It was a long slog to get a Houston ordinance passed that allowed restaurants to decide for themselves whether or not to allow dogs on their patios, but the “Paws On Patios” allowance finally happened in 2011. That opened up a variety of venues for people to dine with Fido. It requires the restaurant to apply for a City of Houston permit, pass a patio inspection and pay a one-time fee that’s currently $116.28.
Thanks to the growing trend of dog owners taking their best friends everywhere, there are 80 restaurants with dog-friendly patios listed on the City of Houston website. (Unfortunately, it's somewhat out of date, as some of the restaurants listed are no longer open. Diners should call ahead before heading out with their dogs in tow.)
Taking dogs out to see new things and meet friendly strangers is a great way to keep them socialized to the world around them. Just make sure not to let your furry friend visit other diners unless they invite the dog over. Conversely, always ask before trying to pet someone else's dog. It's only paw-lite.
10. The Burger Joint, 2703 Montrose. Readers say this Montrose spot, which recently earned a good review, is so dog-friendly that it offers organic dog treats and has a dog water station set up on its patio. If you sneak a little burger bite or french fry to your four-legged pal, they probably won’t even tell on you. Hold the onions, please.
9. Tony Mandola's, 1212 Waugh. The huge patio at Tony Mandola's, adorned with fountains, flowers and greenery, is already pretty stunning to begin with, but the fact that the place also allows dogs is a bonus. While visiting, diners can sup on a variety of Creole and Gulf Coast fare that's also steeped in Houston restaurant history, like Mama Mandola's gumbo and Mama Ninfa's jalapeños stuffed with shrimp and Munster cheese.
8. Cane Rosso, 1835 North Shepherd. Owner Jay Jerrier isn’t only an avid dog lover, he’s a rescuer, too, and made a point of making all Cane Rosso patios dog-friendly. Admittedly, the patio of Houston’s first Cane Rosso location is small, but he promises the one at the future Montrose location is going to be “yuuuuuuuge!”
7. Cyclone Anaya’s, 1710 Durham. The patio is already dog-friendly, but chef Jason Gould says there are plans to make it an even happier place for dogs. Disposable water bowls are on the way, and plans are under way for Fluff Bake Bar to supply locally baked dog treats.
6. Southern Goods, 632 West 19th. Owner Charles Bishop had all the reasons a dog lover needs for why Southern Goods is an ideal hangout: “because you can sit out back, listen to music, have one of the best burgers in town and a nice IPA.” Those are many good reasons to grab a leash and get going.
5. The Dunlavy, 3422 Allen Parkway. Dog owners who enjoy long walks along Buffalo Bayou and visits to Johnny Steele Dog Park should include a rest stop at The Dunlavy. In the mornings, the patio is filled with diners enjoying a spot of breakfast with Spot (or Fluffy or Banjo) at their feet.
4. Barnaby’s/Baby Barnaby’s, various locations. Of course, a restaurant that takes its name and design inspiration from a big sheepdog would be dog-friendly! (If you haven’t seen it already, check out the adorable picture book about the much-loved Barnaby online.) Multiple readers cited both the original and the Heights locations as warm, welcoming and friendly to dogs. The one on Shepherd has the biggest patio, though.
3. Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino, 3215 Westheimer. Chef and owner Lynette Hawkins is a big supporter of the dog rescue community and a dog rescuer herself, so of course Giacomo’s has a pup-friendly patio. It’s a particularly peaceful and friendly one, adorned with plenty of greenery and flowers. It’s also a fine spot for Italian wine and cicchetti, or light, savory bites, including cold ones for warm weather, like insalata frutti di mare, a combination of poached shrimp, calamari, scallops and PEI mussels with pickled fennel and sweet red pepper.
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2. Tila’s Restaurante & Bar, 1111 South Shepherd. Tila’s was one of the frontrunners of the dog-friendly patio movement (possibly even before it should have been *cough cough*), and has long provided water bowls and treats. While Wiggles is snacking, owners can do the same on carne asada (charbroiled flank steak), chilaquiles (Mexican tortilla casserole; Tila's adds chicken), enchiladas and more.
1. Gratifi Restaurant & Bar, 302 Fairview. According to former Houston Press restaurant critic Kaitlin Steinberg, “Gratifi pretty much started the Paws on Patios thing and has dog treats on the menu.” Indeed, the restaurant says it was Houston’s “first dog-friendly patio” and offers a doggie dinner for $5. It is grain-free, high-protein dog food plus a house-made dog treat with bacon.
Now, go take the one being who gives you unconditional love and loyalty out to breakfast — or lunch, or dinner.