Absinthe Brasserie and Bar - SF

4.6
6044 reviews
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$30 and under
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French
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar is one of the longest-running and most convivial dining institutions in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood. Located within walking distance of Civic Center and the performing arts centers, the establishment features French and American-influenced brasserie fare for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Absinthe’s lively bar offers classic and creative cocktails and full menu dining.
What 6044 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.6based on recent ratings
4.5
food
4.5
service
4.5
ambience
4.1
value
Noise · Moderate
94% of people would recommend it to a friend
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OT
San Francisco
13 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Excellent food. The staff was very attentive. Great place for a person dining solo. Creative distribution of tables so people are not right next to each other.

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G
San Francisco
11 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 2service 5ambience 5

Excellent service as always however the meal (brunch) was unfortunately mediocre. It was also really disappointing that there was no changing table in the bathroom or area I could change my baby :(

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F
San Francisco
96 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

I come here after concert to get a bite and enjoy the atmosphere . The food is simple but well made and presented. The service is pleasant and efficient. I would just advise the bar that the competition is very inventive and is currently crafting marvelous drinks, so I wish you update your craft in order to join the leaders in the bar renewal time we are living in.

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PB
Adelaide / SA
9 reviews
Dined 3 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 1ambience 4

A variable experience. The Sommelier was excellent but unfortunately that was the only professional we dealt with. We sat for 25 minutes with menus until i tracked down someone to take our drinks order. This became a theme. The food was very good. To round out the night there were three glasses of wine charged to us we didn't order.

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b
San Francisco
24 reviews
Dined 4 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Mmm, the green salad with strawberry and candied pecans was so yummy. The duck was also tasty, served with layered potatoes and artichokes. With a Death and Taxes beer, it was a perfect meal. We finished with coffee and one scoop of passion mango sorbet, and walked to SFJazz with smiles on our faces.

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AS
San Francisco
16 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Lived here for 7 years and just now got around to going to Absinthe even tho I pass it all the time! I’ve been missing out!
Every dish was delicious! Highly recommend for a fun dining experience. Cocktails are awesome too. Great for a date and friends dinner. Wait staff professional and quick and so was the kitchen ! We didn’t wait any time between courses- it was amazing. They’ve got it down in this restaurant. I love it and I will definitely be back.

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MB
San Francisco
64 reviews
Dined 5 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

I always recommend Absinthe to my friends, it's just a bit of a challenge to get reservations! This time I took a friend who had never been there. We both had Coq Au Vin, my all time favorite dish and it was a definite winner! It is very refreshing to know that one can have a perfect ball of ice cream or sorbet for $3.00, and NOT being forced to have a huge dessert for $ 12. Please keep this feature!
We'll be back soon!

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

Food, service, and ambience make
Absinthe a great place yo go before the Symphony. My only complaint is that the tables are too high for the banquets.

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j
San Francisco
219 reviews
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Really a wonderful experience. Always welcomed. Treated well by everyone on staff. Service is terrific, as is food and drinks. Had the sweet corn bisque. Beautiful, as well as tasty. Very light and exquisite taste of corn and herbs. Very refreshing. The roasted beet salad is small but mighty. Some restaurants just give a pile of beets. There were three types, each with a different color and flavor profile and texture. Add some greenery, grapes and walnuts and a light vinaigrette; fabulous. Shared some ceviche and was ready for great music at SF Jazz.

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JC
San Francisco
1 review
Dined 6 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Small party after the Wedding Ceremony at City Hall. We brought a small cake to be served after Lunch. The Staff could not have been sweeter or more enthusiastic. We tried several of the appetizers- the ceviche, the tartare and the oysters. All were very good! We all had the ribeyes, which were cooked to our exacting specifications- one very RARE, one medium RARE and one Medium WELL.
After the entrees, the servers cut and served our little cake and werre delightful. The entire experience was Fantastic.

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c
Sacramento
4 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

If you can find a restaurant that grills octopus better than Absinthe, keep going there! It was not expected to be THIS great, but it was...and that tell the whole story, since octopus isn't easy to cook. The duck liver mousse fantastic, too...and excellent vodka martinis.
I loved the fact that though they seemed fully booked they did their best to place/accomodate walk-ins: no pretense, no snobbery - good business all around!

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C
Hawaii
67 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 3food 4service 3ambience 3

We enjoyed our dinner there but the menu have become very limited. It seems they use to have more to offer and specials but not any loner.

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RD
San Francisco
52 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 3food 5service 2ambience 5

The food was great as always with delicious grilled octopus, French onion soup, and potato-crusted salmon. But the service was disappointing as our pineapple upside down cake desert order was forgotten by either the waiter or kitchen. We got our coffees promptly and waited 20 min for the dessert before having to leave for a performance. The table next to us ordered dessert after us and got their dessert. We never did.

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HO
San Francisco
7 reviews
Dined 7 days ago
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The staff were very attentive and great service. The drinks were always refilled and they were quick to remove empty plates. Food was really amazing and surprisingly didn’t give me indigestion given how heavy French food can be. The steak tartare was beautifully present and delicious. The fries were the best. They were perfectly evenly crispy on the outside and soft in the center without being too starchy.

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RS
San Francisco
17 reviews
Dined on June 17, 2019
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 4

I had their salmon entree. So tired, undercooked piece of fish with complete lack of creativity. My partner had steak which looked much better. The only solace was the wine, although expensive, was good. Their wine list goes up to $5,000, WTH? Their food barely reaches $20 range...Go for cocktails there and skip the dinner!

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JB
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We had planned to go to another restaurant that doesn't take reservations the evening we ended up at Absinthe. The line at the other restaurant was so long that we decided to check Open Table for available reservations. I'm so glad we did! We hadn't been there for several years, but the food was just as good as we remembered. The waiter was also extremely helpful in guiding our menu selections. And, importantly, we could hear each other, which is so unusual these days!

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J
San Francisco
15 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 5

The menu is beginning to feel stale and limited. All three of us said that. No seafood beyond oysters and just a general lack of imagination. With so much competition in the city, they need to rediscover some kitchen joy,

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E
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was great

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o
San Francisco
186 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very French-one of the best in the city. Bar staff stayed very poised and relaxed even though they were slammed. Then on to our table and many value driven brunch choices. Drink list is world class. Really felt like I was in Paris. Top dinner place also. Liked that they had cellar wines by the glass also.

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JN
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 16, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The food is creative and high-quality; service is always attentive and friendly. One of my favorite places, I'm never uncomfortable to dine alone here.

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d
San Francisco
28 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Lovely time, servers were excellent, bar seems undermanned, slightly passive agressive bartender, but didn't ruin our experience.

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JB
San Francisco
9 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Absinthe remains an old favorite as the service is friendly and helpful and the atmosphere is pleasant - the food is consistent and use of fresh local ingredients makes for tasty dinners.
Oysters were fresh and little gem salad with rhubarb was delicious to begin with. I had house-made pasta with morels and favs beans and my friend had the potato crusted salmon. Chocolate pot de crème for dessert and off to SF Jazz for a late concert!

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T
San Francisco
3 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

We had a lovely dinner. The service was very good. The only complaint I had is that I ordered the "large" size of the special, and instead received the "small" version from the kitchen. We had a main waiter and several delivery waiters. The main waiter had even clarified this when I ordered (other people at the table had ordered the "small"). The delivery waiters kept trying to give the orders to the wrong people at the table - which was slightly annoying but easily remedied. The "main" waiter was super-eager to replace this when the wrong size when it came out, but I didn't want to wait for the replacement as I was rather hungry. So basically very good with a very good "main" waiter - but higgledy piggedly delivery staff.

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SN
New York Area
5 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We like Absinthe for pre opera dining.gretchen was v ry responsive when we said the Burgundy special pour seemed materized and opened a fresh bottle which was delicious.
Our server was very attentive even though it was crowded and asked if we had a curtain time.he was very open to our sharing appetizer and dessert.
Overall great. I’m back this week!

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OT
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 15, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Wonderful!

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F
San Francisco
97 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

Great place for after concert bite, nice atmosphere, great service and decent food. The theme seems to be French, at least in the decor, the Chef is not likely French but if you are American you won't be able to tell the difference. The tartare is really delicious.

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OT
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 3food 3service 3ambience 4

We came here a year ago and the service as well as the menu options were better and there was more variety. The service was not bad but not exactly good either. The waiter seemed rushed like didn’t want to take the time to explain the menu. The food was not as good as before. The fries were tasteless, onion soup was exactly that. Extreme amount of onions and melted cheese. The bread came late and the wine glasses were half empty. We ordered the grilled octopus. It was good but very salty. For the price we paid for 2 persons (close to $200) the cuisine and service left a lot to be desired.

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x
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Everything was fabulous. The food, including a rib eye steak, hamburger, fries and coq au vin were all exceptional. The table we were given to accommodate our guide dog was perfect, out of the way of foot traffic. The service was attentive. And the prices were reasonable (for the Bay Area and particularly San Francisco). I definitely recommend this restaurarnt.

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S
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on June 14, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

We love Absinthe and go frequently when we are attending the SF Symphony. Friday wS our 50th wedding anniversary and the mailer d’ saw to it that we had a private table which we really appreciated! Our first seating was close by another couple and I was sorely disappointed but before I said anything, he took it upon himself to move up to a better table. Now that is personal service to loyal customers. And the food is fabulous. The waitress truly knew her oysters and my sampler plate of three had exactly the varied tastes that she had described! I was impressed. ThankyouAbsinthe for excellent food, an interesting menu and superb service!!!

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B
Los Angeles
31 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 2ambience 2

This place is old and tired. Menu has not changed in twenty years. Food not well done. Heavy, greasy sauce.

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T
San Francisco
21 reviews
Dined on June 13, 2019
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

I love this restaurant and have been coming here since they opened, usually before symphony concerts. The service I had on a recent Thursday night (not terribly busy then) was superb - there when I needed it, never there otherwise. The server was attentive, personable, and knowledgable. The food was excellent: very good beet salad, perfectly cooked salmon, excellent pot de crème. There were some nice wines by the glass in the $15 range, but bottles from the wine list were on the high end in general, especially for a person dining alone who is looking for half bottles. The quality of the wines on the list is unquestionable, and there are a number of full bottles in the $60 - $150 range that are good. But being a relative pauper, I find it discouraging to look at page after page of wines from $300 up that are just out of my range. Maybe in my next life?

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JC
San Francisco
8 reviews
Dined on June 12, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Absinthe proved again that it is as good a business lunch venue as a it is a wonderful San Francisco dining experience.

I have been a fan of Absinthe from its opening. And they have countless fans other than me.

Arriving early for an Open Table lunch reservation, being respectfully and warmly greeted by the Host by name, and seated at a special table for two in the main dining room, I had the opportunity to reflect upon its success in the light of day.

The layout of Absinthe is brilliant. The front room lends itself, with harder surfaces, to convivial informal gatherings at the ample, well-stocked bar, and casual brasserie tables placed to enjoy the crowd and especially to feast upon their signature French fries, spicy chick peas, French Onion Soup, or a generous selection of oysters served on an elevated rack. The dining room, in a rich burgundy, applied 24-carat gold accents, and happy mural of timeless diners looking back, is laid out and furnished to make every table special for informal and formal occasions. My two person table was accommodating for my business meeting, as the neighboring tables were for a retirement lunch, and a graduate degree celebration by a family.

The yellow corn soup was a jewel of a rich sweet savory puree floating in the middle of a complementing green pea puree, topped by a light crunchy brioche crouton and tender snow pea sprigs. The Daily Pasta was an al dente fresh fettuccine, wondrously bathed in a light tomato sauce with slivers of asparagus, a sprinkling of tender spinach, crab meat, small chunks of sausage, topped with crunchy bread crumbs. If you are lucky enough to be there when the Barre Chocolate is on the Dessert menu, you must have this slightly deconstructed version of a Snickers Bar that will take you on a round trip to Mars.

The service at Absinthe has always been on point, making a great gastronomic experience even better.

Absinthe, the San Francisco treat that always pleases.

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ER
San Francisco
1 review
Dined on June 11, 2019
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

love this place, find the menu too limited, especially for lunch

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PH
San Francisco
14 reviews
Dined on June 9, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

It would be hard to find a nicer place to dine before a Sunday afternoon opera

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s
San Francisco
2 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 3

The food was great! And the service was excellent!!!! I especially want to comment and thank our server, Robert! We were running late and had theatre tickets for 7:00. We were concerned about our parking space and he actually went out to check where we were parked, (very close.) So so went out of his way, I was very grateful and impressed. His excellence continued throughout our meal, which was a bit to short for us. But we made the best of our delicious cocktails and fabulous food! Next time we'll make sure we can linger and enjoy! Thank You!

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FL
San Francisco
6 reviews
Dined on June 7, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Anniversary

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A
San Francisco
5 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Excellent service. We split the entree which was more adequate. Friendly people.

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l
San Francisco
52 reviews
Dined on June 6, 2019
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 4

Absinthe is always fun and does feel very Parisian but food was a bit off. The pasta special was loaded with things that should have made it really tasty (ham hock, mushrooms, cheese, kale and more) but it was really bland. Otherwise a nice dinner pre symphony.

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LD
San Francisco
85 reviews
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Very fast service and large portions. The new menu is not as unique as it used to be, but the new fries (thicker) and the Cog au Vin (very flavorful) were excellent. They don't still serve the drinks featured in the book about their bar, but can do a nice ginger drink (Ginger Rodgers).

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OT
Central Coast
2 reviews
Dined on June 5, 2019
Overall 2food 2service 4ambience 3

Pre opera dinner. Very good service for a busy time, but the food was mediocre. I guess the somewhat pricey entrees is for the close location to the theaters.

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