San Diego Part 3: Barbusa, Carlsbad Marathon, & Crack Shack!

Happy Monday, y’all! This last couple weeks has been jam-stinkin’-packed, especially with school, so I’m getting posts out a lot slower than usual (I feel like a broken record, saying this). I finished up a huge project last night so now I have at least a couple hours today to maybe get one or two posts written!

After spending the day in Balboa Park, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. They had complimentary wine and tapas in the lobby so we grabbed some tostadas & an apertif before our reservation.

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We then went to Little Italy to carb load before the big race! We said this would our dinner to celebrate my birthday as well as Pete’s whose was on the 23rd 🙂

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After much research, we decided to try Barbusa,  a Busalacchi family restaurant. The Busalacchi family are renowned for owning a medley of authentic, delicious Italian restaurants in the San Diego area.

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This was a unique spin on an Italian restaurant. It was more contemporary with distinctive decor, but still had a “warmth” about it.

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There was a tribute to famous Italians on the wall- can you identify any of them?

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My one and only complaint was the volume- it was noisy! It was almost uncomfortable how loud it was- we didn’t mind, but it doesn’t encompass that old school “romantic” ambiance of most Italian restaurants.

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Our waiter was just awesome! He was helpful navigating the menu, especially the wines and had a thick Italian accent. You know you’re getting the real deal when the waiter is 100% Italian!

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The bread!!!! This was delicious.

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For an appetizer we tried tempura squash blossoms. These were very enjoyable- pretty & tasty!

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My mom and I split their caesar. This was the best caesar dressing I’ve ever had! I compared it to my mom’s she uses for the grilled romaine she makes at home. No anchovy type flavor, just smooth deliciousness. I think it had a hint of balsamic with it that was just wonderful.

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My mom and I split two dishes (I love when we go out to eat together because we have identical tastes- so we just split a couple dishes usually). The first dish we tried was the Garganelli funghi with black truffle oil, oyster mushrooms, and whipped panna. Phenomenal. It reminded me a lot of the dish I had in Disney at Il Mulino!

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Just when I didn’t think I could have anything more yummy, we tried the Gnocchi e Zucca with roasted butternut squash, sage, and cream. Oh goodness gracious this was melt-in-your-mouth-savor-every-single-nibble deliciousness. You could tell the gnocchi was truly homemade. I usually have the philosophy that it’s best to try new things whenever given the chance, but if we come back to SD I may need to stop in for this dish again. Gosh, I can’t even put it into words!

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DJ tried the Carbonara con Piselli. This had fettuccini, sweet peas, caramelized onions, pork pancetta, and egg yolk. I tried some without the meat and it was so creamy and savory!

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And last up, Pete enjoyed the Bolognese al Forno with baked anelletti, beef and sausage ragu, english peas, and tres formaggi.

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And of course, we had room for dessert! We tried their deconstructed cannoli. Oh. WOWZA. It was scrumptious. Whatever they use to make their creamy cannoli filling was just creamy gold. The cannoli itself was cooked to perfection!

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Picture time!

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These two are just so much fun! After dinner, we went back to the hotel, opened up some bday gifts, and then called it a wrap!

After a night of tossing and turning from eagerness to run the race, it was finally 4:30 am and time to get up, lol. I can’t tell y’all how excited I was to run- I watched that darn clock all night. Also, not being able to run much was driving me nuts during the tapering!

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It was chilly, but a perfect temp for a race. We set off and the first seven or so miles were accompanied by a spectacular sunrise.

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I seriously don’t know what overcame me, but I was feeling guuuud. I think it was all the pasta and pent up energy. Eat pasta, run fasta!!! Anywho- y’all are probably so sick hearing about this from my other social media spots, but I qualified for Boston.. and seriously have NO clue how. All I can say is Jesus really is in the business of miracles, cause this is one! I was with the 3:30 pacer group for most of the race and then just gave it all I had at the end. I will say when I realized I was on pace to qualify I started visualizing crossing the finish at that time (3:30). I believe 100% in the power of visualization, and whenever I started losing steam I imagined crossing that line with 3:30 reading across the time board.

