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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All that and Dim Sum!

Ooooh ohhh we’re halfway thereeee, ohhhh livin’ on a prayer! I had four posts to get out this weekend (maybe five), and we are officially halfway to that goal. Thanks for spending a bit of time out of your day to read.. I know y’alls lives are busy and it always blows my mind that any of ya care about what we’re up to.

So after we returned from Texas we slept till the cows came home on December 28th. We were just whooped from all the time changes & random sleep schedule. When we finally arose from our hibernation it was time for breakfast. There wasn’t a ton in the fridge, but I was able to whip together a recreation of the mushroom toast I had from Toast in San Jose (or at least I tried!). It was pretty good, but yeah, not quite the same 😉

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We spent the rest of the day cleaning… I’m talking deep cleaning… I’m talking intensive deep cleaning! We like to do a massive clean-out every few months, but this is the largest we’ve done in a while. We scrubbed every dern inch of our apartment. It felt sooo fresh after.

On December 29th after church we went to San Francisco to meet up with Amy and her boyfriend for Dim Sum.

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I have never had Dim Sum before, but it’s been something I have been eager to try for months. City View has a great reputation as one of the most authentic and delicious (yet reasonably priced) Dim Sum places in SF.

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We went around 1:00 pm and the place was packed. In order to get your name on the list you literally have to chase down the lady with the notepad to have her put your name on the list. I’m not exaggerating at all- you have to be actually aggressive to get your name on or you won’t get seated. As soon as I could finally get to her I said “Mack, four” (for four people) in a stern voice. We waited probably fifteen minutes just to even get our name ON the list. It felt odd being that pushy- but I guess that’s the name of the game as that is what everyone else was doing.

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We probably waited about 40-50 minutes total- not too bad!

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When we were seated, ladies started coming around with carts with multiple steaming items on them that grab the attention of your eyes and your nostrils. You just point to what you would like and they place it on your table. They keep tabs on what you order so you just point and then chow down!

Here is the low down:

We started with bao buns. Now this is what I expected in trying bao! It was absolutely delicious. If you are a carbaholic like me, you would lovee these.

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Pekking Duck: I tried a tiny nibble- very savory & full of flavor.

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Scallop + Shrimp skewers: Maybe my favorite part of the entire meal- I could have ate a bowl of these. SO good.

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Steamed spinach + oyster sauce: Fine, a nice change of flavor- but just tastes like steamed spinach.

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Turnip cakes (your left)- This was my second favorite dish I think! Gosh, these were so good. I didn’t know what to expect, but these were packed with flavor & I really enjoyed the texture (think almost like tofu in texture). On the right are the fried crab claws- they were good, naturally, but a bit too fried for my liking.

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After this first round, it was dumpling time!!

First up- soup dumplings! Very good.

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Then shrimp dumplings– a staple of dim sum- also yum!

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Wild mushroom– Mmmmm mmm! Terrific.

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Pork and peanut– From those that tried it they said they were good with a strong peanut flavor

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Chicken siu mai in the bottom right- DJ said “pretty good” haha.

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The pot stickers were great too from the little nibble I tried.

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BBQ Pork Buns– I just tried the actual bun part with a little of the sauce, and it was a flavor so tremendous it’s hard to describe! This was overall the favorite of the meat eaters. The bun was sweet, fluffy, and warm- yet it nearly melts in the mouth. If they were stuffed with veggies I could eat these all day every day every meal. They were phenomenal.

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Egg Custard Tarts– We were not fans. They didn’t have any flavor at all?!

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Our first dim sum experience was a success!! If you have had dim sum I would love to hear some of your favorite dishes.

We grabbed our leftovers to go (none of that tasty cuisine was going to go to waste!) then DJ and I walked around China Town a little bit

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The artwork around downtown is always fascinating.

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We then went to The Fairmont to witness the famous Gingerbread House that they have set up in the lobby every holiday season.

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It was just magnificent!

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Can you believe this things is real?!

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It was such a beautiful day. I told DJ I wanted to frolic around a little longer. He always playfully laughs at me when I use that word.

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But if this isn’t frolicking I don’t know what is!

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I just love some of the store fronts in SF. There is so much history and culture in this city. It’s intricately woven with so much detail and stories on every corner. Not to get sappy, but SF really does have a special place in my heart.

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We walked around Union Square a bit before heading back home.

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Questions for you:

  • I just finished up the Golden Globes- did anyone else watch? I love award shows- I especially love seeing the dresses & outfits, seeing reactions, and hearing speeches. Also, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga were stinking adorable!
  • Bach is on tomorrow– who is watching?! I’m actually excited for this season even though it’s been neigh-sayed quite a bit.

Have a wonderful week!

xo <3

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