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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
  • "mostly this was a good experience and so convenient there was confusion with a promotional that was offered when ordering the ballet tickets on website they offered a nice perk which made the cost of dinner seem more reasonable. But somehow it wasn't clear how to get it. I understood it to say book a reservation through Open Table, which I did and thought I was done. But evidently there was another step on paying for it on website (separate from ticket purchases). So at first they were saying I wasn't eligible for the promo I had to persist and ask for the manager. Who made it all right. also two promos (I had only seen the one) and that kept getting confused. Took away from the experience a bit. The buffet was fully of good choices."
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "Plenty of average food in the buffet but pricey for wnat you get. Dessert and wine extra. The service was outstandingly bad and our waitress first took forever to pick up the credit cards and came back to table three times because she could not remember how to do the bill"
    Dined on 4/11/2014
  • "The Opera House Café is convenient, comfortable, and the food is excellent. A good start to a lovely evening."
    Dined on 4/10/2014
  • "You could not find a restaurant close enough to the performance time and location to the SF Ballet than the Cafe at the Opera house. If one did not reserve a table at any restaurants close-by to the Ballet, before the date of your venue, then this would be the place to go. It was convenient, has a very nice and comfortable ambience and good food too. The hostess and the servers were pleasant , honest and accommodating. The entrees were good . We had the Crab Salad and the Meat Platter. Everything came out perfect . The Opera cake and Fruit crumble were excellent for dessert. A Light dinner with a sweet tart ending, perfect for the Thursday night out at the Ballet."
    Dined on 4/10/2014
  • "A perfect place for dining when going to Opera or Ballet performances, the service is always timely, friendly and thoughtful. We order from the a la carte menu, all salads, and are always pleased by the combination of flavors and ingredients. It is amazing how efficiently one can eat something delicious and different during intermissions."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "Patina's Café at the Ballet is a great and convenient place to have a bite before the show. The proteins offered at the buffet are very good but the salad are a little too greasy. Really too bad!"
    Dined on 4/2/2014
  • "If you want a most convenient way to dine before a performance this will fill the bill. It's buffet style if you want hot food and salads, but there is a menu of cold salads as well as a meat and cheese platter that you can order off a menu. The buffet was quite varied with a lovely pork loin roast as the main meat that could be accompanied by 4 different hot starches or a green bean dish. There was also a large salad selection with good offerings. Desserts are extra. I can't remember if I had to pay for the coffee or not. The seating is spread out through the wide passageway that adjoins the buffet room. Patina gives the diner a free glass of sparkling wine to enjoy. Not bad, you just have to like buffets."
    Dined on 4/5/2014
  • "Excellent pre-performance dining venue in an unhurried atmosphere"
    Dined on 4/3/2014
  • "By coming early to have dinner before the ballet, the parking garage still has space. the food is really quite good and, combined with the usually superb dancing, the many potential aggravations of an evening out are beautifully resolved."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "A little disappointed -- other reviews said the food was so good, we found it OK but nothing special and some of the dishes were less than hot. But, the service was very good and it was very convenient for us as we were attending the ballet that evening -- had we not had a reservation there we probably wouldn't have gotten to eat a real dinner at all due to the time it takes to get to the ballet from the north bay. Perhaps we're a bit spoiled food-wise, and certainly I wouldn't say the food was bad, just nothing special. Another plus, we also really loved having coffee & dessert ready for us when we came down for the first intermission. In case anyone is wondering (we were), it is an all you can eat buffet."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "If parking is tough or the weather is bad, eating dinner in the Opera House is an excellent solution. The salads and appetizer items are excellent. The hot food needs to get better. Cooked vegetables, chicken etc. are not that good. Overcooked sometimes."
    Dined on 4/4/2014
  • "Great to park once and eat and see a show in the same building. And believe or not the food was excellent and even though a buffet, the food came out in smaller trays meaning it was being prepared on the spot.. Its a little pricey, but compared with your opera or ballet ticket, its a drop in the bucket."
    Dined on 3/21/2014
  • "Cafe at the Opera was a delectable treat with lovely ambiance and excellent service. My daughter and I dined on Sunday afternoon before the ballet. The buffet was beautfiully set and just as delicious as it looked! The entire experience was wonderful and a beautiful memory to treasure."
