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  • Cafe at the Opera

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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 Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Elegant
  • Website: http://www.patinagroup.com/sanfranciscowarmemorial
  • Phone: (415) 861-8150
  • Hours of Operation:

    Dinner: T-Sa, during performance days only
    Brunch: Su 12:00pm-2:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
  • Cuisine: Contemporary American, Continental
  • 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.Continued
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Diner Reviews
  • "The Opera Cafe is not only very convenient, but offers a delicious selection of foods at it's buffet. We have never been disappointed. It's location within the War Memorial Opera House makes this spot such a good choice, especially when dealing with time and parking issues in The City. The waiter was very professional and had our table ready again for intermission. After the opera we enjoyed walking around the dining area and looking at the portraits of Opera stars from the past. You will have plenty of time to enjoy a wonderful meal and walk around the inside of the stunning War Memorial Opera House."
    Dined on 7/8/2014
  • "I love the North Box Bar..Open & Airy with a view of the entry atrium. Great menu of Dinner Salads, Cheese and Charcuterie. Can also pre-order cheese or dessert to be ready at intermission. Decent wine list. Makes it easy to park early and be in the opera pre-show. Be sure to ask specifically for North Box Bar when making reservations."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "Our experience with Madama Butterfly performance, as well as our dining experience at The Cafe at the Opera, were very memorable. Further, we were able to reserve our delicious opera cake, chocolate, and strawberries with champagne for the intermission. Our dining captain was Mr. Chung (who is excellent and wonderful), and he prepared our brunch and intermission orders professionally and efficiently. My family member and I loved Madama Butterfly and our dining experience. We are so honored to meet Madame Butterfly, the beautiful and gracious Patricia Racette, in person. Very memorable and touching experience before my family member's surgery the next day."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "For the good food and also for the convenience, the Café at the Opera is a fine place for lunch prior to a performance. It is a bit hectic during the final half-hour, but that is not the facult of the restaurant but of late arrivals. All in all, an enjoyable place to dine."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "Seafood salad was excellent but on the pricey side. But it is good to support the opera and staff and very convenient pre-performance spot."
    Dined on 7/6/2014
  • "Usually just want some light meal prior to the opera and Cafe at the Opera definitely fills the bill. Salads (a la carte menu) were just the right amount for wife and me, but those who want more can have the full all you can eat buffet with good selections. Really enjoyed the smoked chicken/heirloom tomatos salad and the flank steak/roasted peppers one was pretty good as well. Desserts are a bit pricey, but can skip that and just have dessert after the opera. Venue could be better and service is friendly but just OK. All in all, pretty nice"
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "Located right below the main lobby, with early entrance provided through the north carriage entrance. Bis, diverse buffet for roughly $35. We also arranged for a small bottle of champagne and desserts at intermission, so they held the same table for us (to celebrate a birthday). We tried the fruity "special" cocktail and appreciated the very fast table service. Advise you to go early, as you get the table for the whole time before the opera (they don't seem to do multiple seatings)."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "The Opera Cafe is not only very convenient, but offers a wonderful selection of foods at it's buffet. The selection of salads and entries are very good. We have never been disappointed. It's location within the War Memorial Opera House makes this spot such a good choice, especially when dealing with time and parking issues in The City. The service is very good and we find the wait staff very knowledgeable. You will have plenty of time to enjoy a delicious meal and make in the Opera Pre-talk."
    Dined on 7/5/2014
  • "our waiter Gregory was a delight. he let us know we could finish our supper later during intermission as well as pre-order dessert. very nice to leave the house at intermission and return right to the table you had supper at 530 to finish and have dessert at 830 and the return to the opera."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "We've never been to this cafe before, altho we've seen operas there before. However, not sure I would want to do it again, as the place felt old and tired. It could use a fresh painting, some plants, something that makes it look like a space the opera house cares about. It looked neglected and unthought about."
    Dined on 7/3/2014
  • "hot and cold buffet was good; great carved beef; excellent and varied salads"
    Dined on 7/2/2014
  • "My partner ordered from the menu and enjoyed his salad. The previous week I had done the same, and The Fisherman's Wharf Style Chopped Salad was very good. This time I did the buffet and while it was good I felt that I would have done better to order a salad at much less expense; I did not eat the prime rib, found the catfish good but a bit peppery, and the chicken had an objectionable sweet sauce; the salads were varied and fresh, the bread and cheese selection good. The Cafe at the Opera is a good place to have dinner and escape the rush between dinner at a nearby restaurant and the opera house. Another time we may partake of the more casual food available at the opera house. I"
    Dined on 7/2/2014
  • "If you're going to the opera this is definitely the place for your pre-show dinner. Food is excellent. Service is great for a Buffett. Convenience can't be beat! Have your dessert, drinks or coffee during the intermission. It's a total evening."
    Dined on 7/1/2014
  • "Very convenient if attending an event at the SF Opera House. Buffet seemed overpriced ($38), but nice choices and reasonable prices on the dinner menu."
    Dined on 7/1/2014
  • "I had seafood salad ordered off menu - dressing was poor and seafood was soso - mostly out of a can I presume."
    Dined on 6/29/2014
  • "My dad and I had dinner before the opera recently at the Cafe. We ordered dinner off the menu, rather than having the buffet. Dinner was fine, nothing to write home about. Desert, a rhubarb-berry crumble, was out of this world. Service was slow, and the ambiance was a bit dreary. But it sure made things easy."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "A visit to the opera is complete with a dinner at the downstairs Cafe. They have an excellent buffet with fresh food and prime rib. The service is good."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "Outstanding place to dine when attending the opera. "One-stop-shopping:" dine, go to preopera talk, then the opera; all nearby."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "Since there were 2 people with me I got a much better table than when I dined here alone and was seated to the side."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "The Cafe makes us feel pampered and special. It adds to a wonderful evening at the opera. The intermission dessert is a great treat. The buffett is one of the best meals in town! We love it!"
