Empress Tavern

4.5
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1123 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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Private Dining

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Specials

Christmas Eve Special Menus & Offers

Celebrate with family & friends with our Prime Rib dinner. Our amazing prime rib, served with a salad & chef's special holiday sides. $75/person for food.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

New Year's Eve Special Menus & Offers

Enjoy our famous 5 course prix fixe dinner and sip champagne from our beautiful cart! $125/person for food.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

What 1123 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
4.2
value
Noise · Moderate
93% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food and cocktails never fail to impress. Everyone’s meal was excellent. Service was lightning fast and courteous.

Love this place!

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall4food5service5ambience1

It was very loud but great service.

GS
New England
2 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience5

Great food and fun place. Way overpriced and limited menu. Very loud.

KV
1 review
Dined on November 11, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience4

The perfect place to catch dinner and drinks before a show at the Crest Theatre. Never been here before and we would definitely go back.

b
1 review
Dined on November 9, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

We were going to a show at the theater upstairs. I had to rush back to the hotel to get the tickets after my wife and I had ordered. The staff noticed I was gone and offered to put the food under the heat lamps while I was gone to keep it warm. Even after that the scallops were delicious. The service was great. Cocktails were spot on.

J
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 6, 2019
Overall3food3service4ambience4

Have dined here a few times before shows at The Crest. Food is never BAD... just never that good! Menu selections are limited and after trying several of the standard fare...not impressed.

Service is always good and cocktails are as you should expect. Wine selections could be better. Wil look for other downtown options before shows.

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on November 6, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience3

Our first visit as temporarily repatriated Sacramentans - spectacular! The staff and service were prompt and professional and the food and drink were first-rate. The noise level was high - but, hey, it's a brick cellar! Highly recommended, especially if you're booked for a show at the Crest.

BH
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on November 6, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience4

We ate here before attending a concert in the theater upstairs. The food was very good, the service was excellent - attentive and helpful in the extreme. Highly recommended.

PJ
Washington DC
47 reviews
Dined on November 4, 2019
Overall1food1service3ambience4

I had never eaten here before and after my experience and I’m unlikely to do so again. While the ambiance and decor is nice and interesting, we came for the food. The menu is extremely limited. My colleague and I both ordered the $60 ribeye steaks. I cannot adequately express how salty these meals were; quite nearly inedible. Neither can I express how much gristle was in each steak that we battled with. Rather than needing better steak knives we needed chainsaws. This was the worst value I could possibly imagine in a restaurant that otherwise comes so highly rated. There are other restaurants to try for me in Sacramento. No second chances after this.

DS
Sacramento
13 reviews
Dined on November 1, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Very unique cocktail list with flavorful drinks. Everyone at our table ate something different and each one loved their food.

DB
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 19, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

The place to go before catching a show at the Crest Theater.

OT
Phoenix
1 review
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall4food4service4ambience5

Empress Tavern was a recommendation from a coworker and we were very pleased with our meal. The food was excellent. The restaurant itself was delightful. It was very loud inside and made conversation difficult.

AS
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Gourmet at it's finest. The beef cheek stroganoff was simply out of this world!

OT
1 review
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

First visit and loved everything!

OT
1 review
Dined on October 18, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Friends birthday.

HD
1 review
Dined on October 17, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Really enjoyed this restaurant. We were there for business dinner in one of the booths. Very comfortable. Service was excellent, attentive but not overbearing. Lamb was excellent. Ambiance is excellent, walls not cluttered with memorabilia.

SW
Birmingham
4 reviews
Dined on October 8, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on October 5, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall4food3service4ambience5

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
Overall5food4service4ambience5

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
Overall3food2service5ambience4

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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

RL
1 review
Dined on September 13, 2019
Overall2food2service3ambience2

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall4food3service3ambience5

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
Overall4food5service5ambience4

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Always yummy!

N
1 review
Dined on September 5, 2019
Overall4food2service5ambience5

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
Overall4food4service3ambience5

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

KA
Hawaii
6 reviews
Dined on August 23, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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
Overall5food5service5ambience5

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

C
Sacramento
7 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall4food5service4ambience3

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.

OT
Sacramento
35 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall4food3service5ambience5

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
8 reviews
Dined on August 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience4

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.

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