Empress Tavern

4.5
1064 reviews
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$30 and under
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American
Empress Tavern is an American Carvery in downtown Sacramento with a menu featuring rotisserie meats, craft cocktails and an adventurous battery of beers. The menu, conceptualized by Chef/Owner Michael Thiemann, revolves around a massive Rotisol rotisserie spinning a variety of proteins.

The space itself, situated in the basement of the historic Crest Theatre, is eclectic and unfussy with an open kitchen, 170 dining seats, large booths and a chef’s table for private dining. ​The Tavern inhabits a void underneath the Crest Theatre created in 19th century when Sacramento’s street level was raised due to flooding.

Empress Tavern is named for the Empress Theatre which was the original name of the theatre when it was built as a vaudeville palace in 1912.
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What 1064 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.5based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
87% of people would recommend it to a friend
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MR
Sacramento
4 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

I loved everything about the Empress Tavern except for the price. I thought it was way over priced.

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TL
Orange County
9 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a great evening at the Empress! Great food, great wine, wonderful service. Jordan was our server - we can't say enough about his knowledge, attention and overall care during our dinner experience. There were six of us and he was attentive to every need and did an incredible job describing each item on the menu and the specials to us. We left having had a wonderful evening. Thank you Jordan!

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MR
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I love this place. It's a hidden gem on K Street next to/underneath the Crest Theater. The room has interesting brick arch architecture, an underground "speakeasy" feel, and a hip vibe. And, the food and service is amazing. What more can you ask for?

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JS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

Very good food and presentation. The service was even better! It is just so noisy that you have to yell at the person next to you and good luck talking across the table. And music playing in the background along with all the noise, ugh. It’s a shame because the food, presentation and cocktails were awesome. The noise was exhausting.

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BD
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Wonderful staff, and nice setting. With all of the hard surfaces, it did get a bit loud. The food was fine but a bit overpriced in my opinion. Very convenient to Golden One which is why we dined there.

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KL
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great service. Rushed out order so we could make the concert. Noise level very high because of the beautiful brick arches inside. You just have to sit close to your date. Lol

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CK
1 review
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Best chicken in town closely followed by a great lamb shank

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TB
Sacramento
9 reviews
Dined on July 10, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 1

Definitely not for people who want an intimate, enjoyable evening!

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JR
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on July 6, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Pretty cool place! Fourth of July weekend so it was somewhat slow. But definitely looks like a place we will be back to!

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VB
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 1food 3service 1ambience 2

Food was overpriced and small portions with no sides except if you pay for them. Scallops were delicious and cooked perfectly. The fried chicken was just that...fried chicken. The chicken came with a with spicy honey that was so hot it felt like your tongue was going to fall off! And we love spicy hot food. The Mac and cheese was bland and nothing special.
The waiter was very pretentious and showed absolutely no emotion. It didn’t seem that any of the wait staff was happy to be working there. Almost zombie like. Yikes!
The atmosphere is beautiful to look at upon arrival, but was so loud. It was difficult to have a conversation across the table.

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M
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome place for dinner before a show at the Crest!

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OT
1 review
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 5

Very LOUD PLACE.
We could not have a conversation. The service was good. The food menu is a little weird. I had the beef Cheek stroganoff... yes cheek
It was bland . The beet salad with burrata was very good.
One tequila ricks was $24 🙄
Very beautiful venue but nothing to bring me back soon.
We went here before a concert at the crest theatre. That place is hot and old. Seats killed my back 😫

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b
San Diego
6 reviews
Dined on July 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went to the Empress prior to a concert at the Crest. Initially, my date was reluctant because from the front the Empress doesn't look like much and their menu is limited. Well after the dinner, that all went away. First the wait staff were very accommodating in finding us a good table. The waiters were outstanding and the food.....well, it is hard to describe how good it is. Start with the Parker house rolls. They were the best rolls I have ever had. Light fluffy and flavorful. Appetizer was Beet and Burrata salad. Delicious. Main Course: She had the free range roasted chicken. It was super juicy and perfectly cooked with roasted potatoes. We asked they got it so juicy. It was cooked sous vide. Turned an ordinary chicken dish into a delicacy. I had pan seared scallops which were cooked perfectly. We ordered a family side of roasted carrots which were delicious. Great selection of deserts. We ordered the Berry Trifle and split it and there was plenty. The price was reasonable for this good of food and service. We aren't drinkers any more, but the wine selection looks great and the bar is beautiful in the center of the restaurant. Just a great place and food. If you are in Sacramento, it is a must.

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F
Sacramento
25 reviews
Dined on June 29, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Reasonably priced menu in a medieval castle looking setting. Service was exceptional - not rushed but attentive. Wonderful restaurant.

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B
Las Vegas
2 reviews
Dined on June 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very nice place. Convenient to the Crest Theater. Parking all over the place. Great food, good portions and well presented. A little pricey but not too bad. Great beer and wine selection. Had a great time and will return.

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JP
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 25, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 4

The service although unsmiling, was efficient. The wine list was succint but the malbec was excellent. My main dish, the beef cheeks stroganoff, was akso excellent. However I would not return to this restaurant due to the ambient noise factor. It's an entirely bricked enclosure and even with only half
the place populated, the sound was tremendous, so much so that you might not be able to carry on a conversation without yelling thus increasing the problem.

