Joe M.

Joe "The Dog Whisperer" M.Yes, I admit it, I like small dogs!

Info

Pets(2)

Jasmine's Profile Picture
Jasmine Maltese Sweetheart
Mickey's Profile Picture
Mickey Chihuahua Big Brother

San Rafael, CA

www.yapsie.com

www.facebook.com/yapsie

Dogs > *

May 2010

Photos

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Joe's Reviews

Burgermeister

507 Westlake Ctr
Daly City, CA 94014
(650) 755-1941
Rating
04/06/2013
In a panic to find food fast before a team meeting, my girlfriend and I ducked into Burgermeister on the promise that we could get in and out (no pun intended) quickly. Though it took WAY longer to be seated than was necessary, we managed to get a table and order fairly quickly.

I was starving and went sick with the colossal burger with half pound patties. This thing was no joke. There wasn't much to it except for meat and cheese, but it was actually pretty good. The meat quality was excellent and was super juicy, though my meat came out a little more rare than the medium rare I requested. Not a problem at all since I like my burgers pretty rare. The fries were decent and they have several dipping sauces to choose from. I didn't really like how everything was more or less fast food-like, with the giant jugs of condiments just sitting out that they pumped from, though I suppose it makes sense. I just didn't want to see that, considering how much I was paying for my burger.

Service was friendly and fast, and accommodated our need to get out fast. I really enjoyed my burger except that it turned out to be about 2000 calories in and of itself. That part kinda sucked. The do have plenty of outdoor seating, so your pup can salivate while you enjoy our burger. Overall, I think I would probably go back.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Five Guys Burger and Fries

1000 El Camino Real
Belmont, CA 94002
(650) 610-0684
Rating
03/04/2013
A new Five Guys location recently opened near my apartment and I was itching to check it out. My buddy and I hadn't hung out in a while so it was the perfect time to stuff our faces despite the fact that we knew we would be exceeding our calorie limits for the day. Cheat day I guess?

I ordered their bacon cheeseburger by itself since I had fries earlier in the day. I'm kinda on the fence about the burgers being haphazardly assembled and difficult to eat since they tend to fall apart. However, flavors were solid though I think some of my bacon was overdone and caused the combination of textures to be all off. It's a good burger, just not as well thought out like In-N-Out's.

Service was fast and friendly and there's even some dog-friendly seats on the outside patio. The floor is often covered with peanut shells but they're swept up pretty quickly. Overall, I'm a fan, but as always, In-N-Out is my first choice.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Outerlands

4001 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-6140
Rating
02/18/2013
My girlfriend had been raving about Outerlands as a great breakfast joint and so near her apartment. It was a stunning day so she decided to make our way out there early to try and get on the list. When I arrived 20 minutes later, we were joined by her sister and her sister's boyfriend, as well as about 70 other diners who were seeking a great breakfast, and 15 tables ahead of us. While slow to seat, we finally managed to get in.

I ordered their popular "eggs in jail" dish, which is just two eggs in a hole cut out in their signature bread served with bacon and salad. I have to admit, I was a little apprehensive at first considering how much of a hipster joint this is, but it's quite good. Their bread is spectacular and apparently these folks learned to back in Tartine's own kitchens, producing a true rival. Flavors were spot on though prices were a tad on the high side and anything with alcohol in it is novelly priced for a place like this. However, the lines don't lie, this place is pretty damn good.

What's awesome is how much outdoor seating they have here and under heatlamps to boot. They're super dog friendly and just about every other table was joined by a canine pal. I even spotted my favorite Mythbuster, Kari Byron! She was waiting just like everybody else and I can't say that I blame her. I personally don't know if I'd be willing to wait 2 hours for brunch, but luckily my girlfriend lives nearby and we can get there early enough to put our name on the list.

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Jamba Juice

500 12th St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 267-9755
Rating
02/17/2013
Jamba was having their special $1 smoothie sale and I had been craving something fruity and delicious for breakfast that day. When I arrived off the train, there was already a long line of people waiting to order but fortunately the line moved quickly.

I ordered a small Strawberries Wild which came out to exactly $1, and to my surprise, it was actually completed ahead of many people who were waiting a much longer time. I'm guessing it was easier to make than the others so go me! It was refreshing but I could taste the many calories that must have been packed into the sweet smoothie but I figured I could go for a long walk or something during lunch to make up for it.

Service was quick and attentive despite being super busy first thing in the morning. There are tables outside in the City Center where your dogs can hang with you while you enjoy your smoothie, but they're otherwise not allowed inside. I don't think I'd pay full price for a smoothie here, but the dollar deal would pull me back in an instant.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

InnerFog

545 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 682-4116
Rating
02/17/2013
My buddy and I hadn't hung out in the longest time and we wanted to catch up and talk shop. There's quite a few places to go for some solid craft beers and such, but it was a wine kind of day. I call it, "wine-o-clock". InnerFog was chosen as the meeting spot so we both hopped on the MUNI and cruised over.

I started things off with a pinot noir, which was delightful and went down smoothly, almost like juice! Since we were planning to hang awhile, we ordered some almonds to share, which were dressed in sunflower oil. These things cannot be good for you because they were so delicious! Makes me wonder if Trader Joe's sells them. My second glass was a malbec, which I was less into as it was a little metallic for my taste. Overall though, I must say that I really loved InnerFog! I truly can't wait to come back and happy hour prices are excellent at $5 per glass.

The space is really cozy and there's plenty of privacy to chat and catch up. Service was super friendly and attentive and everybody was just great. I might just have to go back later this week and enjoy some time with myself or pals. They even let dogs in and they can even hang out! If they're on their best behavior, they may even score a biscuit!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Gelateria Naia

520 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 677-9280
Rating
02/04/2013
After a hefty dinner to celebrate my buddy's first day at his new gig, we wanted to grab some yummy gelato since we were already in North Beach. There are plenty of gelato joints around and we picked the one nearest to us, which happened to have a spectacular ratings on Yelp.

They've got dozens of flavors to choose from so we had to taste a half dozen flavors before making a decision. My girlfriend and I shared a medio with white mint chip, papaya lime, burnt caramel, and whisky. I was most impressed with their papaya lime and burnt caramel, while the other flavors were much more subtle. The lime really came through in the papaya lime, but wasn't overpowering, and I might actually like the burnt caramel better than BiRite's famous salted caramel. The smokiness really makes it delicious.

Service was friendly and they were happy to allow us to sample so many flavors. Seating is a little sparse but there are some tables outside to hang out with your pup and watch the day go by. They're really great for people watching too! I quite enjoyed the flavors here and excited to come back again for more creamy cold goodness.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tied House Cafe & Brewery

954 Villa St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 965-2739
Rating
02/01/2013
It was guys night out, time to get the band back together. We decided to meet at Tied House for some happy hour to catch up. It took about two months to get together, but I was really excited that we were finally able to meet up.

I started with their wheat beer on tap, which had a bit of bite that I wasn't used to. It was still very tasty however. For my meal, I ordered their bacon, double cheeseburger, which undoubtedly ruined my diet, and also had some qualities of a mid-low quality restaurant burger. The fries were soggy and oily, and the BBQ sauce was super sweet. Overall, very disappointed with the food here and definitely lower quality and more expensive than other chains.

Service was pretty persistent in offering followup rounds of booze, but it was friendly enough. There's an outdoor patio that allows your dog to join you, which is pretty cool too. Parking appears to be street only so it's best to roll in on the Caltrain. While the beer is pretty good from what I can tell, the food is blech.

Food: 4/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Yoppi Yogurt

500 12th St Ste 134
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 832-7300
Rating
02/01/2013
This has been the longest week ever and I seriously needed a break from the office. My girlfriend works nearby so we decided to stop in City Center to get some yogurt and sit a spell.

They've got a big sitting area but somehow only featured 6 flavors, none of them being that appetizing. As it turns out only 2 of the pumps worked anyway, so I was left with red velvet and some other crap that tasted terrible. Both were soft and gross, and the toppings bar was mostly empty too. The gelato was more or less totally tapped as well making that a non-option as well. At 45 cents an ounce, it was also expensive, particularly in this area. What a joke!

With a 4-star rating, I expected a whole lot more than this crap. Service was god-awful, and the girl behind the counter couldn't answer a basic question about whether the "Yoppi tart" was a basic tart, not that it worked anyway. Seriously, whoever gave this place even remotely decent marks lacks taste buds or simply has lowered their expectations of what good froyo is. Damn, what a disappointment. The only upside was that there was plenty of pet-friendly indoor and outdoor seating but that's only because it was such a crappy place to begin with.

Food: 1/10

Service: 0/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 2/10

Bread And Cocoa

199 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94104
(415) 956-7200
Rating
01/21/2013
My buddy and I were hanging out downtown and wanted to rest up a bit before continuing our walking tour of the city. He suggested Bread And Cocoa, which sounded really fancy. When we arrived however, I discovered that it was more like a down scale Panera.

I got their dark chocolate chai to sip on since it was a chilly night and quite enjoyed it. It wasn't overly sweet and had a hint of spice to it. My buddy's almond croissant was pretty tasty, and I think it might have been made in-house, though I can't be sure. They have a good selection of drinks but overall I didn't find it a place I wanted to pull my laptop out at.

Service was friendly and helpful when it came to selecting a drink. The dining room wasn't super clean and the front door was open so it was pretty cold in there. I was tempted to try one of their cookies but resisted since I was on a bit of a diet. There’s a few tables outside where your dog can chill with you, but can’t go inside of course. Not my favorite cafe ever, but in a pinch, not too bad either.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Hat

1210 E Imperial Hwy
Brea, CA 92821
(714) 257-9500
Rating
01/04/2013
After a great, but exhausting day at Disneyland, my girlfriend and I needed a late night bite to satisfy our hunger pangs. The Downtown Disney restaurants were all closed and we had a tough time finding something open late at night. Not wanting to do the Denny’s thing again, we drove around until we spotted The Hat. My girlfriend had heard great things about it and they were still open, so we rushed in before they closed their doors.

We each got a pastrami sandwich and shared their chili cheese fries. Truth be told, the sandwich was probably enough, and we could have easily just shared one. However, our eyes were much larger than our stomaches and I scarfed down the delicious pastrami in just a few bites. It was very tasty, though I would have loved a slice of melted cheese on it to bring it together. The fries had started to get cold by the time I dug into them so I found then just ok, and perhaps not something I’d order in the future.

They’ve got a drive-thru which is convenient but I worried about getting the car dirty while eating. They’ve got tables outside but it was too cold to enjoy them, but a hot day would be great for sitting out front with your dog begging you for some delicious pastrami. Service was friendly and fast, and I really appreciated that they let us stay slightly past closing hours. Overall, I quite enjoyed it and their prices are very reasonable.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Le Pain Quotidien

316 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 393-6800
Rating
01/04/2013
I wanted to break up the long drive from Anaheim to Hearst Castle by stopping in the only part of LA County I’d consider living in, Santa Monica. I love the area because it reminds me so much of San Diego. Unfortunately most of the restaurants in the area didn’t score so well and it became somewhat difficult to select a place to eat. Luckily we spotted a nice little French cafe and ducked in for a small meal.

I ordered the open-faced sandwich with chicken, mushrooms, and gruyere. I must say that it was quite tasty, although the flavors weren’t very well distributed in the sandwich, with most of the action going on in the middle slice. Overall though, it was a nice, albeit small lunch, with a medium-sized price tag.

