Max's Opera Cafe
Max's Opera Cafe
  • Address:
    601 Van Ness Avenue
    San Francisco, CA 94102
    Neighborhood:
    Civic Center / Hayes Valley / Van Ness
  • Cuisine:
    American
    Price: $30 and under

Max's Opera Cafe

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://maxsworld.com/
  • Phone: 4157717300
  • Hours of Operation:
    Brunch: Saturday - Sunday: 10:00am - 2:00pm; Lunch: Daily: 11:00am - 4:00pm; Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 4:00pm - 10:00pm, Friday - Saturday: 4:00pm - 11:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Discover,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: American, Comfort Food
  • Executive Chef: Carlos Salcedo
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Beer, Entertainment, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Personal wines welcome, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Catering: We have on -premise catering services, perfect for office lunches, meetings and less formal parties. Max’s Delivery or To Go can bring our fantastic food to you. We will deliver within San Francisco, or you can pick up your order at a predetermined time, for a fantastic yet cost effective event. For an additional fee, Max's offers service staff for set-up and maintenance of your event. Please contact our Catering Department for more information.
  • Private Party Facilities: Max's has a semi private dining area that can accommodate up to 48 people.
  • Private Party Contact: Michael Adams 415-501-0222
  • Entertainment: Max’s at the Opera Cafe features live music seven nights a week. Servers not only provide guests with superior service but entertain them as well. Diners can expect an array of musical styling's ranging from Opera to musical theater. The "singing servers" are accompanied by a live pianist, who from time to time will perform for the crowd. The entertainment begins at 6:00 pm Monday- Thursday and 6:30pm Friday –Sunday.

Getting there

  • Cross Street: Golden Gate
  • Public Transit: BART - Civic Center Station.

    SF Muni - Lines 5 Fulton, 31 Balboa,
    47&49 Van Ness
  • Parking: Valet
  • Parking Details: Valet parking is located beneath the restaurant on Golden Gate Avenue. Street parking is also available.
A word from Max's Opera Cafe
For over 25 years, Max's has served America's favorite foods with an upscale style at affordable prices. Boasting "everything you've always wanted to eat”, only at Max's will you find a corned beef Reuben, Chinese chicken salad, rib-eye steak, BBQ ribs and Roma pasta all on one table. And for those with a sweet tooth, Max's sinful; award winning desserts will keep you coming back for more.
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Max's Opera Cafe reviews from OpenTable diners
119 reviews since June 23, 2014
Overall Rating3.5
  • Food3.5
    Service3.5
  • Ambiance3.4
    Noise LevelModerate
83% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
neighborhood gem (40)great for lunch (40)good for groups (33)great for brunch (24)kid-friendly (18)fit for foodies (14)late-night find (12)special occasion (12)hot spot (5)vibrant bar scene (4)romantic (2)scenic view (2)notable wine list (2)great for outdoor dining (1)Show More
  • Memorable Restaurant
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 10/17/2014
    My first dining experience at Max's Opera Cafe was in 1991 when my husband and I first moved to San Francisco from Iowa. It was a special night. We love that many of the waiters and waitresses are students in the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. My husband is a classical musician. Whenever we attend concerts at Davies Symphony Hall, the Palace of the Fine Arts, SF Jazz Center, or the War Memorial Opera Center, we always eat at Max's. My daughter and granddaughters also love Max's because we always eat at this restaurant after attending a SF Ballet event. October 17th was my 67th birthday, and, of course, we celebrated at Max's before attending a concert.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch, hot spot, kid-friendly, late-night find, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • down hill
    WhoMeVIP
    Dined on 10/15/2014
    and falling further each visit. time for a redo of this long time "go-to" for pre-preformance light dinners
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Max's goes downhill
    shelikofVIP
    Dined on 10/12/2014
    Max's has a new menu, much less interesting than before and omitting many favorites. Our waiter was hard to find and not good when he appeared. He brought a wine cooler with our champagne, but left the bottle sitting on the table. He never attempted to refill our wine glasses. The apparent manager didn't seem to understand English very well.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Not up to usual standard
    Nouniness
    Dined on 10/1/2014
    I ordered a Caesar salad with chicken. Though the dressing was good, the chicken was overly salted--it was more than merely salty; it was salty as hell. The romaine lettuce could have been fresher, as well. My companion ordered the Chinese chicken salad and found that there too the chicken was much too salty.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Always satisfying
    GPSF
    Dined on 9/30/2014
    Close to the Opera, Davies Hall, and the Conservatory of Music, Max's is the perfect spot for pre performance dining. Good food. Good service. Reasonable prices.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • What's Not To Like
    JohnKVIP
    Dined on 9/22/2014
    I have never had a bad meal or service at Max's. This is a great place to meet friends for good food and consistently good service. Try your best to save room for one of the huge deserts to share with your party.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for brunch, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • no where else to go
    operalover
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    Would never eat there except for the connivence when going to the opera. Ala carte menu hasn't changed and is too limited- buffet is not worth the price. There is no applicable answer for question 2, but I was forced to randomly select one just to end review.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/21/2014
    Serving staff were very helpful......................................................................................................................................................
