Empress Tavern

4.4
962 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.
What 962 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.4based on recent ratings
4.3
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
81% of people would recommend it to a friend
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NC
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I’ve been here several times and each time I am impressed with the quality of food, cocktails, and service. They truly go above and beyond to make it a special experience and I’m so thankful to have this gem close-by! The cocktail menu is always changing and they base it off different movies and pop culture so I always looks forward to seeing what will be on the menu each visit. They also switch up the food menu a bit as well to keep things fresh. They’ve made me a customer for life.

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MW
1 review
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great venue and the food was excellent. I would definitely recommend this restaurant. Service was also excellent.

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ML
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 5

The food was decent, but it wasn't worth what we paid for it. I would have liked to have been asked how I like my beef to be cooked as it was a little on the rare side for me. I believe it was too expensive.

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AS
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was delicious, and exceptionally filling. We were stuffed when we left.

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OT
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Awesome experience. The staff was charming and prompt. The food exceeded expectations and the courses were brought out quickly. The overall experience is unique and fun to eat at the old Sacramento street level

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KO
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 1

It was way too loud

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GC
1 review
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food was amazing. The prices were fair and the ambient was great I highly recommend this place. Just make sure to make reservations because it gets busy overall extremely satisfied and definitely will go back

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MS
1 review
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service, food, drinks and atmosphere were great! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!!

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WS
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Though everything was delicious I did find it a bit pricey. I did take my drink "to go" for the show later that night and was told that I would be able to enter from inside. This was not true and I had to go outside with my drink (which is not legal).

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O
Los Angeles
25 reviews
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 2food 1service 1ambience 3

If you want a relaxed, no rush dining experience with unique and tasty cuisine with a flair, this is not the place to go. We were rushed all the way through our meal with the waiter constantly coming up to our table every minute or so until we ordered drinks and some type of food to start. The mango ceviche was nothing special and in a tiny dish. The beef cheeks stroganoffs hardly had any beef in it and the pork chop that the two men ordered was simply a slab of meat on a plate with about 2 bites of squash. We experienced similar service at their Valentine’s Day event 2 years ago, so don’t waste your time or money. We’ve been to Empress on at least 4-5 occasions and the last two times have taught us not to come back. Sac has many great dining options these days and I highly encourage you to patronize one of the top restaurants. This isn’t one of them, so they should think about a new chef, lowering prices or retraining their wait staff to be less “turn the table” minded.

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SF
1 review
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

The location and decor are amazing, and the rotating, movie-themed drink menus make this place extra fun. My drink had a rosemary joint, which was awesome! The salad was delicious and so was my husband's stroganoff. I had the fried chicken, which was okay. A little over-cooked, and nothing special if you can't handle the spicy habanero sauce it comes with. I've had better entrees in the past, but I still highly recommend Empress!

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BJ
3 reviews
Dined on February 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Stellar food, great service and atmosphere - this is a must-try spot in downtown Sacramento.

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DK
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on February 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

A find for Sacramento. Great location, food, atmosphere. Would absolutely do it again

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m
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on February 3, 2019
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 1

Overpriced, substandard service., mediocre food, noisy, and dark. I'd hoped for a stellar experience, but the only cool part was the brickwork. Avoid.

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on February 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Staff took excellent care of us! Great venue!

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p
Sacramento
8 reviews
Dined on January 30, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

The gorgeous brick walls and ceilings make it very loud but worth it. Our server was very nice but just hard to hear her. Great food and perfect location for a show at the Crest.

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ML
1 review
Dined on January 30, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We enjoyed our birthday dinner. Service was absolutely outstanding. Prices of food was scary, way to expensive

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OT
1 review
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 1food 2service 1ambience 1

Birthday surprise for boyfriend. Waited for our server to order drinks for some time then Appetizer came out before our drinks were delivered. Food was mediocre waited a really long time before we even saw our server after we were done either at this point we just wanted to leave spent about 20 minutes waiting for our check. Terrible experience restaurant was not even that busy. Would not like to eat here again. This was supposed to be a nice night out and turned out to be a really crappy decision I would have rather eaten somewhere else. Nothing was above average.

