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Permanently Closed - Bistro 1491

3.7
67 reviews
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$30 and under
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Contemporary American
Top Tags:
  • Neighborhood Gem (92)
  • Fit for Foodies (38)
  • Kid-friendly (30)

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About

This restaurant is permanently closed.

Bistro 1491 is a cozy eatery located in Albany, California that specializes in serving classic American fare. The restaurant features a neighborhood bar feel in a cozy space with a modest décor.

Bistro 1491 serves breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week. Breakfast fare at the restaurant includes pancakes and French toast, eggs Benedict, omelets, beef short rib hash, BLT frittata and more. Lunch and dinner at Bistro 1491 offers a variety of small plates, salads, burgers, sandwiches, entrées and kid-friendly fare. Entrées featured at the restaurant include buttermilk fried chicken, grilled New York steak with fries, roasted salmon and bistro fish and chips.

Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Contemporary American
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Hours of operation
Lunch: Daily: 11:30am - 3:00pm; Dinner: Daily: 5:00pm - 9:30pm; Breakfast: Monday - Friday: 8:30am - 3:00pm, Saturday - Sunday: 8:00am - 3:00pm
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Phone number
(510) 526-9601
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Payment options
AMEX, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Bo Tam
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
Curtis St.
Additional
Beer, BYO Wine, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 67 People Are SayingWrite a review
Overall ratings and reviews
3.7  based on all time ratings
3.9
food
3.9
service
2.9
ambience
4.3
value
Noise · Moderate
88% of people would recommend it to a friend
  • 5
  • 4
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  • 2
  • 1
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vipjaz2020 (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on April 16, 2016

NOTE: 1491 now has a small but good beer selection! We've been coming to 1491 for several years. Chef Bo is an amazing cook, and sadly undervalued. There's no full liquor license (wine/beer only), thus no noisy bar; you can talk to your group without screaming over the table. DO NOT MISS the BBQ ribs starter; and 1491's tofu fries are the best we've found anywhere. Love the juicy huge burger and crisp (regular) fries. Fried chicken is perfect: crunchy batter but not so thick where a bite is all batter with little chicken. King salmon won huge praise, cooked on-point. Side of coleslaw was so good our friend ate it all, normally she doesn't even like the stuff! Chocolate cake was also a winner, our chocoholic friends adored it. Great food, comfy booth, quiet and relaxed--1491's only flaw is serving is willing & pleasant, but not well-trained. Be patient; the food is worth it! We prefer L/D menu to breakfast, btw.

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vipSue1 (Poconos)
4.0  Dined on April 12, 2016

I ordered the steak and it was wonderful. It was perfectly cooked, tender and delicious. The food is great at Bistro 1491 I intend to go back many times.

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vipEat2live (Aberdeen)
1.0  Dined on February 12, 2016

Fruit flies everywhere. Slow and inconsistent service. Waitress got our dinner orders mixed up. Ran out of entrees even though it was early in the evening. Quality was just ok. Not recommended.

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vipNakki (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on December 29, 2015

Went to Bistro 1491 for the first time with a couple of friends. Our server was attentive. I ate the salad with a salmon filet on top. Perfect for my current low carb diet and very tasty! Everyone enjoyed their food and wine and it was quiet enough to hear each other easily.

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vipDinner (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on November 21, 2015

Stopped in for dinner - I had the fried chicken which was tasty and tender.

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vipjaz2020 (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on November 13, 2015

Owner Chef Bo Man Tam is a great cook that nobody ever talks about. 1491 suffers from poorly trained staff which doesn't help. There is no bar, so hard to make a profit on just the food. The ingredients are very good quality; this chef cares about what he makes. His pork belly, for example, is the best I've tasted in years. But he's had to drop all the other dishes with it except for the sliders, which I consider the worst of the three he used to offer. Smothering that glorious meat with too much bread is a sin, plain and simple. It was amazing with the apple-jicama slaw, but that's long-gone. Still amazing, though, are the tofu frites (best in town, mix those two sauces!), the burger (juicy and tasty), the Sticky Ribs (a dead ringer for Pican's magnificent ribs, but without the chile heat and 2/3 the price). Skip dessert, have a cappuccino instead.

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vipSue1 (Poconos)
5.0  Dined on November 1, 2015

This is great little restaurant. The food was delicious and the service excellent. It was reasonably priced and you could hear yourself talk. I highly recommend it.