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Seen it's better days
    jeckleinVIP
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    This place use to be a special place. We went here before going to opera. All the good restaurants were booked. The place wasn't all that busy but it took several minutes (10+ minutes) to get service. I asked 3 times for water. When the food came the Salmon was over cooked, the potatos tasted bland (almost out of the box taste!), and vegetables were over cooked. The nats flying around the table (several of them not just one) were a nuisance. The overall atmosphere seemed dated and smell of the restaurant smelled of old grease. This place has seen it's better days.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Always a Reliable Standby!
    JaneVIP
    Dined on 9/19/2014
    Max's is our go-to restaurant when we don't feel like a fancy, expensive dinner before the opera or the symphony in San Francisco. It is conveniently located within walking distance of both Davies Symphony Hall and the War Memorial Opera House. The food and service are consistently good. Their salads are always outstanding, especially their shrimp louie. My husband loves the Rueben and fries. The wait staff is generally well-trained and friendly, although often short-handed because on weekends, the place is always very, very busy. I recommend making a reservation, which is possible, if one thinks about doing it well ahead of time (like at least a week). Then one avoids sitting in the waiting area worrying about being late for the concert.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • not what it used to be
    operafoodie
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    My brunch experience left much to be desired. I ordered lox, onions and eggs, a favorite of mine in various Max's establishment. But the lox was watery and the eggs were dry. The peach cobbler, that had held such promise in the menu picture was tasteless. It was very noisy as well. The one bright spot was the service. The waitstaff was very attentive and couldn't do enough for us. Bring back the Max's I used to know.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good for Groups
    ABDineVIP
    Dined on 9/14/2014
    Overall experience was good. Food was good and service excellent which was nice since we had a large group. Only drawback was the ambiance. The restaurant was very warm and everyone in the group took notice.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Always great food, but service?
    jonesdljsfVIP
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    Always enjoy the great deli menu and good food. Usually service is very good, but not this time. It was still early, but they were overwhelmed, so we weren't even served by our designated server. However, the worst part was I know I left my credit card in the wallet with the check, but the next day they said they didn't have it. Caused me to have to cancel the card, which is more of a hassle than anything.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Food Quality Suffering
    UpMarketVIP
    Dined on 9/12/2014
    Years ago I loved Max's Opera Cafe. In more recent time, the food quality has been sliding badly. This last trip was my last. I will not go back, which I find sad because it has been such a great institution. However, our dinners were tasteless. An old standby, Guy's Chinese Chicken Salad is covered on top with sliced fried chicken that is more fry than chicken and very little flavor. I kept getting bites that were completely fried breading without chicken. The salad underneath had far too much dressing and was not nearly as robust as it has been in the past. Similarly, my dining companion's meal was also notably lacking. Adios, Max's. There are too many restaurants offering much better quality in the neighborhood.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Mother-Son Brunch
    OpenTableFanatic88VIP
    Dined on 8/9/2014
    I had a terrible week and my mother came into S.F. to cheer me up by taking me to brunch at Max's and I couldn't any happier. Love the food options and the fact that is an upscale diner makes it easy to bring casual to special occasions to the venue. Love Max's.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • What happened to my favorite?
