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
155 reviews since May 22, 2014
Overall Rating3.9
  • Food3.9
    Service3.9
  • Ambiance3.6
    Noise LevelModerate
84% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
special occasion (78)good for groups (22)fit for foodies (19)great for lunch (19)great for brunch (12)romantic (11)neighborhood gem (11)kid-friendly (7)notable wine list (3)late-night find (2)scenic view (1)Show More
  • excellent service
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    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
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006
    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
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    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.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    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
  • Great night for Anniversary
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    A great night at the Opera for our 37th anniversary. Had a wonderful experience at the Cafe. The staff was very personable. The buffet was very good.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Good for what it is
    Patron
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    The best place to have dinner before the opera without hassle. Food's good, though expensive considering what it is.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good for Opera buffs
    michaelngini
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    This restaurant is really handy if you're going to the Opera - much improved recently including the table layout and much quicker than going to any restaurants in the neighborhood. The buffet is excellent and even quicker - very important for Opera goers.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2013
    Dined on 9/5/2014
    I hope they change back to what they had in the past. Having the buffet in the area where people sit made for a cramped dining experience. Also had the impression that the number of food items was reduced from what it was before. And, would it be too much trouble to have salt and pepper shakers at the table?
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Vera
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    Although Café at Opera provides convenience to have lunch before performance the food itself is overpriced and mediocre
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Mixed opinion
    ElandJess
    Dined on 7/13/2014
    The convenience of this place is the highlight. The food is good but not worth the prices. The ambience is terrible and depressing. There are no windows or music, and low ceilings. We did, however, LOVE pre- ordering dessert and coffee for intermission. Both berry crumble and lava cake were delicious.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Excellent food
    Operawoodside
    Dined on 7/11/2014
    The food is excellent! Very high quality, seasonal and fresh. Very good for dietary issues such as gluten free or vegetarian. Plenty to choose from. Having desert wait for you during intermission is such a luxury! Great service. Room ambiance is only so-so.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • A cafeteria by any other name....
    BecFin
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    Patina's venue at SF Opera House is looking (and tasting) more and more like a large corporate undertaking--which it is. Food selections and quality range from mediocre to decent, and have deteriorated noticeably during the past few years. Convenience for performance patrons is the only rationale for dining here. Service is excellent, since it is a buffet....
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Great Buffet
    Plush
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    We decided to try the food here initially due to the convenience of attending the opera immediately after. The buffet seemed more varied and interesting relative to the a la carte, so we did the buffet and it did not disappoint at all. From the Japanese beef stew to the melt in your mouth crusted salmon with the butter sauce, the diverse salads: potato salad with edamame as well as, the cucumber salad with shrimp. All were palette pleasers. The seating was comfortably spaced, with quiet conversational atmosphere. Will definitely return.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Foodie5
    Foodie5VIP
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    Great place to dine before the Opera. Buffet has good food selection and the convenience for going to the Opera cannot be beat.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Visitors
    Suki
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    We enjoyed the atmosphere, good food, friendly and attentive service. Not a lot of food, but just enough. Quick service and the specialty of having our dessert and drinks ready at our table for intermission at the Opera. Just being at the Opera House is pretty special. We had a la carte salads and checked out the buffet which looked very good and gourmet.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Delicious Buffet
    Eliza
    Dined on 7/8/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pre Opera Spot
    OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Pre-Opera Dining
    2eatwell
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Excellent Dining at The Opera
    gr8operadiningVIP
    Dined on 7/6/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, romantic, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Cafe' at San Francisco Opera House
    OperaDiner
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    Patina Group is the food vendor at the San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, and does an excellent job. Save driving and parking hassles trying to "make" the performance on time. Be there early, go to the basement bar and cafe', have an pleasurable drink, buffet dinner, and dessert, then to your seats and a glorious performance. Food is always extremely fresh, whether hot or cold. There's snap in the cooked vegetables, Expect fish, chicken, a carvery of beef, vegetarian, side dishes, many salads, fruit, bread, and cheeses. A clean second plate for a return trip is always provided. You will not be disappointed. Service is polite, and efficient. White linen bistro tables and comfortable straight chairs. Opera photos are on the walls.
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Convenient, Good Choice!
    eveningonthetown
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    special occasion, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pre-opera meal
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 7/5/2014
    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
    Special Features:
    special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Opera Dining
    SusieQz
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    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.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • MADAME BUTTERFLY
    CaptainPinkerton
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    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.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.