Visitors to SeaWorld San Antonio may not think of it as a culinary destination. But this family-focused parks and entertainment venue is that and more. Set against a backdrop of Beluga whales, white-sided dolphins, and exotic birds, SeaWorld has five professionally catered restaurants to please any palate.
So when youngsters decide it’s time for a break from breathtaking rides such as the Shamu Express, the Great White, or the Steel Eel, a popular choice is the water-centric Dine with Shamu restaurant. Situated in the exclusive Shamu area of the vast park complex in an oasis usually restricted to trainers and animal care specialists, Dine with Shamu is a gastronomical treat for both children and adults.
Here, the harmless Beluga whale Shamu and friends perform up-close and personal for their young audiences. The proximity of the whales to the dining tables gives kids memories they’ll never forget, and neither will their parents. But just because children may want to dine only on French fries and chicken strips doesn’t mean adults have to.
This off-the-beaten path venue offers an all-you-can-eat buffet of chef-prepared foods. While children divide their time between eating and staring in wide-eyed wonder at performing killer whales, adults dine on a smorgasbord of delicious entrées. Selections include shrimp, mahi-mahi, chicken Alfredo, Italian meatballs, barbecue ribs, grilled sausages, and more. There is also a huge array of traditional salads such as potato, macaroni and the like. Delectable desserts include homemade fruit pies and chocolate mousse. The cost of this special dining experience for a family of four is $100. But due to its popularity, advanced reservations are necessary.
Executive chef Scott Ronczkowski explained that “Being the executive chef for SeaWorld San Antonio allows me to have a catering team in the kitchen that produces the food for “Dine with Shamu” and all other catered events held on our property.”
Harbor Market is the latest restaurant to open on the vast San Antonio SeaWorld property. California sea lions are naturally found in the west harbor, so visitors dining on an array of specialties will note the indoor and outdoor theme paying homage to California’s west harbor.
“This brand new restaurant is unlike anything SeaWorld has ever had before. Harbor Market features café-style service, giving guests the option to choose among four different cuisine styles, including Asian, hamburger sliders, freshly-prepared sandwiches and a Southern-style menu,” adds Ronczkowski.
Shamu’s Smokehouse is a third dining choice at which both parents and children can dine on mouthwatering barbecue. A kid’s meal consists of corn dogs, chicken tenders, and fries. But carnivores can feast on a variety of slow-smoked, hickory-flavored meats, which are then cooked over sweet mesquite on an open flame grill. It’s no wonder that barbecue beef brisket, pulled-pork, baby-backs ribs, chicken, and other meaty delights have earned the reputation for being the best barbecue in San Antonio, according to SeaWorld visitors.
“I am responsible overall to ensure the integrity of the standardized recipe, and ensure there is no ‘execution drift’ in its preparation and quality,” says Ronczkowski, a Chicago native who transferred from SeaWorld in Orlando to head up culinary venues at SeaWorld San Antonio and its adjacent water park Aquatica.
If adults can tear children away from One Ocean, Azul, and Clyde & Seamore’s, three spectacular water-based shows where sea lions and killer whales splash willing audiences, Rosita’s Café is an Italian food-lover’s paradise. The ambiance is flip-flop and shorts-style casual. But the food choices are wrapped in their Sunday best. Delicious homemade entrees include a variety of pasta and attendant sauces like mama used to make. Freshly baked pizzas are topped with sun-sweet tomatoes and Italian cheeses. Salads, desserts, and fruits are also within easy reach at Rosita’s self-serve café.
Rio Loco is a popular and thrilling water ride, but when vacationing families just want to watch others have fun, they can kick back and enjoy the show from Rio Grille. This casual rest stop offers some of America’s favorite cuisine at family-friendly prices. Adults and children alike can dine on a traditional one-third or two-third traditional bacon burger, jumbo chili cheese dogs, chicken sliders, burger sliders, grilled hamburgers, and chef’s salads. Kid’s meals include hot dogs, cheeseburgers, potato chips, and grapes for dessert. Drinks run the gamut from soft drinks to iced tea to milk.