Empress Tavern

4.5
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1107 Reviews
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$30 and under
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American

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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 1107 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
4.4
food
4.7
service
4.6
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
87% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
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SW
Birmingham
4 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food excellent as well as service. Only one thing, $17 is a little steep for a martini served up in an
old-fashioned champagne glass, tacky.

R
1 review
Dined on October 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great Restaurant. Probably one of the nicest places in Sacramento. Staff was nice and friendly, food was incredible. Can’t say enough good things.

OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on October 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absolutely love the ambiance!! Great food and better cocktails!!!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Tonight was our first night at Empress Tavern. After working in the service industry for a couple years, I understand the hard work that goes into it. I must say, Jordon has impeccable service. He went above and beyond, he made our experience the highlight of our weekend. Thank you Jordon and the chefs for such an amazing meal and date night experience!!!

RC
Seattle
3 reviews
Dined on September 28, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Friendly staff once we got there, front desk phone service could have been friendlier. The waitress and food were top notch. Looking forward to my next visit when I’m in Sacramento.

OT
1 review
Dined on September 27, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

All the food was delicious, all the employees were very hospitable from the host to the servers. Love the vibe and all the decor perfect for special occasions and date night. Thank you for making my mom’s birthday special especially with the card with a handwritten message! We were in a booth off to the side so I feel like it wasn’t as loud as other reviews reported. If you are meeting friends make your calls and texts messaged before entering or going down the stairs since there is little to no service. We had an awesome time. Already making plans to go back again.

C
Sacramento
8 reviews
Dined on September 25, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

As usual, our Mills were yummy! The atmosphere was lively yet quiet. Can't wait to go back again!

GG
1 review
Dined on September 24, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

Great choice when going to an event at the Crest. We went with appetizers. Would be great to have some moderately priced items on the entree menu. The hot buns were top notch.

KH
1 review
Dined on September 21, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

amazing venue with a great food selection. perfect for a date night out, or a nice dinner after exploring downtown sac!

e
San Diego
11 reviews
Dined on September 14, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 4

The lamb was dry and the bone marrow was not warm but room temperature. They recooked the bone marrow.

The service was excellent, except that she tried to say that the lamb was dry was because my daughter was outside (for less than two minutes).

OT
1 review
Dined on September 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome service, food, and atmosphere. This one of our favorite places for a nice dinner.

RL
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 2

The host wasn't present for 5 minutes and I had to ask the bartender for him to appear. The food was not anything special as I had the bone marrow and lamb shank. The setting of the restaurant was nice and the reason for choosing the place. Our waiter was attentive guy and remembered our orders, but thats all I can say about him. The food was overpriced for the quality that came out. The most appetizing meal I had were the biscuits that were complimentary in the beggining. So, in the end I was dissapointed.

M
1 review
Dined on September 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always an outstanding dining experience at Empress, and it's our place to go when we want to treat ourselves after a long day or for a special occasion. Service is always on point - servers, bar staff, bussers all work in tandem to make the experience great. You can't go wrong wit any dishes you eat here, from appetizers to entrees to sides. Even their Happy Hour menu is probably our favorite in town. You can tell the team takes pride in their work. It shows.

SL
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Our party was promptly seated early. Our server was extremely helpful and friendly. We had a wonderful variety of meals to choose from. We were at no time rushed.

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on September 7, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 5

We loved the ambiance & the food was good. The location is ideal if you’re going to a concert at Crest or the arena. My only complaint is that we arrived at 1730 for our reservation & were told that all the empty booths & tables were reserved seating for other reservations that weren’t arrived yet due to a “full house” because of the concert & there was no wiggle room. I was denied a full booth or a table in the middle. We were seated next to other couples when the restaurant only had about 5 tables seated at that time. It seemed like they were seating for server station convenience and not customer service. I think that there should be first come, first serve for seating preferences not based on a “full house.” The booths didn’t get fully seated until 30 minutes into our dinner.

MS
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Nice place. Food and service was good. Food was over priced. Would only come back once in a blue moon because of price.

OT
1 review
Dined on September 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Always yummy!

N
1 review
Dined on September 5, 2019
Overall 4food 2service 5ambience 5

This was the second time we went to empress tavern and was expecting great food, but the food was very salty.

PM
Sacramento
3 reviews
Dined on August 28, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

Not a lot of selections on the menu. Sides are extra.

KA
Hawaii
6 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was amazing. Each dish was unique and full of flavor. The ambience was fun if a little noisy. Would definitely go again and definitely recommend to a friend.

DB
1 review
Dined on August 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great atmosphere. Loved the waiters and my date enjoyed herself.

