Since I’ve been asked a few times about dog friendly places, I figured I’d write up some recommendations. Houston has a bad rap of not being very dog friendly. While it’s true that the city makes it pretty difficult to have a permit (from what I’ve heard), there are actually a lot of places that allow dogs, even if it’s only on one specific part of the patio. Dan and I are very clearly obsessed with our pup, Barley, and tend to take him everywhere. I’m pretty sure all the Lowe’s employees know him by now. So if a place is a dog-friendly, you better believe we will hit it up more often.
Let’s start with our personal favorites (which also happen to be some Houston favorites):
Onion Creek– All the food is delicious, there’s a serious Austin vibe, it’s right off a walking/bike trail, and the drink variety is great (frozen mimosas at brunch, yes please). This is our major go-to if we want to get out of the house and just chill out for a bit. It’s also super shaded by trees, which is perfect for the devilishly hot Houston summers. [Dogs only allowed on concrete portion]
Cottonwood– Voted the best patio bar (at least I heard that somewhere?), it delivers. The design is super cool, and while the food is mostly meh (seriously, I’ve tried everything on the menu- Sloppy JoJo is the only excellent thing), this one is a 5 minute walk from our house. AKA, it’s our most frequented spot. The beers on tap are constantly rotating and I love their Too Fresh cocktail. [Dogs only allowed on gravel] TIP: If you’re in the area, and want really tasty food, you should hop over to Shepherd Park Draught House, which is also dog friendly.
West Alabama Ice House– This place is just a Houston establishment. It’s been around since the 1920’s and is absolutely no frills. Don’t visit looking for AC, but do visit for the ice cold, cheap beers and laid back vibe. Or if you like to shoot some hoops while drinking said beers. Even fun when your husband crushes you at a game of HORSE, while playing left handed. When he’s right handed. They don’t serve food, but there’s typically a food truck!
Restaurants worthy of a good date night:
Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino– Located in River Oaks, this place is a big favorite within the neighborhood. Fantastic Italian food, with a great wine selection, and a patio that somehow makes you feel like you aren’t sitting right on Westheimer. On top of that, service is great too. It’s nice without being frou-frou or overpriced, which I really appreciate in a restaurant inside the loop.
Zelko Bistro– Everything I’ve eaten here is spot on- especially the mussels. The patio isn’t very large and is covered by a white tent that makes it feel intimate, but also like you’re at a wedding. There are also fresh flowers are on each table (when I’ve gone), which I always find charming. Put this at the top of your brunch list too- the sandwiches are all stellar.
Gratifi– Set in a cute old house, in the middle of Montrose, this one is a winner. Full disclosure- I called this “Graffiti” for over a year, before realizing it’s actually pronounced like “Gratify”. I recommended it to several people this way, and am now embarrassed. This one has a wonderful brunch as well… leading me to branch out on this top.
Empire Café– Super solid, true, breakfast items at an amazing price. Love this place. And so do other Houstonians based on the line that runs out the door every weekend! TIP: If it’s too crazy and you don’t feel like waiting, walk across the street to Brasil. It’s another yummy order at the counter place, with a big hidden patio in the back. Good luck finding the gate.
Backstreet Café– Adore this place so much. While I haven’t sucked it up and paid dinner prices yet, Dan and I have enjoyed an absolutely delightful brunch here and I would love to go back (DAN!). They even brought out tiny baked goods with our meal. Someone get me a Backstreet Benedict, STAT.
Tiny Boxwood’s– Without a doubt, the CUTEST restaurant I’ve ever been to and my go-to when out-of-towners visit. It shares a lawn with a plant nursery. (My sis-in-law thought I meant a nursery for babies, so had to make that clear. That’d be an interesting concept…) The charm of this place just oozes and the food & drinks are worth the wait. Don’t worry, they set up a bar outside when they’re busy so you can sip your white wine mojito while you’re in line. Oh, and don’t forget a choco chip cookie. They’re Houston-famous. (Also, LOOK HOW TINY BARLEY IS!!!)
Just for Drinks:
Bar Boheme– HUGE outdoor space. Actually, this place is mostly outdoor space. Go for the relaxed vibe, later than normal HH (4-8), and diverse drink options that still has all the classics. And if they have the frozen mojito, get that. And I know I said “just drinks” but do yourself a favor and order the Vietnamese fries too.
Axelrad– Newer to Houston, this one is quickly becoming popular. Great local beer selection and they have hammocks, which is novel. Maybe not the best idea when people are drinking, as we witnessed! But amusing to watch people fall out J They also have a couple food trucks on site.
Karbach Brewing Company– Probably our favorite Houston brewery. It’s closest to our house and they just do a really solid job with all of their beers. It’s been really fun to see them grow but also crazy how much they’ve expanded since we’ve lived in Houston! The actual restaurant patio isn’t dog friendly, which is weird, but the brewery area is and they usually have food trucks! Or you can order food at the bar in the restaurant and bring it out.
Eight Row Flint– Another newer place people are flocking to! Driving down Yale, it’s hard to resist the call of this patio. It always seems to be bustling, and for good reason. Although the whiskey selection is what they’re known for, the frozen margaritas are some of the best I’ve had. Another perk- they cook all the food out of a truck, but there are actual servers, so no waiting in line! And the chips are to die for.
Cheers to all my pup loving Houstonians!