To Do: ZooFari

The National Zoo's annual benefit showcases tastes from over 100 local restaurants.

Food (and animal) lovers: don’t miss ZooFari 2007, a casual gala evening at the National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave., NW) this Thursday, May 17. Many Washington benefits boast a handful of local chefs offering samples. At ZooFari, 115 restaurants will take part–that translates into quite a feast.

There’s something for every palate: Fine dining destinations such as Citronelle, 2941, and Vidalia are on the list, as well as neighborhood favorites like Hank’s Oyster Bar in Dupont Circle and Bethesda’s Grapeseed. New-ish hot spots like Farrah Olivia and PS7's will be there, and even power-dining haunts like the Palm and BLT Steak are represented. Expect tasty finger food from each station, including grilled shrimp and edamame wontons with lime dipping sauce from Kinkead’s chef Todd Schiller and mini tenderloin sandwiches from chef John Koltisko of the Caucus Room.

The silent auction offers several more gourmet treats. Get inside scoop over a five-course wine dinner at Dino with National Zoo director John Berry. Or bid on dinner for two at the Inn at Little Washington. There’s also a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zoo and two round-trip first-class tickets to the destination of your choice on American Airlines. Remember – auction purchases merit tax write-offs!

Work off all that food on the outdoor dance floor, where bands will perform live jazz, R&B, acoustic guitar, and big band. All proceeds from ticket sales and the silent auction support the National Zoo. The 2006 ZooFari raised $435,000 and funded the arrival of new African lions, improvements to the Elephant House, and finishing touches to the new Asia Trail. This year's theme, "Savanna Soiree," celebrates the Zoo's many African animals and research in Africa.

Tickets are $125 for FONZ members and $175 for non-members. Click here to order.