Fairmont San Francisco
When Don and I learned about the Tonga Bar, we were so excited we switched our evening plans and had an Uber take us to The Fairmont Hotel, instead.
Our driver drove us to the top of Nob Hill, but instead of taking us to the classy front entrance, he dropped us on the side.
We walked in a side door and got pretty lost. But that was no problem. It was 5pm and the popular lounge had just opened. We weren't in too big of a hurry.
The Grand Lobby
The Fairmont is a fun place to get lost in. The swirling columns in the lobby did not look very Polynesian. We moved on.
Hidden Down Below
We found the entrance to the exotic lounge in the basement. There was a crowd, even though the bar had only been open for 5 minutes. There was a line of people, hoping to dine beside the lagoon, when the food service began at 6.
The Fairmont Plunge
By 1945, the pool became a lagoon when MGM set designer, Mel Melvin transformed the area into a tiki themed paradise.
A Floating Boat/Bandstand
It took a while for our eyes to adjust when we first made our way inside. The blue-green water surrounding the boat, reflected the playful light display above.
It took us a while to figure things out. The tables on both sides of the water were reserved for diners. The bar, housed inside what looked like a pirate ship, had a few available tables. We attempted to grab one, but learned there was a system for bar seating. No seats for us.
Hanging By the Lagoon
We were totally fine with standing at the railing, near the lagoon. We had a great view of the water. The diners, under their palapas and the mostly younger-than-us-crowd at the pirate bar, gave us some good people watching. And of course we had some very yummy drinks in coconut cups and tall tiki glasses, with lots of umbrellas and fruit.
I was very curious about the lagoon's best feature. Back in the day, the boat acted as a floating stage, with an orchestra. The boat was empty and quiet during our visit, but I'm sure it gets put to use on weekends.
My very own pirate kindly posed for me, so I could capture a little of the bar area, with all its bamboo and ropes. Don was pretty delighted with the place, that he'd just read about hours before. If only we'd had more planning time, we would have dressed in our tropical best. Next time.
We hadn't been in the bar long before we experienced our first storm. There were many of them and the thunder and lightening and rainfall, made us crack up each time. It was very clear which guests were visiting for the first time. They were the ones grinning and attempting photos, like us.
Enjoying the Decor
Don and I kind of loved our little spot right on the railing, where we could take in all the carved decor and thatched roofs.
We were busy taking it all in, when a young couple, asked to share a little of the railing space. They turned out to be a delightful pair and we swapped lots of stories.
Sharing the Railing
They couldn't stay long, since they were going to see a friend perform Flamenco at another club. They invited us along and we were tempted to add Spain to our international evening. But we had plans for dinner in Chinatown.
We hardly had time to scratch the surface at The Fairmont, but it was time to move on. We waited for our Uber, under the blowing flags. We will definitely come back for some Polynesian dining next time. Maybe we can stay the night... if we win the lottery.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.