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“Picked over food for $52”
Review of Cafe Sierra

Cafe Sierra
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Ranked #1,253 of 9,978 Restaurants in Los Angeles
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Neighbourhood: Universal City Area
Description: Famous for its unique Seafood, Lobster and Prime Rib Buffet in L.A. Cafe Sierra is located high atop the Hollywood Hills inside the gleaming tower of Hilton Universal City.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
164 reviews
130 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
“Picked over food for $52”
Reviewed 20 April 2014

What a wealth of food, Sashimi was delicous as was the bread pudding and the Bananas Foster. Over-cooked and too salty lobster, raw oysters with bits of shell, tough ribs,bad -rice sushi,tough prime rib, un-appealing salads. I realize that I came towards the end of the meal time but things looked "worked over". I guess my $52 isn't as important as the earlier eaters. The staff clears the dishes with their armpits in your face, reaching over you but they always have a smile. I needed change when I paid the bill but the waiter took it all and never came back. I had to ask for my change and then it took forever.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank latool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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104 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Russian first
  • Any
English first
Canterbury, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
71 reviews
52 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
“Best hotel breakfast in Universal City”
Reviewed 12 April 2014

This was the best hotel breakfast for us in Los Angeles. Excellent selection, quality food and great service.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank EandC7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Burlington, Canada
Level Contributor
325 reviews
201 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 80 helpful votes
“Typical hotel restaurant, good service, nice food”
Reviewed 5 April 2014

had dinner here with business associates. Jet lagged coming in from the East coast. Waitress was friendly and efficient. My one friend ordered sliders no buns as she has allergies but when it arrived they had added calamari - nice thought but she is allergic to seafood. Unfortunately our meals came so she ended up eating alone as we had all finished by the time her replacement dinner arrived. Apart form that, food was good - I ordered the roast beef 10az medium, it came a little on the rare side but was a nice cut of meat. The waitress remembered I did not want ice in my water (so often they forget or don't pay attention) and all in all did a good job. We did not try the buffet but may on another night as it looks huge and has a fantastic selection.

  • Visited April 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Thank BDL999_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
206 reviews
145 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 220 helpful votes
“Best Seafood Buffet”
Reviewed 3 February 2014

NAME: Café Sierra [called a “Café” but is a giant restaurant with hundreds of seats. Most seats filled when we were there.]

TELEPHONE: +1 (808) 284-4253

WEB PAGE: cafesierrahilton.com

RESERVATIONS: They accept reservations. They have room for hundreds of guests, but are very popular. Reservations may be a good idea.

DAYS/HOURS OF OPERATION: Varies by day. Check online. Their famous buffets are Friday-Saturday. We attended the Saturday Evening Buffet.

GREETING: None. We just walked in and found the maitre d' to sign us up.

LOCALITY: Hilton Universal City, 555 Universal Hollywood Drive, Universal City, California 91608


OCCASION: We were fortuitously staying at the hotel for other business, but The Pirate had scouted out local California seafood and local seafood restaurants. The buffets were famous and had received excellent reviews.

PARKING: There is a parking grange, but I did not check on this.

SPECIALS: They advertise specials on their mailing list.

VIEW: None. Inside the hotel.

ATMOSPHERE: Despite having hundreds of patrons along large tables, it is still nice.


FURNITURE: Real wood tables and chairs were comfortable and spacious.

BEER: I had a large, draft “Sierra Nevada” in a tall glass, which was good ($8).

WINE: My wife had a large glass of white wine, which was very good ($8).


BAR: They have a full bar service.

WATER: Provided in large pressed-glass glasses

MENU FORMAT: There is a brief menu online.

WAITRESS: Service was good, but she did not know anything about their beers or wines. Told me that Samuel Adams was a local beer! This is a shame with so many microbreweries in the area.

SERVICE: The server at the Taco Station was oddly grumpy. Another reviewer said he was grumpy in mid-November. Looked like his mood had not improved. Management posted that they had addressed this problem, but I guess not. The servers at the other stations were more positive and polite, but did not speak English. Surprisingly, they did not seem to speak Spanish, either. Go figure. They knew nothing about the seafood. Not even about the ones they were serving.

BREAD: I never saw any. There is house-baked bread on their breakfast menu.

APPETIZERS: Oysters on-the-half-shell (rather small), Makizushi, Sushi, and Sashimi [the pickled ginger was white instead of pink]. I only tried the shrimp sushi, which was ordinary. I make better; however, the other items looked good. The grumpy Taco Station Man had Fish [1], Shrimp, Beef, and Chicken Tacos [2]; Shrimp Dim Sum and Pork Dim Sum

SALAD: There was a simple green salad and an ordinary vegetable salad.

