With spring warming up and summer on its way, now is the perfect time of year to explore outdoor dining with your dog. While health department regulations prohibit pets inside restaurants, many national chains (not to mention local joints) welcome leashed, well-behaved dogs on their patios and in their outdoor seating areas.
We’ve put together a list of the most dog-friendly restaurant chains across America, including a few surprises. From simple patio seating to gourmet dog-only menus, these are the top six restaurants that allow dogs.
Burger joints seem to be particularly dog-friendly, perhaps thanks to their casual vibe (and hey, what dog doesn’t love a burger?). In southern California, where the weather lends itself to outdoor dining year-round, select Johnny Rockets locations have expanded their menu to include dog offerings such as a doggy hamburger, carob “ruffles,” and ice cream treats (source).
Johnny Rockets restaurants are franchised, so every location sets its own rules. Call ahead to find out if your dog is welcome at the Johnny Rockets near you.
I just visited a Sonic last week, and the server roller-skated up to my car with my Cherry Limeade, tater tots, AND a pocket full of dog biscuits for my pups. If you’re just driving-in, your dogs are welcome to hang out with you in the car. If you want to stretch your legs, check with the staff before bringing your dog on the patio, as rules may vary by location.
Note: some Sonic locations will also offer your dog a “doggy dish” of vanilla ice cream. It’s a sweet treat, but keep in mind, dairy can upset some dogs’ tummies, so do what’s best for your pet. (Confidential between us: I always slip my dogs a tater tot or two).
Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar
Of course, with a name like that, they’d better be dog friendly! Lazy Dog takes it to the next level with a dog menu that includes canine-friendly meals like plain chicken breasts, plain grilled hamburgers, and brown rice.
Lazy Dog has 19 locations on the west coast, with plans to expand even further, and every location includes a dog-frienidly patio where your pooch is welcome to relax. Just be sure to follow the rules: every dog must be leashed, no dogs allowed on tables, and make sure your pup is polite.
Originally a New York City exclusive, popular burger joint Shake Shack has expanded its locations across America and abroad, and is known for being very dog-friendly. As their website notes, “We were born in a park, after all!”
Shake Shack offers a dog menu at every location in the U.S., so your dog can lounge in the outdoor dining area and enjoy a Pooch-ini (a tasty concoction of dog biscuits, peanut butter sauce and vanilla custard) or a simple bag of biscuits. For humans, there’s an assortment of incredible burgers, fries, and of course, shakes, making Shake Shack a popular choice for the whole family.
Mmm, unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks! It’s one of the most popular chain restaurants in America, but is the Olive Garden dog-friendly? The answer is: sometimes. The Olive Garden’s slogan is, “When you’re here, you’re family,” and at some locations with an outdoor dining area, that includes the family dog.
If your local Olive Garden has a patio, it’s possible your dog will be allowed, but call ahead to double-check. You can also use a directory site like BringFido.com to check the dog-friendliness of restaurants in your area.
That’s right, America’s favorite family restaurant has gone to the dogs—well, in some locations, anyhow. If your local Applebee’s has a patio, chances are you and your dog can both eat good in the neighborhood. In Richmond, Virginia, you can even attend a dog-centric “Yappy Hour.”
Of course, you’ll want to call ahead to make sure your local Applebee’s welcomes four-legged patrons.
You may have noticed how frequently we recommend calling ahead. Many restaurants with patios will allow dogs, and popular chains like Chili’s, Outback Steakhouse, Panera, and more are becoming increasingly dog-friendly over time. But rules can vary from location to location, so it’s always a good idea to call the restaurant before you leave the house to verify that your pet is welcome.
Travel plans? Next time you leave town, find a dog sitter who’ll treat your dog like family. Rover’s got you covered with loving dog sitters across the U.S. including Philadelphia, Houston, Tampa, Portland, and your city.
Top image via flickr/alan-light