On a recent weekday afternoon, two thirty-something girlfriends met up at 3 Square Cafe, Hans Röckenwagner’s modern Venice restaurant. They scored one of the several sidewalk tables. As they perused the menus, the third member of their party watched passers-by. That would be Joffrey, a Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix, who was chilling under the table.
Welcome to the world of dining with dogs, which has become a little easier, thanks to new legislation that gives restaurateurs in Los Angeles County the option to permit dogs on patios, so long as Fido doesn’t have to promenade through the restaurant to get there. But before you show up at your favorite bistro with your furry best friend, it pays to call first. The legislation ultimately leaves the decision of doggies or no doggies up to the restaurant. Or you can visit one of our favorite dog-friendly spots. Some are well known among local dog owners. Some might surprise you. At all of them, you will eat well. And your (well-behaved) dog is most welcome.
3 Square Café
The two silver bowls of water next to the host stand proclaim the dog friendliness of Hans’ Röckenwagner’s hip eatery. And since most of the seating here is on a covered patio or sidewalk tables, diners have their pick of where to park. As the name suggests, 3 Square serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The apple pancake, dessert masquerading as breakfast, is required. It’s a golden, plate-sized beauty with crisp edges and a soufflé-like center chock full of baked Granny Smith apple slices. The sandwich sampler, a trio of minis on various freshly baked breads, is perfect for those who have a hard time choosing. Don’t forget to visit the neighboring bakery, where you can pick up fresh pretzel rolls, tarts and scones.
Aroma Coffee & Tea
First, a warning: at lunchtime, there is almost always a line wending down the sidewalk at this casual but charming bakery and café. You order at the counter, where you’ll be tempted by a display of foot-tall layer cakes, gooey pecan rolls and lattice-top pies. Good luck resisting. Ask for a bowl at the counter for your pug, the breed of choice here from our very unscientific study, and they’ll gladly oblige. Salads are oversized and served in big white ceramic bowls. We like the grilled salmon, which you can also get on focaccia with a generous smear of lemon dill sauce, tomato slices and lettuce. The garlic fries are unapologetically garlicky and drizzled with fresh herbs fried to crisp. Well worth the calories, you can smell them approaching.
It may be a cliche, but it seems that restaurants with French ownership or French leanings tend to welcome well-behaved canines. Café Midi, which shares digs with the housewares boutique at American Rag Cie, is no exception. Water bowls are happily delivered to the dozen or so sidewalk tables. As for people refreshments and eats, the oversized menu is enormous. There are 45 salads alone. We like the omelettes, especially the chef’s omelette full of asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms. Nuggets of feta and sliced kalamata olives provide a welcome salty surprise.
Possibly the most romantic Los Angeles restaurant where you can dine with your dog, Cliff’s Edge is easy to miss. The only indication it exists is the valet outside and the steady stream of hipsters. You walk through a parking lot, pass through the oversized Moorish doors, and you’re in an enchanting backyard escape. Tables are covered in dark purple linens and butcher paper, and banquettes feature colorful oversized pillows. Brunch seems to be the big doggy draw. While mom and dad tuck into Nutella-stuffed French toast and just-right Bloody Marys, dogs chill under the shade of a majestic Ficus tree.
One of the best restaurants to open in 2011 was Cooks County, where husband-and-wife team Daniel Mattern (formerly of Axe and Ammo) and pastry chef Roxana Jullapat (a veteran of Bastide and AOC) turn out consistently delicious, unfussy, seasonally driven fare. We feel a bit sheepish recommending the burger, but aficionados take note: Mattern tucks a thick but manageable, ultra juicy patty into a brioche bun, topped with good cheddar cheese, grilled onions and creamy aioli. The sidewalk tables were once used exclusively for brunch and lunch, but are now available during dinner service, too.