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Go, Djers, go!!

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Post race pics!

img_8773This was DJ’s first marathon!!! If he didn’t want to run this race I wouldn’t have signed up to begin with. I’m already reflecting so fondly on our training season, and to say I’m proud of him feels like an understatement. He’s an athlete, but not a runner specifically.. so this was a HUGE accomplishment for him. He didn’t run at all before, never even a half or anything, and one day just said, “I’m gonna run a marathon”. He did awesome!

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Our attempt at a selfie, haha.

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After the race we headed to Crack Shack for lunch! We were both definitely sore, but my stomach was more upset than anything. Still … we were ready to chow down!

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The line was insanely long and was taking a while. We were a bit nervous because my mom and Pete had an afternoon flight, but once we ordered the food came lickety split.

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We finally put our orders in and then grabbed a picnic table in their cute little sitting area. On our way over I saw all these delicious sauces they have to choose from! We basically tried one of each naturally.

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Their milkshakes bring all the marathoners to the yard! I didn’t know if my stomach could handle a full one, but I definitely had a few generous sips of each. Pete tried the strawberry shortcake and DJ had the Cookie Monster. I have to say, they were both insanely good- but I think I liked the strawberry shortcake better. The real pieces of cookie in the Cookie Monster were mighty tasty though. It’s a close call!

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I was craving something fresh and cold. Veggies sounded perfect. My mom and I both ordered a Downward Dog. This consisted of local veggies, quinoa, hummus, sunflower seeds, and lemon yogurt vinaigrette. This satisfied that craving entirely! Mmm I can nearly taste it.

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The guys ordered the Senor Croque that had chicken, bacon, egg, cheese, maple butter, and brioche.

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We all split the fries with the different sauces- and lemme say- they top notch !!! I would seriously go back just for those. Mm!

We decided to go straight to the airport after dropping my mom and Pete off since we weren’t really feeling like frolicking around the city. I know, I know- me turning down an opportunity to frolic in a city?!? My stomach just was not having it. We got to the airport too early apparently to check in (I didn’t know that was a thing), so we had to wait in the little pre-security area. I grabbed a coconut water and read on my Kindle app while DJ caught up on all ESPN world happenin’s.

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Once we got through security and found our gate we vegged out for a while. We realized we were kinda hungry again around 8:00 pm, so we decided to stop into Prado at the airport. The big Prado is a pretty famous restaurant in Balboa park! We haven’t had the chance to try it yet, so why not preview it here?! And y’all thought I was done being a tourist- nevvverrr.

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We split their fish tacos cause I had a bunch of snacks on me, and we were only an hour flight from home if we wanted more food. They were tasty!! The portion of blackened fish was a bit small, but whatevs, airport food- ya know?

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Oh my gosh.. did I do it?.. did I actually finally finish our San Diego trip recap?!! Pause for dramatic effect…

I’m gonna try to crank out a catch up post at some point this week, but I’m kinda in that season where I feel like I’m saying “yes” a lot, and my planner is very full on top of school work. It’s all great stuff- but just busy busy. More on that to come! Goodness, I’m so excited to catch y’all up on what’s going on.

Questions for you:

  • If you run races, what is your favorite race you have ever done?
  • Valentine’s Day- yay or nay?!

xo <3

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San Diego Part 2: Yummy Eats, Marathon Expo & Balboa Park!

Hey, everyone!! School + other responsibilities are really vying for my attention right now, so it’s gonna probably take a while to catch up on these posts & your posts! Hang tight though- I’m hoping to get a huge chunk done by Thursday or so to take a couple hours to catch up 🙂

In Part One we left off with the four of us- my mom (Momma Jill), step-dad (Pete), DJ and I heading into Gaslamp for the evening. I instantly recognized the Ghirardelli store with its neon lights beaming down the road… the last time we were here I had to stop in and grab some chocolate squares to satisfy my sweet tooth! It’s crazy how long year ago feels, yet also crazy how quickly it flew by.

