Kielbasa Sausage Sandwich at Tommy's Joynt

Tommy's Joynt, 1101 Geary Blvd (at Van Ness Ave), San Francisco

I've avoided this place for a long time. The exterior is painted beautifully on the Geary side of the street. The Van Ness side is painted, too, with the addition of a pair of totally unrealistic breasts. I'd be lying if I said that wasn't one of the reasons I've avoided Tommy's. It gives off a sleazy vibe and I don't find most alternative spellings charming. No one I knew went there so I never found any reason to go.

It is a cash only bar/restaurant (since 1947) that is a little shady. There is usually a panhandler in front of the entrance which comes with the neighborhood. Once you enter you are faced with the kitchen on the right and the bar on the left. They have long tables in the front where you can eat. There is a snaked roped line. You place your order first where there is food under hot lights and is carved to order. The people who work behind this counter are very nice. They give you your food on a plastic tray like in a cafeteria and you pay cash at the counter. You serve your own water and utensils. I really like this because it keeps it low key.

There is seating in the back which is my favorite. The front has booths which can be nice and private while still being in the hustle of the place. I find it to get too noisy at times. After climbing one set of stairs you're in the back. The floors are carpeted and there are outdated sports posters and ads put up on the wall. It feels exactly like most back rooms of sports bars. The back does have an exit on the Geary with no stairs that leads out to the street. I like this part better because it's removed from the rowdiness of the bar but the lighting isn't more enjoyable. Once you sit down a waiter will come for ordering drinks. The waiters aren't rude but if you buy food and no drink the waiter may give you attitude so just get a drink if you're not taking it to go.

You have to walk up a flight of stairs at the end of the bar to get to a bathroom. I find this a little unsafe as I have seen older clients struggling to get up the narrow carpeted stairwell and two people cannot walk at the same time. There is no way someone in a wheelchair can get to the bathroom. There is a men's and woman's single occupancy bathroom that overlook Tommy's. The women's bathroom has a tiny window covered with corrugated iron that faces Geary. I imagine the men's bathroom has no decent ventilation. There is a brightly lit kitchen beneath the main floor that you can barely see. It seems to be more for cleaning dishes and glasses and storage than cooking. Tommy's is like a maze. It's a wonder how it's gotten by the ADA.

The food here is very enjoyable and the prices are affordable. If you want something upscale and posh- Don't come to Tommy's. It's dim, it's noisy, the people are rough around the edges, and you are not going to get any special treatment. This can be a great place to duck out of the streets for a bit. If you're doing a lot of drinking I can imagine staying longer but I don't really like hanging out in this place for too long. Thankfully, a good filling meal here doesn't last long and you can get back on the streets with a full belly.


  1. i've always wanted to give this place a try! did your sandwich really have mustard and gravy on it? sounds pretty interesting. also, "boobs don't work that way" is a pretty funny website

  2. You will totally love this place. It's pretty hard not to like if you love sandwiches. They carve the meat and put it on a roll with a cup of gravy. They have mild and spicy mustard on the tables and free pickles in a barrel. They serve real nice sandwiches, too, but I usually go there too late to eat anything heavy.