Absinthe Brasserie and Bar - SF

4.6
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6242 Reviews
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$30 and under
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French

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Pre/post Theatre
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is one of the longest-running and most convivial dining institutions in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. Located within walking distance of Civic Center and the performing arts centers, the establishment features French and American-influenced brasserie fare for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Absinthe’s lively bar offers classic and creative cocktails and full menu dining.
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What 6242 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
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D
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall4food5service2ambience5

The waiter is super inattentive, we had to wait 10 minutes before we were even asked if we wanted drinks. He spent no time on the menu with us . I could have been at a diner he was so quick about everything. We had to flag him down if we wanted anything. Food is fantastic but...

AM
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall1food2service1ambience2

I had written in my reservation a request to sit in a booth because we were celebrating our anniversary so I wanted our experience to be extra special. I wanted to try a few appetizers as well so the booth tables looked a bit bigger from the pictures I found online. Upon arriving at the restaurant, we were seated at a regular table which was fine since I assumed that there weren't any booths available, however, there was a one available and the waiter said it was for a reservation, which I found disappointing because it was requested for in my reservation and we were seated first. There was no acknowledgement of our special request nor did he make an effort to be attentive even though I had indicated online that we were celebrating our anniversary there. Quality check was not done after serving our appetizers or entrees, the restaurant was moderately filled as some tables were empty so it didn't seem like the server didn't have time. There were some hits and misses on the food but nothing out of the norm. Unfortunately, the service ruined what could have been an even more memorable night for me and my fiancee.

O
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Our waiter was terrific as others have been in the past. This is important to us - not quite as important as the quality of the food but pretty close.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall2food2service5ambience4

Absinthe is in our neighborhood so we eat here frequently but were disappointed the other night.My boyfriend ordered the burger and it came out cold.
He sent it back & the second burger was hot but the bun was burnt. Not great for a $24 burger ($20 + $4 for two toppings). I had the coq au vin, which was delicious but is now up to $32 - which seems pricey.

OT
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall3food2service2ambience5

Birthday dinner

AB
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Delicious comfort food (French onion soup), octopus and duck were heart warming in this friendly charming place. It continues to be one of our favorites in SF.

SZ
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall4food4service4ambience3

Great food and service!

Too dark inside the restaurant where I couldn't see everything on my plate.

Given it's a french style restaurant, I was surprised at the dress code as there where customers there dressed in sweatpants and T-shirts.

Otherwise, overall great experience and we will be going back.

SG
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall1food2service1ambience3

My reservation was at 5:15. I arrived to the restaurant at 5:30. The maître d’ was accommodating and sat me promptly. I even borrowed reading glasses as I had left mine at home. All was fine through the first course which I received at approximately 6 PM. It was after that where things fell apart. My entrée took 40 minutes from receipt of my starter to arrive. I inquired with my server to find out why such a delay. The server blamed the fact the restaurant had 100+ diners all trying to eat at the same time to make their performances. He was not sympathetic at all to the fact I had waited 40 minutes to receive my entrée. The server and additional staff made me feel as though it was my fault. I thought having reserved my table 2 hours prior to my performance would have been ample time for my reservation. I was told because my performance was not until 7:30 that providing me my entrée 40 minutes after my starter I wouldn’t have still enough time to make my performance.

I was appalled by the cold and callous nature of all wait staff in advising me through the process of my delay. This is a restaurant that has institutionalized themselves in San Francisco and should have a better grip on situations like this and how to treat their customers when this occurs. As much as I’ve enjoyed their restaurant in the past I will not be returning due to how I was treated on this occasion.

PC
Minneapolis
9 reviews
Dined on December 2, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience5

We went to Absinthe for a holiday lunch celebration, and it was outstanding. I have ordered the potato crusted Salmon the last few times I have been there, and it is absolutely delicious.

JH
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on December 1, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience4

Great meal. Nice table. Not rushed. Overall a lovely evening.

JJ
New Mexico
2 reviews
Dined on December 1, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

The burger was a pretty good burger. $25 quite pricey, table was too dark I had to use my flashlight to read the menu. Service was good. It was an extremely small menu, I don’t think I’ll be back

B
San Francisco
12 reviews
Dined on December 1, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Food and service were great. Kitchen was slow getting our entree.

M
New York Area
41 reviews
Dined on November 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Pre theater. Wonderful food. Nice environment. There is a reason it has been a success for so long.

b
San Francisco
19 reviews
Dined on November 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love this place for it's cozy almosphere and French Bistro feeling. Close to Opera House and Davies, couldn't be easier to dine and walk to performances. We had lunch with Fr. Onion Soup and Mushroom quiche as well as lovely crisp sandwich of salmon, cream cheese, onions, capers etc. Quick service and very good, responsive waitress. Worth checking out.

MR
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 30, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Awesome as usual, always a special place to have a great meal, thank you!

BE
Minneapolis
12 reviews
Dined on November 27, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

As always, great food, terrific wine, and very responsive service. Love this place.

J
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2019
Overall4food3service4ambience4

The food was good, but not quite up to the level when we were last there a few months ago.

BL
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on November 22, 2019
Overall5food5service4ambience3

as always excellent service and consistently good cuisine there specialty of the day was a culinary delight

OT
San Francisco
33 reviews
Dined on November 21, 2019
Overall5food4service4ambience5

The food has gone a little south since my last visit, but it still has that good "French" neighborhood feel. A great place to see friends. The bar is still one of the best in the city?

AD
1 review
Dined on November 21, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Good service and good food.
We weren’t asked if we had a show after (we did) so I had to nicely remind our server while we waited for entrees.