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 8/2/2014
    I ordered my old-time favorite, sausage & shrimp with peppers, and the sauce that it was in was pretty bad and not like I remember it. Also, it was served with rye bread toasts which I never would have paired it with. Unfortunately, I would not order it again, what a shame
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Dining area too warm
    Maureensf
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    The food and service were very good but we were so warm. There are bright lights that shine down on the tables in the first dining area near the kitchen.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Food is usually a pretty good portion and tastes decent.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pre Davies
    Priscilla
    Dined on 8/1/2014
    Perfect place before the symphony for an informal dinner. Piano was good but loud.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Quite accommodating
    Sharon
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    We were dining at Max's before going to the symphony. We got stuck in traffic and were 30 minutes late. Ic alled snd they held our reservation and rushed our order. We had a fabulous dinner and were on time for the symphony! Thanks, Max's staff!
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Prime Rib Night
    animaven
    Dined on 7/31/2014
    The Prime Rib is tasty, and I like the Baked Potato - it's good sized and just right.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 7/27/2014
    Checked in with the host sat down and wanted to order a glass of wine. No one came so I went to the bar and ordered my own. Later in the meal I wanted another glass but only a 1/2 glass. I was told they do not do that. I have been to many restaurants and they will do this Bad policy not to especially since I had already a glass. Service was not good as I had to ask other waiters to please find our waitress. I have been here other times usually before ballet or opera. Not my favorite spot to go but it is close. Nothing wrong with it just not my cup of tea.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • I Really Like This Place
    KASSanFran
    Dined on 7/26/2014
    Great service & good food! Just basic hearty down to earth food. Lots of room to eat comfortably! I hate eating at those restaurants when everyone in the restaurant has to shift places when one diner has to make a bathroom run.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2003VIP
    Dined on 7/25/2014
    Portions are huge and food good. I frequent Max's whenever going to a show at Davies Symphony Hall or the Opera House.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, special occasion, great for lunch, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Service great but
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 7/18/2014
    Service was great this time. But there were 3 bone chips in the ground lamb which was tasty and too generous.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Food OK
    Goodtogo
    Dined on 7/9/2014
    Food OK but feel the quality has gone down a bit. For instance, the Guy's chicken salad is FILLED with cardboard tasting, chow mein type crunchy noddles, so much so that you can't taste the lettuce. Chicken is fried to the point of being too dry. This is the 3rd time I"ve ordered this dish, so it is not just a fluke, and someone at the table who ordered this salad was annoyed by the same observation. A comment from two other persons at our table said the mushroom fettucchini had too much herbs, "it was like having tough tree branches in the dish". They too had noticed the same thing the last time they ate at Max's. Time for who ever is in charge in the kitchen, to sample at least these two dishes and make some adjustments.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great food and entertainment
    Pwh007
    Dined on 7/6/2014
    The beet salad was amazing along with the fried calamari and house wine. Great entrees too! Entertainment piano player and servers/singers were an added feature at this restaurant! Applause to all!
    Special Features:
    hot spot, vibrant bar scene, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 7/4/2014
    Made a reservation early afternoon on July 4th for Max's at 5:30 p.m. When we arrived, we found Max's had closed at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Only as a last resort . . .