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "The food is very nice and the service great for a buffet. The biggest draw is that it is so convenient before the opera. You can linger without worrying about making the performance."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "This Cafe is convenient if you are going to a show at the Opera House but the buffet was ordinary. Some nice salads but the meat offerings were weak. The cat fish was awful. Must be cheap."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "Always elegant and delicious ...................................."
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "The ambiance was nice, the service excellent and the food delicious! Great venue to people watch also. I would recommend this dinning stop to all attendees of the opera!"
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "We have been going to the Opera Cafe for years. This time was really awful. Not the service, not the table, but the food: overdressed salads, overdone chicken. Something has evidently changed. We brought two guests who were equally surprised. They had never been to the Opera Cafe and are unlikely to return. what a shame."
    Dined on 6/28/2014
  • "For years we've always eaten at the Opera Cafe before the show for convenience sake. I have to say the menu for Madama Butterfly was the best we've ever had! Hats off to the chefs!,"
    Dined on 6/27/2014
  • "i can't believe a fine organization like the san francisco opera could present us with a truly horrible "restaurant" like this. BAD EVERYTHING!!!"
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "We had high hopes. The buffet is so uninteresting looking; food displays are unimaginative and unappealing. The a la carte menu is extremely limited and they never say that all the options are salads e.g., the flank steak offering looks like an entree but turns out to also be a salad! Better descriptions would be less deceptive. The hostess staff never smiles--bad first impression--although our waiter was pleasant. The room is dark and dismal, very depressing. It could be spruced up a bit. And then there's the constant stream (and noise) of opera patrons going to and from the restrooms, the entrances for which are right in the dining room. There must be a way to partition that traffic lane from the dining tables."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "I was expecting hof brau service, but instead just a collection of chaffing dishes with brunch items on 2 long tables. Salads way over dressed (soggy). Very disappointed after having seen sample menu on line, & not worth $38.00/person. Didn't have the "historic charm" the on line add promoted; went there for the convenience of being able to eat and see the opera without having to drive/park in between the two venues, but the experience was not worth it. Won't do that again."
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "Very surprised at how terrible a dining experience this is before the opera."
    Dined on 6/24/2014
  • "great food and service, as well as convenience to opera upstairs."
    Dined on 6/26/2014
  • "CAFE AT THE OPERA is a great way to simplify going to the Opera. It's convenient, food is good, and you go upstairs to the Opera relaxed!"
    Dined on 6/20/2014
  • "We had a very favorable time, with excellent food and excellent service. The timing was perfect to enjoy our meal in a relaxed atmosphere and not having to rush to make the performance. Also, because I had a recent surgery, it was easy to have dinner and make the opera."
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "This is a perfect spot for dining before you enjoy the opera. The buffet food is very good. Price is a bit high especially if your appetite is small. Probably better to order a la carte."
    Dined on 6/25/2014
  • "The ideal place for lunch before a matinee at the opera! Admission to the Cafe includes admission to the opera so it's one stop shopping. It was much less hassel than if we had gone to a neighborhood restaurant and we felt that our lunch was part of the opera experience. The buffet is a bit expensive unless you're going to eat a lot, but the selection of lunch salads was fine - especially the Kobe beef salad! The dessert menue looked wonderful but not for waist-watchers, especially if you're going to be sitting for the next 2 hours. We allowed 90 minutes for lunch, but I think we'll leave an extra 30 minutes next time. Service was good, but because of the number of people, a bit slow."
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "Handy access for excellent dining before performances at the Opera House. Usually is open 2 hours before performances with seating in the downstairs space under the lobby and has access to the bathrooms. The dinning area is rather warm and stuffy, but the waiters are attentive and the food has interesting options - there is a salad table with 10-15 very unique combinations - the Sunday brunch we attended had a fennel-macadamian salad as well as roasted marinated eggplant and other interesting salad options. The other table has warm entrees with about 10 different options including salmon, beef, and chicken and a good roasted vegetable dish, and had a bread pudding with a sweet sauce. There is also an a la carte menu ."
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "seafood salad was outstanding. It had lots of shrimp, salmon and crab with a nice spicy dressing. A perfect combination. I would order it again."
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "The buffet choices suited the three generations of our family very well, which is difficult. The service was outstanding-efficient and friendly. We especially appreciated the female server's help with grandpa's dessert at intermission--he loved the crumble and is still talking about it."
    Dined on 6/22/2014
  • "The food and service here is always predictable. We have never been disappointed. It is convenient, and when we're done, the elevator is always empty when we board from the cafe."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "I always try to eat at Cafe at the Opera prior to attending the opera. First the convenience--all you do is dine in the lower hall of the War Memorial Opera House, and then simply walk upstairs to the performance. No need to repark the car or wonder what's taking so long in the kitchen. And the food is excellent--a salad table with a number of excellent and original offerings, and a hot food table with delicious and well prepared dishes. I enjoyed some excellent baked salmon with a miso sauce, some mashed sweet potatoes, spinach, and buttered roasted turnips. The desserts are extra, but the chocolate lava cake was incredible. My dining companion was in heaven. The wine list is small but acceptable. Great for special occasions."
    Dined on 6/21/2014