SeaWorld San Diego Zoo Days: BBQ and Blah Food Festival

Welcome back DVN Nation!

Do I have a trip report for you today. Sit back and enjoy the next few minutes as we discuss the food from my latest trip back to SeaWorld San Diego to explore their Zoo Days: BBQ and Brews Food Festival.

Lets talk about the food first! The festival scene is not unknown to SeaWorld. Previously they have had some amazing Food Festivals in the past. This has included my favorite: The Seven Seas Food and Wine Festival. The Food Festivals pre-Covid showcased the food as an elevated dining experience worthy of a festival. This experience was far from that.

SeaWorld offered their 4 main dining destinations as the food service locations and all offered a different variety of food options. Here's the list and my views on each item I tried:


Shipwreck Reef Cafe

Grilled BBQ Cheeseburger Stone IPA BBQ Sauce, Tobacco Onions Vermont Cheddar, Pickled Aioli

******6/10 - Standard Theme Park Burger. The description sounds enticing yet really only a mediocre theme park burger with BBQ Sauce and Crispy Onions.

BBQ Brisket Slider Stone IPA BBQ Sauce, Tobacco Onions, Pickled Aioli

******6/10 - My serving was quite fatty and had a solid amount of sauce. The bun is the real winner here (I love my carbs).

BBQ Salmon Ginger Sesame Glaze Did not try

Hot Chicken Slider

Did not try


Mama Stella's

Beer Battered Fish & Chips Tangy Tartar Sauce, Lemon

*****5/10 Standard Fish and Chips. Nothing elevated about this to warrant a food festival dish.

BBQ Chicken Pizza Mozzarella, Red Onion, Cilantro

*******7/10 The interesting aspect of this was the surprise of having marinara sauce as well as the BBQ sauce. I would have appreciated more kick to the sauce or the option to add crushed red peppers to it.

Smoked BBQ Chicken Quesadilla

Sour Cream, Salsa, Guacamole

**2/10 - I was served a plain chicken and cheese quesadilla wish no BBQ sauce nor condiments. Very disappointing.

BBQ Pork Slider

Stone IPA BBQ Sauce, Tobacco Onions, Apple Slaw

While this was something I wanted to try, I was not able to try this as the wait time exceeded my patience and I wanted to leave.


Calypso Bay Smokehouse

St. Louis BBQ Ribs Slowly Smoked Pork Ribs, Stone IPA BBQ Sauce

****4/5 - First off I am not a fan of items on-bone. With that said, the tasting I received was very dry and lacked an abundance of meat.

Fried Green Tomato Slider (Vegetarian)

Pretzel Bun with Onion Ring, Pimento Cheese, Arugula

******6/10 - This was a very good attempt to be a fried tomato slider. The onion ring and fried tomato made for a very bread-y bite which was quite off-putting as one of the "healthy" options offered.

BBQ Quartered Chicken Smoked and Smothered in BBQ Sauce

Once again - I am not a fan of bone-on meat. With that, this was better with a portion that yielded some good portions of meat.

Drunken Shrimp Tacos Serrano and Coriander Salsa Verde

Sadly I am allergic to shellfish.


Explorer’s Café

Grilled Fish Tacos Al Pastor Red Guajilo & Pineapple Salsa

*1/10 - This was the worst dish I tried sadly. The fish was just too wet it felt like I was still eating it from the sea! The water from the fish mixed with the Salsa wetness made me spit it out and request a different item. I was offered a coupon for a replacement item. I will say this was the best guest service I saw this visit.

Stone IPA Chicken Wings

Did not try

Grilled BBQ Bratwurst

Ballast Point Caramelized Onions, Pickled Mustard, Pretzel Roll

***3/10 - The saving grace for this mess was the soft pretzel bun. The Bratwurst was not the best quality and was lukewarm. It also fell apart immediately.

Cali Hot Dog Mexican Style Street Dog w/ Caramelized Onions, Salsa Verde, Cojita

****4/10 - While not amazing, it was better than the bratwurst. The All American Beef hot dog and caramelized onions are complimented well with the Cojita cheese. Nothing fancy about the preparation though.

Each location also featuring a kids option of Mac and Cheese or Tenders & Fries.

You could also choose from alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Desserts and Side Dishes were also available for a taste or a la carte.

Come back next week and I will fill you in on all the shows and entertainment as well as an altercation regarding their physical distancing and mask wearing!

Until then,

Keep exploring and I will see you at another Destination soon!

Patrick O'Connor

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