    Love2EatVIP
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    We had a 6:00 reservation before a 7:30 performance. We were seated on time and our very nice server took our order. At 6:45 our appetizer had still not appeared. The server admitted for the second day in a row the kitchen was way behind even though not every table was filled. We gave up, ordered salads which were a bit tired but adequate.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Menu needs review
    knowgoodfood
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    This is a good choice for pre opera dining, but the menu has been pared so that Are few good choices.....I feel that it is more oriented to the economics of food cost in the kitchen and less to interesting and tasty food. What is going on here...???? A small inventory of food choices prepared in dishes that aren't reallyl working ....WAKE UP.. We used to love dining there... Now it is becoming tough to find a dish that sounds appetizing...I wnat to like you again.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Diverse Menu
    AlwaysHungry
    Dined on 7/3/2014
    Near the Symphony/Opera House. Something for everyone. Large portions!!! small ladies room, very crowded nearing show time.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Canvienent but servicer can't reach
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007
    Dined on 7/2/2014
    The servicer couldn't reach across the huge corner table so it seemed that it was trouble to give us our bill.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 7/1/2014
    They could not handle a crowd. We arrived 15 mins early and wasn't seated till 15 mins after our reservation time. Once our food arrived, we were only visited once. I had to get up to collect our bill.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Off night at Max's
    notthatpicky
    Dined on 7/1/2014
    My first disappointing experience at Max's. I have been there many times in many years and always enjoyed it, so this experience will not keep me from going back. But Tuesday night was disappointing. The service was slow and I had to ask for items that are normally supplied, such as a steak knife for the pork chop. They managed to under-cook the pork chop (too pink), yet make it dry at the same time. My companion's salmon was ok, but the broccoli was ice cold.
    Special Features:
    great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Pre opera brunch
    Foodie2
    Dined on 6/29/2014
    We were delighted to get a table and be able to have an unhurried meal before attending the matinee performance at the Opera. We arrived earlier than our booking, but were still given a table. We had a delightful waiter and both the food and service were excellent. We will definitely go again.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Great place to eat before an event.
    SocialGrammy
    Dined on 6/28/2014
    We had tickets for Showboat at the Opera House, so Maxes was ideally located for us. We have always enjoyed Maxes, and frequented the one in Ramon , in the many years that it was there, and miss it greatly. We enjoyed the piano music played during our dinner, as he played all the songs from Showboat which was very appropriate , and the young lady(who is a waitress there), has the most beautiful voice, and sang like an angel, as did the young male waiter. The entertainment made it a lovely dining experience. We always enjoy Maxes food, and it's a menu that works for us. We were seated promptly, and everyone was very pleasant.
    Special Features:
    neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Disappointing, Bland, Mediocre Meal
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    Service minimal, food mediocre (fatty, overcooked barbecued ribs; mushroom fettuccine bland – no amount of parmesan cheese or salt seemed to help). Our server spilled sauce from one of the plates on one of us; nonstop piano music made it almost impossible to carry on conversation. The ultimate chocolate cake however was delicious. Max's used to be our default pre-symphony or opera restaurant, but quite honestly did not enjoy the experience and would book somewhere else in future.
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Sometime a Hit..then sometimes...
    PoorMax
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    Usually a good spot to dine with group prior to a performance. Lately, not so. Simple ordering turning into..wrong food, plates NEVER bussed, disappearing wait staff. This place knows there is a rush between 6 and 8, so why is management ill prepared? Has always been my go to place...I will try ONE MORE TIME. So sad....
    Special Features:
    good for groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Max's Opera Cafe
    SusanVIP
    Dined on 6/27/2014
    Ialways enjoy dining at Max's. The service is friendly and attentive and the portions are more than generous! The food is delicious and reasonably priced.
    Special Features:
    late-night find, neighborhood gem, hot spot, vibrant bar scene
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • If there's nothing else available..
    daphne
    Dined on 6/26/2014
    Two good things to say about Max's is that it is located close to parking garages and the Symphony and Opera House. We chose it because, at the last minute, we couldn't get reservations at other nearby restaurants early enough to get to the Opera performance. We arrived on time for our 5:45 reservations and were told we had to wait in a cafeteria-type line to be seated. When seated, the service was slow. The piano music was entertaining, although it contributed to the noisy atmosphere; the interior doesn't appear to have been upgraded in years. The food was marginal, at best. The beef brisket tasted of liquid smoke. The 'famous' crab cakes tasted of filler. However, the portions were large and not expensive. Not a place for foodies.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic