America's Weirdest Restaurants: San Francisco Leaves Its Mark
By: Dan Rosenbaum
San Francisco has a long history of going against the status quo. There's the summer of Love in 1967 and the birth of the counterculture on Haight Ashbury. There was the boom in popularity of the Castro neighborhood and the prominence of Harvey Milk. In the 1980's and 90's, San Francisco and the Bay Area was at the center of technological innovation. Fast forward to the turn of the century, where the city was one of the main players in the organic and farm-to-table food movement. To say we march to the beat of a different drum is a major understatement. We probably invented the drum.
950 Mason Street
Located below the Fairmont Hotel, the circa-1945 tropical lounge the Tonga Room is a remarkably intact vision of midcentury Tiki culture. The Island Groove Band performs on the lagoon on a moving Gilligan’s Island-esque raft platform, and every half hour there’s an indoor thundershower. The Tonga room serves Pacific Rim cuisine and tropical cocktails served in tiki vessels.
689 McAllister Street
It may be true that eating at one themed restaurant doesn’t feel all that different from other ones. But now for something completely different: dining in the dark. It’s a concept that started in Europe, in Berlin, Paris and Vienna, and Opaque offers the first stateside dining in the dark restaurants.
Guests order from a brief menu in a lit room before being led into pitch-black rooms by the team of blind and visually impaired servers. When the visual sense is shut off, the other senses are heightened, making for a newly extra-sensitive diner, and a distraction-free, immersive dining experience.
Pier 39, H Dock
Forbes is a floating island in Sea Lion Harbor with views of Alcatraz and nearby sunbathing sea lions. The restaurant serves an American fine dining menu, in underwater dining rooms, and it also has an underwater bar.
657 Harrison Street
It’s supper, it’s a club and then some. Supperclub is a multisensory experience incorporating unusual food, music, dancing, and experimental and avant-garde live performances (supperclub performers are often culled from art schools).
Go ahead, get your weird on. We won't judge! Did we miss any other weird joints in the city? Let us know in the comments.
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