    Dined on 3/23/2014
  • "The Cafe at the Opera is located in the basement of the Opera House. There is a lovely buffet; items on the buffet change from day to day. The meal includes one glass of champagne; desserts are extra. For a buffet, the food is quite good and there is plenty of it, so you won't go hungry. There are plenty of options, so you can eat vegan or vegetarian should you desire. The service staff tends to get a bit rushed as performance time nears. For dining before a performance at the Opera House, this is the perfect place - finish your meal and walk upstairs to the performance."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "The buffet was the usual faire . . . good but not great with enough variety for every taste in a convenient setting for a Sunday matinee. Unfortunately, in an unusual occurrence, the service suffered because there were far too few servers for the overflow crowd, quite a large portion of whom were obviously first time attendees who needed additional assistance. This also affected the traditional quiet ambience of the cafe as the tables seemed overly crowded together and the noise was overwhelming, so much so that I could barely hear my companion speaking in a conversational tone across a table for two. Overall we had a disappointing dining experience. We will think twice before returning."
    Dined on 3/16/2014
  • "We prefer to sit at the box bar, which has a more limited menu, as opposed to dining downstairs at the buffet. The lighting and ambiance downstairs are a little too bright and there is constant traffic to and from the washrooms. Upstairs has a much better view and is more intimate. We've enjoyed all of the menu items we've tried, including the cold sirloin tip with tomato confit, the salmon w/ beurre blanc, the lamb, and the braised hen. It's not the most adventurous menu, but the simple ingredients, the quality and the flavor are very, very good. The cheese board and antipasto are also favorites."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "If you're going to the Opera House for a performance and don't have time for a leisurely meal, this option is hard to beat. Yes, it's a buffet but the waiter brings beverages to your table and the buffet choices were delicious and very well prepared, and also quite healthy. Yummy salmon and a variety of salads and vegetables."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "We loved it. How convenient to eat lovely food in a fabulous cultural significant venue."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "The location in the Opera House is very convenient when attending a performance. The food was good, loved having roast beef. The only thing that can be helpful would be a better selection of cheese. The atmosphere is somewhat dark and subdued. The service is excellent, especially Luis and Pepe."
    Dined on 3/15/2014
  • "We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food, service was good. This is the easy choice for a pre-performance dinner."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "This is the third time I have recently had the dinner buffet. The first two times the food was excellent. The last time, Friday, March 14th, I thought the food was not as good. The beef was tough, the salmon pieces were small and dry. A bit disappointed. Service was good and servers were friendly."
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "Food is quite good as well as the service. Makes for a great night at the ballet. Perfect to have dinner at 6, go to the lecture before the ballet and enjoy the performance without rushing. You can even have your dessert during intermission!"
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "This is unique to the Opera House and is only open to those who have tickets for that night's performance there. It's a high end buffet with table service for beverages and dessert. The surroundings are unique--it's in the Opera House. You can't beat that!"
    Dined on 3/14/2014
  • "We think going the cafe is the best way to enjoy The SF Ballet because you can have a really nice meal AND enjoy your family or guests before the ballet or opera performance. You can have a relaxing visit because you are already there and part of the lovely atmosphere And there is no stress. The service is excellent. The choices of food delightful and wide ranging and include Delicious vegetables. There is a full bar And champagne! It all makes a petfect evening!"
    Dined on 3/13/2014
  • "Once you have purchased tickets, you can reserve a table on line for the pre-performance buffet in the San Francisco Opera House basement. Two tables are set up in the Bar, one with warm food and excellent roast beef. The second is devoted to a range of vegetable and fruit salads with squares of cheese and thing slices of bread at the end. The salads are a particular delight. desert is extra with each combination quite special. The buffet carried a complimentary glass of champagne with it. If you can afford to go to the San Francisco Opera House, you owe it to yourself to splurge entirely with a pre-performance buffet in the Opera House basement."
