I think Tommy’s Joynt would be a good place for a first date. You can be kind of intimate if you sit in one of the high walled booths, but not feel too secluded because of the constant chatter of the place and the TVs and all. All the kitschy decorations, the old beer advertisements and other bric-a-brac, would make for good conversation starters. And if you’re really shy it would be the perfect place to bring a bunch of your friends to make it a less stressful group date.
Or maybe I’m crazy. I was just thinking after my last visit that it was kind of a romantic place. I find it very easy to get caught up in a conversation and just forget that you’re in a room full of other people. Maybe it’s because you order your food at the counter and then carry it to your table yourself so you don’t get interrupted by a waiter. I know I’ve said before I don’t like places where you order at the counter, but Tommy’s is an exception. Usually the line is long enough that you have plenty of time to peruse the menu, and it’s nice to be able to look at your food before you order (as well as watch it be carved up after).
Tommy’s is a hof brau. They have various steam table dishes to choose from, some, like the turkey sloppy joe and the spaghetti and meatballs they have nearly everyday, some, like the turkey enchilada are occasionally available. They also have about 6 meats available everyday that you can have as a dinner plate or a sandwich, as well as daily specials.
I L-O-V-E Tommy’s a lot, I’ve been coming here for years and it’s almost always really hard for me to decide what to order because they have so many good things to eat. I’m a big fan of the sausage sandwich and the turkey sloppy joe (which is the best deal on the menu). This particular day though I went in with a clear idea of what I wanted. For some reason (I think I’d seen a Campbell’s soup ad or something) I had a craving for a real holiday meal, turkey, stuffing, all that. So I ordered the turkey dinner plate. The dinner plates usually come with mashed potatoes or veggies and beans or a salad. I figured I’d order green beans and salad and get a side of stuffing. I really lucked out though, because it turns out the turkey plate comes with potatoes and stuffing AND salad. Wow. I hit the jackpot.
It’s not too much to look at (it’s pretty dark in Tommy’s, especially in the little nook past the bar where we were sitting, so the pictures are a bit wonky) but it tasted pretty good. The turkey was moist and full of flavor. The mashed potatoes and gravy were pretty standard, though not bad, but the stuffing is what really does it for me. It looks like a big pile of dun-colored mush, and that’s pretty much what it feels like when you first put it in your mouth. I think it has a great flavor though, umami all the way, and some turkey bits in there give it some texture.
This is my 3 bean salad covered with pickles. They have a pickle barrel near the cash register and you can take all the pickles you want. I usually take approximately half a pound. Most of their salads are delicious, but I favor the three bean salad. The beans stay pretty toothsome, not all mushy and slimy, and there’s a nice acid bite from vinegar and onions to balance out the creaminess and saltiness of the beans. After I finished my turkey and stuffing I was way too full to finish the salad, or my mashed potatoes, or my sourdough roll.
Sorry for this incredibly crappy picture. This is Steve’s turkey enchilada, which seems to be a Saturday special. Steve orders it whenever we come to Tommy’s on a Saturday. It’s pretty good. It reminds me of the enchiladas my dad made when I was growing up in that it is similarly cooked casserole style, is fairly inauthentic and tastes strongly of chili powder. I like it, though I wish the tortilla was not so soggy, it seems to just disintegrate. It’s not offensive, and the flavors are still good, and it is stuffed with tons of yummy shredded turkey.
Tommy’s is kind of half restaurant, half bar. They have a large selection of beers and liquors, and a pretty interesting specialty cocktail list, especially the section that focuses on hot drinks. I thought I got a picture of my beer, but I guess I forgot. I believe I ordered the Croatian beer (the bottled beer list is separated by Country of origin) called Karlovacko. It was pretty good, though I’d recommend the Baltika beers from Russia.
I think Tommy’s Joynt is pretty great. It’s comfortable, the food is good and cheap and you can linger as long as you like. I know it has its detractors (hi Dad) but I’m not prepared to chalk up my fondness for it to good memories. If you try it for yourself, I’d love to hear which side you fall on.
1101 Geary Blvd at Van Ness