Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo




Everyone has the “must-see” list when visiting the zoo: “Don’t miss the Pandas; be sure to visit the otters; whatever you do, check out the Elephant Walk!” The National Zoo’s on-site culinary team from dining partner Sodexo just made that list a little longer for visitors who come with an appetite. Discover these “must eat” locations at the National Zoo.


seafood sandwiches

Seal Rock Cafe: Located on the American Trail, the Zoo’s newest dining delight is modeled after a West Coast surf shack. Open seasonally along the trail, Seal Rock Cafe offers a variety of light fare including our soon-to-be-famous salad cones. As a commitment to sustainability, Seal Rock Café features certified-sustainable seafood when possible. Kids, don’t miss the PB&J on whole wheat bread!

Mane Grill: Near Tiger/Lion Hill you'll find traditional grill favorites like Angus burgers and all-natural, chemical- and hormone-free grilled chicken sandwiches and chicken tenders, kids’ meals, homemade soup, a selection of seasonal salads and deli sandwiches, as well as a good hot cup of Smithsonian Bird-Friendly Coffee.

Panda Grill - Italian Kitchen and Po' Boy Shack: Located near the bus stop and gift shop at Panda Market Square, visitors can enjoy pizza and po’ boys.

Panda Overlook Cafe: While overlooking the Giant Panda Habitat, enjoy a fresh-pressed panini with pastrami or smoked turkey, or one of the fatoosh salads, made with shrimp or grilled vegetables and tossed with feta, romaine, onions, cucumber, mint, and fatoosh dressing. Kids can’t pass up the peanut butter, banana, and honey firecracker. Panda Overlook also features a full barista featuring the Smithsonian Bird-Friendly coffee and freshly-made smoothies.

Hot Dog Diner: Located near the Reptile Discovery Center, Hot Dog Diner features all-natural and chemical-free beef hot dogs from vegetarian-fed cattle that salute D.C. neighborhoods like Foggy Bottom, topped with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing and the Georgetown, topped with bleu cheese and black pepper.

hot dogs with toppings

Other snack stands and kiosks are located throughout the park (hours vary by season) for snacks and beverages including: The Backyard BBQ featuring pulled pork sandwiches, our popcorn wagon, kettle corn, soft-serve ice cream, and other treat kiosks, like soft pretzels, funnel cakes and Dippin’ Dots. The Fresh Market Cart features healthy snacks including fresh fruits and juices. Heirloom Grill is an outdoor grill offering featuring fresh hand pattied angus burgers, sustainable grilled salmon, bratwurst, and hand tossed entree salads. Panda Feast Food Truck is one of our newest venues rotating some of the hottest street food trends like sliders, Philly cheesesteaks, bratwurst and crab cakes.

To order group lunches, please use the online order form here.