Where to Get Food at the San Francisco Zoo

Like many attractions in California, the San Francisco Zoo has excellent food options. Reflecting California’s vibrant food culture, the zoo offers eating options that feature local favorites and specialties, as well as more traditional grilled items and kid-friendly fare. 

Here’s where to find food at the San Francisco zoo, as well as some of my favorite food options.

Leaping Lemur Cafe

The Leaping Lemur cafe is the San Francisco Zoo’s signature eatery. Centrally located in a rotunda at the center of the zoo, the Leaping Lemur serves food cafeteria-style with a variety of stations offering

different food options.

The Stone Oven section offers pizzas, including artisan options with mushrooms or fancy cheese. The Grill section provided classics like chicken tenders and burgers, as well as hot dogs and fries.

Leaping Lemur also offers specials like a portabella mushroom sandwich, farmer’s market salad, and Kahlua pork.

The cafe also has beer, wine, sodas, treats like local It’s It ice cream sandwiches and more.

My favorite thing to get at the Leaping Lemur is the chicken tenders. They’re juicy, tender, and fantastic dipped in ranch or barbecue sauce.

Heads up: you might find a curious peacock joining you for lunch!

Station Cafe

Towards the far end of the San Francisco Zoo you’ll find the Station Cafe. It’s a pizza place, and also serves some snacks like pretzels and popcorn. You order at a window and then eat your meal at an outdoor picnic table with views of the bear exhibit.

The Station Cafe is named for its proximity to the Little Puffer, the San Francisco Zoo’s 100 year old steam train. Grab some pizza at the Station Cafe, and then head over to ride the Puffer next door.

Cafe Playfield

Cafe Playfield is located right next to the large kids’ playground area just to the left as you enter the San Francisco Zoo. It’s more of a snack shack than a full dining venue. The Cafe Playfield–as the name suggests–is adjacent to playground area. You can easily grab a snack and watch your kids play from nearby dining tables.

Food offerings here are fairly basic, but one of the signature items is a clam chowder served in a breadbowl. That’s a Bay Area classic, and the zoo says their chowder is sourced from sustainable and local ingredients. You can grab an espresso or ice cream here, too.

Snack Stands at the San Francisco Zoo

In addition to the San Francisco Zoo’s formal restaurants, there are plenty of options for snacking around the zoo. Most snack carts sell drinks, snacks like popcorn or churros, and Dippin Dots ice cream. You can find one near the Leaping Lemur, by the giraffe exhibit, and at several other strategic locations around the zoo. Some serve beer and wine, too.

There’s also an espresso stand inside the gift shop by the main entrance, so you can grab some caffeine for the drive back home.

Bring Food Into the San Francisco Zoo

In addition to dining at the zoo, you can also opt to bring your own picnic. No alcohol is allowed, and you can’t bring in glass containers. Otherwise, you’re welcome to pack a picnic. You can eat at the picnic tables by the Leaping Lemur Cafe.

Thomas Smith

Thomas Smith is a food and travel photographer and writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His photographic work routinely appears in publications including Food and Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and his writing appears in IEEE Spectrum, SFGate, the Bold Italic and more. Smith holds a degree in Cognitive Science (Neuroscience) and Anthropology from the Johns Hopkins University.

Leave a Reply

Back to top button