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Time for some authentic Mexican cuisine! This was the one type of food we had to get while we were here.  San Diego is famous for it! Last time we went to La Puerta, probably the most popular spot in Gaslamp. It was pretty good & a unique spot- but I wouldn’t necessarily say worth the wait. We decided to try the place next door that had great reviews- Las Hadas. I’ll say right off the bat- I think it was way better than La Puerta. There was no wait, the food was just tremendous, and the service was impeccable. A+++.

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We started with some fresh guac and chips to start.

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DJ ordered the Surf and Turf Burrito with skirt steak, shrimp, cilantro rice, pico de gallo, avocado salsa, jack & cheddar cheese. It was topped with a cajun salsa and jalapeño crema! I’m sitting on the couch next to DJ and asked him to describe it in one word- he said, “Really good” … that’s two words, but we’ll give it to him. 😉

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My mom and I split the vegetarian fajitas with roasted corn, black beans, bell peppers, onions, cilantro and fresh seasonal vegetables. These were just terrific! I was a little skeptical since they didn’t have red/yellow/orange pepper mix (my personal fave for fajitas), but the combo worked beautifully. We raved about them basically with every bite.

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& last but not least, Pete enjoyed the steak fajitas!

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After a wonderfully satisfying meal, we went to the Art Gallery of my favorite artist- Tim Cantor. His art isn’t for everyone- it’s certainly unique, but it resonates with me. I was excited to show my mom and Pete! They were troopers, appreciating the fact that I appreciated it, hehe. My mom is such a social butterfly and struck up a conversation with the woman who was working there. It turns out she is Tim Cantor’s wife, and offered to show me the original of my favorite painting Thieves of May in the back of the studio. I had chills. I got emotional when she showed it to me. Magic happens when you take Momma Jill places, hehe.

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On the way out, my mom surprised me with his collector’s book, Affinité, as a birthday gift! I was insanely excited- this immediately became one of my most treasured possessions.

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San Diego also has great options for rooftop bars and views. We weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night, so we decided to go to Altitude Sky Lounge , home of the best panoramic views of the city last time. (We discovered this last time we were here)

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The part DJ loves the most is you can overlook Petco Park.

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What a memorable evening! <3

On the morning of Saturday January 16th, we swung open the blinds to see this expansively gorgeous view of the city!

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After getting ready for the day, we met up with my mom and Pete in the lobby.

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Here is a cute pic of their little coffee bar setup!

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They even had Mexican Hot Chocolate available- too cute.

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We filled our water bottles up with watermelon water & hit the road!

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First things first: Food. Am I right orrrr am I right? We found a cute little spot close to where the marathon Expo was located in Carlsbad called Beach Plum Kitchen. We did call ahead for Yelp, but still managed to try a bit of coffee cake on our way in 😉

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That stuff was guuuud.

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Such a stinkin’ adorable brunchy spot.

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My mom and I both tried their honey lavender latte. Holy cannoli guacamole ravioli- this was SO good. I had to restrain myself from chugging the deliciousness down all at once.

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My mom and I split two dishes: The avocado toast and smoked salmon!

img_8696My mom did say that my homemade avocado toast was better- I’d have to agree but that’s because I make it with Oren’s pita bread- can’t top that stuff! 😉

The smoked salmon bagel hit the spot though! So yummy. This is easily one of my all time favorite brunch dishes. If you haven’t tried lox, you gottta. I’ll never forget the first time I had it a few years ago! Life changin’ .

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Pete and DJ both tried a skillet hash & gobbled um’ all up!

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Expo time!! This expo was a lot smaller than others I have been to- especially the Flying Pigs one in Cincinnati- that one was massive. Even the Big Sur one seemed much larger with more vendors too. Either way it was still fun to frolic around (yes, frolic).

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Got our bibs!!!

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Funny seeing you here, Mr. Friar! This is the San Diego Padres’s mascot.

