MacArthur Park - Palo Alto

4.0
1392 reviews
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$30 and under
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American
MacArthur Park - An American Experience
For decades, MacArthur Park has been about bringing people together around outstanding California BBQ and comfort food in a casual yet elegant setting.
You’ll find us nestled in the heart of downtown Palo Alto, and walk back in time in to the simple elegance of a bygone era in a dining room designed by Julia Morgan in 1918.
We take traditional BBQ on a ride with the richness of California’s bounty, offering our signature Baby Back Ribs, fresh fish, meats and chicken, steak, unique salads and comfort food using local farm fresh produce. Portions are large, and there is something for every taste including vegan and vegetarian choices. Join us for cocktails and dining on our garden patio, nightly.
A good time had by all! That is the spirit of MacArthur Park.
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What 1392 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.0based on recent ratings
4.0
food
4.2
service
4.2
ambience
3.7
value
Noise · Moderate
80% of people would recommend it to a friend
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M
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 5

Just couldn’t give it 5 stars...I ordered the butternut squash ravioli with sage butter. They were really tough, chewy and dry. My friend requested more butter sauce, but... That being said, my husband ordered the flatiron steak and it was done perfectly!

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b
San Francisco
26 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 3food 3service 5ambience 5

Ribs were really tough, sauce had too much vinegar!

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a
San Francisco
92 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great decorations for Valentine’s day. Delicious vegetable risotto and smoked salmon appetizer. Thank you for seating us near the fireplace. A good place for Valentine’s Day.

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

Return visitor, and never disappointed. nice additions to the menu. the creamed turnip soup was outstanding as was the Mahi-Mahi on the Sweet potato hash. Delightful.

Great and friendly service. Thanks for a special Valentine's dinner!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 3food 1service 2ambience 4

Super disappointed - food quality was low, reduced menu for Valentine’s Day. Really has gone down hill.

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z
San Francisco
56 reviews
Dined on February 10, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

old school place...white table clothes, big bar, valet parking, etc...

this is a great place for ribs!! theres a lot more on the menu...definitely from another era when people ate more meat and like more interesting combos...but, the ribs, coleslaw and fries are good...the wine is quite reasonable...and, you get both bibs and lots of wet towels to clean up...so, if you are hungering for ribs, this is a good choice

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RK
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 3food 5service 4ambience 3

The food was very nice, which is what counts the most for me. Not enough staff though, the hardworking and courteous staff was clearly having to hustle.

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B
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 3

The restaurant was very, very cold. Most of our party ate with their coats on. My feet were freezing. Definitely wouldn’t recommend it on a cold, rainy night. Service was great, food pretty good: love the noise level - our party of 6 were able to speak w one another, which is why we choose the restaurant. My only issue was the lack of heat.

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j
1 review
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 2

Soso service, over priced. 75% of dining area shut down for lack of business.

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LM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on January 21, 2019
Overall 3food 4service 4ambience 5

We are long time customers and for the first time were not very happy....the staff is wonderful....this time the service was slow (5pm on a sunday) and (my fault) the veggies were somehow so sweet I could not eat them.......never had this problem before here.....maybe a new chef.........but now I will ask about how things are prepared.........live and learn!!

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ZC
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined on January 17, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 5

Very enjoyable experience!

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b
Sacramento
22 reviews
Dined on January 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 4ambience 5

I had a great dining experience and food was excellent, but it's a little hard to find

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KM
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2019
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 4

Over the years I had been to this restaurant dozens of time and I was excited to be back in the area and return after a 7 year absence due to moving away from Palo Alto . The entire experience was utterly disappointing. My $30 steak kabob was nondescript and served Luke warm after a long wait. The waiter was very personable but the service was extremely slow because of a corporate dinner in one of the smaller dining rooms.

Now I understand why there were only 12 other diners in the cavernous main dining room

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JE
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

Terrific Service. Wonderful Cobb Salad with warm roasted chicken. Outstanding ribs and pork tender with sour cherry sauce. Sat by the fire and had a wonderful meal. Highly recommend. Best meal I have had in a while.

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DS
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on January 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It was a lovely meal with attentive service. We all ordered (8 of us) off the specials menu. My medallions of beef were perfectly cooked to order (medium rare). My friend said her pork tenderloin was excellent. We were seated at a lovely table by the fireplace and enjoyed the holiday decorations. The manager went above and beyond. We forgot the "Most Valuable Member" plaque in a box by the table. He found my digits from the Open Table Reservation and called me about 10 minutes after we left. He waited (restaurant was closed by then) until we got back so we could retrieve it. Thank you!!

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K
1 review
Dined on January 3, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

We had an early reservation for dinner. It was very chilly outside & we were seated in front of a nice warm fireplace. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. Our server, Eric, was attentive and our requests were attended to in a timely fashion. I believe the owner stopped by our table to see if all was being attended too. We learned a bit of history of the building, which was interesting!
Our food was cooked well and the only negative was my lobster didn’t have much flavor. Everything else was very comfortable and we had a lovely, relaxing evening.

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S
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 3

A mixed bag: can't give partial stars! Our visit was on New Year's Eve. For starters we had calamari which was under-seasoned, not hot.
Since we expected the usual large portion, we ordered the Ceasar salad to be shared. But it was actually pathetic: leftover bits of pale lettuce and cheese, no anchovies, barely dressed. Hardly enough to serve one person, let alone two.
Fortunately the mains improved. My salmon was nicely done, and the duck breast was also good.
But overall, we don't plan to return.

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DN
San Francisco
18 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 4

Normally my experience has been in the 4 to 5 star category. But on this New Year’s Eve dinner, I had to give it a 2 rating. Service was barely acceptable. Took too long to get our drinks, and then the wait for our food was even longer. The food was not prepared well, not very warm when it arrived, and no one in our party of 4 were happy with the taste of the food. We were surprised that there were very few patrons in the restaurant during our dinner (7pm reservations until 10 pm ) even though the waitress and manager were very pleasant. Must have been an off-night.

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L
San Francisco
33 reviews
Dined on January 1, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We hadn't been here for many years and thought it would be fun to try for New Year's Eve. Very glad we did. Good service, good food (had the ribs), and a cheery atmosphere.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 30, 2018
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent food and service, very nice ambiance.

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OT
1 review
Dined on December 26, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 2

We were surprised that it was a buffet. The food was cold and uninspiring for the price. Very few vegetables other than starches.

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KS
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

This was our first year eating out for Christmas and it was fabulous experience. The brunch selection was great, with a wide variety of lunch and breakfast selections. Excellent carving station and fabulous service overall. Staff was wonderfully attentive, poised and professional. A few of the guests left something to be desired in terms of etiquette but the staff handled things masterfully.

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PW
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on December 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Food and service was outstanding. Beautifully decorated for the holidays.

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B
San Francisco
20 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Just what we might expect from our thirty-plus years coming to MacArthur. Not a lot of 'innovation' and certainly no unpleasant surprises. The quisine features standards and some welcome variations. The portions are generous without being excessive. The ribs, chops and steaks are classic. Presentation is straightforward and honest. Appropriate wine and bevvies. Their holiday buffets are legendary.

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PM
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 15, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had early-bird reservations in order to make a 7:30 concert of the Stanford campus. The wait staff understood and was great. We were never rushed and made it in plenty of time for the concert!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on December 12, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Had a great Christmas dinner with girlfriends!

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EV
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined on December 9, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The best place for ribs, great food and service. I highly recommend it.

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LC
1 review
Dined on December 9, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 5

We have dined here many times and like the place. That said, our last experience was a bit off in terms of service and food. I had the prime rib and it was served without aujus and horseradish. By the time they took care of it half my meal was done.

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RC
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on December 5, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

The service was leisurely and I found the food (pasta with tomato sauce) uninspired.

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

Pleasant surroundings. Friendly and professional service. Great place for a larger group. Friendly atmosphere.

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FG
San Francisco
32 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 3

I used to love the original MacArthur Park in SF, so we went to this one for my birthday. I ordered the baby back rib plate. What came were thick (probably St Louis) ribs that were not meaty and did not fall off the bone. When we inquired of the manager, he said they were "all that was available"! He did offer to make me something else. I should have taken him up on it. I just continued to tough it out, but the whole experience was disappointing except for the opportunity to dine in a historic landmark.

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B
Western NC
31 reviews
Dined on November 24, 2018
Overall 3food 2service 2ambience 3

I went to this restaurant expecting it to be very nice because of a friends recommendation. I ordered the prime rib which was supposed to be a specialty but it was tough with no juice so it was dry. One of the people in our group ordered the hamburger that he only ate half but said the onions strings we’re good. The waitress gave us our meal and then never came back to refill water or coffee. When I asked for our waiter I was told she was busy.

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FG
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Always come here for their Thanksgiving buffet. Used to have business lunches here, but not serving at lunch anymore. Historic, great food and drink, good for families or couples. Nice location for a wedding reception, if applicable. Hope to dine here for years to come.

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DM
1 review
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 3

The Thanksgiving buffet was diverse and there was a lot to choose from, but the restaurant itself was extremely crowded. They had a carving table with some great prime rib!

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Planned this dinner because I couldn’t cook for Thanksgiving. I was returning from Cabo and this seemed like a good venue. But, I was concerned about their ability to serve good food so late (flight arrived at 6:00 pm) .

Immediately upon arriving my concerns were allayed. The food was plentiful, fresh and very tasty, even that late into the evening. I was amazed with their ability to keep fresh food coming all day. They had turkey, prime rib, ham, barbecue ribs, barbecue chicken, and mashed potatoes (both traditional and sweet), salad, stuffing and excellent white and brown gravy and A great dessert bar, too. I highly recommend this restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner or any time if you want a good meal!

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G
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Great job with the Thanksgiving buffet - quality of food and service did not suffer even with the huge number of people served! Bravo!

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CC
1 review
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 2food 2service 3ambience 1

Sadly disappointed. Not what it has been in past years. Drove from Emeryville. Made reservations early to make sure we got a table, had looked forward to it.
Prime rib and turkey (dark meat) were dry, sides were not very tasty, desserts were good.
Visibly short-staffed. Didn't come to table often, left 2 drinks for each person so as not to have to come back. They were rushing people in and out.
It was Thanksgiving but we did not feel as if we had a nice dinner for it.
Unfortunately, we will not be returning and will be celebrating our holidays elsewhere.

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v
San Francisco
4 reviews
Dined on November 23, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Rather "pedestrian food". Just no oomph in the meal. Ambiance is great. Servers not as attentive as they might have been. Would try it again but not for Thanksgiving.............

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AS
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on November 11, 2018
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

Average food at best. Bad service although server was very nice. Burnt barbecue ribs. Overpriced

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M
1 review
Dined on October 21, 2018
Overall 2food 3service 1ambience 3

I grew up going here and it was sad to see how empty it was on Saturday night but it has been 20 years so I didn't know what to expect. The food was still pretty good, the ambience just how I remember. My biggest complaint would have to be our server. He didn't have any skills as far as service goes. For being a higher end restaurant, he should at least know the basic skills. For example, always serving the woman first, making eye contact and not darting around the room when asking questions, not to throw our knife at us in the middle of table, remembering our wine, checking in at least once to check on our meal would have been nice. This is to mention a few. HE could really use a few lessons in the art of service, just so we are not feeling like we eating in Denny's. In saying that, I would like to compliment our food runner who was actually much more equipped to be a server. He was beyond friendly and gracious and for that he got a side tip of 20 bucks. All in all, it was ok. The manager needs to do some basic training. I only say this because my husband and are in the bar and restaurant business so bad service doesn't ever really go unnoticed. I would be back...as long as the food runner was my server. (:

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