The D.E.A.L.: Dining, Entertainment, Attractions & Lodging in San Francisco, Calif.: The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar or Le Colonial (formerly Trader Vic’s) by Jeanne Brei
The Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar at the elegant Fairmont Hotel has been described as a “true SF classic. Well, classic and campy at the same time,” says sftravel.com. “The Tonga Room features French Polynesian and Pacific Rim cuisine, live performances from a band playing from a boat and easily the best mai tai in town. While you’re there, check out the historic photos, including the Tony Bennett’s first performance of I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” But one TripAdvisor review states, “There are only a few ways to avoid the wait at the Tonga room. 1. Have a party of ten or more to make reservations. 2. Be a guest at the (Fairmont) Hotel and contact the concierge for reservations. Otherwise expect a wait. With that being said we had a great time at the Tonga Room. Awesome Tiki decor, rain storm in the pool every 30 minutes. Music started at 8. The food is Polynesian Asian fusion. I was apprehensive at first then blown away. So glad we ate here. Huli huli chicken, mahi-mahi, island rice and asparagus. Everything was delicious. If you get a chance I wouldn’t miss the experience at the Tonga room.” Another reviewer wrote “Every time I need a break, I daydream about the Tonga room, the band, the cocktails, the sound of the fake rain falling into the pool. This is the perfect place for a birthday gathering or a little ‘I need a quick retreat to a happy place.’ The band is the best and the playlist will not let you stay sitting down, and the hotel is a spectacle on its own. A must visit.”
Another reviewer wrote “Every time I need a break, I daydream about the Tonga room, the band, the cocktails, the sound of the fake rain falling into the pool. This is the perfect place for a birthday gathering or a little ‘I need a quick retreat to a happy place.’ The band is the best and the playlist will not let you stay sitting down, and the hotel is a spectacle on its own. A must visit.”
From tiki to the ‘20s, head to the Le Colonial just minutes away from popular Union Square in San Francisco’s downtown district. Since 1998 Le Colonial restaurant has claimed the legendary address 20 Cosmo Place (off Taylor Street, between Post and Sutter), as it evokes the ambiance and tropical elegance of French colonial Vietnam in the 1920s in a lush, romantic setting. The inner courtyard, which once housed legendary Trader Vic’s, has been transformed into an oasis featuring mosaic-like tile flooring, a vaulted, pressed-tin ceiling, tropical plants and plush rattan furniture, all accented by the glow of candlelight. Diners enjoy a menu designed to showcase authentic Vietnamese dishes with a touch of French influence.
Designer Greg Jordan has used patchwork tile floors, shuttered windows, antique lamps and rattan furniture set among palm fronds and lazily swirling ceiling fans to instill a sense that one has been transported to turn of the century Indochina. Le Colonial San Francisco is the brainchild of Jean Denoyer who launched enormously successful Le Colonial restaurant in New York. They have locations in New York, Chicago and Houston, but this one—tucked away in an alley is ideal for time travelers. There’s live music upstairs – and I felt like I’d stepped into the scene in “Guys & Dolls” where Sky takes Sarah to Havana for her first taste of nightlife.
Le Colonial is located at 20 Cosmo Place, San Francisco, CA 94109; (415) 931-3600. For more info, visit www.lecolonialsf.com.
This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Exhibit City News, p. 82. For more pictures and original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/may-jun_ecn2018.