Cafe at the Opera
Cafe at the Opera
  • Address:
    301 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    Neighborhood:
    Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
  • Cuisine:
    Contemporary American
    Price: $31 to $50

Cafe at the Opera

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.patinagroup.com/sanfranciscowarmemorial
  • Phone: 4158618150x
  • Hours of Operation:
    Open 2 hours prior to each performance

    More info can be found here: http://sfwmpac.org
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: Continental, Contemporary American
  • Executive Chef: Dean Rona
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar/Lounge, Cafe, Chef's Table, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Area, Smoking Area, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access
  • Catering: Host your next event at the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, and Patina Catering will create an unforgettable experience for you and your guests. A variety of breathtaking historic venues in the Opera House, Davies Symphony Hall and the Veteran"s Building perfectly complement Patina Catering's unrivaled cuisine and impeccable service. Perfect for weddings, galas, corporate parties and pre- and post-performance events, this is San Francisco's premier choice for events of all sizes.

Getting there

  • Public Transit: For transit directions, visit 511.org or call 511.
  • Parking: Street Parking
  • Parking Details: PARKING
    Parking is available in several lots in the surrounding area. Please call lots for current hours and rates.

    Performing Arts Garage

    *Patrons dining in the Opera House may enter through the North Carriage entrance of the Opera House (adjacent to the War Memorial courtyard) up to two hours prior to curtain.
A word from Cafe at the Opera
Committed to Chef Joachim Splichal's impeccable food and quality service, Café at the Opera is available for pre-theatre dining. Located in the lower lounge of the Opera House (Lower level), the Cafe serves an elegant hot buffet beginning two hours before every performance. Lighter fare is also served before performances and during intermissions at Patina's Café Express and Dress Circle Café. Please note that reservations can be made for Performance Ticket Holders only.
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Cafe at the Opera reviews from OpenTable diners
183 reviews since June 2, 2014
Overall Rating3.8
  • Food3.9
    Service3.8
  • Ambiance3.5
    Noise LevelModerate
84% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
special occasion (90)good for groups (25)fit for foodies (23)great for lunch (20)neighborhood gem (14)great for brunch (12)romantic (11)kid-friendly (7)notable wine list (3)late-night find (2)scenic view (1)Show More
  • Not the old Cafe
    jufyVIP
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    We used to go to the Cafe before a ballet, eight times a season. Then we stopped to try more local fare. We came back before seeing "Norma" mainly for convenience. We thought the food tables were crowded. The salad table had mostly empty platters and they were not replaced very quickly. The food was just okay although some of the salads were delicious. Our service was terrible. We sat waiting for clean plates while our server set several other tables. We are not coming back.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Horrible service!!!!!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Expect poor service and long wait if you order off the menu and do not have the buffet.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    We were attending Opera after dinner, there should have been coffee or tea and desert, if there was it was never offered or did not see it.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Remodel misses
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002VIP
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    The Cafe at the Opera has remodeled the dining room since our last visit. In the past the buffet was held in the area near the bar with the various items spread in a straight line. Now the buffet items are bunched in the center of the dining room. In the past there was room to walk around the tables without worrying about bumping into other diners now one needs to be constantly on the alert to avoid bumping. I love the buffet and the food is always very tasty but this development takes the pleasure out of the experience.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Forgot to check me in
    Forecaster
    Dined on 9/27/2014
    Didn't check me in on open table system so they thought I was a no show. Credit card records will prove I was there.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great surprise
    Foodie2
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    Went to the Opera to see Norma and we haven't been to the city for a night out in years. We wanted a place for dinner close by and stress free. We ended up at the Cafe at the Opera. Our reservation wasn't until 6:15 pm but we got there early. We asked if we could be seated early and they immediately seated us at a table. We chose to do the buffet since we had plenty of time and we were both hungry. What a great choice. The food was really varied and very good. We found a nice wine on the wine list. We're both foodies and enjoyed trying all the offerings. If you want good food and to be onsite, this is definitely worth the price. Made for a fun, relaxing, stress free evening.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Easy dining for Opera
    Athanasious
