If you ever find yourself in San Francisco looking for an afternoon snack, I recommend you stop by Tal-Y-Tara in the Outer Richmond district. This place is the Anglophile dream – wonderful tea and treats in a horse inspired atmosphere. I was incredibly excited to try this place out, and I was not disappointed. This is my review of a great tea house and must visit equestrian spot in San Francisco.
Tal-Y-Tara is a tea house and a tack shop all in one. While their tack selection has dwindled over the years (after the horses left Golden Gate Park), they still sell quite a bit of riding clothing. If you are not a horse person, I can see that this style of tea shop might throw you off. This is not your typical shabby chic, super girly, over-ruffly tea house. This is a tea house for a man…or for an equestrian. Run by a father and son, Tal-Y-Tara provides something quite special. It is quirky and incredibly unique in a world where not much is. It is a special place.
Their selection of apparel is actually quite nice and if there’s anything they don’t have on hand, they are willing to do an order (which is great!). They have several antique items sitting around which are quite fun to look at and exploring through their stash of goods is fun. This part of the shop was a little messy they day I was there, however it was clear that they were in the middle of unpacking several shipments of new spring items. I didn’t mind, it gave me more to explore through. Tal-Y-Tara actually started as a polo and tack shop (note the old Tack and Tweed sign that is now housed inside from their original location) and since moved to this location (which also was quite some time ago). The shop was involved in the former Polo in the Park events and supporters of horses in Golden Gate Park.
Now on to the most important part…the food and tea. The tea selection is quite good and I tried a few different pots. Each tea I tried was of good quality and quite yummy. For my food selection, I went with the menu item “The Queen’s Tea” for two. This includes one pot of tea (large pot), a shortbread cookie for each person, a salad for each person (there were a few different options the day I went), a scone for each person (with a choice from different types), a Motorloaf sandwich plate, and a trifle (what’s a trifle?…wait and we’ll tell you). All of this runs $68. Not bad at all for quite a lot of food (you will be quite full afterward…so plan on this as a full meal).
I had a dietary restriction and could not eat the Motorloaf (nut allergy) so I asked for an additional item (a crumpet). Instead of a plain crumpet with butter, I got a gorgeous plate with a crumpet, egg salad sandwich filling, a couple pieces of bacon and few pieces of fruit. This more than made up for missing out on the Motorloaf (which I heard was AMAZING). The food was fantastic without fail. The shortbread cookie was delicious. The scones were to die for…probably the best scone that any of us had ever had (especially the black currant one with Devonshire cream). The trifle (which is a yummy strawberry shortcake-like desert) is a great way to round out the meal (one to share is more than enough!).
I cannot wait to visit Tal-Y-Tara again.
If you want to visit Tal-Y-Tara, I have a few tips.
– Parking is pretty tough in this neighborhood, so give yourself plenty of time.
– Make a reservation. This place is small with very few tables, so plan ahead and make sure you have a table.
– Inform them before you order of any dietary restrictions and they do their best to work around them (obviously if you’re gluten free…you probably shouldn’t expect to eat here at all since all tea service includes so much bread).
– Remember that this is a small, family owned shop. Don’t expect world class tea service fit for a princess (if you want that kind of tea party, head somewhere else). This is more an “every day working man” tea service (which is just dandy in my opinion).
– Check our their antique horse show posters and photos. Cool!
– Don’t forget to dig around in their equestrian apparel and tack. There’s quite a few special items to be found here.