SF Staycation Part 1: Lands End, Sutro’s, & Harbor Court Hotel in SF!

Hey, everyone! I just finished up watching The Oscars- all I can say is, I have a lot of movies to watch! I mainly watch to see the fashion and “people watch”, and this year did not disappoint! I think my favorite was Marina De Tavira’s gorgeous gown. Anywho- On February 15th, DJ and I ventured into SF for a staycation, as I mentioned at the end of the last post. We had about $80 with Orbitz bucks to put toward our hotel and giftcards, so we decided to make it a weekend of knocking stuff off the ol’ bucket list. I planned our whole Friday night around going to Sutro’s at the Cliffhouse. This is supposed to be one of the most spectacular restaurants in SF. It is built upon an actual cliff overlooking the Bay. I planned our dinner right at sunset to watch it out the window, but it was supposed to rain all evening. I tried to talk myself off a cliff after seeing the promise of rain from the weather app, “It’s not like we’ve never seen a sunset before! The food is still supposed to be insanely good. It’s like the REAL experience of the bay if it’s cloudy! Actually, I’m glad there won’t be a sunset!”. DJ couldn’t help but laugh at my immediate externally processed effort to make myself feel better about the plans not going exactly as I envisioned, haha.

Even though it was cloudy it was still boldly beautiful. The serene views of the Bay never cease to amaze me.

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As soon as we parked the sun started peaking through!

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The clouds parted letting in bright blue skies and sun rays that covered all of Lands End. The views were simply breathtaking. Luckily, we had some time to walk around the entrance before going to the restaurant itself.

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This is easily one of my all time favorite spots in SF. You may remember last year when I was in a pretty bad place I came down here on my own and just soaked up some nature and fresh air to get in a better head space. Below is the remaining ruins from the Sutro Baths. It all burned down in a fire in 1966. The history is pretty fascinating- if you are interested you can read about it more here. (yes, I’m citing wiki although I’m in a research course-hehe ).

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Turns out we were gonna get some kinda sunset after all!

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We popped into the Visitor Center and briefly peaked at the different kitschy souvenirs and flipped through 100 Places You Must Visit in SF books to kill the last few minutes until our reservation.

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Below is a picture of the original Cliffhouse, where we would be having dinner that evening.

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Here we go!!

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Sutro’s is located downstairs. On the top floor is a Bistro restaurant with a bit more casual feel. On the way down the stairs there is a picture of the original Sutro Baths on display.

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We checked in with our Open Table reservation and were seated within a few minutes.

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This might be the most stunning restaurant I have ever been in. WOW. The pictures do not do justice.

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If you peak closely in the picture below you can see us in the reflection of the mirror.

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We started with some lovely wine & some fluffy, warm, sourdough bread to start. The butter was my favorite part- it was served with volcanic salt.

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We then split some oysters. They were delicious— suhh fresh! I joked that they probably just went out to the bay to grab them per order… then realized that was a hard- core cringy dad joke…. why am I this way…

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For my main dish I had their truffled ricotta ravioli with roasted shiitake, cauliflower, parsley shallot soffrito & parmesan-vegetable essence emulsion. This was just wonderful. It was almost too salty for my liking, but still very yummy.

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DJ ordered the star of the show! Pictured below is the sautéed scallops & wild shrimp scampi with Israeli saffron couscous, pine nut, and parsley jus. WOWZA. THIS is the dish to get!! I’m thankful he generously shared a few bites with me 🙂

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And while we didn’t have a traditional sunset, this was still one of my favorites <3 This was a dinner we will never forget!

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We passed on dessert at the restaurant because we wanted to enjoy some dessert in the hotel after our food settled & while watching Ozark. We wanted to get Zanze’s Cheesecake, but we were a half an hour past their closing. We found a place in Little Italy that had great reviews- Stella Pastry.

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It was tons of fun walking through Little Italy at night- we haven’t explored that area much, and it had such a fun buzz of energy in the air. I’d love to go back sometime & try some of the restaurants there in the evening!

Stella was very much a hole-in-the-wall… our kinda place! It was quite unassuming from the outside, but the meaningful decor and kindness of the employees immediately made it a true gem.

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We ordered their patented-recipe-famous Sacripantina, Black and white cake, and Tiramisu to take back. (Pictures later in the post).

We then went to sign into the Harbor Court hotel located on the Embarcadero. We were able to get the night for less than $100. That is really a steal for downtown SF.

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This boutiquey hotel was awesome- definitely surpassed my expectations! I loved the decor & special touches.

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They even had a little coffee shop in the lobby, and served free coffee in the morning. Ya know I took full advantage of that.

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Some other notable points if you are looking to stay here- they don’t have a gym, but there is a YMCA next door that you have access to & every night they have a wine hour from 5-6 pm in this gorgeous little homey community room! There also is a full snack bar in the lobby for purchase too.

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The only downside was it took us over 45 minutes to find parking. It was $60(!!!) to valet, so we were determined to find something cheaper. DJ ended up dropping me off to check in while he continued to look, and finally he found something about 0.5 miles away using the Parking Panda app. I managed to grab the photos above in the meantime.

The room was so cute!! Online people complained about the sizes of the rooms, sure they were somewhat small, but I loved the cozy feel. Also, it was super quiet, I’ll take that over our upstairs neighbors clanking around any day (oh yeah, they never moved out- that’s a whole other story- haha). Needless to say, it was a much welcomed respite.

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I also couldn’t help but laugh that Ozumo was the option for room service. You might remember this is one of my all time favorite restaurants in San Jose from here or here. I rave about this restaurant to anyone who will listen. Best sushi of my life- hands down. MMmm! We didn’t order anything, but I was comforted to know it was there, lol.

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I also loved the bathroom!

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They even had a little makeup towel- what an adorable idea, right?!

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Time to pop open the pastries!

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We nibbled on each of them while watching Ozark.

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Our thoughts — they were fine. The sacripantina (their most popular item) was DJ’s favorite. It almost had a creamy vanilla flavor. I would have thought this would be my favorite, but it was too “cakey” and crumbly for my liking. I actually preferred the tiramisu! I enjoyed the strong coffee flavor and moussey-ness of it, but probably wouldn’t order it again.

We slept so well and woke up excited to have a full day ahead of us in The City. In the morning of February 16th we woke up around 7:00 am to get ready for the day. We were out of the hotel by 8 am and hit the town! To be continued…

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Question for you:

  • Do you ever do Staycations?

xo <3

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Kels & Kenz Take on the Bay: Part 1!

***Disclaimer: We are not responsible for any uncontrollable stomach grumbles you may experience nor are we responsible for any cravings that may occur upon reading this post. If you are pregnant, or suspect you may be pregnant, there may be sushi triggers. Enter at your own risk, and we highly recommend bringing a sandwich***

This summer is truly one for the books! One of my greatest friends from college, Kelsey, was able to visit & prance around the city with me for a few days last week. You may recognize her from our wedding, but sadly we haven’t been together much since (she went to Uganda our last semester of college!).

I have never done sooo much in a short period of time (Nor am I sure I have ever ate so much, lol). Kels and I set out to knock off things from both of our bucket lists (This was, after all, her first time in CALIFORNIA, y’all!)

It’s so easy hanging with this chica because she is sooo go with the flow, and down with anything & when we’re together it’s just non-stop laughs mixed with great conversation. My heart is full <3 And sooooo are our stomachs. We also have the exact same taste in food, so we split everything the whole weekend which helped cut down on costs a bunch and allowed us to try a variety of nibbles! (and by nibbles I mean large meals that we are are calling snacks- deal?!).

We made the most of every second, and although she was only here for five days- it may take at LEAST four or five blog posts to recap it all. So let’s get toooo itttt!

We haven’t seen each other since the summer of 2016! She landed at around 12:20 at the Oakland Airport on Friday, July 27th. After exchanging the biggest hugs ever, we drove toward downtown SF to get a week of all time started. (wish Deej could have joined, but he had a homestand basically the whole time she was here, I took notes so I can take him back to these places though!).

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B Star, a Burmese inspired restaurant, was our first stop. People rave about this spot & swear it is a must try in SF. Their tea leaf salad has been on my foodie bucket list for a while. They also have a sister restaurant- Burma Superstar, that has a similar menu too.

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It was a tucked away little place, but the inside was so cute.

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We ordered the noodle salad, tea leaf salad, and samusa soup.

The noodle salad was light and refreshing- but nothing to write home about.

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The tea leaf salad brought a flavor that we’d never experienced. It was good, but sooo salty. Like almost too salty to enjoy for me. We ended up mixing the noodle and tea leaf and that combo was delicious; they balanced each other well.

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Now, the samusa soup was outstanding. This vegetarian soup has falafels, lentils, cabbage, potatoes, and jalapeños. This is, dare I say, the tastiest soup I have ever had. I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life. It was SO good. I am going to take DJ back just to try the soup!

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Time to see the famous Painted Ladies!! Would ya jus look at um’! Lookin’ dapper as ever, my friends.

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Everywhereeee you look, everywhere you go, there’s a heart, (there’s a heart)!!!! Ready to feel nostalgic?! You can peep these little ladies in the back of the intro here.

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LOVE HER!

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There is also a cute little park in Alamo Square if you have little ones.

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I decided since we were so close I would take Kels through Haight-Ashbury. The houses lining the walk down are a sight to witness! The level of meticulous attention & love poured into these front steps is evident. This one was reminiscent of the 16th Avenue Steps we visited about a month ago.

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Time to step back into the 60s!

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This is too funny…

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After Haight-Ashbury, we zoomed to Fishermans Wharf to be tourists doing touristy things.

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We ventured through Fisherman Grotto’s area, passed the sea lions, then into Pier 39’s hub! Kels is left-handed, so I was excited to show her the Lefty store.

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And what dooo you know? We were hungry again! Kels loves oysters, and I was trying to love oysters, so we looked up the best oysters in the area. The reviews for Sotto Mare were phenomenal, so we gave the joint a go.

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They are known for their world famous cioppino, but we still had a dinner planned, and wanted just some light, refreshing oysters. (But if you do venture here, make sure to try their cioppino! It’s now on my bucket list).

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We tried 3 East coast & 3 West coast oysters with the bloody mary mix shooters with an oyster in the bottom of the glass. So was it all up to the hype???????……

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YES!!!!!!!!

^ That was a bit dramatic , huh? Remember when we used to do that in chain mail back in the day? Okay totally digressing…

I started thinking I might be fond of oysters at Sam’s Chowder House, and these even surpassed that! The pairing with the cocktail sauce was a perfect touch too. So…. your girl officially LOVES oysters! Now I just need to get DJ on board.

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After slurpin’ down the half shell magic, we walked to Ghirardelli Square for our free samples of chocolate (yes, just go into the building and they are always handing out free samples), perused the niche boutiques, and drooled over the olive oil shop options.

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Ricky was on to something!

No matter how many times I am here I can’t help but snag a shot of the Powell & Hyde cable car (you can also see it in the full house intro video if you watch closely 😉 ).

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We found this interesting little street with books hanging from the wires too in North Beach. I had never noticed this before, and was curious behind the “why”…

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I found that it is an art installation called Language of the Birds. The books actually light up at night. There are words on the sidewalk too. It’s pretty cool to see the pictures of it at night.. you can find them here!

In the evening, we did the hour trek back to San Jose area and had a hankerin’ for some Bay Area quality sushi. There are cravings, and then there are sushi cravings. And lucky for us, there is a new place that opened recently on Santana Row called Ozumo.

I prayed it would be up to par since we were both walking in blind & I wanted to make sure Kels got some dang yummy sush while she was here (considering it is also her favorite food group).

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It looked brand spankin’ new! It had the chic, contemporary, Japanese restaurant vibes that are pretty popular in downtown SF, but I haven’t found any restaurants like it here… until now, of course!

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We decided to sit right at the sushi bar so we could watch the sushi being made. When I say this was the best dining experience we have ever had, I mean it. The service was impeccable. The atmosphere was light, warm, and fun, but not stuffy (like many of the row restaurants can be), the staff was superbly friendly and attentive, and the sushi was the greatest sushi we have ever had.

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The sushi chef gave us complimentary octopus to start our meal (yes complimentary, that was absolutely spectacular)…. we were being treated like royalty. I was like, “are they mistaking us for someone important?!” haha. Kels said that lately she has been on a streak for getting things for free, so we chalked it up to her being our good luck charm 😉

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I was craving wakame, but they didn’t have plain wakame on the menu. We decided to be adventurous and try their personal take on a seaweed salad- the Kaiso Salad. This included the red & green tosaka seaweed, wood ear mushroom, green onion, sweet chili dressing. I am thankful they didn’t have plain wakame, because it would have been a shame to miss out on this dish! It was perfection. So tasty, so flavorful, and so light.

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Then for the best part of the meal (which is saying a LOT), we had their shacho roll with tuna, salmon, scallop, crab salad, takuwan wrapped in soy paper, and lobster sauce. Umami flavors for dayyyyyyyyys.

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BEST SUSHI ROLL OF ALL TIME.

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And we also split the tremendous tuna tataki with thinly sliced seared black pepper encrusted tuna, truffle oil, ponzu, grated ginger, and micro cilantro. Heaven. Heaven straight on a plate. We ate our food soo slowly because we didn’t want it to end. Every single nibble was savored.

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We tried the cheapest red on the menu, and it was a perfect accompaniment with the meal- although a bit too generous of a pour to finish it all up.

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Happy Happy Camper with something in her teeth. (Sign of a fab meal- amiright?)

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Final touches- the bill being presented in a Thank You card <3

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Ozumo, we laud your restaurant & your food! Thank you for an unforgettable dining experience. We will be back!!

We walked around the row for about a couple hours. We even witnessed some random motorcycle show out of the blue.

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We decided we weren’t quite ready to turn in for the night. There was one other place on my bucket list to knock off and believe it or not, we decided to do dinner number two at around 10 pm…. whoops! It’s not like we were starving, but we were like, “we could eat!” know what I meaaan?

Pizza Antica is always packed out the door, but since it was very late at this point, we were able to get a seat right away.

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We split their fantastic margherita pizza. (Their bread is great too!).  I’ll be bringing DJ back to try this ‘za. He really loves a flatbread margherita. Since we were satisfied after about a piece.5 each, we had leftovers that would be perfect for nibblin’ the rest of the week.

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And finally, after eating about seven full meals in one HALF day, we called it a night. Yes, that was all one day folks. I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed. I’m going proud, yes definitely proud. It’s an investment in the best of memories, ya know? 😉

Questions:

Oysters- Yay or nay?

Did you watch Full House growing up?

xo <3

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