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    This is the first time I tried the Opera Cafe and it probably will not be the last. The food was okay and reasonably priced on the a la cart Menu; I would like to see more variety, however. The best part is not having to rush to make the curtain ... it was a lot of fun to finish eating, walk out on the Opera House portico for some fresh air before the show and easily make it to our seats.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • loyal2patronage
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    We took the buffet option - excellent food and service. Lots of choices. Fun to have dinner first, then go to the lecture in the Opera House and then back for dessert before the curtain rises! Wait staff very accommodating.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Excellent cuisine at opera house
    cuisineadventurer
    Dined on 9/23/2014
    The Cafe at the Opera is on the lower level of the opera house and has had some updating with curtains separating eating from lines for the restroom. The serving tables are also out in the same area as the dinning tables and is easy to have selections from the 3 tables of excellent dishes for salads, entrees, breads, cheeses, fruits and desserts are extra. They have extra plates at your table when you go back for a second course. There is also an a la cart menu but most persons use the buffet as it has some excellent choices and usually one needs to sample and find which they like best.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • good prior to the opera
    HIlary
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    this restaurant is inside the opera house, so you have to have opera tickets to go to this restaurant. They have a buffet for $37.95 which was a brunch buffet on the day we went because it was a Sunday matinee. Normally the buffet includes a carving station for evening performances. We chose the a la carte menu and had the cheese plate, ceasar salad and the chacuterie plate along with an apple/peach crumble. All the food was quite good and the service was very friendly but a bit spotty(had to ask for a coffee refill three times).
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Excellent
    CSKOPERA
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    Great service and attention from Rustee as always plus others who back her up.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Change
    Eliza
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    The food,as always was good. The new table arrangement and buffet relocation was awkward. Too crowded. The staff was overworked! We had to track someone down to get clean plates. We will come again due to the convenience and good food, but hope to see improvements in staffing, less crowded table arrangement, and more space around the buffet.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Terrible
    changeitbackVIP
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    The newly designed Cafe at the Opera is terrible. It is extremely crowded. The new buffet line is a disaster: gridlock. The staff can't even get in to refill the dishes. They should move the buffet back to the bar area and remove 25% of the tables. The food continues to be completely acceptable.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • night at the opera
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    We got there when they opened... seating is pretty tight. We two were 10 inches away from the next table. Service was excellent until it got busier. Food was excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Remodeled but not better
    OperaHouseFan
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    This buffet restaurant was recently remodeled, resulting in the buffet line being place literally in the middle of the former dining area. Result: As the service staff is trying to put in fresh chaffing dishes, the diners are concurrently trying to get to the food selections. Not a good plan. Also, when the buffet line was in the old area, you could access the food from 2 sides; now there is only access from one side, resulting in longer wait times to get the food. Also, the number of selections apparently has been reduced. The main selling point is the convenience of dining in the Opera House and not having to drive there after dining elsewhere.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing
    KathyCs
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Service - we saw a waiter about three times. Fortunately most of the group wanted the buffet - but it took numerous waves, hallos, and getting out of the chair to get our waiter to involve himself in taking orders, bringing wines, etc. Dunno if Patina has cut back staff and they're overworked or if this person just couldn't get the job done. We ordered deserrt and coffee for intermission. The desserts and hot water for tea were awaiting us. It took ten minutes to hail a guy with the coffee pots. I lead groups to SFO once to twice a year, but I am not sure we'll return to Patina. I guess Open Table doesn't want a real review, since they won't give me enough characters to actually report on both food, service, and ease of reserving.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Dining in the Basement
    JamesVIP
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Cafe at the Opera continues to be a convenient and pleasant place to dine. This is especially so since one must eat in mid-afternoon with the new 7:30 SF Opera curtain time. The plush red redecorating softens the space rather nicely, but not necessarily with better organization.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Before going to the opera
    Masa
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    As the name tells us it is a nice place to go before going to an opera. Coming from the Netherlands we enjoyed seeing and looking at San Francisco citizens. Friends greeting each other and enjoying a dinner. All in all great fun , quality of the food being moderate that is not the main reason to go.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good Buffet but pricey.
    OperaGoer
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    The food is quite good for a buffet. You are paying for the convenience of eating at the opera without rushing for the pre-opera talk or the performance. Why is dessert not included for the price (cheese or fruit does not count, really)? The buffet table can get really cramped given the limited space, and there should be better ventilation as it gets a bit stuffy downstairs. I might consider returning; I will read further reviews to see if there have been any changes.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Service horribly lacking
    Seafoodlover
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    My friend and I were seated as soon as they opened at 5:30 last Friday and ordered simple cold dinner salads instead of the buffet. We thought it odd that the check was brought to us along with the salads. When our waiter came by after dinner and we said we wished to see the dessert menu. Our table was bussed and the dessert menu was brought. We didn't have any further service, didn't even see our waiter close by to flag him. He was spotted across the dining room, but not close enough to ask for further service. We literally waited for 20 minutes. The time was now 7:10. Fortunately, I could pay with cash so we could leave and be seated for the 7:30 performance. Clearly understaffed or insufficiently trained waiter.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • excellent service
    Lasierra
    Dined on 9/16/2014
    We got there before the restaurant opened but the staff was so gracious in letting us sit, see the menu, and order in advance so we could have plenty of time to enjoy the meal before the show. It was particularly nice because we had a 85 year old friend with us that evening. The light dinner is just right before the show.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Our "Go-To" place on Opera nights
    anon
    Dined on 9/16/2014
    Cafe at the Opera is our "go-to" place before Opera and Ballet performances. The space has been redecorated in new red-upholstered chairs and banquettes. The service is excellent, and the low noise level allows conversation. If you must eat quickly, there is a buffet with a carving station and many other hot and cold dishes from which to choose. We almost always order from the Small Plates menu, whose selections tend toward smallish salads, such as a Seared Ahi Nicoise, a Chopped Salad with fresh crab and salmon, or a Steak Salad. This is just the right amount to eat before a performance, and these salads are very good. There is a good wine list. We enjoy it, and enjoy the simplicity of being right at the venue.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Last minute
    Lnd60
    Dined on 9/16/2014
    I made a last minute reservation and they where able to accommodate us which was great. They changed the seating arrangement which I thought made it much more like a restaurant and an improvement. Unfortunately the Buffet was not very appealing so we ordered from the menu which has a limited selection.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Convenient yet expensive
    Anniesbiped
    Dined on 9/16/2014
    The a la carte menu was all cold food so we opted for the buffet. The buffet was delicious but very expensive. A limited cheese platter with red grapes was the dessert. That was very disappointing. There was no coffee available, a critical omission for an evening performance. The waiters were prompt but very brisk. There was no time to ask questions about the menu or the buffet. The check was placed on our table well before we finished our meal. On the plus side this is a very convenient location when going to an opera house performance.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • 2eatwell
    2eatwell
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    I greatly enjoy eating at the Café at the Opera --- the food is quite good, and it offers a kind of buffer zone between the stress of getting to the Opera House and the actual performance. Yesterday there were some problems which MAY have been related to the new arrangement of the tables and chairs: waiters and servers seemed a bit confused about who would do what. And there was confusion with getting my check: I was given the bill for a different meal at about $20 more than the cost of my meal. The waiter needed time to work this out, and did apologize, but since all the people dining have a strict time limitation, delays can raise the tension level. I arrived at 12:30 (with reservation) -- and left just in time to get to my seat.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Delightful
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010VIP
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    You can't beat the view--it's a shame the windows don't open. The food was very good, and a nice wine list with enough selections by the glass.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great place to eat before the opera
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    We have always enjoyed the Cafe at the Opera House and find it a very convenient and enjoyable place to eat before going to the opera. This year they have completely redecorated the place and added other venues. The venue is beautiful, much more consistent with the opera house ecperienve. The menu is enhanced and the buffet is expanded and beautifully appointed. Overall a great improvement and a pleasure to dine there.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • good for pre-opera dining
