Empress Tavern

4.4
990 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 990 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
4.4
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.0
value
Noise · Moderate
83% of people would recommend it to a friend
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CS
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really wonderful restaurant, a gem. Food was excellent, service was above and beyond and the ambiance can't be beat. Would definitely recommend and return.

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

I took my husband and our neighbor who had never been. Russell was our server and it seemed like it was an off night for him. He didn't really want to spend time serving us so it seemed. Our bill was over $200 & we tipped really well so hopefully that made his night. Other than that, the food was outstanding.

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

The food was excellent, but the noise level overrode the overall experience.

The restaurant was about 3/4 full.Although I was sitting next to my wife, we often had to lean in and ask the other to repeat something just said or asked.

I can't imagine a conversation with four people or more in a full restaurant.

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N
Sacramento
1 review
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 3

Very disappointed with the menu. I picked the restaurant because of the entree I had my first visit about 6 weeks ago. That item was removed from the menu. I ended up with just a salad as none of the entrees was appealing. The noise level is so high you can not hear the person across the table from you. Not a good choice for a nice quiet dinner.

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JO
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Enjoyed the fried chicken and the brussels sprouts. While the prices seem high, the portions are plenty, and the service was good. The server was knowledgable. I just wish it was less noisy!

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MH
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Really cool interior being underground. Food was really good. The drinks were fun and unique! Very noisy during happy hour!

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The service was amazing, I wish I could remember our servers name. The decor and vibe at the restaurant is really nice the exposed brick has been well done. The food was delicious. Not sure how they did the Brussels sprouts but I couldn’t stop eating them!

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Loved it!!! Great service and delicious food

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CR
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Empress Tavern is a great place to have dinner. The drinks, appetizers and mains were great, the service great and the ambiance was different than any place in Sacramento. I felt like I had taken a step back in time and it felt great! Once you enter through the big wooden doors and find your way downstairs, you are in a very unique fun place. This was a great place to eat before going to the theater. Speedy service with a watch on the time. I highly recommend this restaurant.

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OT
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on March 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great food, great ambience.

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MB
1 review
Dined on March 13, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I went to the Empress before a show at the Crest. So convenient! I was thoroughly impressed by the lay out of the place with wonderful brink walls and arches. The noise level was low, and the lighting was just right for a romantic meal. The food was outstanding (I had gnocchi, my date loved her roasted chicken). The waitress was attentive. One of the best dining experiences I've had in a while and will be back.

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OT
Phoenix
4 reviews
Dined on March 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Outstanding restaurants are few and far between. The food and attentive service were unmatched. The interior of the restaurant is so very unique and just is comforting. One must try the 'luge' whiskey across the bone marrow.
A potential drawback to the restaurant might be the noise level which may be a factor for some.

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EC
1 review
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

I absolutely love Empress Tavern. This was one of the first places my husband and I visited when we began dating. They have a small menu that doesn’t disappoint. Wonderful bartenders and staff that are very warm.

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E
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on March 5, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 5

Anniversary

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AF
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 3ambience 5

The first two dishes were outstanding...brussel sprouts and the butter leaf salad, both fantastic. The main dish, the roasted chicken was disappointing. I told the waitress I was gluten free, so she assured it would be gluten free, which it was. BUT in order to make it gluten free, they took off the potatoes and never replaced it with something else. Surely a restaurant of this caliber, could have and should have, replaced it with something that was gluten free. It wasn't even explained to me that were were missing 1/3 of our dish. I only figured it out, when the girl next to me ordered the same thing and her plate was considerably larger. For $28, this is pretty inexcusable. And the chicken is supposed to served with chimichurri sauce, and all I saw was a red oil at the bottom of the plate. I make chimichurri sauce often, and this was a far cry from it.

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SB
Palm Springs
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Loved the food. Loved the ambiance. The waiter was friendly and his service was very good. My only negative is that it's so noisy.

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AM
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

This is a very convenient place to dine when going to a show at the Crest.
The food is good and the service has always been excellent. It can get a little noisy so it isnt the place for a quiet meal - at least on nights when there is a show or movie. But all in all a very comfortable place to eat.

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DC
San Diego
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 4ambience 3

I made a post on FB and others interested in this unique establishment. Only thing disappointing was wine list - cab or merlots.

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LB
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on March 4, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Fabulous food, delicious cocktails and the service is always excellent! I love the ambiance and the fact it’s located next door to The Crest Theatre! 👍👍👍

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MS
1 review
Dined on March 2, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everytime I have been here we have always left happy.

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OT
Las Vegas
7 reviews
Dined on March 1, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Good food and good service however we felt rushed by the server to finish so he could turn the table over. Everything else was great

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

I LOVE the food. It was just too loud to be able to visit with our party. 😞

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SM
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 2

It’s one of the loudest restaurants I’ve ever been in. It was a busy Saturday night and it was just deafening. We ordered the $60 18 oz. ribeye, and requested them medium rare. They came out medium well. We sent them back and they explained that the steaks are precooked in the “sous vide” method earlier in the week and then just put on to sear. Unfortunately they were distinctly “overseared “. The restaurant corrected the situation and brought out two more steaks medium rare. Still, over half of the 18 ounces was bone, gristle and fat—which I wasn’t expecting on a $60 steak. The lobster mac and cheese was fine, as were the Brussels sprouts. There were only three selections for dessert, and they were out of one of them. We split a peanut butter ice cream sandwich which turned out to be an “It’s it” frozen ice cream dessert, available at a supermarket. The service was attentive and accommodating.

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TN
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 3food 1service 3ambience 5

The restaurant is beautiful inside, but the noise level is way to loud. I was not impressed with the food. It was just ok, and way over priced for what you get. Would not eat there again.

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RC
1 review
Dined on February 23, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Heather was our server we absolutely loved her. We came for my husband 65th birthday. We had our 2grabdsons with us ages 3 and 4 she was amazing with them. The meal was outstanding!! The only downside was that they no longer have the Cote de Bouf which is my husbands favorite and we had bought friends and he had really boasted about that

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OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Birthday dinner for 5. Comfortable and accommodated our request for a booth. So happy to dine here always

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on February 22, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food and drinks amazing! Table was near the kitchen so pretty loud, will request booth or another area next time.

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RM
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on February 20, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great food and service again. Second time here and will definitely be back. The ribeye was cooked perfectly and loved the mac n cheese side.

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NC
1 review
Dined on February 16, 2019
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 on February 16, 2019
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 on February 14, 2019
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 on February 14, 2019
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 on February 14, 2019
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 9, 2019
Overall 2food 4service 2ambience 1

It was way too loud

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GC
1 review
Dined on February 9, 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 9, 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 9, 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 8, 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 8, 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 8, 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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