Mar 03

Chat with Chef: Pacific Rim Flavors at Pineapple Pete’s

I think you’d agree that an island-themed restaurant is definitely right at home here at SeaWorld San Diego. In comes Pineapple Pete’s Island Eats and its revamped menu!

“A revamped menu?!? Does this mean that my favorite funnel cakes are gone??? NOOO!!!”

Relax. Breathe. The funnel cakes are still there. You can wipe the worry off your brow. Everything’s going to be OK. (Why do I feel like this sounds more like a conversation I’d have with myself? Because it is.)

Located between the iconic Skytower and fun Bay of Play, Pineapple Pete’s recently relaunched its menu to reflect even more of an island feel. “It’s a fresh and bold take on Pacific Rim flavors,” said Executive Chef Axel Dirolf over lunch.

Pineapple Pete’s still has your favorite funnel cake selections, but with an island twist. You can still order your classic funnel cake with glazed strawberries, or you can try the all-new macadamia chocolate funnel cake, both topped with vanilla soft serve. Like the combination of sweet and salty? Get the funnel cake with chicken tenders drizzled with maple syrup.

Now, with a name like Pineapple Pete’s, you can only guess the star ingredient Chef Axel is highlighting in the new menu. “Pineapple is in the name, so we figured, ‘Hey, why not?’”, he said. From the Asian chicken tender salad with edamame and pineapple salsa to the pineapple whip, Chef Axel’s fresh and bold approach to SeaWorld’s menu options is easy to see.

Plus, according to Pete (who the eatery is named after), Pineapple Pete’s uses “really seriously fresh ingredients.”

My fellow Foodies, he’s not kidding.


Pineapple Upside-Down Cake


Fresh fruits

The two superstars of the new menu for me was the Spam panini, also known as “The Original”.


The Original: Sweet pineapple, Spam, pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo and mixed greens

I know, right? A Spam panini! I’ve never heard of a theme park that’s done anything like this before, and that’s exactly why Chef Axel added it to the menu. “This is fresh and bold because no other theme park has done it,” he said.

Now, I’m a big bread person, fellow Foodies. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it. You can only imagine my delight, then, when I had this panini. The bread was super soft, yet it had just the perfect touch of crunch on the outside. I could definitely tell that my meal was prepared with care for high quality and excellent taste, and that’s something that we take pride in here at SeaWorld.

The bread is just the beginning. The next layer was pillows of pepper jack cheese. I love cheese, but have never been a big fan of pepper jack. Well, fellow Foodies? This panini is the one that I’d make the exception for. It’s THAT good.

I was about a quarter through my sandwich when Chef Axel noticed that the pineapple ring my meal came with sat untouched. I told him honestly that I’ve never been big on pineapples as well. (OK, Kat – what’s wrong with you? And you call yourself a Foodie??? I know, I know.) Chef Axel then let me on an insider tip: The key is to cut the pineapple ring in half, one for each of your panini, then add it to the sandwich.


The pineapple is in the panini. I repeat; the pineapple is in the panini. Copy that.

I am so glad I did, because – again, not a big pineapple person, but it made such a BIG difference. The sweet, thick and juicy pineapple balanced the saltiness of the Spam so well that you just want to keep eating it. (And that, I did.) It was extremely delicious, and it made such a BIG impression on me that I am now confident enough to say that I most possibly unearthed a sleeping adoration for pineapples. Yep. I’m converted.

But it doesn’t stop there, fellow Foodies, because the next superstar was ready for me, unbeknownst to, well, me.

And now, may I introduce, the pineapple with pineapple whip:


The Pineapple with Pineapple Whip

Remember how I told you I was converted? Yeah. Totally finished all of this on my own. (Don’t judge me.) I seriously felt like I was in a tropical paradise. It’s so hard not to! I’m still in awe of how utterly amazing this pineapple whip is. It’s definitely made it to my list of must-haves to try here at the park. Plus, I felt really cool walking around SeaWorld with a pineapple. Just sayin’.

Pineapple Pete’s new menu options include salads as well:


Asian chicken tender salad with edamame and pineapple salsa


Crunchy shrimp salad with Tajin and mai fun fried noodles


Islander salad with fresh strawberries, crispy wonton strips and feta cheese

Pineapple Pete’s has my vote, palm trees down. Its fresh and bold approach on Pacific Rim flavors guarantees that your meal will make you feel like you’re on a staycation on a tropical island instead of San Diego.

Stay tuned for the next Chat with Chef!