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OpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on October 25, 2015

Very nice place. Great food. Amazing desserts.

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OpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
2.0  Dined on October 6, 2015

Order was wrong. No problem requesting correct order from server. But the dish was out then. Replacement order was also wrong.

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OpenTable Diner (Minneapolis)
4.0  Dined on September 22, 2015

We needed to meet with old friends at a place close by our place in Berkeley. We tried this place site unseen and it proved to be nice for this purpose. The food was good and we were able to have a good conversation.

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vipkanga (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on September 6, 2015

The food is always excellent in quality and preparation for the price. The last time we had the King salmon and it was so soft and creamy it just melted in our mouth. We've been here many times for dinner but never for breakfast or lunch. The ambiance feels simple and unpretentious.

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viploree (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on July 8, 2015

The food and prices are good-The food comes fresh and hot and made to order.
The drawbacks are the parking and the number of wait/service. One person was
waiting and bussing all the tables. There were at least 8 tables filled with people in
two rooms. Why not hire another person to help? This was a weeknight.... With better
service this restaurant could really draw in more people-kind of dragged our dinner out
too long.

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vipjaz2020 (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on June 10, 2015

Chef Bo Man Tam is as good as the more celebrated EBay chefs, but gets little recognition for his dinner talents. B1491 has no bar, altho it serves wine, and this hurts their trade tremendously. The pork belly is phenomenal, altho we liked the old apple-jicama slaw better than the new side of apple chutney. The mac'n'cheese needs a bit of salt, FYI; his cooking is Boomer friendly low-salt (thank you, chef). Fried chicken seems to have changed both brine and batter (maybe working on a new version?). Do not, absolutely do not, miss his salads: the pear and the beet salads are as beautiful as anything we get at Auberge du Soleil, but for half the price. Service is variable; sometimes good, sometimes under-experienced.

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vipnapadiner2 (San Francisco)
2.0  Dined on May 2, 2015

Poor service. Our server didn't understand the menu, could not answer questions about ingredients, and despite our specific request in the Open Table reservation for accessible seating for walker and cane-assisted diners, she assigned us to sit in a booth which could not be managed by our handicapped diners, plus the restaurant was nearly empty when we arrived - only one other table occupied. Then she gave us the wrong menu - that had been discontinued, and was missing the old standards like short ribs. Once we got our meals it was pretty good, except not piping hot. Short ribs were tender and juicy, but lukewarm. Salmon was very tasty, but also just warm.

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vipOpenTable Diner (Tampa)
4.0  Dined on March 20, 2015

Food is wonderful, plated attractively and served at the right temp. Sharing was not an issue and was kitchen split (much appreciated) allowing us to sample all 4 courses. Service was slow due to one server for the entire restaurant and one brand new server - I expect that will improve but we did get our food when it was hot so no problem. Pricing seemed very modest for the trendy bistro offerings but I won't complain and I will return.

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vipjaz2020 (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on June 25, 2014

Cons: no bar, very limited wines. Pros: the dinners are the best bistro food around, and by far the cheapest. We go anywhere for good food and are not price-sensitive--so believe us when we say if 1491 was near our house we would be here once a week! This is the best pork belly since Robin Low closed up Post Meridian, and the pear salad is killer good! Fried chicken is excellent, and the soups are always amazing. This is beautifully balanced, creative cooking that far exceeds Rivoli, Stella Nonna, Wood Tavern, or Chez Panisse Cafe. Chef/owner Bo Man Tam is doing a terrific job that hardly anyone is noticing.

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vipGWIP (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on June 20, 2014

We arrived at 5:15 and were invited to sit at any table. I think there was one other couple dining when we arrived. The service was attentive the food arrived hot from the kitchen. The presentation was very nice and we enjoyed the salmon and the pork belly as entrees.

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vipVelk1976 (San Diego)
4.0  Dined on June 3, 2014

I was expecting more of a French-style bistro so I was a little let down. But the menu had some fun items. Most memorable was the crispy tofu fries. Would go again if in the neighborhood.

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vipOpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on May 24, 2014

We tried this place with some friends and ordered alot of things including fried chicken and pork belly appetizers, beet salad, steak frite, salmon, Cobb salad. Everything was excellent. The ambiance needs a little work but we created our own party anyway so all was good. Looking forward to returning for the pork belly!