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We didn’t stay too long, just made one round through the vendors. I mainly like getting all the free protein bar samples haha. The coolest thing I discovered was Ultima. This stuff is like a gatorade alternative, but much cleaner. I had it throughout the race & it really did feel hydrating. Gatorade always makes my mouth feel dry and sticky.  DJ had the idea to take the coast back to San Diego. My gosh the views were beautiful. We briefly passed Torrey Pines too- a famous golf spot.

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Next up: Balboa Park!

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We strolled around enjoying the bright, sunny afternoon.

First up is the Organ and Pavilion- this is the largest outdoor Organ in the world, prettty cool.

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Next up is the picturesque view of the Japanese Friendship garden.

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Last time we did the museums but were pretty underwhelmed by them. This time we just decided to enjoy their exteriors, haha.

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Afternoon ice cream time!!! Really- is there anything better than soft serve?

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We found this spot kind of on the outskirts of the park near the zoo that was like a little art village. I don’t know how we missed this last time, but it was too fun!

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My mom and Pete have a travel wall in their home. She found the most beautiful little painting from the park to add to it.

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After the park we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. I can’t wait to share with you where we went!

Questions for you:

  • Favorite Super Bowl commercial? Ours was the Bud Light & Game of Thrones one! Also did anyone else find the half time show kinda awkward?! They are all so talented but I wasn’t vibin’ the Travis Scott/Adam Levine combo.
  • Since I am sooo behind on reading posts please tell me something going on in your life right now 🙂

xo <3

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San Diego: Part 3- An Italian Oasis, Museums, & Shout House!

HAPPY TUEEESDAY! It’s actually my Monday.. cause ya know, nurse life. But guess what? I get the first four hours off unexpectedly due to unit staffing! I’m thinking this is for the best considering I’ve already spilled oatmeal on myself after overflowing it in the microwave and burning my tongue on my coffee. It’s gonna be “that” kind of day so maybe it’s a good idea that we don’t place human lives in my hands until I wake up a bit ;).

Alas, we come to our last post from San Diego, but I think it may just be my favorite.

We left off coming back from the Zoo in Part 2… Hungry as a couple of bears.

Per recommendation from a couple friends, we had to try the infamous Cucina Urbana. I want to say straight up– If you have one meal to have in San Diego, and if you are a human being that has any kind of love for food, GO HERE. Besides the brunch (which is just in another food universe), this was hands down, our favorite meal.

It’s the ultimate tasteful experience the from the warm farmhouse feel to the contemporary aesthetics to the food itself.

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It was romantic, yet casual. All the food on their menu had Italian roots with unique twists.

We debated between the stuffed fried squash blossoms and the grilled octopus. We settled on the octopus (Can you believe it?!).. this was tremendous. I even liked this better than the octopus from Mister A’s, and I told DJ it was easily the closest I have had to Marco Prime’s (one day I will shut up about the octopus from Marco Prime- today is not that day). This octopus included speck + celery + cashew + lemon yogurt + salsa verde. Mmmmm mmmm!

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I am an odd bird, and I’m not a huge fan of traditional pasta… don’t kill me! If I have the option I would much rather choose a seafood dish or pizza usually over pasta. But the waitress convinced me I had to try this dish, and I would not dare go against the expert’s suggestion! This is the chili thread farfalle with tahitian squash + brussels sprout leaf + red cabbage + burrata cider fonduta.

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The verdict? Unbelievable. Seriously (I have my serious face on) one of the BEST pasta dishes I have EVER had. If I could go back to San Diego for one thing- I think I would grab this.

Anywho… DJ’s opted for their mouth-watering lasagna. There was not one little nibble left at the end of the meal.

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After, we grabbed the check and rushed back to the hotel so we didn’t miss a beat of Bachelor. Also, fun fact- Tipsy Crow, a local bar/dive, airs Bachelor on Monday nights. We considered going, but decided we just wanted to relax in the hotel room and get some room service desserts!

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The next morning, we walked to Gaslamp for breakfast. (This is going to be a comida saturated post).

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The Breakfast Republic was beckoning to us from our Yelp app.

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Every. little. thing. in this restaurant was paid mind to from the coffee mugs (Need) to the napkin holders.