    Dined on 3/13/2014
  • "Café at the Opera offers a convenient buffet for ballet-goers. Dining here means we will have a delicious meal and easily get to our seats on time. We found our last visit (for a performance of Cinderella) offered an interesting variety of cold salads, plus pork roast with a lovely fig sauce, salmon on a bed of greens and a mustard sauce, and chicken on a vegetable ragout as the main entrees. Desserts are extra at $10 each. Coffee or tea come with the meal. We read the fine print on our tickets and found that a free glass of sparkling wine is also included. The basement of the Opera House is not the most glamorous locale, but on our two visits we have found the food a cut above most buffets. We'll be back!"
    Dined on 3/12/2014
  • "the mezzanine cafe is very nice and relaxed for the opera house. They will hold your table till the intermissions so you do not have to rush"
    Dined on 3/12/2014
  • "Nice variety of food with the glass of wine a positive touch. Should include some kind of sweet to complete the experience rather than extra fee."
    Dined on 3/11/2014
  • "The buffet at the Opera features really good food with a somewhat chaotic experience. Set in the basement of the Opera House, there is a lot of coming and going of people before performances and during intermissions. There is great people-watching, but there is a lot of distracting activity, and if you get a table near the edge of the dining area, it can feel somewhat cramped and close to all the passerby. The staff are very busy trying to get people their service before showtime, so they can seem distracted. But they're nice and they're working hard. The dining selection is small, but generally excellent and varied. Wine is also good. Generally recommended for a night out at the Opera house. Try to arrive with time to not feel rushed."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "The only reason to eat here is that it's quick abd convenient. The food is tired and boring and the service is perfunctory. And the prices are high for what you get."
    Dined on 3/2/2014
  • "After attending the ballet fortr many years the buffet was recommended to us by friends. Why it took so long to find a gem like this I will never know. We, my wife and I will return again and again and again. Thanks."
    Dined on 2/19/2014
  • "When seeing the SF Ballet, dining here is so convenient. We arrived to be promptly seated. However, then we waited. Supposedly a waiter should have offered us a menu for individual ordering, however after awhile, we finally just decided to go with the buffet menu, which is rather pricey. After re-seating ourselves, I finally had to flag down a bus person to ask for our drinks. Of course they were busy, but that does not excuse the invisible service. Food was fine but not extraordinary. Bottom line, the convenience of location positively adds to a relaxing ballet experience."
    Dined on 3/2/2014
  • "The Opera Cafe is a gem. Once parked, you have no worries about moving your car from your restaurant location to another closer to the event. The food was excellent. Great variety, well presented and the service was friendly and attentive. Some of the people who work there have been serving for fifteen years plus! That says a lot in itself! We completely enjoyed the delicious, relaxed dinner service and dessert prior to an exquisite ballet program. The inclusive sparkling wine was also a hit. Highly recommended."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "Reasonable food for a buffet - we especially appreciated the wide variety of good salads provided. But overpriced for what it is. We may go back if all other pre-ballet choices are unavailable, but it won't be our preferred choice."
    Dined on 3/1/2014
  • "The buffet is terrific. Perfect for anybody who loves vegetables, wonderful salads and vegetables side along with several different main course options. And, it's so convenient. After dinner you just walk upstairs to your seats opera house."
    Dined on 2/28/2014
  • "The resevation process indicates it is for the Buffet at the Opera Cafe. I was hesitant because that is $$$ compared to the A La Carte menu. Reserving would be much easier if it the site indicated it was for either the Buffet or A La Carte menu. That menu would be improved with less high salt items, e.g. not 'smoked chicken'. The menu is fancily written, so difficult to guess what it will actually be. But the food is good and convenient before the ballet."
    Dined on 2/26/2014
  • "The only reason to eat here is if you don't have time to go to a real restaurant. Maybe would appeal to those who like an all-you-can-eat format."
    Dined on 2/25/2014
  • "There is no better way to guarantee yourself full enjoyment of a performance in the Opera House than to precede it with a leisurely meal in the downstairs dining room. The buffet is varied and delicious and you set the pace while waiters stand by to assist with beverages. Hint: don't miss the chocolate dessert ordered from the menu. It is Out of This World!"
    Dined on 2/23/2014
  • "Great place for quiet lunch before the Ballet, service was good and salads delicious. So very convienent"
    Dined on 2/23/2014
  • "Great for a relaxing dinner before the ballet or opera. Pleasant setting and good food at reasonable prices."
    Dined on 2/21/2014