The interior is decorated like a country cottage and I loved the big communal table in the center of the room. Service was pretty spotty and servers didn’t seem to have table assignments so we were literally asked 3x for water, to order, the check, etc, which became annoying after a while. However, they do have a nice dining section outside which is perfect for people watching on a nice day, and your dog can dine there with you as well. I didn’t learn it was a chain until well after we left which was a little bit of a disappointment but otherwise I quite enjoyed my time there.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

In-N-Out Burger

445 Industrial Rd
San Carlos, CA 94070
(800) 786-1000
Rating
01/03/2013
Before a big trip, there's no better comfort food than a nice juicy double-double and fries to kick off the day. I'm glad we stopped here before setting out for Disneyland because it was going to be a very long drive.

I ordered my regular double-double animal style, which never ever disappoints. I love their fries, which are perfectly cooked each and every time. I'm quite lucky to have one so near home and I'll be back many times.

There's something special about In-N-Out that really makes it memorable. Service is always speedy and friendly even though they're always packed. There's always dog-friendly tables outside for those sunny days, but they've got to stay outside when ordering of course. The parking lot is a little cramped and always busy so I'd either recommend the drive-thru or parking on the street. I'll always have a special place in my stomach for some animal-style goodness.

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

1312 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 394-9737
Rating
01/03/2013
After a nice lunch off the Promenade, it was time to set back off on our journey toward Hearst Castle. I needed some caffeine for the road and had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket so my girlfriend and I ducked into CBTL for a cup of deliciousness.

I got a large hazelnut blended drink which was delicious as expected. I know for sure it's not good for me but I'll drink that stuff all day! I only wish Starbucks offered something similar, or that there were more CBTL's in the Bay Area since I've been sitting on my gift card for about 2 years now.

Service was disorganized and the barista was sending drinks out independent of order number. It's super busy at this location since it's right on the Promenade and it's really cramped inside. Luckily there's benches outside where you can enjoy your drink with your dog while people watching but other than that it's pretty much a free-for-all in there. Overall I really enjoyed the drink, but I suspect the experience is what keeps people going back to Starbucks instead.

Food: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Philz Coffee

101 Forest Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 321-2161
Rating
12/22/2012
Meeting up with an old coworker buddy for a coffee in Palo Alto, there really was no better place than Philz to do it. It gets crazy crowded in here and finding a seat can be hard, so we plopped down at the shared table to catch up.

I ordered a large mint mojito iced coffee with a ham and cheese croissant, which were oddly served from two different locations on the bar. The iced coffee is super yummy, and I liked the flakiness of the warm pastry, especially on a cold Sunday morning. Prices are on the higher end when compared to Starbucks, but the quality is definitely better.

Service was friendly but expect that your order will take a little longer since each cup is prepared individually. There's plenty of dog-friendly tables outside but that's where they'll have to stay when you order. I love the location of this place near the Caltrain, making it easy to visit on the flyover. It can get pretty damn loud in here though, and the music volume doesn't help at all. however, the cool vibe will keep me coming back for sure!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Ristorante Allegria

1026 1st St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 254-8006
Rating
12/22/2012
I'd only been with the company for a little over a month, but regardless I was welcomed to the holiday party in Napa. The venue was Ristorante Allegria. I arrived early with some of my coworkers, so we helped ourselves to some wine.

The Epicuro was a curious wine which was almost like a cross between a port and sparkling cider. While it was off-putting to some, I quite liked it for being light and refreshing. The Fog Dog was a much dryer wine which was a little too much so for me.

We were provided with a set menu with entree choice, and we were started off with the pesto with crusty bread, which I really enjoyed. It might also have been because I was super hungry, but I ended up polishing off a loaf and a half. A baby greens salad with bleu cheese was the first course which I felt could have used a bit of dressing to bring it all together. I ordered the stuffed chicken breast as my entree which was nicely balanced with a light cream sauce and mashed potatoes. It was delicious, but I do wish it was a little more substantial. For dessert we were served a chocolate brownie pie with some vanilla ice cream. This was probably my favorite course. It was nice and hot which was exactly what I wanted to round out my meal on a sweet note.

Service was great although food was delivered slowly to the table. However, everybody was very friendly and accommodating and it was nice having the balcony for our whole party. They do have a dog-friendly patio which is really nice on a sunny day. The restaurant is beautiful and it was a nice Napa dining experience. I look forward to trying some of their regular menu items on my next visit.

Food: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Java Beach Cafe

1396 La Playa St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 665-5282
Rating
12/13/2012
Seeking a change of scenery on our regular Sunday startup work days, we decided to train down to Java Beach Cafe for brunch. Their sandwich menu looked yummy and there's tons of seats and decent wifi, so it looked like a pretty good spot to work from for the day.

I ordered the 9 inch Bonfire Delight, hot roast beef and cheese on Dutch crunch. I loved the crunch of the crusty bread with fresh ingredients, with the perfect combination of flavors. They've got lots of other delicious-looking sandwiches to try and I'll be back to try them all!

They've got a small patio outside where you can enjoy your meal with your dog, and the ocean breeze blowing through your hair. This place is crazy packed and busy all day long, so getting a table can be tricky. The only big downside is that the N-Judah turns around here, making for an ear-piercing experience every few minutes. Service can be a little slow but considering how busy it is, it's actually not too bad.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Rudy's Can't Fail Cafe

1805 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 251-9400
Rating
12/05/2012
When my coworkers and I last visited Rudy's, the line was so long that we simply walked out. We dropped by earlier to secure a seat and I was excited to give it a try.

I ordered the mushroom and Swiss burger with fries. Quality was so-so, but I did really like the fries. It's more or less diner food but not quite as refined. It was just alright.

Service was friendly and I liked that I was able to order my burger medium rare. The location is conveniently near my office so it makes a clean and comfortable spot for groups. There's some dog-friendly tables out front but it was sprinkling out and it just wasn't prudent today. I'm sure we'll be back maybe once a month.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Fountain Cafe

499 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 451-6400
Rating
11/26/2012
I needed a quick lunch today since I had a bunch of meetings back to back to back, so my boss and I walked down to City Center for a sandwich and salad. He suggested Fountain Cafe since they had a pretty wide selection of fresh foods and I was definitely game for something different.

I naively ordered their turkey combination sandwich with avo and bacon on Dutch crunch, completely forgetting that Thanksgiving had just come and gone. They whipped up the sandwich super fast and I was in and out in only a few minutes. It was a nice sized sandwich and was plenty for a meal, though on the high priced side ($7.50) for Oakland, or at least compared to Vietnamese sandwiches. However, it was very good and fresh, and I loved the crunchiness of the bacon. They've got a salad bar too, which looked tasty, and pretty affordable especially when compared to places like Whole Foods.

Service was quick and friendly, and I was in and out really fast. Quality is very good here (unlike some of the other places in City Center), though I did find what looked like a bite taken out of one of my pickle spears. It might have been nothing, but I still avoided it. Overall however, I was pretty happy with my meal. In a pinch, I'll be back, especially since they've got those dog-friendly tables outside.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Homeroom

400 40th St
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 597-0400
Rating
11/16/2012
Ever since starting work in Oakland, friends have been bugging me to give Homeroom a try. Known for their savory and unique renditions of mac and cheese, my ears immediately perked up and I was immediately interested. After all, it's one of my all time favorite comfort foods.

We started off with their green salad with sliced mushrooms, served with their vinegrette and house-made ranch. The dressings really made the salad, and I was a big fan of house smooth the ranch was. We ordered the bacon mac and trailer mac (both with the added breadcrumbs, which were both super rich and creamy. While I did enjoy them both, I kind of found the flavors of each blend together and it all ended up a little one-note. I'd be interested to try some of their other, more distinct flavors next time though.

Service was really friendly and our waiter had great recommendations. We only had a party for two so we were seated quickly, but there was a long line of people outside when we left. Parking can be tricky, but the side streets are your best bet. There's a handful of dog-friendly tables outside for your dining pleasure if your pups want to join. Prices were generally pretty reasonable but watch out for those add-ons because they'll add up fast!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

El Senor Burrito

430 13th St
Oakland, CA 94612
Rating
11/16/2012
There's not much in the way of decent lunch joints near the office but I do enjoy joining my coworkers for a stroll outside for lunch. They recommended a nearby burrito joint which had decent reviews, so I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

I ordered a chorizo burrito, and at $3.99, was a pretty impressive deal. Flavors were just so-so and I missed the familiar chorizo flavors I've come to appreciate from the good stuff. However, you can't really beat the price and proximity so in a pinch, I'd come back again.

Service wasn't great, but it got the job done. There is a tiny salsa bar which were a little watered down, but they did include chips in the meal. They've got tons of affordable selections which I might consider next time. There's also some dog-friendly tables outside, so you might want to bring your pup to guard your table!

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Max's Restaurants

500 12th St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 451-6297
Rating
11/02/2012
At the first company luncheon, we had originally planned to eat at a popular place down the street. Unfortunately it was a little too popular and we were turned away. Reluctantly, we decided to head back to City Center and see what we could find in the area. With few choices, we decided to sit down at Max's.

A themed restaurant, Max's served up the hefty meals you'd expect from most greasy spoons. I ordered a bacon cheeseburger which came with fries. The burger itself was mediocre and the bun was massive compared to the meat. By comparison, it was tiny and food quality was so-so.

Service was somewhat slow, but we were also in a hurry to get back to the office. Prices are on the high side too. There’s a ton of seating outside so your dog can join you on a nice day from the office. Overall, I wasn't really over or underwhelmed by the meal here so it's really a push whether I'll be back.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

475 Cafe

475 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 451-5959
Rating
11/02/2012
It was my first day at the new job and after putting in many hours with getting oriented, I needed some lunch to satisfy my grumbling stomach. My co-workers and I went out for a late lunch and showed me around the food spots, which were pretty much all disappointing. My boss had made a decision on food, so I followed him to 475 Cafe for an affordable bite.

They've got some daily specials so I decided to try one of those. The curry looked interesting, but after sampling it, I was way out. Instead, I decided to give the meatloaf with mashed potatoes a try. Microwaved to reheat, I took it back to the office to enjoy. Well, it was still quite cold and I even found the center undercooked! The mashed potatoes were just spuds and the salad was bland and boring. From tasting one gross dish and ordering another, I'm through with this place and never going back.

Service was good awful and the girl behind the counter managed to less than care. She had no idea what the food was made of, threw my order on the counter, and was really really unfriendly. I don't think it could've gotten worse than this place, but I'm told it's just a start. They've got dog-friendly tables outside, but that's just about the only friendly thing about this place. What a full blown bummer for Oakland food.

Food: 2/10

Service: 0/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 3/10

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

801 Middlefield Rd
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 364-3101
Rating
10/15/2012
After a short hike and visit to the Water Temple, my protein hungry pal and I needed meat to recharge our batteries. Where better to loa up than at Five Guys? That's right, nowhere!

I ordered the bacon cheeseburger "all the way" and we shared some fries. The burger was so satisfying that I chomped into it and didn't even care that it ended up everywhere. The whole thing was so juicy, yet not soaked through and soggy. The small order of fries turned out to be enormous, but we made short work of them. By the end, our gluttonous selves could barely move, but we were extremely happy with all that delicious meat in our bellies. In fact, I could go for another now...

Service was super friendly and despite being super busy, we scored our burgers fast. They've got those awesome digital Coca-Cola machines here, and I've always wanted to give those a try! There's a few outdoor seats on a fenced off part of the sidewalk which was very friendly for your pets. It's located right next to the theater, making for the perfect pit stop before a fun flick. Grab some peanuts before you go and you're all set!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Vesta

2022 Broadway St
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 362-5052
Rating
10/15/2012
My friends and I like to get together every other Friday for an opportunity to decompress and catch-up on the happenings of the week. We all love great food and were surprised to find so many popular places in Redwood City. It was difficult to choose with so many options but we eventually opted for the very highly rated pie at Vesta. There was a short line when we arrived, but we were seated very quickly.

