Tommy's Mexican is a San Francisco institution. The restaurant's aging, dated interior is unexceptional, especially in a city chock full of glitzy Michelin-starred foodie destinations. Not many people come here for the food.
But the liquid stuff? Oh yes.
Tommy's tops almost every list of alcohol enthusiasm, from the world's top 50 bars, to Travel + Leisure's America's best margaritas, top bars in San Francisco, and 7x7's 50 cocktails to sip before you die.
Tommy's is where you go to learn about tequila, and to be specific, 100% blue agave tequila. They have one of the largest selections (400+) of mezcals in the world, and many not even listed on the extensive menu. The staff are well-trained to walk you through the different flavor profiles of each mezcal and make recommendations. (There's even a "degree" program at Tommy's called the Blue Agave tasting club with over 8,000 members worldwide - with rankings ranging from Master's to Ninja and PhD to demi-god, each requiring increasing tasting experience).
What to Get at Tommy's?
The two things to get at Tommy's are its signature Tommy's Margarita and a round of tastings in snifters. The margarita is actually quite simple, but a thing of beauty. Unlike the standard American sweet and sour mixed monstrosities, the Margarita is actually quite a light cocktail and consists of high quality tequila, fresh lime juice, and half an ounce of agave syrup. They've even commercialized the latter two ingredients into a mixer, but it's a dead simple yet delicious and refreshing recipe.
As for the flight? Well, your experience will vary. Let the staff guide you on your magical journey. And if you're curious, I documented our trip below.
A Night at Tommy's
We can't tell you how to do Tommy's optimally, but we can share the experiences of two inebriated San Francisco natives. A more thought-out visit may be later added, but for now, you're left with this sordid affair.
After enjoying a number of excellent cocktails at Bear vs Bull (possibly the best movie theater cocktail bar in the world and located in Alamo Drafthouse SF - more on this later), we hailed a Lyft to Tommy's. Because the correct thing to do after drinking too much is to drink more!
We limped into Tommy's around 11 pm. The limping was in part because we decided it would be a fantastic idea to practice muay thai kicks as hard as we possibly could on each other's shins before entering the restaurant. Luckily, around 11 pm, even on a Saturday, we were immediately seated at a table. But if you're going to Tommy's, don't make the same mistake we did — sit at the bar! It's supposed to be the best seat in the house.
Hot chips and green & red salsas were plopped before us, and we ordered Tommy's famous margarita and asked for some tastings. Five bottles were brought out and we were asked to sniff the tequilas and select the one we liked the most, with the waiter explaining his own takes on the tastes of each one.
We settled on the Pagote (right-most), Alquinia (middle), and Avion (left). Avion was by far my favorite... it tasted a bit like a vanilla rum, actually.
After the tasting, we strode (no longer limping...! Thanks, alcohol!) out the bar and into a cab. Until we meet again, Tommy's.