A few weeks ago The San Francisco Heritage Foundation completed their list of the 100 "Legacy Bars & Restaurants" in town and like most folks I decided to look over the list and see how many of the places I'd been to over the years. Turns out I'd been to a fair number over the years, though some I hadn't hit up in a while. This whole list came to mind as me and the SO had just gotten out of a movie at Van Ness and were looking for something to eat when the neon brightness of Tommy's Joynt caught my eye. I took it as a "sign" to get back in touch with one of the first places I myself had eaten at upon my arrival here 16 years ago. Thus we made our way up the block and across the street to eat.
Normally this place has a line out the door but we were able to slide in at an in between time and only had a few folks in front of us. Walking in to the place is like stepping back in time. The place hasn't changed much over the years, outside of adding a new back room to fit all the growing crowds still flocking here. It's all dark wood and various road signs collaged over most every available wall space. It's like a hofbrau meets cafeteria meets dive bar kind of vibe and that, ultimately, is what draws folks to the place.
Prices are another thing that draw tourists and locals alike to this place. For only $9.25 you can get a meat, a veggie, a salad and a hard roll with butter (not to mention all the pickles you can eat). There are many places left like that in this town and here's what all that looks like.
A cucumber and tomato salad, a sourdough (very hard) roll, sliced turkey on a bed of dressing covered in gravy with a side of green beans. As food goes it was perfectly fine. The salad was fresh and nicely dressed, the turkey was okay, maybe a tad on the dry side, but hey isn't that what gravy is for? And the beans, well, they were probably from a can, but they didn't taste bad. What we have here is basic simple food for the masses that fills you up and to be honest there isn't anything wrong with that. Sometimes what you want in a place is just that, a comfortable place with decent food that won't bust your wallet. With Tommy's Joynt that's exactly what you will get. Plus it has that funky San Francisco neighborhood place feeling which makes you want to just relax, eat, chill with your friends and maybe watch a game on one of the tv's hanging over the bar area. Basically I'm saying it's not about the food, it's about the ambiance--which is something I don't often say. In fact I normally look past that and say it's more about the food, but for the sake of places like this I'm switching it up. I know, weird right?
Nevertheless, I'm actually recommending Tommy's Joynt on the fact that if you live in San Francisco it should be one of those places you've eaten at least once, or even gotten a drink at the bar on game days. There's a reason these places get institution status, they are quirky, fun and accessible to everyone from locals to tourists. And one other thing that makes this place worth a visit is you can get a sandwich--FOR $6!!!!
This is the pastrami on rye. Oddly it came with a roast beef au jus for dipping which didn't really work with it flavor wise, but the pastrami was actually really good. Tender and juicy with just the right amount of fat for flavor. Slathering on a touch of deli mustard and more of those pickles and it's one of the better sandwiches you can get in SF.
With it's new landmark status Tommy's is going to be around awhile and that's good for San Francisco. It's got the kind of character we've come to cheer about and tourists come here to see and that's a good. People talk gentrification and what not but it's good that places like this are around to remind folks of the charm SF has to offer and the reason many of us moved here in the first place. Go get your meat on people!!