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May 20, 2007 06:03 PM

Picnic or lunch on way to San Diego Zoo

We'll be going from the convention center to the zoo. Thought it would be nice to pick up a box lunch near the convention center and picnic at the zoo. I hope the zoo allows people to bring in food. I don't know how we're getting to the zoo, so any ideas, we don't have a car.

Any thoughts on where to pick up a picnic lunch near the convention center or on the way to the zoo?

Or, is there any great food (for people) at the zoo, maybe we should just buy lunch there.


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  1. From the convention center take the trolley to the American Plaza station and get off. Walk north up India street for 3,maybe 4 blocks. On the east side of the street will be a small food store that I *think* is called something like World Market. They have a delightful selection of cheeses - especially Spanish, unusual crackers, meats, interesting chocolates and wine. There is a small deli counter and they will make sandwiches to go.

    European Market & Deli is a couple of miles north of the zoo on Park Blvd. and that might be an option too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: DiningDiva

      DD-- when is the last time you were in World Market? I was there a couple weeks ago for the first time and I'll not be back. The deli case was stocked fully with cheeses that were postdated - some brown and hard (and they weren't goudas). They did have a decent assortment of mustardsn and a few jams, but really nothing you couldn't find at any major supermarket. I had heard good things about this place and was very disappointed.

      1. re: mimosa

        It's been several (3 or 4?) months since I was there. The last time I was there they had some amazing Spanish and French cheeses and were pretty free with the samples. None of them were exhibiting any sign of being old or past their prime.

        They also had some excellent proscuitto and pancetta. There was a small assortment of specialty salads in the deli case along with some marinated items such as artichokes, olives and peppers. I picked up a bottle of peach vinegar that I've been using in viniargrettes; it is actually quite lovely; soft and fruity without being overly acidic.

        Darn, I'm sorry to hear they've gone downhill. Sound like a change of mangement or ownerhsip and that they don't exactly have a handle on things. Bummer..

    2. Also on India Street, one more block North from World Market is Solunto Bakery and they make some great sandwiches. One more block North and Filippi's Pizza could make you sandwiches to go...and right across the street- Pete's Meats makes these home made sausage sandwiches that are *wonderful*.

      The Zoo has a 'fancy' restaurant- Albert's. Menu was online at the Zoo website last year; haven't looked this year. There are some nicer places in the Zoo also, but, as you are trapped there, prices are higher.

      I guess a cab or very long (uphill) walk can get you to the Zoo. Technically 3 or so miles from downtown.

      1. If you're from out of town, attending a convention and probably a little pressed for time, I would suggest you just take a cab and go to the Prado restaurant in Balboa Park for lunch before walking over to the zoo, which is also in Balboa Park.

        At the Prado, you can have a glass of wine with your meal, enjoy the beautiful architecture and scenery of Balboa Park and enjoy a nice (although not spectacular) lunch in a wonderful old Spanish building. They also have a gorgeous outdoor seating area.

        I've eaten lunch in the zoo itself at its many casual restaurants and never found them to be very good, but you can get a basic burger or wrap there. I don't know if they let you bring food inside the zoo, but they might say so on their website. The zoo takes quite awhile to get through, so you may want to leave at least 3 hours to wander around.

        If you go to, you can find info on the Prado restaurant inside the park, and also a map of the park, including the zoo and all other park attractions, places to eat, etc. You'll see that you can also buy lunch inside the park from food carts or various other places, such as the Japanese Tea Garden where you can get sushi or other Japanese specialties. There are lots of options right in the park but outside the zoo. Balboa Park is a beautiful place and definitely worth a visit. Enjoy your time in San Diego!

        1. I'm sorry...but World Market???

          Yes, there is food at the zoo. It's edible, but not very good. And it's expensive, although the money you spend does help subsidize conservation efforts. They do allow you to bring food in...but no bottles or straws.

          The Prado at Balboa park is great - good food (albeit a little pricey, but not painful), great drinks (their pisco sours are a nice change of pace) and a beautiful setting. I don't think they do "to go" well, though. And it's probably a little fancier than you're looking to do for a zoo day (or not). But it's walking distance.

          A great, unique choice for a munchie lunch is TASTE cheese shop in Hillcrest. They are right on University - on the bus line - and have a wide variety of super-fresh artisan products. They carry salumi, olives, crackers, chocolate and best of all, a great selection of cheeses - freshly cut - not wrapped for weeks in plastic and sitting in an open cooler like the stuff at World Market.

          Sorry, not to bag too hard on World, but if you're going to do the cheese and cracker thing - do it right!

          Tip for the zoo (I'm there every weekend with my little guy) - get the bus pass and take the EXPRESS bus (not the tour bus). It lets you off and on at numerous stops around the zoo, so when you get tired of walking and just want another perspective, catch the bus and sit back. You'll still get the "tour", but with on/off priveleges all day, which is niiiiice. Bring your own water - it's like $3 for a small bottle there - and lots of sunscreen. Go early. It gets brutally hot and the animals like to nap mid-day.

          4 Replies
          1. re: 1HotTomato

            1HT: Friends took us to the Prado a couple of days ago and I noticed there were many families there with little ones. I was surprised how family friendly the place was. We really enjoyed our lunch there. I found the service to be attentive but not intrusive. the food was good; not inexpensive but also not outrageous. I would go again if I were at the park. It helped that our friend made a reservation for our party of five; this might be less critical on a weekday. Beautiful surroundings were a plus. A great place to celebrate my birthday; although my friends did not realize it was my birthday until our lunch was almost over!

            1. re: 1HotTomato

              Tomato, DD is referring to the Global Market Village located on India St (as she mentioned). Not to be confused with the Cost Plus World Market, as you may be thinking.

              1. re: sdnativa

                i took my 16 month old to the Prado and it was great. i had the bowl of black bean soup and the roast beet and goat cheese salad. we had the chocolate souffle for dessert. I also had a delicious Patron cadillac margarita. very nice place and atmosphere. Food at the zoo is crappy and expensive.

                1. re: sdnativa

                  Thank you sdnativa. As I indicated originally, I wasn't sure I had the name of the place right, it's one of those places I can walk right to, but don't remember the actual name of the place. It is Global Market Village. Thanks for clarifying that.

              2. Try the GRAB AND GO for one of their Sandwiches. They are located near many ofthe trolly locations, easy on and off. there is one infront of City HAll. The westgate has a little cafe that has a nice election of salads and sandwiches that can be packed. Also at the same City Hall stop.

                Sushi Deli has a great many things to go as well that could be taken a short distance. Sushi Deli is on Broadway, near the City Hall Trolley stop as well.