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I had their mushroom & pesto benedict- mmmm mmm!

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Deej tried their pancake flight with oreo pancakes, traditional pancakes, and bacon pancakes… Take a look at their pancake menu! It’s amazing! I thought they were SUPER good, but DJ is a bit pickier 😉

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Also, to settle the whole debate with male/female restrooms in California, they just stuck the M right in the middle of the two restrooms. I thought this was hilarious… and actually ingenious… and interesting….

In the bathrooms they have on the wall backwards, “You look fine” so when you look in the mirror……

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You get a little pep talk!

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Even washing your hands is an experience, lol.

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We headed back to the hotel and got ready for the day to hit up the museums in Balboa park!

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First, we went to the Museum of Man.

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DJ might argue that this picture is pretty accurate at times, lol

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To be honest, neither of us were all that excited about it. It just didn’t seem to have anything that really, “Wowed” us.

BUT across the street is a new Cannibal exhibit, and that was very fascinating!

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Balboa is just stunning.

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We walked around Balboa park and hit up the Natural History Museum. Once again, not anything thrilled us too much. We decided we probably could have done without the Museums, but they were worth a shot!

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We couldn’t leave Balboa park without sneaking a peak at the Moreton Bay Fig Tree! It’s over 100 years old and one of the largest in California.

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We peaked into the Japanese friendship garden, but decided we were ready to head out!

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For our last evening we decided to spend it where? None other than the Gaslamp Quarter! We decided to see if we could snag a spot at Rustic Root, a desirable rooftop bar and eatery overlooking the heart of Gaslamp.

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This was a treat!!!! We decided to just pop in for some light apps, and the warm air and casual ambiance was the most relaxing experience.

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We devoured the salmon tartar with green onion , masago , sweet & spicy sauce ginger , papaya , avocado , and shiso as well as the garden flatbread with cherry tomato , jalapeno , roasted garlic , red onion zucchini , pesto , and manchego & jack cheese. So good!

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After our apps we had quite a bit of time before the last big event on our itinerary. We passed a Tim Cantor art gallery, and I couldn’t not stop in.

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I am obsessed with this picture below. (I knowwww I’m not supposed to take pictures of art, but I couldn’t help it).

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Alll of his art was impeccable. It blended reality with almost a carnival like, dream state. I spent probably twenty five minutes in the small gallery. DJ ended up just sitting outside, but I couldn’t get enough!

After, feasting with our mouths and our eyes, we headed to the Shout! House. If you are a San Diego native, you know this is the PLACE.

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We still had room for more food, so DJ had the wings and I was dying to try their Mac & Cheese balls.

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The show included Dueling pianos. We LOVE comedy shows and anything of the like. Even though it was a Tuesday night, the place ended up filling up quite a bit. I was in awe of how talented they were! If you need something to do in San Diego, highly recommend this!

After Shout! House, we walked back and swam in the warmed pool at the Westin. This was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. I love love love swimming, and swimming on a San Diego overlook in this beautiful city on a warm evening was perfection.

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We ended our last night with one more dessert from room service….

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In the morning, we ended with breakfast at the hotel. It was the BEST hotel brunch I have ever had. It was so good that I left a review for them on Orbitz. I know I already reviewed the Westin in part one, but I would say, it’s worth staying here for the breakfast buffet alone (it’s not free, but 100% worth it).

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They had beet and carrot juices that were so tasty.

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AND NUTELLA FRENCH TOAST

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One of my favorite parts of the breakfast was the goat cheese toasts. This would be a fantastic appetizer- toast, goat cheese, blueberries, and rosemary! I will definitely be recreating for a party or hosting.

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We packed up and said goodbye to the hotel <3

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Since our flight was in the evening we decided to spend or last couple free hours at Coronado beach again. We went and laid  (lied? lain? HELP!) out on the beach, reading, and falling in and out of sleep.

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It was a perfect way to end an absolutely perfect trip.

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So, what did we miss?! I would love to hear all your suggestions for next time we stop by this incredible city!!!! Thanks for sharing in these fun memories with us 🙂

xo <3

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