We tend to think of Dominick’s as a good bet for red sauce Italian. And they do a swell meatball sandwich, not to mention excellent calamari with spicy tomato sauce and our favorite, fried potatoes covered in garlic and lemon. What we forget is how pretty the covered brick patio is. With warm bulbs strung overhead like holiday lights, votives on the tables and the fireplace ablaze, the light is gorgeous. Expect a young hip crowd, Nina Simone on the sound system, and the occasional canine companion.
From the street, this Sunset Strip restaurant looks like a quaint private cottage, what with all the vines and foliage. Inside, the vibe and look is so casually cool, it feels like the set for one of those moody black and white Guess ads. The surprise: interesting, well-executed fare. We had a robust beef broth with fresh spinach and a quenelle of pesto cream, and a delicious shaved octopus salad. Bonus: these are dog people. We were told that the owner loves his own dog, Dudley, so much, he’s naming his next restaurant (in New York) after him. Manager Jeremy Adler has been known to offer doggy guests a choice of flat or sparkling water. The back patio is off limits. But the entire front area, a bit of simulated country with faux grass, a burbling fountain and twin olive trees, is dog friendly.
The Pub at Golden Road Brewing
When you see the big barn-like blue, red and yellow buildings, you have arrived. The blue one is the brewery. The yellow is the pub, which has its very own “Doggy Deck,” complete with water bowls and plaid doggy beds. It’s a small space, just four tables. But who's complaining when you can drink a Hefeweizen that was brewed just a few feet away? Talk about local. Beer is the thing here, you'll find 20 or so on tap at any time, including a half dozen from Golden Road. (Note the bartenders are as generous with samples as the See’s Candies ladies.) To eat, there are various sandwiches on baguettes, salads and fritters. But our favorite thing on the menu might be the Frisbee-sized pretzel, burnished brown and served warm with searing mustard. Spend the extra buck for a side of pimento cheese for dipping. Happiness.
The name LAMILL is synonymous with a divine cup of coffee. So smooth and creamy is their latte we forgo our usual sugar. But the kitchen turns out some great eats, too. Breakfast, served well into the afternoon, is especially popular. There are about a dozen outside tables where you can partake of warm brioche donuts, fluffy ping pong ball size dreams that come straight outta the deep fryer, warm, dusted with powdered sugar and served with Madagascar vanilla cream. For those in a savory mood, there are soft-scrambled eggs with steak or smoked salmon. The all-day menu features a perfect frisee au lardon salad.
While we love the chic, white on white dining room, there are worse things than eating caviar outside. And if you think a chichi place like this would have nothing to do with dogs, you’d be very wrong. While you tuck into the Egg Royale (soft scrambled egg topped with vodka-infused whipped cream and caviar), your doggy can chill under one of the oversized umbrellas. Chef Giselle Wellman has a deft hand with pasta, too. Consider her squid ink fettuccine with yellow coconut milk curry, or the seasonal glorious corn soup, a hint of summer, poured tableside into a bowl in which a tiny salad of tomato, avocado and crab is nestled.
The Raymond Hotel is long gone. Fortunately, the caretaker’s cottage survived. Today it’s an uber charming restaurant and bar that takes its name from the historic property. And it feels worlds away from the hubbub of Old Pasadena. A row of tall, feathery evergreens shelters the spacious patio, a civilized spot to indulge in well executed Cal-Med fare. And because the owners are dog people, dogs are most welcome. Friday lunch and weekend breakfasts are the most popular for the dog set. Benedicts, which come in several iterations—we’re partial to the smoked salmon—hit the spot. Lunch features a tasty fork-and-knife Caesar (a la the original whole-leaf Tijuana preparation) served with hanks of warm grilled sourdough.
3 Square Café
1121 Abbot Kinney, Venice, 310.399.6504
Aroma Coffee & Tea Company
4360 Tujunga Ave., Studio City, 818.508.0677
148 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, 323.939.9860
3626 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.666.6116
8009 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.653.8009
8715 Beverly Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.652.2335
8752 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 424.239.1630
The Pub at Golden Road Brewing
5410 W. San Fernando Rd., Los Angeles, 213.373.4677
1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, 323.663.4441
321 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.271.6300
1250 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626.441.3136