This week we’re venturing into something that’s a bit different for us. While we are primarily a blog focused on theme parks and the great food finds within them, we want to take this week to write about something a bit different but still in the same realm: Our local San Antonio Zoo! This past weekend the zoo hosted a now annual event called Croctoberfest- A German themed beer and food festival. Over the last year and a half or so, our zoo has really stepped up their game on trying to come up with new and exciting events and promotions to help raise money and keep San Antonio locals entertained! They hosted Jungle Boogie nights every Friday night in the summer, which provided live music, happy hour specials, and food trucks. They also hosted zoo la-la, a Taste of San Antonio event with samplings from over 50 premier restaurants in town. We, unfortunately, missed those events so we wanted to make sure to attend Croctoberfest. And we are so glad we did!
Standard admission was $15 per person, but they also offered a VIP admission price of $50. We weren’t sure which route we really wanted to go, because we weren’t sure if VIP was truly worth it. We ended up getting the standard admission ticket figuring that we wouldn’t end up spending quite that much inside…we were wrong. The VIP ticket came with 15 samplings of beer, which sounded worth it until we saw the sampling size. (It was literally one sip inside a small plastic cup). So, we would’ve ended up needing to purchase more beer after the samplings. They also provided a sample size of different German foods. This is where it would’ve probably come in handy for us since we ended up spending about $35 on food alone.
Overall, though, I’m okay with us not purchasing VIP. Sure, we spent a bit of money on this evening, but overall we’re glad to help out our zoo. The more money being spent by people, the more new additions we will see! We’re already loving the animal enclosure updates, ride and event additions, and new animal experiences that the zoo has added, so we can only imagine what things will look like in the next 15 years!
Upon entering the zoo, we were greeted by employees in German clothing, a German band playing music, and a few beer stands. We were excited but also worried that this would basically be the entire event. That didn’t end up being the case at all! The event stretched across almost the entire park and offered at least 20 (but probably more) beer and food stands. Every stand offered slightly different beer options than the last, making sure you could try different things as you walked on. All of the animal exhibits were open as well, which was a pleasant surprise.
Now, since this is a Theme Park Food Blog, we don’t want to focus too much on the animal exhibits. However, we would like to highlight the newest coming attraction: The Jaguar Walk. The exhibit already offers exciting up-close views of the jaguars and their two newborn cubs, but this new revamp looks amazing! It will feature a skywalk for the animals to walk overhead of guests passing by. We saw something similar in the San Diego Zoo and it was really neat, so we’re excited to see the concept making its way here!
This exhibit lead us to our first food stand (we’d already grabbed beers at this point), which was a Brat on a Bun. This bratwurst topped with sauerkraut was the perfect German dish to get the evening started. It got us pumped up and in the festival spirit. Not to mention we also tried the Rahr and Sons Oktoberfest beer first, so we were definitely setting ourselves up for a well-themed German evening. The brat was tasty, and a great size for sharing! We carried it with us and continued on our way.
Next, we walked down a bit and turned to the right, which seemed to be a pretty busy area. We have dubbed this the “main street” of the festival because it had about 8 stands set up, the zoo carousel, the main stage, and the Beastro restaurant, which was the designated VIP area. We tried a couple more beers and even met a snake! A zoo employee was standing in the middle of the pathway letting guests pet a snake and ask questions. It was definitely something we weren’t expecting to do!
The standout beer this round was the HazelNut Brown Nectar Rogue Ale. If you’re a fan of brown or amber ales, this was a good one! Brittany loves darker beers, especially with notes of hazelnut, coffee, or chocolate, so this was perfect!
Like mentioned before as well, this “main street” area is home to the Zootenial Carousel. The hand-crafted carousel was created by Chance Rides as a new addition for the zoo’s 100th anniversary celebration. What makes this ride so unique is that it features wild animals rather than the horses that most are used to seeing. Some of the animals are modeled after local Texas wildlife, some are mythical creatures, and some are reflections of the zoo’s very own inhabitants! It’s a cute ride, and it was a new and exciting addition to the zoo.
After walking past the main area, we wandered into the bird section of the zoo. Usually, this is admittedly not our favorite part, but there was a very large beer stand set up and several picnic tables to sit at. So, we grabbed a couple drinks and sat and relaxed for while. Parker tried the Lemon and Ginger Radler by Karbach Brewing and Brittany had the Southern Pecan by Lazy Magnolia Brewing. The Lemon and Ginger was right up Parker’s alley. It had a cider taste to it, which, if you recall from previous posts are his favorite! Brittany liked the Southern Pecan but it wasn’t her favorite.
At this point we figured it was time for some more food. So, we walked up the hill to the top of the zoo and hit up a few more stands. Luckily, there were several stands set up at the top; so, we got to try a few things. First, we had the potato pancakes. These were Parker’s favorite! They were essentially small hash browns served with a side of applesauce. It may sound like a strange combo to anyone unfamiliar with German food, but it actually works quite well. Brittany is not a big fan of hash browns in general, so she wasn’t crazy about them, but her opinion is a little biased. Parker actually loved them so much he almost got a second serving, but since we had so many things left to try Brittany talked him out of it. (Sorry)
The top of the zoo is also home to its newest permanent bar: Longnecks! An appropriate play on words considering it’s located next to the new giraffe exhibit, this bar and grill features some classic bar food options and several beers on taps as well as frozen drinks. We decided to stop by and grab another drink, a Stella Cider for Parker, and continue on our way.
By now, we had made our way across pretty much the entire zoo, so we decided to head back to the main area and see what was left to try.
We ordered the Brats Bites and the Pretzel with Cheese. They were both good, but the bites stood out to us. Though they kind of reminded us of cocktail weenies, we still really liked them. The sauce was good, and the portion size was large. The pretzel was also a pretty decent size. There were two different size options to choose from. The larger pretzel was $10 and the one we ordered was $5 and the difference didn’t appear to be that big. Also, who really needs a pretzel that huge??
Overall, the night was a lot of fun! We love the idea of the zoo adding all of these new adult-themed events in the evenings, and really trying to breathe some life back into it! Croctoberfest was
well themed, thought out, and executed. It has left us hopeful for the events of the future!
Great job, San Antonio Zoo!
Oh, also we got free Whataburger cookies on the way out! So, bonus points for sure!!
Until next time, auf wiedersehen!
Parker and Brittany Ruhmel- Lovers of all things food and theme park related!