Passing by Tommy's Joynt always makes me smile. The big colorful murals catch my eye and remind me I'm in San Francisco, nowhere else. That's why it was a treat for me to interview general manager Susie Katzman, niece of the original "Tommy" and learn a bit more about the place.
A vanishing breed, Tommy's is a "hofbrau" a term used on the West Coast for a type of establishment that serves hand-carved roasts and meats that are served with beer. There used to be lots of them but only a few remain in San Francisco, such as Tommy's and Lefty O'Doul's. Neither of them are a destination for vegetarians, and I can't say the menu is exactly cutting edge, although Tommy's was certainly serving buffalo way before any other restaurants in town.
While the heyday for Bay Area hofbraus is long past, there is a nostalgic appeal that goes along with an unpretentious every man atmosphere and big plates of food for not much money. You never know who you'll see in the place. There are always some tourists, people on a budget, possibly a news anchor from the TV station up the block and while you might not see Metallica, you may see fans of the band as Tommy's is a footnote in the bands history.
Personally my favorites are the corned beef and the pastrami sandwiches. Carved to order it's the next best thing to a real deli, something San Francisco is sorely lacking. But that's ok, real deli is just one more reason to visit a city like New York, just as Tommy's is one classic tourist stop in San Francisco.
1101 Geary St. @ Van Ness
Open everyday except Christmas
Bar open 10 am - 1: 45 am
Restaurant open from 11 am until 1:45 am
FOOD + SAN FRANCISCO