Today, lunch is within an 800-foot radius, as the vulture flies, of lowland gorillas, hippos, giant pandas, and some of Africa’s big cats. We are at Albert’s, the fine dining restaurant high in the trees within The Heart of the Zoo. Distinct sounds of the animals are muffled by the rushing two-story waterfall adjacent to our balcony.
Albert, a silverback lowland gorilla, lived at the zoo for nearly 30 years and was undoubtedly its most famous resident. He arrived in San Diego in 1949 at about four months of age. Eventually he was moved to the then new open air gorilla grotto, located where his namesake restaurant now stands.
We order Chef Charles’s Pacific Rim Seafood Stew (with Responsibly Sourced Seafood) and Creole Jambalaya, with hand-cut pappardelle noodles. In keeping with the zoo’s environmental and animal themes, we order Albert’s Organic Margatini (Casa Noble 100% Organic Tequila) and a Woodchuck Hard Cider. After lunch, we stroll along the arboreal walkway, getting only glimpses of the restaurant.
The farther away from the waterfall we walk, the more noticeable the sounds of the animals become, and we spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying the magnificent animals.