Empress Tavern

4.5
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1152 Reviews
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$31 to $50
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American
Empress Tavern is a restaurant in downtown Sacramento. 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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What 1152 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
4.7
service
4.6
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
91% of people would recommend it to a friend
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LD
Los Angeles
4 reviews
Dined 2 days ago
Overall3food5service5ambience2

Small menu, but very good food. Noise level was too loud, not a great place to go for a nice, quieter evening out.

BW
1 review
Dined 3 days ago
Overall4food4service5ambience3

The food, service and decor was very fine. But the noise level was beyond deafening. We sat at the base of the brick vault and the sound seemed to funnel right down on our heads. It was enough to blast us with ringing in our ears. We couldn't carry on a conversation at all. We loved the food, but it was difficult to relax. Perhaps padded wall coverings would help. If you go, don't sit at the base of a vault.

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 18, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Heather is a fantastic waitress. Very energetic and accommodating. She remembered my wife and I the last two times we were there.

OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 18, 2020
Overall1food2service1ambience4

Our order took over an hour to come out.

RM
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall2food1service4ambience2

It could be the Dine-Downtown prix-Fixe meal we had, maybe they don’t put the effort into it, but that won’t ever bring me back. We go to the Crest several times a year so I was hoping to really like this. The food was completely bland. 3 of us went and we all said the same. Our waitperson was really good, but the rest of the experience not.

OT
1 review
Dined on January 16, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

We arrived a half hour before our reservation as our Broadway show finished earlier than we had anticipated and they graciously seated us. We did the Pre-Fixe dinner for Dine Downtown and had very attentive service and the food was delicious. The ambiance was pleasant and the noise level was loud, I suspect due to the numerous brick barrel vaults. We will definitely add them to our list of favorite restaurants downtown.

OT
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Love the ambiance and the setting, feels very 1920s on the East coast with the beautiful set up they have. Staff has always been exceptional and the food is amazing. Whether a date night or happy hour I would highly recommend it.

M
Sacramento
7 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall4food5service5ambience3

The food and place was great. The noise level was a bit too loud for us. Service and staff were excellent.

a
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food from beginning to end!

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on January 10, 2020
Overall3food3service5ambience2

Extremely loud in this place, cannot even hardly hear the person you are with right across the table from you.

SJ
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on January 8, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience3

Thanks It was a pleasurable experience though noise level was high

OT
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great dining experience. Food is perfect and portion were decent

s
1 review
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall4food4service5ambience4

It's loud. I recommend looking into the services of professional acoustic engineering. Currently one must lean into conversations.

BB
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience4

Food and service were excellent. The ambiance and decor are great. Unfortunately, the noise level makes conversation difficult if not impossible.

DS
Sacramento
17 reviews
Dined on January 4, 2020
Overall5food5service5ambience5

I love their changing cocktail menu. There is always something unique to try. Their food always comes out delicious too.

GF
Los Angeles
2 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and service! The location was awesome under the theatre and near everything on K Street.

BG
Las Vegas
11 reviews
Dined on December 31, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

We went on New Years eve so it was a special menu. Really cool atmosphere. The soup was bland. But the steak was really good. Overall I'd say 9/10. One of my best food experience in Downtown Sacramento.

PW
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on December 27, 2019
Overall3food4service4ambience3

Neat setting and a great bar environment, place was clean as a whistle, attractive cocktail menu, some clever menu options. Great Parker House style rolls. Main courses were solidly good but not amazing. Noise level was intense and loud - hard to talk to people at your table, let alone hear them.

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

The food was very good as always , waiter was excellent and I love the ambience.

V
1 review
Dined on December 21, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

As always, outstanding service by staff and delicious dinner. Thank you Chloe and staff!

KM
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on December 13, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great food and wonderful service. We sat at a prime table and felt very pampered. We were celebrating our wedding anniversary and it was super special

RH
1 review
Dined on December 7, 2019
Overall5food4service5ambience5

Had a great time celebrating our office year end party. The food is actually a 4.5 star what keeps it from 5 stars is my spouse requested her Rib Eye as medium well plus and was far closer to medium - unfortunately she doesn't like to return food...

OT
Sacramento
1 review
Dined on December 6, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Great experience! Friendly staff, good food and drinks.

RG
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on December 4, 2019
Overall3food2service4ambience4

Great place for a drink or two, though pricey. Menu items are al carte and entrees run from $26 to $60; four of us spent $370 for 4 entrees, 4 cocktails, 4 beers ($14 per cocktail, $8 per beer), two salads, one side and 20% tip. The meal was not worth $90 per person.

OT
Sacramento
3 reviews
Dined on December 4, 2019
Overall4food4service5ambience5

Great place to go before a show at the Crest. Our server was terrific. Went above and beyond to make our time enjoyable and fun. Food was great, especially the fried chicken and the Brussels sprouts.

JH
1 review
Dined on December 4, 2019
Overall2food2service5ambience5

Our server was very good, professional and attentive.
The meal would barely rate a fair.
We were shocked at the low quality of the rib-eye, considering the price. Very gristly, and flat taste.
The butter lettuce salad was surprisingly blah. Not much flavor, many dry leaves with no dressing and a couple of lonely half grapes. It seemed like someone in the kitchen was having a bad night.

It's too bad, the ambience is so nice. We won't return.

MT
Sacramento
12 reviews
Dined on November 29, 2019
Overall5food5service5ambience5

Outstanding food in a lovely space. While it may seem meat-centric, we are pescatarians and Empress is our go-to place for a special occasion or date night. The service is great, the food is consistently impressive, and they are more than wiling to work with dietary needs. Terrific cocktails, interesting wine selections, and amazing vegetarian and seafood choices. And the warm apple pie currently on the menu? My goodness.

t
Sacramento
5 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall2food4service2ambience2

It's a shame that the owner's of Empress haven't been able to create a warm and inviting atmosphere in the architecturally amazing space. With multiple interlocking brick archways the space is incredible, but the lighting does nothing to highlight or take advantage of the brickwork. Instead it feels almost fluorescent - blue and cold. Changing the concrete floor for the right wood laminate to compliment the brick would also warm the place up. Much of my disappointment is because the restaurant could be a landmark destination if completed correctly.

WE
San Francisco
72 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2019
Overall3food2service5ambience3

3 stars because the service was exceptional otherwise it would have been a 2 since food was so so. Noise level was through the roof. Might opt to eat somewhere else next we go to a show at Crest Theater and stop for a drink at the bar after the show.

OT
Los Angeles
1 review
Dined on November 19, 2019
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 on November 16, 2019
Overall4food5service5ambience1

It was very loud but great service.

GS
New England
4 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
49 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
17 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.

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