For the location of the first Dillon's, Rich Dillon and George Valverde chose a 1940s Thunderbird Road structure that a writer for the Phoenix New Times described as "a cute, converted old house that looks like grandma's parlor." Since then, they've opened four more eateries in locations that are as appealing as the signature flame-kissed and slow-smoked meats served inside. Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium's shark tank flanks the dining room of Dillon's at the Wildlife World Zoo, and the boat-accessible Scorpion Bay location opens onto the waters of Lake Pleasant so that diners can chortle as fish attempt to develop democracy. Live music and karaoke lend additional social vibes to the smokehouses.
Located inside the Wildlife World Zoo and Aquarium, Tiburón serves deep-sea treats with courtside views to a 60,000-gallon shark tank. Tiburón's menu features succulent seafood creations made with sustainably harvested fish. The New Orleans shrimp ($12.95) comes sautéed in Cajun spices in a beer-butter sauce, while the firecracker calamari ($9.50) sizzles in a spicy tomato coulis and roasted-poblano aioli. The East Coast is well represented with rich, creamy lobster bisque simmered with jumbo crab meat ($6 cup, $8.50 bowl). The entree choices are equally aqueous and ambrosial—a grilled Arizona pecan-crusted trout ($20) is served with wild-rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables in a lemon-butter sauce, while the shrimp tortellini ($22) comes with fresh asparagus and a choice of alfredo or marinara sauce. Diners who suffer from acute cases of crustacean commiseration can opt for land-based dishes such as the chef's famous roasted-duck tacos ($12.95) or a steak option ($28–$29) with a choice of sides. Each menu selection is paired with a wine or beverage recommendation.
The nationally acclaimed pizzasmiths at Papa John's hand-toss dough in preparation for a miscellany of fresh meat, locally sourced veggies, and all-natural sauce. The menu sets out more than 15 toppings ($1–$1.50), such as pepperoni, black olives, and jalapeños, which adorn four sizes of original thin pizza ($7+) bedecked with fresh tomato sauce and cheese that unites the diverse ingredients much as a squabbling family is united by a love for pizza. Preselected topping combos ($11–$18) save stomachs from indecision; The Works proffers three types of meat, three vegetables, and olives, and the hawaiian barbecue chicken calls for a truce in the eternal fruit-veggie food fight with the addition of pineapple.
The giraffe smells a food pellet. He pokes his head just over the railing and starts sniffing for the guest holding his treat. Not far off, some brightly plumed parrots land on another visitor?s arm, spying the tasty apple slices in her hand. Though you can?t get this close to every animal at Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium?such as the lions and the wild Larry Fitzgeralds?the keepers do facilitate animal-human exchanges as often as possible with the zoo?s more than 600 species. They also give visitors novel views of some exhibits by welcoming them aboard the Skyride, the Australian boat ride, and the African train safari. The adjacent aquarium adds to the zoo?s impressive animal collection, housing more than 75 exhibits and enough water to start a new earth colony.
Further attractions include a children?s petting zoo, daily shows, and a baby-animal nursery. At the 15-acre Safari Park, guests stroll or ride the tram through animal habitats, where they can spy on species that live on the other side of the equator. Wildlife World also features two restaurants where guests can feed themselves and their own helpless progeny.