Timing was still fine, since I skipped dessert. Otherwise, service was pretty good (they checked on our food and we fixed an issue we had with our appetizer). The food in general is pretty good, although this meal wasn’t my favorite.

We had:
Oxtail terrine: the terrine was delicious and we gobbled it up. The side of bone marrow was disappointing, fatty and possibly undercooked?

Raclette with potatoes: only so-so. Not exactly what I expected with a small cast iron of oily cheese and 4 small boiled potatoes, 4 toast points, and some pickles on the side. The cheese set too fast and the app felt too disparate. I wouldn’t order this again, but it was nice to try.

Bucatini with octopus: perfectly cooked and flavorful octopus and tasty sauce, but the bucatini didn’t go well and didn’t taste fresh made.

Mussels and fries: crispy fries perfect for dipping, fat juicy mussels in flavorful red wine and herb sauce. At first I thought the red wine flavor competed with the delicate mussels, but as I continued eating the flavors melded better. The brightness of the herbs really helped, and the crispy fries, too crisp on their own, were perfect dipped in sauce.

All in all, I’d come back and try new dishes.

JL
San Francisco
80 reviews
Dined on November 20, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

I have been to Absinthe many times over many years and it continues to be one of my favorites in the Hayes Valley. This time, I had a soup which qualifies as one of the best I've ever had anywhere. It was a blend of apple and celery root, which sounded strange, but in fact, was superb. This time, I did have an issue with the wagyu steak I ordered, but the restaurant handled it graciously and I would not hesitate to return.

Absinthe Brasserie and Bar - SF
Responded on November 25, 2019

Thanks so much for sharing this feedback, it really helps us improve. It makes us happy to know that our team was able to address the issue with grace, and we truly hope to see you again soon!

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MW
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Absinthe is a San Francisco classic. We had a flawless meal -- very French, but modernized in the loveliest ways. Everything was perfect. It's a busy and vivacious place, there is noise, but we had no trouble hearing each other, speaking at normal volume. The service was impeccable -- attentive without being obsequious, smart and knowledgeable waitron, polite and friendly and professional. I can't say enough. What a lovely experience!

C
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on November 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We were grateful for a quiet table and were very pleased with the service and meal.

2
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 17, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience2

Escargot over cooked with fennel, tasted terrible
Ordered lemon drop cocktails with a special request to make the drinks sweet. The drop no’s were very tart and the waitress brought liquid sugar instead of having the drinks remixed
The trout was overcooked and dry
The coq vin was chicken was dry
The desserts were sensational

HM
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always wonderful

SV
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on November 16, 2019
Overall3food2service2ambience3

the quality of the food has gone down in the last year. The appetizer portions were miniature, the burger bun was poor quality and cold. The fries are no longer what they used t o be. we went for the convenience, but there are too many other options in the neighborhood. We won't be back

VO
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 16, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

We went for lunch on a Saturday at 2:30 and it wasn't crowded at all. We had the caviar and a glass of champagne, the deviled eggs and cheese assortment. Our focus was to eat small plates and didn't order anything that was "cooked" so I can't speak to that.

HH
San Francisco
42 reviews
Dined on November 15, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Always love Absinthe for a date. The staff was accommodating as usual and they were able to seat myself and my guest early. The food is delicious! Service was a bit slow this time and some of my favorites were absent from the menu (Octopus), but I'll be back!

LS
San Francisco
42 reviews
Dined on November 14, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience3

The food is predictably good and the service is quick to support all the patrons attending events. The menu is rather limited but everything I've tried has been excellent. Not an adventurous place but doesn't disappoint. It is a little noisy though so not a good spot for a quiet conversation.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 13, 2019
Overall3food3service2ambience4

Very noisy. Food took a long time. People at other table were complaining about how long it took to eat. Food tasted good and the vibe of the place was nice, but I expected better.

F
San Francisco
64 reviews
Dined on November 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great dinner before the Opera - food was excellent as was service. Highly recommend the trout.

L
San Francisco
43 reviews
Dined on November 12, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent and tasty French bistro food---quiet enough at lunch for a real conversation to flourish---Elegant and professional service. I don't eat here often enough and it should be more prominent in my business lunch list.

AL
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience4

Nice food and snappy service. Not the cheapest but good quality and nice old school vibe

RW
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on November 10, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Wonderful Sunday brunch! Everything, from the table to the service and food was terrific. We had a really good time and will be back for brunch again! Thanks!

PP
San Francisco
10 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

I was not a huge fan of the table that we were given. I made this reservation MONTHS ago but were given a small table by a door - so there was a lot of traffic going past us.

RC
San Francisco
36 reviews
Dined on November 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Excellent dining experience. Excellent food, ambiance and service make this a special place before the opera or symphony. A great place for a date or special occasion.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

They were most helpful creating a meal for a most hard to please customer. And very patient!!!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and staff

JB
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall3food4service3ambience3

The restaurant was fine. I probably wouldn’t go back. The food was very good. The service was fine. The ambiance was like a bar.

KM
New Orleans
37 reviews
Dined on November 7, 2019
Overall3food3service3ambience4

Absinthe was good, but there was nothing special about the meal. My potato encrusted salmon was creative, but bland in flavor and nothing to write home about. My girlfriend’s pasta dish was tasty but lacked luster. Not what one would expect from a popular San Francisco restaurant. Drinks were excellent and the service overall was spotty. Can’t say that I was really all that impressed with this restaurant as a place I would go out of my way to get back to.

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