Tommy’s Joynt is a San Francisco restaurant that’s stuck in time, in the best way possible. Decorations and hand-lettered signs that were affixed to the walls when it first opened in the 1940s are still there, imploring guests to “Try Tommy’s Famous Rum Punch,” “In Case of Earthquake, Keep Calm, Pay Bill,” and “No Eating At the Bar on Sundays or Holidays.” The huge space is divided into several separate sections: a steam table and carving station on the wall by the entrance; a seating area in the middle and in the back; and a long, well-worn bar on the far wall. Hanging from the rafters and covering every inch of wall space are what seem like hundreds of years’ worth of ephemera. It all works together, and the end result is an absolute gem of a restaurant.
The food at Tommy’s also happens to be insanely delicious — and about as old-school as it gets. They’re famous for their turkeys, which are roasted whole throughout the day and sliced to order. Turkey, roast beef, barbecue beef brisket, corned beef, pastrami, and ham can all be made into a “great big sandwich” for just $6.49, or turned into a dinner platter (with your choice of mashed potatoes or vegetables, beans or salad, and bread and butter) for $9.75. Assorted other menu items include sausages, buffalo stew, turkey leg, baked beans, pasta of the day with meat sauce, and clam chowder. If the menu here has changed at all in the past 50 years, it’s hard to tell.
There’s a great beer selection on tap, and as for that rum punch, a sign that inviting made it all but impossible to not try it. It was made with four different types of rum, some grenadine, and a couple different juices, and I can’t quite recall if I had more than two.
If there’s anything wrong with Tommy’s Joynt, I couldn’t find it. This place is nothing short of legendary, and a must-visit for anyone who feels like stepping back in time on their next visit to San Francisco.