The Dish on Doggies
Cypress Inn gives locals a guide to the town’s best dog-friendly restaurants.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Only in a small community where champagne buckets double as doggie bowls and customers can order filet for the four-legged love of their life would beef-flavored lip balm seem plausible.
Here’s how it happened: A Forge in the Forest staffer manning the dog patio smothered this man’s best friend with treats – then kisses. The animal’s enthusiastic reciprocity drew this from my best human buddy seated next to us: “Whoah. Are you wearing beef-jerky lipstick?”
Yes, this is Carmel, where dogs rank right around royalty, and the special treatment ranges from hugs and kisses to special menus and mid-meal lap privileges.
The luxurious lap treatment happens at the canine capital of Carmel, Cypress Inn, where any given night can present a happy mutt menagerie – and where the leadership decided to unleash a list of good dog-friendly destinations on their many puppy lovers.
“As people came to hotel, they want to have dinner with their pets,” says manager Nancy Slade. “Restaurants caught onto this, so they let us know when they are offering dining [with dogs] now. For some we go check it out to see how we like it, and a lot we added after a guest told us. So it’s very organic how it started.”
The list includes around 20 restaurants. “We’re very picky,” Slade says. “We only send people to the best or they are not on the list.” Here’s the list, with additional notes assembled by the Weekly food hounds.
Bahama Billy’sBarnyard Shopping Center, 626-0430
Options for the little fuzzball in your life include hamburger patties and chicken strips; the sunny patio doubles as a top spot to hang with Spot and a prime place to tap a very happy hour (half-price everything).
BasilSan Carlos and Ocean, 626-8226
At this brand new little eatery with upscale designed sippers and a strong seasonal menu, dogs are welcome on the heated patio, and water is available throughout the day.
Bistro GiovanniSan Carlos between Fifth and Sixth, 626-6003
While one BG employee conceded the place isn’t that great of a “dog restaurant” compared to the other Giovanni restaurant family members, this Bistro still has a very pleasant Carmel Plaza patio for doggies and their owners to enjoy on a sunny day.
Café StravaganzaCrossroads Shopping Center, 625-3733
Pizza, pastas and popular Mediterranean items attract humanoids. A chance to lounge on the sidewalk-style patio out front means they don’t have to leave their ruff riders in the car post-hike.
CasanovasBetween Mission and San Carlos on Fifth, 625-0501
The storied establishment with the very popular, family-style Italian and 30,000-bottle-strong cellar has two different areas for dogs: In front of the restaurant (where there are a few tables), and down on the Havana Terrace. Dog biscuits are free and, according to one staffer, “The chef has no problem making fresh organic chicken breast for dogs.”
Christopher’sLincoln Between Sixth and Fifth, 626-8000
At this intimate, classic Carmel venue, the off-street outdoor garden patio is very Fido-friendly, featuring a fountain, flowers and ivy. Doggie water available upon request.
Club JalapeñoBetween Mission and San Carlos, 626-1997
Dogs are permitted on the small four-table patio at this (spicy) hot spot, where a bucket keeps Ginger and Goober hydrated.
Cypress InnLincoln and Seventh, 624-3871
The granddaddy of them all is the rare joint that lets the doggies in (and doesn’t confine furry friends to patio-only privileges). Enjoy a cocktail with canines in the lobby before moving on to the bar-restaurant, Terry’s Lounge, where dogs are allowed in one of two seating areas.
Da GiovanniSu Vecino Court, Lincoln Avenue, 626-5800
On the heated patio this venerable Italian-Mediterranean foodie favorite, water is available – regular and sparkling – “special accommodations for large or special-needs dogs” are extended, and treats such as chicken or owner’s preference available from chef upon request.
From ScratchBarnyard Shopping Center, 625-2448
Staff says the garden setting patio and its doggy dish are very popular after a romp on the beach and Tuesday farmers markets. The robust breakfasts keep folks coming back.
Forge in the ForestJunipero and Fifth, 624-2233
This perennial Weekly readers poll winner for Best Outdoor Dining has a separate, slightly more spartan area for dogs than the popular primary patio, but that space has its own heat lamps and fireplace, and there’s a dog menu available with entrees ranging from chicken strips, New York steak and ground sirloin burgers, to less pricey biscuits and kibble. Staff members also enjoy doling out free treats.
GrasingsBetween Mission and San Carlos on Sixth, 624-6562
The heated courtyard behind the restaurant is surrounded by shops and enjoys around seven tables. Individual water bowls and treats are shuttled to assembled menagerie. According to manager James Tolentino, some owners have ordered filets for their best friends. “No sparkling water has been requested yet,” he adds, “but it’s only a matter of time.”
Hog’s BreathEastwood Building, between San Carlos and Dolores north of Sixth, 625-1044
The mural-and-brick-rimmed patio at this famous Carmel-by-the-Sea fixture styles pooches and their peeps with five fireplaces and lots of sturdy grill options. Water is provided and tails wag when the chef preps chicken breast.
Jacks London’sSu Vecino Court between Lincoln and Dolores, 624-2336
This longtime local watering hole (that boasts a surprisingly strong menu for a place known for its drinks) has a front common courtyard available for dogs during the daytime. Waiters and bartenders provide water and free dog biscuits; the honorable bulldog Sir Wellington, who often hangs out at neighboring Steven Whyte’s studio, offers a glimpse of how beautiful strategically placed wrinkles can be.
Le Coq D’orOn Mission between Fourth and Fifth, 626-9319
Here they serve German, French and American food – everything from confit to scampi – to their upright customers (Wednesdays and Thursdays there’s a nice $20 four-courser) and free little “doggie burgers” to the whiskered clientele slobbering on the patio in front of the restaurant, where a heater warms five tables. “The dogs drag their owners to us,” says owner Annelore Parsons.
Lugano Swiss BistroBarnyard Shopping Center, 626-3779
At the Fondue Capital of the Peninsula, a unique doggie menu peddles dog food, steak, chicken (and much more), and a heated patio offers the backdrop to enjoy it. (The doggy-style bacon gravy fondue is still in the development stages.) Water and canine appreciation come standard.
Nico’sSan Carlos south of Ocean, 624-6545
The pooch-appropriate back patio fits six tables and has a heater; there are four tables for dog lovers in front. Now fetch some good Greek salad and homemade crab ravioli.
Piatti’sJunipero and Fifth, behind Devendorf Park, 625-1766
Pups and their two-legged pals are treated to a special rooftop garden patio overlooking Carmel’s central park. Water bowls are provided, lamps bring the heat. No treats, but Bingo’d be more into a bite of the popular veal scalopini anyway.
Porta BellaOcean Between Lincoln Monte Verde, 624-4395
Owner Csaba Ajan welcomes dogs personally, adding that Porta Bella is a great post-beach stop for dogs to take their owners to lunch. Two separate outdoor spaces include an Ocean Avenue-adjacent front brick patio and an enclosed, covered and heated garden patio framed by vines. Dogs are served before owners with water in a champagne bucket.
RG Burger’sCrossroads Shopping Center, 626-8054
At this perennial contender for Best Burger in the Weekly readers’ poll, dogs are welcome around the outside tables, wait staffers provides water and dog treats. And people can order burger patties for a couple of bucks.
Village CornerCorner of Sixth and Dolores, 624-3588
A fire pit anchors the enclosed brick courtyard at this casual bistro-style joint that is a favorite breakfast spot for locals. Eggs Benny is a big seller.
BRETT PALLESTRINI contributed to this article.