Perched on the headland above the cliffs just north of Ocean Beach, on the western side of San Francisco, California, The Cliff House has made a legend for itself as the “Best Restaurant with a View”.
The very first Cliff House was built on 1858 when a a prosperous ex-Mormon elder, Samuel Brannan, bought for $1,500 the lumber salvaged from a ship that foundered on the basalt cliffs below.
via Golden Gate
On 1863, after the Gold Rush the second Cliff House was born. Real estate developers, eager to make more money, saw Lands End and its unparalleled beauty as a new place to develop. The second Cliff House was built as a fashionable resort for the wealthy.
The Cliff House was hard to reach from the city and only wealthy citizens could afford to travel all the way out the remote resort, making it a very exclusive place. For many years, the guest register bore the names of three U.S. presidents as well as prominent San Fran¬cisco families such as the Hearsts, the Stanfords and the Crockers.
After a few unfortunate turn of events and years of downturn, the Cliff House was bought by Adolph Sutro on 1883. A new version of the Cliff House was made with improvements on ventilation and drainage. This new Cliff House was managed and made prosperous for over 31 years until it was completely damaged on Christmas Day, 1894 when fire destroyed the original wood-frame Cliff House.
Six months after the fire completely destroyed the Cliff House, Sutro rebuilt it spending over $75,000 for a grand, eight-story, castle-like structure with turrets, decorative spires, fanciful roof dormers and an observation tower. Sadly, the elegant building was once again destroyed by a fire on September 1907.
The Cliff House Today
After Adolph Sutro’s death and a year after the destruction of the Victorian Chateau, the Cliff House was managed and rebuilt by Sutro’s daughter Emma Sutro Merritt. The new building was fashioned in a neo-classical style that was completed within two years and is the basis of the structure seen today.
The Cliff House became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1977 and now features two restaurants, the casual dining Bistro Restaurant and the more formal Sutro’s.
The Bistro, a local’s favorite, serves San Francisco classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy your omelets, sandwiches, salads, and famous popovers and clam chowder in the same magnificent views the rest of the Cliff House enjoys.
The chic and modern Sutro’s offer an award-winning wine list that compliments the seasonally changing menu, which focuses on organic produce, locally and sustainably harvested ingredients, and the freshest, highest quality seafood.
Whether you’re planning for a laid back gastronomic experience or a fancy dinner, the world famous Cliff House will be sure to provide the quintessential San Francisco experience!
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