We decided to start with the charcuterie plate ($14) that was served with salame rosa, soppressata, speck, and marinated olives. I think we all agreed that the salame was outstanding, with the soppressata coming in as a runner up. I dug the olives too, which had just a subtle briny flavor that even those of us who aren't big olive fans could enjoy. The speck could have been left out, but I would be curious to try it with the bread.

For our entrees our party of 4 shared three pies, the sausage and honey ($18), margherita ($14), and mushroom with goat cheese and truffle oil ($17). I was a big fan of the sausage and honey, which could easily have been too sweet, but turned out amazingly delicious. The jalapeño slices balanced out the sweetness perfectly. The margherita was well made and I absolutely loved the blackened and bubbly crust. It will certainly satisfy anybody who took a bite. The mushroom was soooo good, and was loaded up to the brim with fresh sautéed mushrooms and goat cheese. The truffle oil might have been a tad overpowering as it sometimes is. I'd love to give it another try with the truffle oil reeled in, and I think it would be a masterpiece.

The server brought us a free sampling of their cauliflower with toasted almonds, currants, serrano, chili, and honey, which was a pleasant surprise. I thought the vegetable was a nice, light counterpoint to the heavier pizza, which was very nice in moderation. For those of us who had a bit more, it might have gotten a tad sweet, at least for my palette.

For dessert, we decided to share their Cowgirl Creamery fromage gelato with cookie dough with sides of espresso. The fromage flavor in an ice cream was very new to me, but I was delighted by it's balance and fresh flavors. It is a little on the pungent side which interfered with some of our groups espresso tasting, but I was a fan of the gelato.

The service here is absolutely stellar and I'd would say that it's as good as the food. Extremely detail-oriented, our server was on top of keeping our glasses full, the table clear, and made sure we loved the food. The host was super friendly and really knew how to make us feel like we've been coming here forever, despite being our first time. The service experience was so good that it felt like we were in a fine-dining restaurant and not a moderately priced gourmet pizza joint. There's a few tables outside where you can dine with the elements, and your dog, but the best seats are inside where you get a clear view of the over as you watch your pie being made. Top-notch everything and I will be back with friends in tow!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Los Cubanos Restaurant

22 N Almaden Ave
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 279-0134
Rating
10/05/2012
My buddies and I were cruising around in San Jose looking for some good grub. We had originally had our hearts set on Vietnamese but the place we wanted to try was closed for some reason. Instead, we decided to try Los Cubanos in San Pedro Square which I was very excited about since I thought it might be like the great Sol Food in San Rafael.

We started off with the fried garlic yucca which was actually pretty good and came with two dipping sauces. For our entrees, I got the arroz con pollo which was prepared like a paella and served with chicken soup and plantains. I really liked this dish and it's definitely one of the more popular dishes on the menu for good reason. I'm a huge sucker for those sweet plantains too, which I could easily eat all day. My buddies however, got the pork which was served with salad, rice, and plantains. The pork, was dry as could be, and nearly inedible. For almost $20 per dish, we were all very disappointed with it and it would definitely not be something we ordered again.

We decided to sit outside on their dog-friendly patio and were seated in a corner table. Service was dismally slow and inattentive, and it was as if we weren't even sitting there. There was even a dead fly on my table, which was pretty gross. This is definitely not up to par with Sol Food's offerings and it's pretty expensive too. I'll be skipping Los Cubanos in the future.

Food: 7/10

Service: 2/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

D'urso Italian Delicatessen

236 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 369-9442
Rating
09/25/2012
It was a busy day in SOMA and I wasn't that hungry for lunch. For that reason, my girlfriend and I decided to share a sandwich and fresh juice from D'urso, which was near her office.

We got an Italian ham sandwich on a French roll which I enjoyed. It was similar to a Vietnamese sandwich, but cost 3x more, and I'm a huge fan of the banh mi. The beet, kale, and apple juice was really refreshing but could have used a touch of lemon to cut the bitterness.

There's a separate dining room which is nice for getting away from the noisy street. They’re building some outdoor seating in a patio off the street which will be nice so that your dog can join you. Prices are relatively high so the juices are a super healthy, moderation treat. I'll be back, but probably not my first choice for lunch.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

144 King Art Cafe

144 King St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 369-9602
Rating
09/25/2012
I haven't had lunch with my girlfriend in SOMA since I started working in Sunnyvale, but Dreamforce was in town and I wasn't about to miss out. I stopped by her office and we decide to try this cool little cafe near the ballpark for a change.

I ordered their turkey and Brie sandwich, which came with huge chunks of cheese throughout, and includes a side salad. The sandwich was fantastic and the chunky Brie really made it, though the undressed salad was just ok.

The cafe itself is a great place to enjoy lunch and there's some patio space outside where your dog can join you. The cafe entrance is in an alley so it can be easy to miss. It's a great alternative to HRD when you want something lighter, but I personally like what Darwin has got going better.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Papalulu's

2168 Avenida De La Playa
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 459-3131
Rating
09/14/2012
On my first visit back to San Diego in nearly 2 years, there was a whole slew of people that I really wanted to see. One of them was an old buddy doing the startup thing and I really wanted to catch up and pick his brain on a new project I'm working on. We decided to meet up at La Jolla Shores and grab some breakfast at the very dog-friendly Papalulu's and talk some shop.

Being a meat-lover, I ordered the bacon and sausage omelet with potatoes and fruit. The omelet was nice and meaty and potatoes were well-seasoned. The fresh fruit was a nice, refreshing touch too.

Service was slow, as it seems to be all over the block, and we didn't receive a whole lot of attention despite it being a totally manageable dining room. The outdoor, dog-friendly patio area is fantastic on a beautiful day such as this one and it was so nice being outside. Papalulu's has an amazing location and somehow prices are pretty reasonable. Definitely a bargain for what it is, just don't get your hopes up about quick service.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Chipotle Mexican Grill

2019 Chess Dr
San Mateo, CA 94404
Rating
09/04/2012
After a nice long walk and a serious ab workout, I needed to get some carbs and calories in me. I’m trying to kickstart a healthier diet, but also wanted a burrito, so I compromised with some Chipotle action. Not normally a huge fan of their expensive and kind of bland food, I reluctantly gave it another try.

I ordered the steak burrito with brown rice, which came out really dry. The steak was really sinewy and the brown rice was undercooked, which gave the whole thing a weird texture. I can normally finish my burritos but I certainly struggled with this one today. Not my best experience at a Chipotle, but I’d be willing to give it another try as the “healthier” alternative to the standard Mexican burrito.

They do have some nice outdoor seating where your dog can join you for lunch (and will inevitably want a bite of your burrito. Service was alright and this was one of the smaller Chipotle’s I’ve been to. I didn’t even notice the back room seating because it’s fairly well hidden. Nothing totally offensive about the food, but definitely nothing that stands out either.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Lee's Sandwiches

939 W El Camino Real Ste 108
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 774-0595
Rating
08/24/2012
I was in a bind for some lunch since I was just coming back from an event and late to work. I thought about In-N-Out or something like that but even those were too slow! Enter Lee's. These guys can whip up a sandwich in minutes!

I ordered their #1 combination which was only $2.99. It's not loaded up with meat or anything, but it's a decent deal for the price and they even make the bread in house. The flavors were good but I thought there was a little too much jalapeño to meat ratio.

Service was really quick as predict and they've got a few tables outside where your dog could join you. Of course they couldn't be inside though. Nothing special and the stuff from the mom and pop places is definitely better, especially in the East Bay. Still, it's a great place in a pinch and they came through this time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Rib Whip

246 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
Rating
08/22/2012
I'm usually not the first guy to suggest eating from food trucks since they tend to be really overpriced, but my buddies and I were picking me up from the San Mateo Caltrain station and happened upon it. There was a decent selection of trucks at the event so we decided to chill awhile and grab some gourmet grub there.

The Rib Whip was one of the available options and seemed to provide the best value and interesting dishes. At $8, I ordered the ribs since I saw others eating it and it looked pretty good. However, right as I opened the box, I counted up 4 ribs and 1 end cut, while my buddy had 5 ribs. I decided to eat it anyway but all of the ribs were pretty damn dry. Definitely not cool! My other buddy's brisket sandwich looked pretty good so I might try that next time.

Service was pretty nice and the ribs were served up fast. It's a food truck so your dog is usually a welcomed guests, at least at this event. I'm still not the biggest fan of food trucks and The Rib Whip really reinforced that feeling. I'll give a different one a try next time instead.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Le Boulanger

305 N Mathilda Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 522-5225
Rating
08/06/2012
There aren't many lunch choices near my office and I've tried pretty much all of them. My boss and I wanted to get a decent sandwich and heard good things about Le Boulanger, which was just around the corner. Short lunches are kinda lame but we managed to save precious minutes since it was so nearby.

I got the California Fresh on Dutch crunch roll, which was served with a pickle half and bag of chips. Turkey, cheese, avo, and fresh veggies made up the bulk of the sandwich which was very refreshing. I especially enjoyed the bread, and not enough places serve the crusty stuff. My only issue was with the price which was a little over $8, and I wish they had better combos than they do.

Service is kind of mediocre and you have to pick up your food at the counter. I didn't really get much in the way of recommendations when I asked either. It wouldn't be my first choice for lunch in the future and would probably defer to Gombei or Panera from now on. They've got a cute patio outside with a bunch of tables, and your dog can hang outside with you. It's a pretty solid sandwich overall, but just an OK value.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt

127 S Murphy Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 773-0700
Rating
07/27/2012
Sometimes it's absolutely necessary to take some time out of the day to recharge with a walk and a snack. One of my "things" for a while was froyo and luckily there was one nearby. I had scored a deal on Yelp for a discount so it was an easy decision to swing by for something sweet.

I got a mixture of sweet flavors including chocolate, cappuccino, cookies and cream, and blueberry topped with mochi, peanut butter cups, boba, and fruit. Prices sit at $.41/oz, which is reasonable but becomes downright cheap when you use one of the deals to lower the price to about $.26/oz. Quality was pretty good overall and I'll definitely be back.

Service was really friendly and there some awesome outdoor tables where your dog is welcome. Your furry friend isn't allowed inside obviously but if you come out with some froyo for them they'll be plenty happy. It gets kind of hot inside of the shop so the seats outside are recommended anyway.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Kal's Bar-B-Q

425 N Mathilda Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 739-5271
Rating
07/13/2012
My boss and I needed to get out of the office after the long week and grab some lunch. We wanted to switch things up a bit and try the barbecue place near the office so when the cravings came, we jumped into the car and headed toward the land of smokey meat.

I ordered the ever popular steak sandwich and found it totally lackluster. The meat was dry and sinewy, and was really pretty boring. In fact, I think the meat had actually been sitting pre-cooked for quite a while. They really push the fries and salad option, which I ended up caving to, which brought my total to over $12; quite a lot for a sad sandwich. The condiment bar didn't really help either and was pushed as a major selling point. I was generally really disappointed with the meal and it won't be a regular lunch spot of mine.

The place has a throwback feel to it, but it all kind of seems odd and out of place. I expected a barbecue joint to have stuff like ribs, but the closest thing I could find was a pork sandwich. The menu is boring and outdated and even a bit overpriced for what it is. Very unfortunate. At least they've got a nice big patio area if you bring your dog.

Food: 3/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 5/10

Tara's Organic Ice Cream

4731 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 923-1567
Rating
07/09/2012
Dessert is a natural progression of dinner and luckily there’s a small ice cream joint right next door to Burma Superstar. It caught our eye because all of the ice creams were organic and they’ve got some really interesting flavors.

I tried the grasshopper and the white pepper chocolate chip, which was kind of a weird combination. I wasn’t that into the white pepper at all and it really stuck around in the back of my throat. The grasshopper was kind of boring to my palette and didn’t really capture the essence of the mint.

There are only two small chairs out front where you can enjoy your ice cream with your dog, who will no doubt be giving you the stink eye for enjoying it without them. The flavors were just so-so in my opinion and it’s not really a place to go with a big group. There’s also really nowhere to sit inside, making it really hard to love. Not sure I’d go back, and service was really indifferent to our group. Meh.

Food: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Pono Hawaiian Grill

120 Union St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-7666
Rating
07/09/2012
It was way too nice of a day to be inside so I decided to play hookey and explore the famous Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for the first time. It was a pretty long drive to get out there, but once we arrived, our stomachs started to growl. We found a really cool Hawaiian restaurant that was famous for their poke and even had plate lunches. Always in the mood for island food, we luckily found a great parking spot right out front and popped in.

I ordered the fish katsu and my girlfriend ordered one of the poke bowls. Both were great! The fish was tender and the breading was perfect and not burnt. The poke tasted nice and fresh, and was a refreshing dish to enjoy in the heat of the day. The macaroni salad is fun and delicious and the rice wasn’t all crusty like it sometimes is at other Hawaiian joints. There’s a full bar and live entertainment some nights as well, adding even more awesome to Pono’s atmosphere.

I love the vibe here and they have a fantastic outdoor patio. Guess what, they allow dogs out there too! Whether it’s the cool decor, chill environment, or stiff drinks and fun entertainment, I would totally come back to Pono and would be here all the time if I went to school at UCSC. Too bad San Diego didn’t have something this awesome in town!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Town's End Restaurant & Bakery

2 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 512-0749
Rating
07/09/2012
I’m always up for exploring great brunch places and Town’s End came highly recommended by my girlfriend. It’s located just across from the waterfront and makes a picturesque view if you get a seat on their dog-friendly patio area. The line of people waiting outside for a table also contributed to my anticipation of a delicious first meal of the day and I was excited to enjoy some of their offerings.

Every table here starts off with a basket of their freshly baked muffins and scones, which are fabulous and a much nicer touch than toast or dry bread. They’ve got some great looking Benedicts here including some with salmon, crab, and heirloom tomatoes. However, all were a bit pricey so I settled on the moderately priced three chile scramble. The Latin flavors combined to make one really delicious dish full of all kinds of flavors. I liked it a lot more than my girlfriend’s Cobb omelet, which was a little bland to me. Portion sizes are terribly huge, but the muffins offset any spare hunger pangs.

Prices are definitely on the higher side here compared to most other breakfast places, but they do have that beautiful patio area to speak of. Service was just ok and it took forever to get our waiter’s attention to check out. Overall I quite liked Town’s End. There’s some detail bits that were less than stellar, but it was a fine place for brunch and in a beautiful neighborhood. It makes for a beautiful walk on a weekend too, and definitely worth checking out.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Fosters Freeze

229 Laurel St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-2311
Rating
07/09/2012
As immigrants, my parents started life in the states working multiple jobs while going to school. There weren't many opportunities for them back in the day so they worked hard, hustled, and saved until they were able to open their first Bay Area business, a Fosters Freeze. As a kid growing up in the business, this chain has a special place in my heart and when my girlfriend and I passed by on our way to the Boardwalk, I just had to duck in for some nostalgia.

We ordered a mint Oreo shake and classic root beer float to share. The shake was a classic spin on a favorite and hit the spot for me. The root beer float was good too, though the root beer tasted a little flat.

For better or for worse, nothing has really changed in the last 30 years and the chain's identity is pretty much untouched and it doesn't seem like it has evolved at all. The drinks we ordered were refreshing and I really would have liked to try their burgers too, but were weren't that hungry. There's an outside ordering window and outdoor tables in case you bring your dog around. I hope it's around for a long time to come so I can revisit a slice of my youth when I'm an old man.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Bambu Desserts & Drinks

89 S Park Victoria Dr
Milpitas, CA 95035
(408) 945-8989
Rating
07/03/2012
I love dessert, after all I'm kind of a foodie fattie. Well, when my buddy mentioned a new Vietnamese dessert joint that he wanted to try in San Jose, I was game to give it a whirl after dinner.

I decided to give their top dessert a try, an icy concoction with lychee, coconut, the green jelly thing, and basil seeds. I liked most of the dessert, but when it comes to basil seeds, I will never ask for them again. They're difficult to eat and really unpleasant going down. I was definitely not digging them and there was entirely too much of the stuff.

Service here is outstanding and the girl behind the counter was amazingly friendly. It's a fairly cramped space but there is a table or two outside where your dog can hangout. I don't think I'd hangout much here but would come back to try a smoothie sometime. Overall though, it was just ok.

Food: 5/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Crossroads Cafe

699 Delancey St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 512-5111
Rating
06/25/2012
My girlfriend and I wanted to spend the gorgeous day outside and also grab some brunch out by the waterfront. It was going to be an eventful day so we needed a quick bite before heading to our next location. It was a tossup between Crossroads Cafe and Town’s End, but Crossroads had a nicer patio and was much more affordable, so we chose that.

I ordered the garlic bagel with egg and bacon, which, at only about $3.50 was a great value. It tasted great too and did a great job of providing with just enough food to satiate my hunger and not make me too full. The girlfriend enjoyed her waffle as well, and it was just enough to get us on our way. The food has no frills here and prices are just right. I wish there was one nearby now to pick up a hot meal for well under $5.

Service was quick and friendly and Crossroads Cafe is a really darn nice place to be. We enjoyed our meal outside in the garden which is fenced in so your dogs aren’t able to join. However, there is one table outside the gate that does welcome your dog so that’s always an option. They’ve also got a special post outside with many other dogs so yours is never lonely. I love Crossroads for their bookstore too and there’s even magazines for your enjoyment too. This would be a great place to bring a laptop as well, and certainly one of the best places in the area to spend the day with a good book.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

4 Embarcadero Ctr
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 391-8068
Rating
06/25/2012
After a nice brunch on the Embarcadero waterfront and stroll through the Ferry Building farmers market, I needed a coffee break to get me through the rest of the day, especially with Union Square and Pride still on the docket. I had an old Coffee Bean giftcard burning a hole in my pocket so my girlfriend and I walked over to the Embarcadero Center for a break.

I ordered their hazelnut blended coffee drink, which I found delicious. It had a chocolately taste as you drink it, and the nuttiness comes out on the tail end of the sip. My girlfriend's dark chocolate blended was also pretty tasty, but my vote was definitely for hazelnut, which is now my official drink here.

Service was friendly and helped with recommendations, and it was nice to take a load off after a long walk on a beautiful day. There are a few tables outside that you can sit at with your dog, but there are also plenty of areas around the courtyard to enjoy as well. The weekends are nice and quiet so I'd recommend coming then.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

In-N-Out Burger

1159 N Rengstorff Ave
Mountain View, CA 94043
(800) 786-1000
Rating
06/17/2012
After a quick trip to Costco with my boss during our lunch break, we needed a satisfying bite to power us through the rest of the scorchingly hot day. Luckily there was an In-N-Out across the street which caught our eye, and being big burger fans, it was the obvious choice.

I ordered a double-double with fries, which of course is a handful of awesome and I loved every bite of the animal style goodness. This is one of my favorite places to lunch, anywhere and I wish I could make myself by going here every day.

They've got quite a few tables outside which welcome your dog, especially on a sunny day like this one. However, beware of the flying rats (pigeons) out there who aren't afraid to approach and steal your food. The parking lot is a disaster during the lunch hour rush and people tend to park like full blown a-holes. Service was quick and friendly though I might try an In-N-Out without the birds next time. I hate those things.

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

House of Coffee

1618 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 681-9363
Rating
06/15/2012
This quaint little shop is located off the main drag of Noriega, and has been quietly roasting some primo coffee for decades. Henry is the proprietor here and he runs a great little shop. I wanted to get out of the heat and into a cold coffee drink so my girlfriend and I cruised in for something tasty.

The first thing you notice as you walk in is that it's really damn hot. I decided to ordered their mocha frappe which came recommended by the barista. When it arrived, the first sip really hit the spot. The flavor was bold and there was just enough sweetness. I'd order it again, but the green tea looked pretty good too.

They sell loose leaf teas and beans here which was nice to know in case I need a special kind. Service was pretty friendly even though the menu is nowhere near where you order at the front. There's a single table outside where you can sit with your dog, but make sure they don't wander inside. They also don't have WiFi and it's not a good place to get work done, but for coffee it's a-ok.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Back A Yard Caribbean American Grill

1189 Willow Rd
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650) 323-4244
Rating
06/13/2012
My buddy and I were seeking out some of the best grub in the area when Back A Yard popped onto our radar. It’s excellent reviews convinced us to give it a try and it’s nice to eat something a little different now and again. The restaurant was pretty busy but we managed to grab a nice table in the corner while waiting for our dinner.

I ordered the jerk catfish and my buddy ordered the jerk chicken plates. We also decided to supplement with their famous corn festival which was something totally new to us. The catfish and chicken was delicious, and the portion size on the chicken plate was enormous for the price. That really is the dish to get! The plantains were ooey gooey, and nice and sweet, and their special rice went great with the rest of the dish. The corn festival side was a bargain at only $2.50, and came with four huge pieces of what was basically fried corn bread. Loved it! I’ve never had cornmeal that way and would definitely recommend ordering it.

Service was a little bit slow, but it was very friendly. Considering how busy it was, it was more or less understandable, and it is a relatively small operation. The food was great and reminded me of Sol Food in some ways, but unique in it’s own. They’ve got a few tables outside that welcomes your dog, but they certainly can’t go inside. I’ll definitely be back and am glad to have discovered this gem hidden away in Menlo Park.

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Eat on Monday Truck

Mountain View Metro Area
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 960-1677
Rating
06/13/2012
Wouldn't you know it, I forgot to bring a lunch to work. Luckily, Eat on Monday was there to solve all of my problems without having to walk a mile to the nearest decent eatery. My boss and I cruised across the lot to check it out.

I ordered the "UFC" Club, which was basically a $9 spicy chicken club sandwich. Despite the high prices, I was actually pretty happy with the size and flavors of the sandwich. I'd say that the only thing it really needed was more fat. A little more mayo or a slice of cheese would have really brought it all together for me. For an extra $2, the fries were kinda wimpy so I skipped on those this visit.

Service was reasonably quick considering that the line was crazy long. Luckily, they even accept credit cards so if you're low on cash, you're all taken care of. It's a food truck...outside...so your dog is welcome to join you if you happen to have them at work. Overall, not bad though I'd skip the wimpy fries next time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Tart To Tart

641 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 504-7068
Rating
06/04/2012
After a nice dinner at Lime Tree (one of my newest favorite local places) my girlfriend and I wanted some dessert or at least a place to sit and enjoy a warm drink. On the way back to the car we spotted Tart to Tart and lots of people enjoying a drink with their lappys. They even had some pastries so we headed in for a drink.

We got a few small hot chocolates and a gingerbread muffin to share. Firstly, their small size is huge. If this had actually been good hot chocolate I would have liked that they did this, but it was just the rough powdery stuff which I wasn't that into. The muffin was so-so and I don't think they actually baked it in-house. Overall, the food and drinks here were a let down.

The service was quick though I wouldn't call it "friendly". There's lots of small tables in the dining room and it's a good place to sit down and study while sipping a cup of coffee. There are very few late night places in the area so Tart to Tart is a popular place for med students to hang. I'll be back for that reason, but I just wasn't into their food offerings.

Food: 5/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Taste of Poland

SW 5th Ave & SW Oak St
Portland, OR 97204
Rating
06/04/2012
Walking through the awesome Saturday market can quickly work up an appetite. So many different arts and crafts to appreciate and food to try. Since my girlfriend had recently returned from a trip to Poland, she wanted to compare the authentic stuff to a Polish food cart near the waterfront. Of course I was game.

We ordered the perogi and sausage combo plate which was served with some veggies and sour cream. I was a really big fan of the excellent perogi and awesome sausage, and really the entire plate. My girlfriend said that it was actually very similar to the authentic stuff and we both really appreciated the comforting grub.

Since it was a food cart and outside, it certainly welcomed your dog to join you. Portland markets are awesome in that you can actually bring your dogs through the market and not get in trouble as you would in the Bay Area. Service was speedy and the food was very fresh. Eating outside by the waterfront with music in the background and the Rose Festival as a backdrop, there really couldn't be a more perfect place to enjoy lunch. I'd definitely revisit this cart!

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Brunchbox

SW 5th Ave & SW Stark St
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 477-3286
Rating
05/31/2012
On my very first day in Portland, I absolutely had to give these food carts a try. Wanting to go balls to the wall right away, I decided to tackle the popular Brunchbox cart. Always game for some ridiculous, I stared at their menu in awe as it was so hard to decide what kind of heart attack I wanted to suffer.

I ultimately decided to go for their redonkadonk, an OMG with their grilled cheese buns. It’s got beef, cheese, bacon, ham, spam, and an egg with all the fixin’s and of course, the Texas toast grilled cheeses. Simply, ridiculous. Simply...delicious! Well, at least the first half. After that, I started feeling my heart slow down but I powered forward. Nonetheless, it was pretty good considering how crazy it was. However, besides being a novelty, I’ll stick with their normal burgers in the future which I might add are very reasonably priced.

Service was pretty cool at Brunchbox and I really like their green method of taking orders with the dry erase menus. The food was really tasty (and really horrible for you) and it’s clear to see why they’re so popular. They’re located outside so your dog is obviously welcome. Brunchbox is worth checking out if you’re a glutton like me but otherwise there are lots of carts vying for your attention. I’d go back though and would encourage you to give it a try!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Stumptown Coffee Roasters

128 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 295-6144
Rating
05/30/2012
One of the things that Portland is really known for is their coffee, and as a frequenter of Starbucks during my startup days, I've come to really appreciate a great cup of coffee in a nice space. Stumptown is a popular local brew so my coffee connoisseur girlfriend and I dropped in to rest our feet.

There was a long line to order and getting to the front took a while. However, we finally made it and I ordered a latte, which was comparably priced to the big box brands. The coffee was really smooth and I didn't have to add any sweetener either. My girlfriend thought it was quite good as well, though preferred the stuff they've got back home a little better.

I quite liked Stumptown Coffee especially as a place to crack open the lappy. There's a local startup scene that sometimes calls Stumptown home as well and I'd probably spend quite a lot of time here if I were working on a project in Portland. They've got a table outside if you happened to bring your dog too. It can be hard to snag a table so when you see one you really have to squat it so bring a friend and enjoy some joe!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Coalition Brewing

2724 SE Ankeny St
Portland, OR 97214
(503) 894-8080
Rating
05/30/2012
Not wanting to leave town without drinking at least one pint of the local ale, we decided to find a brewery on the bus route home. There were a few to choose from, but Coalition was the closest so we hopped off the bus for a taste.

I ordered a pint of a light ale, which had minimal hoppiness. Truth be told, I'm no beer connoisseur, but can say that it was less offensive than most beers I've had so it works for me. They had some interesting menu items that I wanted to try, but unfortunately their kitchen was closed for the night. Overall, I enjoyed the vibe here.

It turned out to be fairly small, like tasting room sized, but a nice little pub nonetheless. The front of the house opens up completely so it's a really nice spot especially on a warm night. The outdoor tables are a great place to sip a beer with a furry friend too. Service was really helpful in selecting a beer for me. I don't think I got the full on brewery experience I was looking for, but it is definitely a cool spot to hang with the locals.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Prasad

925 NW Davis St
Portland, OR 97209
(503) 224-3993
Rating
05/29/2012
I'm typically not a fan of vegan food because it [obviously] lacks meat, and it's often much more expensive than the stuff I actually like. However, Prasad popped up on my radar for having near perfect scores so I had to give it a chance. I'm glad that I did.

I ordered their Dragon bowl, which was filled with quinoa, lentils, veggies, beans, and avo, with a side of their jalapeño cheese dressing. To my surprise, it was actually quite delicious and filling! The food here didn't masquerade around as something it's not. It's even quite affordable at between $9-10. We also shared their revitalizing wellness toddy with lemon, ginger, honey, cayenne, and echinacea in hot water. It was surprisingly delicious and filled my sauce with good vibes. While it may be strange, it really was an amazing feeling and I could really go for some right now.

Service was very friendly and the cafe is actually located in a yoga studio. There are seats outside for louder conversations and if your dog is joining you. I was pleasantly surprised by Prasad and would definitely go back. Vegans will love it here!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Thai Basil

SW 2nd & Oak
Portland, OR 97255
(503) 330-1010
Rating
05/29/2012
Word on the street is that Thai food pods are a big deal in Portland so when the weekend came I was ready to gobble some down. Unfortunately, nobody told me that most pods closed on the weekend and I was nearly left out to dry. Luckily there were a few open, including Thai Basil. With little other choices, I figured I'd give it a try before I left town.

I ordered some chicken mussamun curry over rice. At only $5, this was a killer deal for any hungry traveler. However, there wasn't much in the way of meat or much else besides the curry sauce and rice, although sometimes that's all I really want. Flavor was good and at only $5 for most meat dishes, I could definitely afford to order several dishes to try next time.

Service was quick and friendly and it was great that they open weekends to serve their hungry guests. While there are many Thai pod options, their great prices and weekend schedule make it one of the only choices. Since its also outside, it makes it a great place to bring your dog too. Just don't feed them any curry.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Voodoo Doughnut

22 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 241-4704
Rating
05/28/2012
When you visit Portland, every single person insists that you pay a visit to their world famous donut shop. I happen to love donuts so it was an easy decision for me to go...twice! Fortunately the line was super short on the first trip so we got to order quickly.

We started with their signature voodoo donut and ordered their massive Memphis mafia. These donuts were sweet! The voodoo had a jelly filling where the heart would be the Memphis mafia was covered in peanut butter, peanuts, chocolate, banana chunks, cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate chips. Both were great, though there was no way we could finish them both between us and perhaps was too much of a good thing.

Voodoo is a fun place with some novelty donuts. Definitely worth a stop if you're visiting Portland and will make you fat in a jiffy. I'll be bringing some back for family and friends too! There's benches outside to enjoy your treats and your dogs are welcome too, just not inside the shop. There are sometimes strays around the shop too so cover up your goodies!

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Kobe Japanese Cuisine & Bar

929 Edgewater Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 571-8798
Rating
05/24/2012
A gal pal from San Diego was visiting for the week for work and we wanted to make as much catchup time as possible. Fortunately she as a really sweet meal expense account which made it pretty much open season on dinner. Price being no object, we decided to get some delectable Japanese food at a place called Kobe, in Foster City.

We started off with a fried seafood platter, which was oddly served in an onion ring bowl and served with a light tempura dipping sauce. I thought it was a little bit oily and could have spent a little time on a drying rack or something. We also shared the seaweed salad which was delicious and went by quickly. I ordered the udon/sushi combo, which came with an assortment of basic sushi and sashimi (about 14 pieces I think) and a gigantic bowl of udon noodles and side of shrimp tempura. The meal was also served with miso soup and salad as well. The sushi slices were a little on the small side, but fair considering the rest of the meal. The udon noodles were enormous and there were lots of veggies and tofu in the tasty broth. It was easily enough for 3 people to enjoy. My friend ordered the fried pork rolls, which were also filled with cream cheese. It kind of actually reminded me of a jalapeno poppers actually. She also ordered a roll with spicy tuna and a beautiful hamachi sushi.

Service here is excellent and the dishes were delicious and beautiful. They've got some lovely waterside tables where you can enjoy your meal with your dog which is always a plus. I can't wait to go back and try more of their rolls. Thank goodness for expense accounts!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Buon Appetito Italian Pizzeria

69 37th Ave
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 341-5555
Rating
05/22/2012
It wasn't until recently that I started exploring restaurant within walking distance of my apartment. Most were down the somewhat dilapidated street down the way so I was wary to try them. However, there are some very well regarded places on the strip and the Italian joint caught my eye. I was eager to give it a try.

My girlfriend and I started with a few slices of their pizza including chicken pesto and margherita. For only $5 for two slices, it was a delicious bargain! I ordered their fettucine Alfredo with chicken and my girlfriend got the spaghetti primavera with fresh pasta. Both dishes were fantastic and were well-seasoned while offering large portions. Most dishes are in the $9-12 range so it's quite affordable for the great quality.

Service was excellent and very friendly despite it being a quiet night. They have a small patio outside that welcomes your dogs. I'm a huge fan of Buon Appetito and will be back many times!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

TGI Fridays

3101 S El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94403
(650) 570-4684
Rating
05/14/2012
Whether it’s a long day at work, school, or nothing at all, happy hour is always welcome to the weary. My buddy wanted to meet up for a late snack and drink a=despite having to be at work early the next day so we decided to stay local and relive our student days with some TGI Fridays shenanigans.

Since it was happy hour we were forced to sit side-by-side at the bar instead of at a table where we could enjoy a chat. When we got there, we didn’t even want a trink anymore, and instead opted for some appetizers instead. We tried to the JD chicken strips and artichoke dip. They were just ok, and left much to be craved considering how small the portions were. I swear they cut portion sizes in half for the appetizers for happy hour, preventing any real savings to the customer. All in all, a ho-hum experience.

They’ve got a big patio outside that welcomes your dog and is great on a pretty day. The noise from the passing train every few minutes can interrupt the experience however, making it better to just hang out inside. Service was acceptable though not mind-blowing, and prices were reasonable. The happy hour bar rule is kinda whack if you ask me and limits the opportunities of servers in my opinion. When there’s nobody in the joint, they should be doing a better job of promoting happy hour instead of discouraging larger groups from enjoying it.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Starbucks Coffee

460 N Mathilda Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 245-2987
Rating
05/11/2012
Now and again I need to get out o the office and take a short break at the nearest Starbucks, so a colleague and I swung by for some refreshments.

Since it was such a hot day, I opted for the passion iced tea which is perfect for this kind of weather. With two pumps of raspberry, it is just the right amount of sweetness to reinvigorate me on a stressful day.

If you happened to bring your dog to work, they're more than welcome at the outdoor tables. It's pretty pack with people in meetings and on their laptops so it's probably not a great place to work from during the day. However, it's the nearest location to the office so I suspect I will e back quite a lot.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

San Francisco Soup Company

101 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
Rating
05/10/2012
After a Yelp Elite event, my girlfriend and I wanted to get only a light dinner to supplement the tamales from the evening. We walked over to the Metreon to see what they were serving up there.

It was getting late and many of the options were near closing so we decided to just grab some soup and a sandwich from the SF Soup Company. I tried to order the turkey pesto but they were out, so I was stuck grabbing a pre-made chicken sandwich. She tried to get one of three soups, but they were all out so we got stuck with their chili. I wasn't into either of them. My sandwich was cold and stale while the chili had been cooking all day and was really dry.

Prices are so-so at best though the Yerba Buena Gardens are a pretty place to lunch on a nice day. Your dog is even welcome out there! Unfortunately, I wasn't even remotely impressed by the food here, and despite arriving at the end of the night, doesn't make me want to return.

Food: 4/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

116 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 830-9100
Rating
05/04/2012
My boss and I opted to leave the office for lunch and to continue the day of meetings over a meal. Not feeling like the regular stuff, we needed a manly meal to quash the hunger pangs. What's more meaty than a big Five Guys burger, just about nothing.

I decided to score the bacon cheeseburger, all-in, with a side of fries. Hold the soda cause I certainly don't need those empty calories! *snicker* This was a legitimately big burger and was piping hot with freshness. It reminds me of the kind of thing I'd make at a BBQ on a hot summer day and really hits the spot. The fries were piping hot and salty, perhaps a bit too much however. Overall, I left full and happy, and even took some home to prevent food coma throughout the rest of the day.

Food coma set it anyway and I found myself nodding off for the rest of the day. At about $11 and 1200 calories, this is no baby burger and can add up in more ways than one. They've got some great, covered tables outside where people like to eat with their dogs. Parking is a pain here, but if you find one, Five Guys is where you want to be. For food coma, Friday is probably the best day to come. Otherwise, I can look forward to being unproductive the rest of the day.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

The Chairman Truck

670 Larkin St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 813-8800
Rating
05/02/2012
I've only ever been to Treasure Island once and I just found out they have a monthly flea market. Seizing the opportunity to see the city from a new angle and possibly score some great gifts or desk toys, my girlfriend headed across the bridge for adventure.

We didn't find any trinkets to buy, but The Chairman truck was present. I distinctly remember it being called Chairman Bao, but the must have offended somebody and changed their name as a result. Luckily, their buns haven't changed and I opted to try their famous pork belly bao. I really enjoyed the contrast between the pickled radish and savory pork belly, which while could have been a tad thicker, had great flavors. For $3.75, it was a small bite but surprisingly filling, and I think two would have actually filled me up.

They relocate all the time but I'm glad I finally got to try their fare. I actually prefer baos to tacos so this really hit the spot. The event, and the usual truck spots, are pet friendly so be sure to bring your dog out to enjoy the day. I'm not a big food truck fan in general, but I'm sold on The Chairman.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Samovar Tea Lounge

730 Howard St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 227-9400
Rating
05/02/2012
I'm used to the typical milk tea joints that serve up the starchy stuff and never been to the exclusive Samovar before. I've seen it in passing and all the folks enjoying their trendy teas and was warded off by their generally high prices. Some of my girlfriend's friends were in town visiting and insisted on trying it so I decided to suck it up and give it a try.

I ordered their fancy Arnold Palmer and our table shared one of their dessert platters. The Arnold Palmer was very refreshing on such a beautiful day though I wasn't really in the mood for sweets. I did try each bite and flavors and textures of the brownies, cookies, and mousse were spot on. The green tea mousse in particular was a standout and worth a try for sure.

Service was friendly and helpful, and their outdoor patio has amazing views of Yerba Buena Park. Your dog is even welcome outside though you'll probably want to find a shady spot on the best of days. Prices are quite high so come expecting that, but I must say that it was a very pleasant afternoon and Samovar was the perfect place for a pit stop. Got friends coming to town and want to enjoy SOMA? Being them by for an iced tea!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Gombei Bento

155 E Maude Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 735-7777
Rating
04/19/2012
Work can be a stressful place sometimes and it really helps to get out of the office on a beautiful day. I needed some Zen-like food so I headed over to Gombei Bento for some Japanese fare. Little did I know that I would stumble onto a gem.

I ordered a shrimp tempura udon, which included some veggies as well. They served the tempura on the side so it wouldn't get soggy. A simple touch, but more places need to do this! The soup was delicious and the udon noodles almost seemed to taste as if they were made in-house. Speaking of, they make their own tofu here! I definitely need to take some home with me next time.

Service here is excellent, nay, outstanding! The people here are so damn nice that it's hard not to feel relaxed while enjoying lunch. They even accept credit cards for small orders. They've got a couple dog-friendly tables outside but they were all snagged when I arrived for my late lunch. There's tons of stuff I can't wait to try on their menu and will be back, a lot!

Food: 8/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Shalimar

1146 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 530-0300
Rating
04/17/2012
I never thought it would be so difficult to find lunch in Sunnyvale on a Monday, but it seems as if almost everybody is closed! I was meeting up with an acquaintance who recently moved up from San Diego for work and we decided to grab some grub at A Slice of NY pizza. Well, they're inexplicably closed on Monday so we decided to cruise over to Taste Buds for some Indian goodness. Closed as well! Luckily, he knew of a place on the next street so we hoofed it over.

We shared the chicken tikka masala and chicken karahi, regular and garlic naan, and rice. Flavors were decent though there were only like 3 pieces of chicken in the tikka masala and the karahi had more bone than chicken. My naan was pretty well charred and I like mine a tad chewier. The rice was a little dry too. Overall, I prefer Taste Buds and will drag my buddy over there next time.

Service was pretty much non-existent as is the style here and it's cash only. There's one or two tables outside to enjoy in the sun so if you've got a dog, then lunch is no problem. Prices were cheap, but with naan and rice it can become fairly pricey pretty quick. I might give them another try but Taste Buds will definitely get my business!

Food: 6/10

Service: 3/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Sunnyvale Cafe

223 E Maude Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94085
(408) 530-8191
Rating
04/16/2012
I was supposed to cruise over to my friend's company for lunch, but as luck would have it, an emergency cancelled my appointment. I needed a place to eat so I turned to Yelp for a recommendation. From the name alone, it's really hard to tell what Sunnyvale Cafe serves up, but feeling adventurous (and judging from the super high rating) I decided to walk over and give it a try.

I ordered the kafta wrap and it was served up piping hot! One bite and I was in love with the little sandwich. The beef was slightly spicy and seasoned with Mediterranean spices. It was fabulous! My only complaint would be that the wrap was so hot that the paper fused to the sandwich, making it difficult I remove. Ultimately I ended up eating paper, but hardly noticed it.

The service here is excellent and I love the couple that runs the place. They're so nice and it's hard not to come back over and over for them alone! They've got some tables outside for you and your dog to sit at but the dog obviously has to stay outside. It's pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but totally worth the detour!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

The WOW Silog Truck

San Jose Metro Area
San Jose, CA 95126
Rating
04/11/2012
I owed my boss lunch and it was a busy day so we decided to stay near the office. We embarked on foot for what we thought was a seafood truck in the office parking lot, but were instead surprised to find a Filipino BBQ one instead. No matter, the food sounded good and reasonably priced so it was definitely on the menu.

I ordered a pork sausage burrito which was loaded with garlic fried rice and egg, all for $7.50. It was a little stubby, but the ingredients were flavorful. I especially loved the fried rice part of it, which wasn’t at all dry, and more of a sticky rice texture. Tasty and would definitely get it again.

Service was nice and quick and our lunch was made to order. It’s a truck, so your dog is obviously welcome to come hang out if they happened to join you for work. I have no idea what half of the stuff I ate was called, but whatever it is, I enjoyed it!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Gregoire

2109 Cedar St
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 883-1893
Rating
04/09/2012
The second stop on a brunch crawl, Gregoire is an extremely popular hole-in-the-wall within the gourmet ghetto. I've been wanting to give it a try for a long while and decided to get a couple of items.

I ordered the fried chicken sandwich and fried potato balls, which they happen to be famous for. I loved both dishes and it was clear that their food is made with a lot of love. The flavors were clean and sophisticated and I can see why people love the food here.

They've got a couple of small tables outside that welcome your dogs, but I'd they're occupied you'll have to either head home or to the nearest park. Service was friendly and, while prices are on the high end, are pretty reasonable for the quality. They've got lots of great items that I can't wait to try and will make it a point to return to the area more often.

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Cheese Board Pizza

1512 Shattuck Ave
Berkeley, CA 94709
(510) 549-3183
Rating
04/09/2012
I've heard all about Cheese Board from my friends and peers, and every time I want to give it a try it's either packed or closed. I was meeting up with my girlfriend's family for brunch, and as former residents of the area, they made sure we could finally enjoy it.

They were serving an amazing asparagus pizza with other veggies and local cheese with a generous drizzle of their famous garlic olive oil. In a word, it was amazing! The flavors were so fresh and clean, and the pizza was piping hot out of the oven! I was so happy to have gotten to try it and will return many time to try their different combinations of the day!

Service was great and we were pretty much in and out since they only offer one choice of pizza each day. There's always a live band to entertain the lines and those lucky enough to have grabbed a seat. There are even dog friendly tables outside, but many people tend to favor the median to picnic seating. It's not technically allowed so definitely keep an eye out for cars, but don't let that deter you from amazing pizza!

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 10/10

In-N-Out Burger

604 E El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(800) 786-1000
Rating
04/08/2012
When I want a great reliable burger, I don't even consider anywhere but In-N-Out. Casual Fridays, and really any day, is great for a good burger so I looked one up and luckily found one just minutes from the office.

I ordered their spectacular double-double, animal style, with fries, which arrived quickly from their hyper efficient and streamlined kitchen. It was delicious as expected every time and it's practically the only thing I order unless I decide to double down on a 4x4. Easily one of the best burgers around.

Service was characteristically swift and I liked that they had an extra large dining room for all the hungry folks who work in the area. Even when they're busy, you are likely to find a table. Parking however, is a different story, and the lot is pretty tight. They do have some outdoor tables for those sunny days in Sunnyvale, and if you had your dog, they're welcome to join you. I will definitely be back for many more lunches as I dream of double-doubles to break up the busy work day.

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Burger Joint

242 King St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 371-1600
Rating
03/23/2012
I met up with my girlfriend in SOMA for a long lunch and try something new. There's lots of choices along King Street, including the new Lucky Strikes. Instead of all that business, we decided to give Burger Joint a try.

I ordered the cheeseburger with fries, with a coffee shake. At $15, this was a pretty crazy price to pay for the world's most boring burger. The fries were totally unseasoned and all of the food here comes from Cisco. Boring, tasteless, and uninspired. The single bright spot was the coffee shake, which was thick and tasty. My girlfriend's chicken Caesar salad was plain and expensive at almost $10. Extras are absurdly priced too.

I was totally blown away by Burger Joint, and in all the wrong ways. Service was just so-so but at least they've got some dog-friendly tables outside. The joint is clean, but it's such a shame that the food is so unsatisfying and plain. In fact, it really makes me miss Islands in San Diego. Even the fries come out frozen. Sad.

Food: 4/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 5/10

Starbucks Coffee

280 King St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 344-0351
Rating
03/23/2012
I was having a headache after lunch and wanted to get some tea to help calm the head banging. Starbucks has one of my favorite iced teas and I hadn’t been in a while, so it was the clear choice for chilling out for the rest of the day.

I ordered the passion iced tea with two pumps of raspberry syrup to sweeten. The nice thing about Starbucks is that, anywhere in the world, I can enjoy the familiar sweetness of their delicious drinks and their iced tea never disappoints.

One thing I definitely noticed was that the WiFi connection was way slower here than at other locations, but I suspect that has something to do with being located in the hotbed of technology. Service was quick and there weren’t any lines, and they have some great seats outside where most people like to hang out with their dogs. Overall, definitely one of the better SOMA locations.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Siam Taste

172 S Murphy Ave
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
(408) 245-8585
Rating
03/21/2012
On my first day of work, my boss and I wanted some time to get up to speed and decided to grab lunch in downtown Sunnyvale. There aren't many choices but Thai food stuck out as a good option. Siam Taste became lunch that day.

I ordered the salmon curry lunch special, with was served with a watery soup, rice, an egg roll, fried wonton, and salad. The appetizers were decently tasty though standard fare, but the salad was dry and undressed, and pretty gross. The salmon curry was nice and spicy, but the fish was perhaps a little overcooked.

Service was kind of careless and the server brought our soup stacked on top of each other. Besides the sanitation issues, this was just sloppy. Prices were more than one might expect to pay for lunch and generally $10 . But given the limited options, I guess there's not much choice. They've got some tables outside where you can come if you happen to have brought your dog to work with you which is nice. The street is quiet so it's a fine area to have lunch in the area.

Food: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Jamba Juice

127-J Serramonte Ctr
Daly City, CA 94015
(650) 992-2610
Rating
03/13/2012
Sometimes, even on a cold wet day, you just want a smoothie to power up with. I had a coupon and my girlfriend and I had just finished shopping next door at Target so we dropped our stuff off at the car and dropped into Jamba for a drink.

I ordered from their "secret" menu and got the White Gummy Bear. I always thought that the candy version was sort of pineapple-y, but the Jamba version tasted of peaches. It was more like candy than anything and good in small doses, but I don't think I'd want it all the time. To it's credit though, it did remind me of a white gummy bear.

Service was quick here (probably because it was so slow). They filled up our drinks to the brim, which is more than I can say for many other Jamba Juices. They've got some outdoor tables that you can chill with your dog at and watch the traffic go by, but on a rainy day like this, it was pretty much empty. I'll probably be back, but not for the White Gummy Bear!

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tamalpie Pizzeria

477 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-7437
Rating
03/07/2012
I was meeting up with a buddy to catch up over dinner and we decided to try this new pizza place in Mill Valley called Tamalpie. I thought to myself, "what a clever name!" and figured they'd have some pretty fancy pies to satisfy the tastes of the people in the area. It was pretty much what I expected, but...not.

For starters, there weren't really any starters and there was an enormous piece of glass broken out of my friend's cup which I luckily spotted before he drank from it. Prices were relatively high and we decided to share the Blithedale Canyon pie with potato, mozzarella, fontina, Hobbs bacon, and rocket pesto. I found the dough to be undercooked and doughy, which is hard to do when the crust is so thin. The toppings were ok though I couldn't really taste the pesto at all.

Service was unimpressive and I expected a lot more. We ran out of water early and our bottle sat empty for a pretty long time. I guess it was a little dark so it was hard to see, but it would have been nice to get checked on more often. I'm not too keen on having our neighbor's table connected to ours, which make it hard to talk. They've got some tables outside that are probably pretty good on a beautiful day or if you're on a walk with your dog. Overall, I was a bit disappointed, but I'd give them another shot to win my business.

Food: 5/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Armadillo Willy's

2260 Bridgepointe Pkwy
San Mateo, CA 94404
(650) 571-7427
Rating
03/06/2012
I haven't had BBQ in a long time and my buddy suggested we try Armadillo Willy's which was within walking distance from his apartment. The place was packed when we arrived, which was a good sign to us that it would be some pretty tasty stuff.

I ordered the Texas BBQ Rib Family Pack ($30) togo for my buddies and I to share, which came with a full slab of ribs, 4 corn muffins, corn salad, and beans. I thought the ribs were a little dry but the muffins were pretty good though I do love corn bread and missed out on the real thing. The corn salad was delicious as were the beans, which had bacon in them. Overall it was just ok and I have had much better BBQ elsewhere.

Service for our togo order was pretty quick but it wasn't somewhat unclear as to what sides were included in the package since they're all grouped together on the menu. I tried to order the sweet potato fries but it turns out that they are a premium item, as were the regular fries. Seems to me that those would be staples and should have been included, so that was kind of disappointing. The place was packed when I went so they're clearly doing something right. There are some dog-friendly covered tables outside within the enclosed windscreen which is nice since it can pretty windy in the area. I just wasn't terribly impressed by my experience.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Depot Garden Cafe

718 B St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-9151
Rating
02/14/2012
There's nothing better on a Sunday than brunch in Marin! My girlfriend and I needed some time out of the city and decided to grab some eggs and potatoes at Depot Garden. I admit their name threw me for a loop, but they're known for their Eggs Benedict which we both decided to try.

I went with the bay shrimp Benedict with avocado served with their delicious hash browns. There was a ton of shrimp on my eggs and the Hollandaise sauce had nice sour notes. Their hash browns were delicious and it's clear why they're famous for them. Prices are decent for the food an area and I would definitely come back to try their crab Benedict.

Service was kind and they've got a beautiful dog-friendly patio out back. Bring your pooch for a great Sunday brunch and you won't be disappointed with your Benedict!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Panera Bread

320 Adrian Rd
Millbrae, CA 94030
(650) 692-3100
Rating
01/26/2012
I had the difficult choice of choosing whether to grab lunch at Panera or In-N-Out, and it's usually a no-brainer in favor of the latter. However, I needed the benefit of free WiFi today so Panera won the day.

I'm a sucker for the broccoli cheddar bread bowls here and it's more or less the only thing I order at Panera. There were some pros and cons about today's experience. On the bright side, they did a great job with the cut out so there was a lot more soup than normal. However, the bread didn't seem to be as crusty and toasted as it normally is. The sop itself was yummy as usual though and that's my favorite part.

They've got a nice big patio outside that's shielded from the traffic in the parking lot, and your dog is welcome to join you. They don't bring your food to you here and instead went with the buzzers, which removes that comforting human element from the experience. Service was pretty good though and there's some nice breakout areas to work from during the day. Definitely going to be back here.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Falafel Hut

1115 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 259-0440
Rating
01/17/2012
My buddy and I were looking for a lunch join and the place we really wanted to try was closed for MLK. Instead, we decided to walk down 4th St and see what looked interesting. I noticed there was a Groupon deal for Falafel Hut and it made it worth giving it a try. The menu was pretty pricey with wraps and sandwiches in the $7-13 range and entrees from $12-18, it would have required a deal to get me in here in the first place.

I ordered the falafel and beef wrap which came out to about $13 with tax. When I received it, it didn't look anything like the photo and I couldn't help be feel a tad dissatisfied immediately. Luckily it was discounted. Flavors were just ok, and I found myself adding quite a bit of hot sauce. I've definitely had better, more affordable mediterranean food elsewhere.

Service here is really good and the folks that run the place are great. They've got patio seating so your dog is welcome to join you outside. However, prices are kind of ridiculous if you ask me, and the restaurant is kind of hidden with the counter way in back. If you come with the coupon, definitely give it a try, but otherwise there are much better eats elsewhere.

Food: 6/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Xanh Restaurant

110 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 964-1888
Rating
01/13/2012
I've seen Xanh many times while dining across the street and while driving by, but Asian Fusion restaurants are always a little off-putting to me because they tend to be overly expensive and generally not actually very Asian. However, I'm game for new cuisines and decided to give it a try as the location for a lunch meeting.

They have a large lunch buffet featuring about 20-25 dishes from noodles to curry, rolls and stir-fries. I tried a bit of everything on my first pass to see what I liked and there were a few that were pretty good and not overly fried or sweet. The spare ribs stuck out as a favorite, while the popular garlic noodles fell short for me for being too soggy and oily. The curries were ok but the cha gio were tasty. Overall, it was pretty middle of the road.

At $12, it was a fair deal for a buffet lunch in downtown Mountain View, and the place was packed with people. There's a ton of tables outside where your dog can join you at, but it's right next to the street and just feet from the CalTrain station so it gets pretty damn noisy every few minutes. I'd recommend the inside tables but it's really loud and dark inside, and probably not a good place for a meeting. I might give it another try, but otherwise I'll stick with HK Bistro.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Toasties

850 Ulloa St
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 665-4677
Rating
01/09/2012
As a MUNI rider that passes through West Portal, I've always seen Toasties on the corner taunting me with their "Best crab melt in SF" banner. Always seeking the best of everything, I decided to give it a try.

We ordered the crab melt and a sourdough bread bowl with clam chowder. Both were fantastic! The crab melt features lots of real crab meat and I savored every bite. It's not a huge sandwich but it hits the spot. I was really impressed with the freshness of their soup and bread, and the clam chowder was more of less made to order. I'm used to the stuff they ladle out of crockpots but seeing the care they put into their soup was refreshing.

Toasties is an awesome little hole-in-the-wall with a great location. I would definitely order both dishes again and can't wait to come back! I'll bring Doggie next time since they have some pleasant tables outside and the weather is getting really nice. Hopefully the train noise isn't too bad.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Dash Cafe

420 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1237
Rating
12/20/2011
After lunch, my buddy and I wanted to check out Dash and grab a drink while getting work done. It was really nearby so we dropped in for a snack.

I ordered the strawberry smoothie, which I actually found extremely unsatisfying. It was decently priced at $3.75 but was made from a couple frozen strawberries and I'm not sure what else. It did not look or taste like a smoothie and I wouldn't order it again. It also seemed to take forever to make.

Service was really unenthusiastic to say the last and the most absurd thing is that they close at 4pm on Tuesdays, which is downright ridiculous and makes for a terrible customer experience. In fact, there was a line of people trying to order that were simply turned away. For a business in such close proximity to UCSF, this is one joint that should be open later hours. Unfortunately for Tuesdays, that's not the case. They've got some tables outside for you to hang out at with your dog, but I recommend skipping it altogether.

Food: 2/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Roli Roti Gourmet Rotisserie

1 Ferry Bldg
San Francisco, CA 94105
(510) 780-0300
Rating
12/07/2011
It was an amazing day in the city so my girlfriend and I decided to head out to the Ferry Building farmer’s market for some lunch. There are so many choices it can be hard to decide, but the crazy long line drew us to the Roli Roti truck. For some reason I think of Indian food whenever I see this truck at farmers' markets, and it’s not immediately the thing I want when eating outside, but I was starving and figured hey, let's give it a try!

We shared the pork sandwich and chicken combo. I loved the crispiness of the pork skin in the sandwich as well as those delicious fingerling potatoes. The chicken was super tender but it lacked a bit of differentiation in flavor from most other rotisserie chickens from the chains. For less than $10, it's one of the better meal deals at this market and it's certainly worth a try.

Overall, I enjoyed the meal and it’s certainly at one of the most beautiful places in the city. It’s so great to get outside and on the waterfront to enjoy some gourmet organic foods once in a while. If i worked in the area, I’d definitely be there at least three times a week!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Mama's Empanadas

San Francisco Metro Area
San Francisco, CA 94115
(650) 281-6431
Rating
12/01/2011
Mama's truck was parked outside of ROE, which served as the conference after party venue. When I saw the prices ($5 each for the meat), I was initially shocked until I saw that they were tiny, where I was shocked again. I had no intention of purchasing one but once I found out they were serving them free to party-goers, I couldn't pass it up.

I tried the Chilean beef empanada and the thing was piping hot, like microwave hot. I actually had to let it cool for about 20 minutes before taking a bite. I was pretty unimpressed and was glad I didn't have to actually buy the empanada. I think they would be ok at $4, but a buy at 2 for $7, especially after a few drinks or out for a walk with your dog. Overall though, I'll take a pass.

This food truck thing is getting out of control and this one didn't even come decorated. The lady behind the counter wasn't very smiley and I felt like I wasn't really wanted there. That's cool, cause I don't plan to go back.

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Super Duper

721 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 538-3437
Rating
12/01/2011
After a full conference day, I wanted to meet up with some pals for a bite downtown before the after party. Most of the food downtown is mediocre and expensive so it can be hard to find something that my stomach can really appreciate. The buzz on the street was that Super Duper was worth checking out so we decided to give it a try.

I ordered the super burger with cheese, which is basically a double cheeseburger, garlic fries, and a chocolate shake. At about $15, this was a super expensive meal that is basically fast food. The meat was extremely fresh and juicy and the shake was top notch. However, the fries fell a bit flat for me. The homemade pickles were tasty but a little chilling would add a crunch that would go a long way.

They've got a small patio outside where your dog can chill while you eat. Remember to keep them outside the whole time though since they're not allowed inside. Service is a little slow but the people are pretty nice, but the line moved quickly. I like that they've got some breakout areas to enjoy your meal so it doesn't just feel like a cavernous space. Overall, I'd go back for another.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Four Barrel Coffee

375 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-0800
Rating
11/18/2011
I was meeting up with my pal in the Mission to catch up and arrived in the area a bit early. In need of somewhere to camp till lunch, I navigated over to Four Barrel Coffee. They’re known for their delicious and, as it turns out, pretty strong coffee. Another thing that I wish I had know earlier however is that they don’t have WiFi.