C
Sacramento
7 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

When we appeared a little early for our dinner before a show at the Crest, it turned out that I made an error and my reservation was made for the wrong week. Tragedy? No, they very swiftly found a nice table for us right away, even though the place was getting crowded. The restaurant atmosphere is very neat but man, it is VERY noisy when full. The corkage fee for the wine we brought was reasonable and the butter lettuce salad we chose for our starter was excellent. I had the beef strogonoff and it was the best ever. Our only complaints were the noise and that we rarely saw a waiter after the entree was provided; had to energetically flag one down to get our bill paid before the show started.

VD
Sacramento
34 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

Love this space- great vibe, always too loud, but that’s OK. Had a pretty disappointing food experience with both mains (chicken) and salad/sides. Just lack-luster and not what it used to be.... will try again, just in case it was an off night...

FC
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Everything was great: lamb shank was fall off the bone tender, peach & prosciutto salad had wonderful flavors, and service was top notch! Ambiance is inviting and energetic, but just a bit loud. I would absolutely return.

RG
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on August 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

The food was excellent. The service was fast and friendly. It was quite noisy but that's a good sign, I guess, indicating that it was a well liked restaurant. Convenient if you are going to a show at the Crest Theater or a Kings game. Somewhat pricey but the food was worth it. Recommended.

OT
Orange County
5 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 5

This is a beautiful restaurant. Food portions are on the large side and heavy. The best thing about dinner were rolls and the cheesecake -both amazing. The marrow was ok, gnocchi was dense, stroganoff was very heavy. The fried chicken was excellent but at $26, price was high for what you get (dudes are extra). I’d go back for drinks as there is a cool vibe here. Server was good...maybe a little stoned?

OT
Portland
6 reviews
Dined on August 17, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

Wonderful place with a great ambiance. At tentative staff. Fabulous cocktails!

OT
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on August 16, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 3ambience 1

So loud we could here nothing.

K
Sacramento
4 reviews
Dined on August 15, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 5

This was our first time here, having heard good things and wanting to try something new. The interior is really cool but it was loud and not even half-full. I suspect it would be hard to talk to table mates on a busy night. The service was perfect but there were some hits and misses on the food. The rolls they bring at the start were amazing, so good. The cheddar biscuits were so-so but a bit of a let down after the rolls. The fried chicken was excellent, both juicy and flavorful. We also had the beef cheek stroganoff which was a good update of a classic dish - light, good flavor, and satisfying. The major miss of the night was the gnocchi. We love gnocchi and always order it when we see it on a menu. The flavor was excellent with a light, seasonal sauce but the gnocchi themselves were dense and overworked. Definitely not the light pillows that gnocchi are supposed to be.

RM
Sacramento
4 reviews
Dined on August 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Good food and service. Did not feel rushed at all and had a very enjoyable experience. The beef cheeks stroganoff was fantastic with the Bordeaux that I brought.

DC
1 review
Dined on August 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Recently took my mother there for dinner before the Kirk Franklin concert. This place is amazing food was great from the flavors ( no salt/pepper needed) the portions were just enough. I would definitely be going back and recommend this place to family and friends.

JC
1 review
Dined on August 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A beautiful, special gem of a restaurant. Every element is thoughtful, purposeful, and perfect. Loved the experience from start to finish.

OT
1 review
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 4ambience 4

Absolutely beautiful with a cool vibe. The noise level is crazy. You literally can not hear the person sitting next to you let alone across the table. We could not wait to leave.

RC
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on August 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent!! Food was beyond good, excellent service,atmosphere,cant wait to go back,truly a gem.

AC
1 review
Dined on August 9, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Made a reservation for a birthday. Greatly accommodating and good service.

T
Sacramento
27 reviews
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 3

Melissa was amazing. Felt very cared for. Many of the dishes had fun surprises like honeycomb. We were very pleased. The only issue is how loud it is when it’s full.
But we were very glad we dined here.

HG
Central Coast
1 review
Dined on August 3, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wow wow wow! I put a note in my reservation and these folks went above and beyond to make the evening special. It couldn’t have gone better even if I had planned everything myself. THANK YOU to everyone that touched our table or had a hand in making our evening special. We will be back!

OT
Chicago
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

We are on vacation and the menu looked good so we decided to try this out. Very cool atmosphere. It is underground with vaulted brick ceilings. Food was very good. Our waiter was awesome. Very engaging, knowledgeable, and was more than happy to give us some ideas on what to do while in town. My only negative was the noise level. Pretty loud so hard to talk.

MD
1 review
Dined on July 25, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Great ambience, loved the "speak easy vibe" here. A nice comfortable setting. Good food and spirits. Wonderful and courteous servers. Love bringing family and friends here.

OT
Cincinnati
1 review
Dined on July 24, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Stephen is awesome!

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