By Tony Reverditto
Many of our residents have been cooped up for months and are looking for a safe and entertaining outing. Well, nearby in Temecula there is a wonderful heartwarming diversion called The Sugarplum Zoo. This little gem, just a short drive away, is located in the heart of wine country. It creates the perfect therapeutic getaway for those quarantine blues.
Over three years ago, Greg and Lani Rager started off with a mission to combine two of their great loves— chocolates and animals! After providing their chocolates to some of the finest five star hotels in the country, they opened the most adorable chocolate boutique on the property. Now, all of their guests can enjoy their decadent handmade creations! The shop also includes their own honey, jams, handmade soaps and colorful farm fresh eggs from their on-site chickens.
Lani, with a heart of gold, gave us a tour of the scenic grounds. This included the interactive petting zoo with close-up looks at animals such as a camel, llamas, zebra, and dwarf horses. You can also make friends with a tour guide pig, a zonkey (a zebra-donkey mix), exotic birds, some rescues and many other farm and exotic animals. Lani explained that they are in the process of updating and expanding the zoo in the coming months.
One of their expansions, which took place last September, included opening the Bistro Café. The Bistro is operated by Sun City’s own Gracie’s Lunchbox. The dining experience at the Sugarplum Farm is called “Lunch at the Zoo.” Gracie’s owner, Chef Ally Cazarin and Heather, her excellent associate, serve delicious fresh lunches on their patio. These are available Thursdays through Sundays from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They are also creating a charming indoor dining room that will also be available for special events, parties, meetings, and the like.
The menu is a little different from her location in the Sun City Plaza, since it also has homemade pizzas and pretzels. The incredible “personal” pizzas are at least 10” wide. I had the Classic Pepperoni and my guest had the Seasonal Veggie. Both had homemade crust and sauce and were yummy.
Chef Ally serves four of her beloved sandwiches here— Turkey & Provolone, Roast Beef & Cheddar, Ham & Swiss and a Grilled Veggies & Pepper Jack topped with lettuce and tomato.
The menu also includes two different charcuteries, a soft pretzel version and a Mediterranean version. Both are adorned with cheese, meats, fruit, veggies and nuts. There are also salads and sides. In addition, a kid’s lunchbox is available. Hands down, the food is excellent and a wonderful addition to this new concept at the Sugarplum Farm.
If you plan to visit Monday through Wednesday, you can place a food order the day before. Your meal will be there when you arrive.
The Sugarplum Zoo is a fun-filled time for kids of all ages. It would be a joy for you, your kids and grandkids! All COVID-19 safety protocols are in place.
SUGARPLUM ZOO, CHOCOLATES and RESTAURANT, 39695 Berenda Road, Temecula. Website: www.sugarplumfarmoftemecula.com. Information & Reservations (for large groups): 951-239-8694.