ENTRÉE: Lobster Thermador; King Crab Legs and Claws; giant, boiled, you-peel, shrimp; Cioppino (California Seafood Stew) [3], Ginger Dungeness Crab; Pacific Halibut [4]; Atlantic Salmon; Atlantic Salmon in Teriaki Sauce, Ahi (Yellowfin or Bigeye Tuna) (all excellent), Shellfish Ceviche [5]; Peking Duck (tasted gamey); prime rib (slicing Station), roast pork, pork ribs, lamb (without mint jelly). At least 3 kinds of lobsters, King Crab, Dungeness Crab, and Opilio Crab pieces in various dishes.

SIDES: Seafood Paella, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, several rice dishes, pasta dishes, fried rice

CONDIMENTS: Salt and pepper shakers on the table, the shrimp sauce was pleasantly spicy but needed more horse radish, lemon and lime wedges, wasabi, shoyu (soy sauce), white pickled ginger, no jalapeno pepper (in California?), no mint jelly, no hot sauce, no melted butter

SILVERWARE: Adequate. Good cracker for the crab and some interesting picking-out tools.

SERVING TIME: NA, but dishes were quickly refilled.

DESERT: Fabulous and intricate. Chocolate fountain and Cotton Candy.

BATHROOM: Did not examine, but I am certain they were fine.

COST COMPARISON: Seemed a bit expensive ($47), but the food was so great, who could complain?

BILL: Handled well.

SECURITY: Inside the hotel. Sort of open-air to the lobby. Not certain how they keep up with who is paying or not.

PROBLEMS: (A) Many diverse food bars and manned food stations are well spread out, which is good for serving time. The only problem is that finding everything can be confusing. Some things are hidden around corners. (B) The line at the Crape Station was always long. (C) The grumpy Taco Station man. (D) They no longer have their Sharkfin Soup [6], no abalone, Jellyfish, Snow Crab Legs, Shrimp Cocktail, Pâté Platter, Calimari (Squid), Octopus, Clams, Clam Chowder, Quail, Haagen Dazs icecream, Scallops, Cheese Baked Lobster, Escargot, Walnut Prawns, Coconut Shrimp

SUMMATION: Best seafood buffet that I have ever seen.

[1] Fish Tacos is a famous California product, which I wanted to try. I closely examined the bloody, chunks of uncooked fish. It was shark. May have been Common Thresher (Shark), Alopias vulpinus, which I also wanted to try. An excellent tasting fish and California has one of the few, may be the only, legal and sustainable fisheries for this animal.
[3] This stew is another famous California product, which I wanted to try. It had the traditional black mussels, ribbed clams, shrimp, white fish, and crab legs. However, it also had pieces of lobster, which it not in the traditional recipe. It should have had scallops, but I could not find any.
[4] Hippoglossus stenolepis, I would have preferred to try the California Halibut, Paralichtys californicus.
[5] Ceviche is fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juices. Lemon or lime juice denatures the proteins and make the fish appear “cooked.” Unfortunately, most dangerous parasites are unharmed by citrus juices. They incorrectly call all kinds of cooked things in California “ceviches.” Jim Williams used to take Queen Conch right out of the water after a dive, out on the reefs, thinly slice the raw meat, marinade it in a lime sauce for a few minutes, and serve it in the boat. It was wonderful.
[6] I would have liked to have tried it. There is nothing illegal or unethical about making “Sharkfin Soup” as-long-as the entire fish is harvested and utilized. I suppose it could encourage the deplorable practice of “Finning.” They stopped serving this June 2013 and it is now banned in California.

  • Visited January 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
2 Thank Ernest W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego, California
Level Contributor
43 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Food cold, fatty, boney (not a buffet review)”
Reviewed 1 November 2013

NOT a buffet review!

This review is for the Lobby Lounge, but we ordered off the full dinner menu from Cafe Sierra. Maybe the main dining room would have been a better choice, but I'm assuming everything comes from the same kitchen.

We sat ourselves and the server came right over to start us off with some drinks. He listened attentively and confirmed our drink order.

Appetizer was French sliders: they were dried out and very fatty. One slider was almost all fat and barely edible. However, the French Fries were good. Salad was a standard house side salad. I liked the mixed greens instead of Iceberg Lettuce.

Here's where it got worse: Entree was the Mandarin BBQ Combo. It had white rice, pork and slices of duck. The duck was so cold it was almost like it had been chilled before service and the sauce was overpowering and salty. Also, it was prepared very poorly, majority of the pieces were mostly cartilage and had small pieces of bones all throughout. The pork was barely warm and unseasoned.

We didn't receive bread until about the time the salad came out (which was after the sliders). Water was by request only.

Maybe we happened to choose the wrong dishes tonight, but from this first experience: not recommended. We'll have to try the buffet which is available on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Visited November 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1 Thank Jason C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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