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JM
Dallas
1 review
Dined on June 22, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Good food. Interesting decor and atmosphere. Over-priced

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MV
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fabulous place; service was awesome, food great. Will certainly be back next time we’re in Sacramento.

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MS
1 review
Dined on June 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was prompt, waiter was attentive and kind, and the food was excellent! Will be back to treat ourselves again soon.

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M
San Francisco
25 reviews
Dined on June 21, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Yum. I had scallops (outstanding!) and my friend had fried chicken(also amazing). Super cool decor, great service.

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GA
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

This place was amazing!! I always eat next door at the Crest Café and had NO IDEA this place was here. Hmm? I always wondered about the people coming out from that entrance door cause there's no signage. This place you can literally say is "underground"! lol

Place is energetic and very romantic for the ladies. Full bar and drinks are excellent! Dinner items are limited, but for happy hr they have a bit more variety. This place is a hidden GEM!!! Service was A++++++ We will return!

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MR
Sacramento
3 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always great! Good is incredible. We had the family meal sooo good.

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B
Sacramento
10 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 4

Very limited menu, no substitutions & combinations were limited.

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LH
1 review
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Our server was the absolute best— very responsive to our needs, knowledgeable, willing to recommend (and he was right on!) 5out of the six of us loved our entrees, so 5 stars for the lamb shanks, the stroganoff, the gnocchi and the salmon! The Jambalaya was maybe a 3, but perhaps just an off night for that. The Pimms drink was a 5, and the Tequila drink ( can’t think of the name, but it was spicy and featured in the movie, Top Gun— had a paper airplane on it that was lit 🔥. Quite a show!!) was good. Very cool place and interesting vibe on the ambiance.

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F
Sacramento
12 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Limited menu but everything was amazing! Excellent service and fun craft cocktails

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TA
1 review
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 2

No the food wasn't that great for the price! Our waitress wasn't the greatest either!

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KW
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

As always, we love the general vibe of Empress; cool atmosphere, really good food and service. Great bar, and a perfect beginning to a show at the Crest Theater. It’s always a bit louder than we remember, but that’s just part of the ambience. We love Empress and will keep going back!

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CR
1 review
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 2

Our first experience and though we are impressed with the architecture and the brick work, we do value that and the history, a few things will keep us from returning. First it was Too noisy to hear the waiter explain the specials. And He did not explain that everything is ala carte. The sparse menu is in my opinion too expensive. 26 dollars for 4 small pieces of fried chicken? That is the least expensive entry. Then add an 11 dollar side salad, and an 8 dollar side vegie. So basically, 45 dollars for my dinner. My husband's food was good but not fantastic for 28 dollars. A bowl of noodles with a little meat and lots of peas. There was only a few choices on the menu, and on the drink menu only one Cabernet to choose if you want wine by the glass. $15 for about 5 oz. We we're going to the Crest for a show so my husband ordered a beer, 8 dollars, and I sprung for one more glass of wine to take with me. So 38 dollars for 3 drinks. In total $120 for our bill without the tip. I gave 18 % and did appreciate that they served us in just under an hour.

I think this a bit ridiculously over priced for what you get and we have been out to some very nice restaurants. We won't go back for those reasons, but the waiter was good, and efficient and the tavern is a unique venue. The quality of the food is good but not deserving of those prices.

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RJ
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious food, perfect cocktails! Great Date. Go to Crest after for a show.

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MC
1 review
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 2ambience 2

There were 2 occupied tables when we arrived. They put us next to the kitchen and refused our request for a better place. That is POOR customer service. We went to the bar, rather than leaving, and enjoyed hamburgers and drinks.

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DH
1 review
Dined on June 4, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 3ambience 2

the Empress Tavern was very unique due to its location. The Tavern, or Cavern, was all brick and there was no where for the sound to go. When we talked to the hostess we could not hear each other, and I had to almost yell to the waitress to make my order. I am not exagerating, it was the loudest restaurant I have ever been to. Even though I liked the food, I felt the menu was a little light on selection. I just had trouble getting past the noise.

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OT
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on June 1, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Good food, good service, fun drinks, and great vibe! Always have fun there - only wish is a few more menu choices for dinner.

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c
1 review
Dined on May 29, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

it was wonderful

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k
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 4

Over priced average food and weak cocktails. Need I say more?

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OT
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

It was a bit noisy. However, the food was delicious.

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OT
1 review
Dined on May 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Fantastic service! Our dinners were delicious.

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KJ
Sacramento
3 reviews
Dined on May 24, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

While the room is lovely, the service top notch, and the food was good, it was as nearly impossible to hear ourselves. I would not want to go there on a first or second date. You would not come away knowing each other any better than when you entered.

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JM
1 review
Dined on May 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

What an incredible venue. The food is amazing, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and the building is cozy and reminiscent of a speakeasy. If you want quality food without a stuffy environment, this is the place to be!

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c
Atlanta
7 reviews
Dined on May 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome eclectic venue, great bourbon selection, great food!

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C
1 review
Dined on May 17, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service was amazing! Our server was attentive and professional, very patient with a unique food allergy, and when my friend ordered coffee which was not on the menu, he snuck up to the theater concession to grab her a cup. The food was perfect and the vibe is elegant but laid back. Only thing to be aware of is that it is a very loud and echoey space.

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