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Dining at the San Diego Zoo

VIDEO: Zoo food is more than just cheeseburgers and fries

We’ve come a long way, baby. Zoo food has, that is. The San Diego Zoo offers much more than the traditional burgers, fries and pizza. While those foods are still available, the Zoo’s Executive Chef Chris Mirguet offers a variety of cuisines ranging from Italian to Thai.

Sabertooth Grill
Elephant Odyssey

With a commitment to local and sustainable, the Sabertooth Grill serves fresh All-American fare. Salads are served with locally grown greens, cheese are California-produced, and other fresh vegetables and proteins are locally sources when possible. The result? A fresh, filling meal you can feel good about eating. Even the plates are environmentally-friendly; they’re made from potato starch, and the plastic containers are made from recycled water bottles. Don’t miss the Chili Con Pavo, a three-bean turkey chili served in a hearty bread bowl. The California white cheddar macaroni and cheese is creamy and satisfying. Parents, there’s also local beers available. Watch the video above for a look at Sabertooth Grill.

Albert’s Restaurant
Lost Forest

For those looking for a sophisticated meal at the Zoo, Albert’s Restaurant is the place to visit. Based on local and responsibly sourced ingredients, this full-service dining establishment offers open-air patio seating and a full-service bar. The menu is a mix of pastas, fish, salads and other American fare. Menu items range in price from $6 (green salad) to $26 (grilled prime rib-eye steak with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables). A special children’s menu keeps the youngsters happy, and Zoo guests may rent the restaurant for private events.

Special for the summer, Albert’s offers discounts on drinks 3-5 p.m. daily through September 5—a perfect opportunity to rest your legs from walking around the zoo and relax with an adult beverage. Certain menu items are available for $6 during this time.

Canyon Café
Asian Passage/Panda Canyon

Does a visit to the Panda exhibit have you thinking about some Asian cuisine? Transport yourself overseas with a meal at the Canyon Café, which serves Pan-Asian dishes. Try a teriyaki rice bowl with sautéed chicken vegetables or beef, or nosh on Pad Thai or some edamame. For those craving classic American fare, there are also the requisite cheeseburgers, and other sandwiches available. Adults can enjoy an Asian beer such as Sapporo or Tiger, as well.

Treehouse Café
Lost Forest

This restaurant has a multi-leveled patio to resemble a treehouse, which means you’ll have some great views and breezes with your meal. The food is Italian American—lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti and meatballs, Italian sausage sandwich, etc. A few sandwiches and salads round out the menu. For the kiddos, there are Kid’s Meal packs that include animal cookies, apple slices and a beverage in a souvenir cup. For the adults, there’s beer available on draft.