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G
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 27, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food, Wonderful service, but we could not talk to each other, Way to loud and I came away with a headache. To bad, i really enjoyed everything else. We won't be going back.

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KM
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on January 25, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 4

Signature dish was prime rib at $48. Toughest/fatty piece of PRib. Others had the pork chops and rated as just OK. Pasta dish was very good. Waiter was indifferent, marginal acceptable . We spend $350 w 5 people and will not return.

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M
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Amazing food! Amazing servers! I've already told so many friends about this place and cannot wait to go back.

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CM
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had a great time! The rolls, salad, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and ribeye were all delicious!!! It was a great night out with our group.

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OT
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on January 19, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Came here for our anniversary, great inspired food. Fun atmosphere, great creative bar menu, great service. Super fun environment, a bit loud.

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MN
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on January 17, 2019
Overall 5food 3service 5ambience 5

Everything was fantastic (mostly). The server was great, the sides and appetizers were delicious. Porterhouse was choked perfectly though the sauce was terrible and all over it, and the person with me who ordered the ravioli hated the stuffinf and sauce. It was very busy and the hostess was awfully rude. Luckily a gentleman came in and assisted as well so we only had two negative interactions with her.

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AM
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I have lived in Sacramento my whole life and did not know this cool place was here. The environment is super cool.

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Wonderful food and service
Flavors were spot on!
Well done to all

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KS
Sacramento
2 reviews
Dined on January 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We went for the Dine Downtown. Between the 4 of us we had both the Pork and the Wonderful Ravioli. The salad had the best flavor, then the Ravioli was very memorable, and the Ice Cream sandwich was good too. Some of the other Dine Downtown meals have been lacking, but this was phenomenal. This is the first time I wouldn't mind going back in the same week to have the same meal. Good service too.

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DM
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 2

Bone marrow was disappointing but the ravioli was delicious. It’s a really cool dining room but it was so noisy we could barely hear each other speak from across the table.

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DP
1 review
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great atmosphere and wonderful food and beverage. Had a blast for our 23rd wedding anniversary.

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E
Sacramento
8 reviews
Dined on January 13, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

Such a great place...but maybe some carpets could help with the noise...you can't hear your dinner company or your server...the bricks are great for ambience....but they need something to absorb some of the sound

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LD
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 12, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 5

Good food and service. Eclectic atmosphere and unique menu options.

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MV
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on January 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

In addition to amazing food, the handwritten birthday card waiting on the table for me was a super nice touch!

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Food was delicious. Service was top notch. There was a Birthday card on the table for my husband. Ambiance was nice but we did experience a cold breeze. Loved it.

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TH
1 review
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Service was excellent and very friendly staff. We enjoyed the new Year's eve menu as well.

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KR
1 review
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

Interesting architecture inside.. some the kitchen staff looked a bit unkept.. they were very visible from the booth we were in.. we won’t be back due to the lack of professionalism in the appearance and food handling etiquette.Food was ok though..

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JK
Central Coast
43 reviews
Dined on December 28, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

First time diners here. Not the most inviting entrance off K Street but once inside it was underground and cool! Delicious, fresh and unique. Wonderful cocktail and wine lists. The steak tartare appetizer was outstanding. Crudités and pimento cheese - spot on! 🤩 The butter lettuce salad, salmon and fried chicken were wonderful. Highly recommend and will be back with my husband!

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OT
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Dinner following white Christmas at the Crest Theatre. I’m he kitchen closes at 10, and our reservation was 9:45, plus we were a little late due to the movie letting out late. Staff was super nice, especially given that they were ready to pack up! Food was excellent and so fast! Loved it!

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BN
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Awesome restaurant for the right woman.

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G
San Francisco
73 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 2

Host/hostess not friendly and a bit snooty, same with server, unfortunately. The restaurant is well decorated and brick walled, but terrible acoustics; not for people who are sound sensitive.
Strong point: food was very good.

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DC
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on December 22, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

We had a wonderful meal. Our server was attentive without being intrusive. The food was delicious. Our only complaint was the noise level; it’s always really loud in the restaurant. It’s hard to talk to one another.

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