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    food,buffet, very good and service excellent. good seating plan, but expand area for buffet service
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • better than expected
    catlady
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    The food was quite good for a buffet and some of it was quite good for any restaurant. Told the waiter we wanted to get to the pre-opera lecture, so he had our bill ready for us when we were ready to leave. Given the prices of the other restaurants we visited during our long weekend in San Francisco, this was a bargain. Great place to eat if you don't want to hassle getting to the opera on time.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Best Food in many years
    Musiclover
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    Buffett was creative choices of fresh vegetables AND rare tender roast beef, all carefully seasoned. Went for convenience to opera as in past. Lovely surprise at high food quality.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A night at the opera
    letseatfirst
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    If you want to dine before the opera performance this is the place to do it. The ambiance is gracious, the food varied and delicious, the service excellent, and you don't have to worry about getting the check in time to make the curtain. It makes for a seamless evening.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Opera night 9/10/14
    510greendolphin
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    I had a reservation for 4 at 6:15PM. We arrived 5 minutes late. Our table was not ready and they did not seat us for another half hour. We then had to rush our meal to get to our seats in time. Apparently, some people had come into the dining room from the rear who did not have reservations and were allowed to take our table. Unacceptable and I hope this does not happen again as I like the convenience of in-house dining and the food has always been very nice.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great place for pre-opera dinner
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    We went for a pre-opera dinner and had the buffet, which was very good. There were multiple salads, warm and cold, which were very creative and delicious, prime rib, two kinds of fish, vegetables, fruits, and a very nice cheese display with honey, dried fruits and nuts, etc. Dinner was a little pricey but you're really paying for convenience and location.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Disappointed with the service!
    Ellie720
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    We often dine at the Cafe prior to an opera of ballet performance and love it! On Wednesday evening I enjoyed the surprise of the new seating arrangement, the excitement of the new season and the anticipation of the opera, "Norma." As usual, the food and choices were excellent, but I was very disappointed with the poor service!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Niceguy
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    Poor food, terrible buffet arrangement,poor seating - noisy and cramped. Go back to the way it was before ... please. Have you lost your mind? go
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Picky
    Dined on 9/10/2014
    Convenient for opera goers with a curtain call of 7:30 but pricey for the fare.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Our Special Dining Experience
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 9/9/2014
    The quality and variety of the food caused us to change our plans for attending the pre-opera talk. At the buffet we went back for 2nds and 3rds to make sure we sampled all the dishes. By the time we finished, the talk had already ended! Oh well, it was worth it. Great food deserves ample time to savor everything.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Cafe at the Opera
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    The Cafe at the Opera always has delicious food, imaginatively prepared. Their vegetable dishes are especially good; it's probably the only buffet where more of my plate is occupied by more vegetables than meat dishes. Dinner there provides the perfect prelude to a night at the opera.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Nicely refurbished
    mindmavenVIP
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    In late August, they redid the Cafe. It has nice booths, noise level has been cut down with pretty baffle backdrops. This is an easy way to eat before a performance. When other restaurants are too crowded or it is raining,it is a fine choice Buffet food is adequate but not great.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Good food, and so convenient!
    redgardencat
    Dined on 9/6/2014
    For Opera-goers, you can't get more convenience than dining in the basement of the Opera House! Making (and adjusting) the reservation was very easy on Open Table, and it was a fine meal. They urge you to have the buffet; obviously they make much more money on that. It was pretty extensive, although it seemed quite a bit smaller than previous years' offerings. I opted for the ala carte menu, which I had to ask for twice. The waiter seemed to pay far more attention to the tables around us - not sure why. I had to flag him down three times to get anything beyond the basic having our food brought to us. Hopefully, we will get better service next time.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate