651 Emerson St, Palo Alto, CA | Directions 9430137.443365 -122.160519
Mon - Fri, lunch 11:30am - 4pm; dinner, 4 pm - 10pm; Sat, 11am - 11pm (brunch, lunch and dinner); Sun, 11am - 11pm (brunch and dinner only
Neighborhoods: University South
The absolute meanest service I have ever seen. After being ignored for quite some time (the bartenders were playing on their iPhones and eating pizza behind the bar), we were then informed that the kitchen was closed, so my friend went to grab a slice of pizza at a different establishment while the rest of my group ordered some drinks. When my friend came back, she was still finishing her pizza slice (only a few bites) and left the single slice pizza box out on the table next to where we were sitting.
After we had been sitting at the bar for about 20 minutes, out of no where, the owner/bartender stormed up to our table and started yelling and cursing at us for bringing the box in. Literally shouting as loud as he could and dropping the F-bomb. The entire bar went silent, and we were stunned. I agree that it is reasonable to be offended by the presence of another restaurant's food, but to curse and shout and bring the entire bar to a stand still for a single slice of pizza? Especially when Empire's kitchen was closed and we still decided to stay and order drinks? Completely inappropriate behavior on the part of the owner.
Good patio bad food – Sitting on the patio is good but that is the only nice thing about that restaurant. I was there 6 years ago thinking the quality of the food changed, but not really! My soup was cold and the white wine was served at room temp. The mussels were tiny, needed a microscope. Certainly, I am not going there again! If you want to, then go on a full stomach and have a drink only.
Outdoor patio is not worth the horrible service – Service here is horrendous!!!! They did not have our reservation for our party of six (which granted, sometimes happens). We waited almost an hour to get served *drinks* on a not-so-crowded Thursday night even after we politely asked if our drinks were on their way. The mediocre food was served over 1 1/2 hours later then our server informed my friend that the entree he had ordered was not available. My friend tried to speak to the manager who shrugged his shoulders and said that his waitstaff was inexperienced. I used to love this place for the outdoor patio and have been coming here for years. The service is so dismal, I refuse to ever set foot in this place again until management changes.
Astoundingly Rude Service...and Mediocre/Bad Food! Why Bother for the Atmosphere? – The Empire has the ambiance of an old-fashioned East Coast bar and is located blocks from my parent's home, so I've dined there several times. The food has always been sub-par to bad but not inedible. My experience on Saturday made it my last visit and inspired me to warn others.
My party of 4 arrived right on time for our lunch reservation for the patio. We were shown a table outside near the fountain and seated next to a 20+ person party. After a few minutes, we realized the party was distracting and since the patio was half-full and I noticed the reservation book was pretty empty, we discreetly asked to move to a quieter table. Shockingly, the response from staff was, 'They have a right to talk. It's a restaurant. I don't see what the the problem is.' Wrong answer! So, we got up to leave without a fuss. As we were walking out, the woman helping us identified herself as the owner and unprompted said 'We have the right to refuse service to anyone.' Other staff members cheered her on. It was surreal!
Tip for the Empire: Keep your owner in the back of the house with no contact with customers.
Tip for any prospective diner: Skip this place and take your business to any other restaurant in Palo Alto. Bad Food + Inexcusably Atrocious Service
Rude people – I have never eaten at the restaurant but got a referral so I called to ask for details about having a private event their and the gal who plans the events (Josie) was very rude. Made it sound like she did not want my business. I was trying to plan a baby shower for a coworker and she told me " they do not host those kinds of events" I told her I was not trying to host a typical shower with games and she sighted and ask what date I was looking at and what time..... I started to tell her and she interrupted me to tell me that they get very busy so I finally told her that it sounded like she was interested in my business and she hung up....
Grab a chair, a beer and enjoy Palo Alto's best patio-dining experience. – The Scene
The best thing about the beloved Empire Grill, though, is its fabulous patio. It's hard to feel more blessed than you do dining on a warm day at one of the patio tables with friends, or even with business associates (that's how pleasant it is). A little trickling fountain and rustling greenery make it hard to believe you're in downtown Palo Alto.
To go with the well-chosen microbrews and imports on tap, the menu showcases unfussy dishes and assertive flavors that could be characterized as California cuisine with no pretention. It's not pub grub, but there are plenty of rib-sticking grilled meats, roasted new potatoes, and fried calamari. Small pizzas and steamed mussels make great shared snacks when drinking at the long Honduras mahogany bar or at one of the eight oversized booths.
Rise of the Empire – Ambience! The Empire Tap Room is set up wonderfully! The outside dining area is a cozy patio, while the inside has a long bar and large booths. Thus, you can dine in a romantic or relaxed atmosphere.
The service is excellent. Very friendly.
The food is the only negative at Empire. It is not bad, just rather pedestrian. The menu is fairly broad, but unspectacular. I had the herb chicken, which was a little dry but otherwise okay. The selection of wines and beers on tap is pretty ho-hum. Overall, it is an average to above-average destination.
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