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vipBdiner (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on May 4, 2014

The food was good - The server did a great job as she was going solo but the atmosphere is really lacking.
Turn your lights down, add a candle and soe back light and your whole atmosphere could change and make you much more appealing

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vipKarenW (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on April 6, 2014

I met out of town friends here for an early dinner. We were the only people in the place at 5:30 on a Sunday, which worried me a bit. But the service was good, the food was wonderful, and by the time we left a few more parties had filtered in. I hope they do OK!

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bobbyBEA (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2014

The Prix Fixe Valentine's dinner had 3 choices for starters, a good variety, and 3 choices for entrees, a good variety, plus aone fine dessert. My dinner partner and I both had choices that we liked. We liked Bistro1491 so much we went back for brunch on 16 Feb.

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GAEL (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2014

This was our first visit to Bistro 1491 which had been recommended to us by friends. We had a lovely Valentine's Day dinner. The menu was prix fixe that evening and my husband and I both chose the beef filet with bearnaise sauce as our entree. It was absolutely delicious--a very, very tender filet. We also enjoyed the heart shaped gelato dessert. The staff was welcoming and helpful.

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Roxie (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on February 14, 2014

We made reservations here for Valentine's Day because our daughter liked the idea of small plates, it had great reviews, and was an easy trip to make on a Friday night. When we arrived, we were given a Prix Fixe menu with 3 choices for 2 courses plus an ice cream dessert. Somehow, we managed to finish every delicious morsel of food, and enjoyed the wine we brought without having to pay a corkage fee. We assume that the menu was limited to the best items they serve because everything we ate exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to returning to taste other dishes too! The service and ambience were fine--not formal but not too rustic either.

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vipOpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on January 18, 2014

I have strolled past this locale many times and imagined it to be a homey diner. A chowhound friend who sends out email restaurant reviews has praised this place so highly that I finally went this past weekend. Wow! Never judge a book by its cover! The food was incredibly good and a great value. The space might be plain but the dinner and the service were superb. The chef knows how to cook proteins better than more expensive places. You cannot go wrong with the salmon, chicken, or duck. Nice veggie options too. This bistro will definitely be added to our regular rotation.

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vipRCEastBay (San Francisco)
3.0  Dined on November 8, 2013

As usual, the food at Bistro 1491 was superb. This visit, however, the service was indifferent. Our wait person seemed to be having an off day and rarely smiled or seemed engaged. Usually the wait staff is peppy and energetic. Must have been a bad day to be waiting on tables.

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vipOpenTable Diner (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on November 2, 2013

Smaller, unassuming restaurant on Solano Ave. The food was fantastic!! The service was good although they made a few faux paus that seasoned waiters would not have made - not a big deal but perhaps something to work on. The place is basic but clean(mismatched silverware). However, everything we had was delish - caramelized pork belly - yum!, extremely fresh fish for the fish and sweet potato fries (my kids ate it up), mussels we nice, as was the skirt steak. Had a nice local bottle of wine and all for a very reasonable price - I would definitely recommend.

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vipGnear (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on November 1, 2013

We had never been here before and decided to try it for our anniversary dinner. The food was great and the service was even better.

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vipMary (San Francisco)
5.0  Dined on October 19, 2013

I had never been to Bistro 1491 and chose it based on other reviews and the location - we like going over to Solano Avenue. Hands down, the BEST waitress ever - Stella! We loved her, she was so much fun, great attitude and superior service. The food was really great! We had grilled salmon BLT, fish & chips, beet salad and a green salad. It was all REALLY yummy, plus we had a fabulous bottle of red wine. Bistro 1491 was a FIND. We will definitely be back and continue to bring people there!

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roxiepenny (San Francisco)
4.0  Dined on October 10, 2013

This is where the old Walker's Pie Shop was. When arriving I was apprehensive since the decor is simple and there were not a lot of people. However I was pleasantly surprised on how good the food was. While not high end dining, the food was tasty and portions were ample. I had the buttermilk fried chicken which is something I would never eat. It was crisp, not greasy and moist. They also have a selection of sandwiches that you can have for dinner..The wine and beer list is small but adequate. Not a lot of vegetarian or vegan options however.

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