We spent Thanksgiving this year with Virginia’s family. Much of the time was spent being together at her aunt’s house, though we managed to do a fair amount:
- We had dinner at Fleming’s in Santa Clara
- We visited the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose
- We visited the Stanford University campus, including the bookstore, and downtown Palo Alto
- We walked to a nearby park with a brand-new playground that was perfect for our niece to run around and play
- We drove out to Carmel for a family dinner at the Hyatt Carmel Highlands Big Sur
We also unfortunately caught colds at the end of our time with family.
We said goodbye to everyone after breakfast and drove to San Francisco. After dropping off the car, we walked to what we thought was our hotel. After an exchange with the staff, we realized that not only was this the wrong hotel, but our hotel was next door to the rental drop-off. We laughed about it on the walk to the right hotel, mostly because we both had this Xtranormal video in mind (note: we were far better behaved).
We arrived at the correct hotel and checked in without a problem. After dropping off our bags, we walked down the street to the Buena Vista Cafe for lunch. It was exactly what I wanted — soup, a patty melt, and coffee — and what I didn’t know we wanted — two rounds of Irish coffee. We hung out for a while before returning to the hotel to rest.
We had dinner with old friends at their home. They picked up food from a nearby Thai restaurant, which was excellent. After dessert and conversation, we headed back to get some sleep.
We woke up early to have breakfast at Eight AM, an excellent spot near our hotel. We were seated immediately, and the food, coffee, and service were all excellent.
Suitably fortified, we walked a few blocks to the cable car terminus to take it down to Market Street. We’d never ridden the cable car because we’ve always stayed near where we were generally going. We got caught in the rain on the way over, but managed to get inside and to a seat before it started pouring.
We arrived at Market Street and walked a few blocks to the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA). They happened to be showing their triennial exhibit of commissioned works from the Bay Area. They’ve been doing this for over twenty years, and each iteration reflects the Bay Area of its time. We saw a lot of fascinating art; even the pieces we didn’t like could be respected for their intent and ambition. After walking through, we hung out in their welcoming lobby space to have coffee and figure out our next moves.
We decided to have lunch at The Bird, a nearby place specializing in spicy fried chicken. It was both great and fast, perfect to its setting in downtown SF. After lunch, we took our still-ailing selves back to the hotel to relax before dinner.
About an hour before dinner, we headed to Union Square to both look around and visit the Apple Store. Virginia had been interested in an Apple Watch, but trying them on helped convince her that it wasn’t the right device for her. We then walked around the square and its large Christmas tree and menorah before walking north to dinner.
Dinner that evening was at Sons and Daughters, a Michelin-starred prix fixe restaurant. We opted for the wine pairings (generally a smart call with a long menu) and settled in for a sensory extravaganza. Every part of the experience was outstanding, and we fell asleep happy.
Our first thought of the morning was to return to Eight AM for breakfast. We were a little slower to get moving though, so we ended up having to wait maybe fifteen minutes for a table. It was worth it for the baked eggs and coffee.
We then walked down Columbus toward downtown, taking our time because of our colds. Thankfully, the weather was just right — sunny and warm, but not too warm — for a long walk. Being from Chicago, we’re not used to actual hills, so that was something of an experience.
After about 45 minutes, we reached our destination — the famous City Lights bookstore. It’s exactly the kind of bookstore we like to visit, full of nooks and crannies to explore and new books we didn’t even know existed. We stayed for at least an hour until it was time for food.
We walked down the street to Cotogna, our lunch destination. I had read a little about it, but we were nonetheless wowed by the food, especially for a lunch menu. We very much enjoyed our appetizer and main courses, and were too full for dessert.
We thought about getting coffee, but decided to simply head back and rest before dinner. We had a late-ish reservation and had plenty of time to relax.
Dinner was something of an adventure, mostly in waiting. The Morris specializes in meat and wine, two reasons we decided to go. We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation and were asked to wait at the bar. No problem. We head back there to find there’s virtually no room to stand. We get a single seat for Virginia and I stand next to her, trying to stay out of the way of the servers. I’m not feeling well and this just isn’t helping.
Ten minutes go by, then twenty, then thirty. To their credit, the staff did what they could to compensate us. They offered us a small appetizer with our cocktails, on the house. They also kept checking with us. Unfortunately, we ended up waiting about 45 minutes for a table. By this point, my mood had gone from bad to worse, to the point where I snapped at Virginia when we discussed the menu. Finally, we ordered food and Virginia asked for their reserve wine list. I picked something off of it, it was decanted and poured, and we started to relax. The food was excellent; I just wish it hadn’t been so draining to get to that point.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well. We made it back in time to get some rest before our early flight home the following day.