Sherman's Food Adventures: The Watering Hole (San Diego Safari Zoo)

The Watering Hole (San Diego Safari Zoo)

So you might be wondering why I'm writing about a restaurant located in the San Diego Safari Park...  Well, after much research before we went, apparently The Watering Hole was a recommended spot for lunch.  This outdoor cafe is so popular, I had to make Opentable reservations one month prior.  The real draw is the unobstructed view of their Savannah habitat with all of the animals roaming free.  But what about the food?  Well I'm going to get to that right now.

Luckily we did make a rez because there was quite the lineup.  However, that didn't mean much since we waited over 20 minutes just to be acknowledged after we sat down.  I know there are staff shortages, but our server seemed more interested in chatting with her colleagues rather than bringing us water and taking our order.  Completely unacceptable.  Once we did get our order in, it took another 30 minutes to get our food.  Yes, we did get a good view of the park, but it gets tiring when people are hangry.  I guess the wait was not worth it as our Nacho Queso Dip with chicken was laughable.  Sporting stone-cold tortilla chips, this was topped with luke-warm soyrizo queso, corn, avocado, pico de gallo, jalapenos, cilantro, green onion, cotija and chicken.  Now the actual ingredients were fine, but the fact everything was cold, made this very hard to eat. 

Viv stuck with something simple in the Watering Hole Caesar with Chicken.  In addition to the usual romaine hearts, garlic croutons and parm, this featured capers and grated egg.  Now you might've noticed I didn't mention the dressing.  Well, if you take a closer look, there wasn't much dressing to begin with.  Hence, it was bland while the chicken was cold and rubbery.  You might be wondering why we just didn't get more dressing.  Remember the lack of service?  We couldn't even flag down our server to get water (and at the start, cutlery), let alone more dressing...

My son went for the Pulled Pork Sandwich with BBQ sauce, slaw (he asked for it on the side) and beer mustard with pickles and house-fried chips.  He found this sandwich acceptable with plenty of pork that was somewhere in between dry and moist.  BBQ sauce was mild and there wasn't enough of it.  Bun was soft and held things together.  The side of chips were actually quite good being crunchy and nicely salted.

My daughter had the Open Faced Tuna Sandwich with bacon, sliced tomato and arugula on levain sourdough.  A good amount of melted jack cheese was on top.  This was also okay with a decent amount of tuna salad with red onion.  It could've used more salt though.  Sourdough was a little bit too chewy and cold, hence it was difficult to eat.  The red onion was sharp, so it dominated the flavor profile of the sandwich.

Now for myself, I had to wait and wait.  Oh and wait some more!  They forgot about my order.  Like who is running this place?  Fortunately, this was the best item we had in the Beef & Cheddar Sandwich featuring thinly sliced roast beef, horseradish sauce, beer cheese and hot sauce.  With plenty of beef, it was tender and moist.  Loved the ample amount of cheese sauce as it was salty enough with a bite from the beer.  Messy, but I enjoyed it.  However, this is the only thing that went right for this meal.  Service was non-existent (took another 15 minutes to get our bill and pay) and they even forgot my sandwich.  Food was mostly forgettable and almost laughable given the price.  Yes, the view is awesome, but not for 2 hours because that cut into our time at the park.  I would recommend you skip this and save your money for a wildlife safari to get up close to the animals.  We did and that was awesome.  This meal wasn't.

The Good:
- Outstanding view

The Bad:
- Crappy service
- Slow, slow, slow
- Food is mostly terrible and cold


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