutes, and there is a band playing (cheesy) music on a floating raft in a giant water feature that once upon a time used to be the hotel indoor swimming pool? I think not! The drinks aren't really anything to write home about, and the service - especially by the cocktail waitresses - up until recently was pretty surly, but things have improved to some extent after the "Save The Tonga Room" event. And dinner is usually pretty good - if you go, you want to go there for the full dining experience, not just cocktails in the bar. Also, the Tonga Room might not be around forever, so if you don't forsee getting back to San Francisco any time soon, then my advice is to go to the Tonga Room while you still can.

My other fine dining choice would be Trader Vic's in Emeryville. The service is good, the drinks are usually great (but occasionally can be off), the food is good too, especially anything from the chinese ovens. The atmosphere is a little more airy than your classic tiki bar, with a heavy nautical theme and big windows overlooking a marina. But there are tons of tiki archaeological gems dispersed throughout the place, including all of the items that hung above the bar at the original Hinky Dinks location.

But you will have to travel out of San Francisco a little to get to Trader Vic's. So if you are going to head all the way over to the East Bay, then you might as well go to Forbidden Island too. It's not that far away from Trader Vic's, but you will have to travel to the middle of an island in a suburban neighborhood. But the drinks are well worth it - you're not going to find any finer tiki drinks than at F.I. Hell, some of the peeps up here carpool 45 miles or farther away to soak up the atmosphere and libations on a regular basis! A word of warning that it can get really crowded on a warm weekend night, with a line out the door and a wait to get in. It's still worth it, though, if that is the only night you can go, but most of us locals avoid the "bridge and tunnel" crowds and go on weeknights.

So if you had to choose one restaurant, I'd probably choose the Tonga Room for it's unique atmosphere and dining experience. Or I'd choose Trader Vic's, and follow up with Forbidden Island. Depends on how much time you have.

On those threads that you posted, look for recommendations by thejab, mrsmiley, and martiki - those will all be good recommendations as well, whether they're tiki or not tiki. Also, if you're in the Carmel area, you might want to stop by Munktiki. And if you're up in Napa Valley, go check out Judd's Hill. Those are my recommendations, for what it's worth. Hope you have a good time!
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royaltiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 75
From: Now in Austin, TX!
Posted: 2009-06-16 05:24 am   Permalink

Thanks Mai Tai, more great advice. I really appreciate it. I've never had the time to spend long on the forums but I'm hoping to hang around more now..

 
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leleliz
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Sep 02, 2008
Posts: 1981
From: NorCal
Posted: 2009-06-16 08:40 am   Permalink

If you go to Trader Vics Emeryville DONT eat the $24 mahi mahi-i think its pecan encrusted. It is disgusting and was such a let down....last time I went to TV I was so bummed that I ordered that and bitched about it all night because I do not spend $24 on an entree just for the hell of it.

But Mai Tai gave a good review--so its up to you guys to see how you feel that day and thankfully the East Bay/SF has lots to offer up to ya!


 
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KuKu
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 07, 2008
Posts: 436
From: Santa Cruz, CA. norcal
Posted: 2009-06-16 6:59 pm   Permalink

And while your in Carmel try to hit Hula's over in Monterey after you check out Munktiki. Good drinks and ono grinds served up pacific rim/island style...
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royaltiki
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 08, 2008
Posts: 75
From: Now in Austin, TX!
Posted: 2009-06-16 7:06 pm   Permalink

Thanks KuKu, we're actually staying in Monterey one night. This short trip is starting to sound like a lot of fun!

 
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kahalakruzer
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 29, 2008
Posts: 309
From: Dana Point! California
Posted: 2009-06-17 7:18 pm   Permalink

Yea, I would definitely recommend Hula's in Monterey. Last time I was up there I got a great burger w/sweet potato fries and shared a scorpion bowl with my girlfriend. Really reasonable, but make sure to get there early, cause it fills up fast!
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chiwito
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 26, 2008
Posts: 86
From: the Pacific island of Alameda
Posted: 2009-06-26 8:28 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2009-06-15 11:39, royaltiki wrote:

If I had to pick ONE restaurant to visit, would the Tonga Room be the best choice?




To answer directly, yes. If you definitely want to stick to One restaurant, then the Tonga room, for it's combination of ok food, okay drinks, better than okay ambiance, and historical signifigance, is definitely the one. Assuming that tikiness is the priority. If you just want better food, a decent bar, and a Great view, then hit the Cliff House.

If you have reasons, either business or touristy, for wanting to go through San Francisco rather than the East Bay, then Tonga Room is definitely the tiki choice; non-tiki options like Cliff House are still optional as well.

However, if you are okay with going through the East Bay and skipping the city, then I second Mai Tai's and Leleliz's notions. Drinks at Forbidden Island and dinner at either Trader Vic's [my choice for the view] or Conga Lounge [for great drinks and great pizza]. I'd skip Kona Club.


 
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chiwito
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Oct 26, 2008
Posts: 86
From: the Pacific island of Alameda
Posted: 2009-06-26 8:30 pm   Permalink

If you are driving up Highway 1 to San Fran, then stop at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay [actually in El Grenada just north] for excellent food in a better setting.
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