I ordered a simple latte and it doesn’t appear that they offer any syrups for flavor. However, it’s really unneeded because the coffee itself has so much flavor. I’m not a connoisseur, but even I could drink this stuff unsweetened.

There is a public parklet that is open to anybody so you can enjoy your Four Barrel Coffee outside with your dog. It was a fairly wet day in the city so the seats were empty this time but I can imagine them being quite busy on most days. Prices are pretty much on par with coffee in the area and my latte was $3.75. The shop is abuzz all-day, everyday and so it can get pretty loud normally. If you want a quiet place to read, this probably isn’t for you. But if you just want to grab and go, you’ve come to the right place.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

4000 S Lake Tahoe Blvd Ste 24
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 543-3391
Rating
11/17/2011
I needed a place to get some work done out of the Tahoe condo and of course Starbucks came to mind. Luckily there was a location about a half mile away with a huge dog-friendly patio so I made a beeline for it.

I ordered a hazelnut latte and found a nice corner seat to hunker down. It's nice to have something familiar and delicious to soothe to soul and Starbucks never disappoints.

The seating area inside is kind of small and cramped but the patio is great. There's tons of parking too but there's an hour and a half limit. Still though, there aren't many places to get some work done on free WiFi in a friendly place so this is my choice for sure.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Sprouts Natural Foods Cafe

3123 Harrison Ave
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 541-6969
Rating
11/16/2011
When every restaurant in the area features a bad buffet or lackluster fare, sometimes you just want something fresh and tasty. My girlfriend and I stumbled upon Sprouts, a vegetarian restaurant, by accident and it was super well rated so we decided to cruise by and check it out.

We ordered a tempeh burger, cous cous and hummus wrap, and energy smoothie to share. All of the food was absolutely delicious and specially made, and you could taste the freshness and quality in every bite.

Service was super friendly and fast, and the food was surprisingly affordable. The vibe is extremely homely, and it feel like you're in the living room of a log cabin. The restaurant is easy to miss from the road so keep an eye out for this special place. They've got some tables out front to enjoy with your dog on a warm day too. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Oren's Hummus Shop

261 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 752-6492
Rating
11/08/2011
Some friends were visiting from San Diego and I wanted to see them before they head back in the morning. We decided to get some dinner on University and they chose to try this new hummus joint that sprang up recently. Ever since it did, it’s been outrageously popular and I’ve been dying to give it a go. Luckily, my friends had the same thing in mind.

We ordered the 2 beef and lamb kabob skewers with quinoa and hummus, mushroom hummus, hummus with beef, chicken rice bowl, and the falafel and sweet potato fry sides. It was super delicious, especially the kabobs and hummus. Wow! Who would have thought a dipping side would be so good! It’s really no wonder to me now why it’s so popular, and better yet, it’s actually reasonably priced for the area.

I don’t know who Oren is but he makes a great hummus! Service was excellent and we ended up leaving a 25% tip because we so enjoyed our meal. There’s some nice tables just outside if you’ve brought your dog, but it was way too cold to enjoy dinner out there this night. Seriously though, I underestimated how the food might be here, but it’s legit!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Seal Point Dog Park

1801 E 3rd Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
Rating
11/07/2011
My buddy and I were tired from working on some projects at his house so we decided to go for a walk to the park near his house. There's a bike/walking path all the way there and the views all around we're beautiful except for the abundance of power lines in the area. There's an enormous enclosed off-leash dog park here that's split between small and large dog areas. The large dog run is probably at least 50 yards long so plenty of space to run around. The running path also allows dogs but they've got to be on-leash, and a ranger patrols the area so it's best to avoid an unnecessary ticket. All in all, it's a pretty friendly place with beautiful wetlands and I look forward to coming back again and again!

Wellington's Wine Bar

300 Turney St
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-9463
Rating
11/06/2011
I was checking out a new Meetup group in Sausalito and the location was set at a beautiful wine bar. Classy and comfy, I was looking forward to a great evening.

There are a ton of choices by the glass, but on a cold evening I was interested in something red. I decided to try their house Tempranillo, which was fruity and nutty, and quite affordable. Very good for a house wine indeed.

Service was great and, while most nights are pretty slow, there was a warm buzz in the room this evening. There's some benches out back on the patio and even a water bowl for your dog when they're joining you for the evening. I'm looking forward to returning for a whole bottle of wine when I don't have to drive.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

260 Northgate One
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 492-1928
Rating
11/06/2011
It was a chilly Friday and I needed to get some work done with a hot drink.  Of course, Starbucks blipped onto my radar and I recently discovered this location when making some copies at the FedEx next door.

I ordered their gingerbread latte since I've always enjoyed their holiday flavors, and I wasn't disappointed.  On first sip, it tasted like Christmas and it feels like home.

Service was friendly on this occasion, but I've been a bit annoyed on previous visits by all the crazy loud chatter between baristas and their friends.  There's a decent amount of seating, but I you've got a laptop that needs power, you'll be hard-pressed to find outlets.  There's a few seats outside for you and your dog to chill at though which is always nice.  Not a bad place to get work done and plenty of parking too.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Giordano Bros

303 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 397-2767
Rating
11/03/2011
I was meeting with my buddy for dinner and wanted to try something new. He mentioned a great place in North Beach called Giordano Bros with some popular sandwiches so we made the long walk up from the BART station to give it a try.

I ordered the Italian sausage sandwich ($6.95) and Amstel ($3) for dinner. The sandwich was stuffed with fries and coleslaw which really brought it all together. It was really delicious but I couldn’t help but want more fries and sides to round out the meal. If you took those things out of the sandwich, I think it might just be bread and meat. Regardless, the combination is undeniably tasty and I’d come back for another one.

The service was really friendly and welcoming. Giordano Bros is essentially a dive bar with food and there’s a homely feel to the place. The happy hour specials get as low as $2 per beer, which is pretty much unbeatable in the city. On a nice day, they've got some great tables outside that you can enjoy with your dog. Stop by when there’s a big game and throw back a beer as you cheer your team on!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Mediterranean Grill House

650 Castro St Ste 110
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 625-9990
Rating
11/03/2011
I was in Mountain View for some meetings and my buddy wanted to grab some lunch. We decided to drop by the Mediterranean Grill House for a quick wrap before getting back to work and upon walking in, the place was packed! That’s usually a good sign that a place will be solid, but I was ultimately disappointed by my meal.

I ordered the lamb and beef wrap which I was told was supposed to be more filling than the falafel I was eyeballing. I found the meat really dry, and there was no sauce to pour on in sight. I wasn’t sure if was the lamb or beef or both, but it was definitely not an impressive meal.

They’ve got a ton of tables outside on the sidewalk patio that welcome your dog on a warm day. Tables inside area very cramped though. Service was a little spotty, but the food was just not appetizing. There are a few other options on Castro so I’ll look to them for a Mediterranean wrap on the next trip.

Food: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Yapsie's Howl-o-ween Costume Contest & Picnic!

Jack London Square
Oakland, CA 94607
Rating
11/01/2011
I personally had a ton of food at the Yapsie Howl-o-ween costume contest and I think Doggy did too! She went as sweet peas, though I'm not sure she actually liked the costume I chose for her. We started off at Canine Comforts and walked over to Jack London Square for the contest itself and Dixie the poodle took home the top prize! Lunch from Cam Huong Cafe was served and there were Vietnamese sandwiches, egg rolls and spring rolls, pan dan waffles for dessert and plenty to drink. Such a great turnout and I can't wait till the next one!

Canine Comforts

308 Jackson St Ste 2
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 238-8717
Rating
11/01/2011
Great service, delicious treats, and fantastic Halloween costumes. I stopped by after the Yapsie Howl-o-ween Costume Contest for some treats for Doggy for being such a good girl and there was so much to choose from that I had a hard time doing it! I ended up letting Doggy choose for herself, but she wanted the whole store so that wasn't going to happen. Ultimately I ended up with a 3-ft long chicken flavored treat and a dental bone (gotta get rid of the "doggy" breath!) and as soon as I gave the bone to her, she gobbled it right down! Guess I'll be coming back again soon to replenish. Abby and Dane are the owners are ready to help you pick the perfect treat, food, leash, or toy whenever you need it so stop by and take some goodies home!

Darwin Cafe

212 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 800-8668
Rating
10/31/2011
I was grabbing lunch with a great friend and she invited me out to Darwin for a bite. I'd never heard of it since it was hidden in a small alley behind my girlfriend's office. However, a quick search showed me that this was a true gem.

I ordered a smoked salmon sandwich featured goat cheese and sprouts and was served with a beautiful salad. The salad had some great surprises like pomegranate seeds too! My friend's bay shrimp salad looked amazing too. I loved the food here and it was perfectly priced for the extraordinary quality.

The restaurant was a little small, but I loved the counter top dining which looked into the prep area and service was super fast. They've got a nice table outside that welcomes your dog, but come early because a line forms really fast. I can't wait to come back here to try their other dishes!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Erik's Delicafe

2 N Market St
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 998-2323
Rating
10/18/2011
My girlfriend and I were in town for the Sharks vs Ducks and needed to get some grub before the game. We didn’t exactly feel like getting ripped off at the Pavilion so we walked around town for a little bit to see what we were working with. She spotted an Erik’s and wanted to try it since she hadn’t been back since she was a kid.

We shared an Abbott’s Habit (roast beef) and a Sea Dog (tuna melt), which were both served with a pickle spear and orange slice. Both were hot sandwiches which were quite welcome before heading into a place where a parka is necessary. The portion sizes aren’t huge, but just enough to tide us over during the game. I could have definitely used more meat.

They’re more expensive than Subway, but the quality is worth it and all of the ingredients tasted pretty fresh. I do think they could have done a little better with the “sides” but they weren’t a deal breaker. There’s a few tables outside where you can enjoy your sandwich with your pup too. If you’re into the roar of the airplanes overhead landing at SJC nearby, then these are a great option too. Overall, a tasty and satisfying sandwich but that didn’t blow my mind.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Rockridge Out & About

College Ave
Oakland, CA 94618
Rating
10/14/2011
This was my first time at this fabulous block party and there was tons to see and do. My girlfriend and I were meeting up with her sister's family and we kicked things off with some freshly shucked oysters followed up with some lobster bisque! There was even some wrestling demos going on too, which brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. The area is super dog friendly and people were walking through the streets with their lovely pups. Most fairs restrict dogs because of food vendors but they seemed perfectly welcome here. More street festivals need to be this way. We demand it!

Theresa & Johnny's Comfort Food

817 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 259-0182
Rating
10/06/2011
My girlfriend and I haven't had a nice brunch in Marin yet and have been wanting to try this comfort brunch place on 4th Street for a while, ever since Sol Food used it's dining room in this transition.  While parking on a Saturday morning isn't free, and there were lines running out the door, that didn't detour us from giving it a try.

I ordered the Irish Highlands (not on the menu) which was pretty much an Eggs Benedict over hashbrowns.  It was delicious and a great combo I wouldn't have expected.  Big portion sizes too!  Props to the server who suggested it.

They've got a lot of menu options that I want to try and the service was great despite being really busy.  There's a home-y vibe to the place that's extremely comforting, which only adds to the charm.  I can't wait to come back and next time I'll enjoy the brunch outside at one of their dog-friendly tables!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

332 W El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA 94087
(408) 736-6859
Rating
10/04/2011
I've been to a lot of Starbucks locations in my time but none more appalling than a situation I witnessed at this location and the behavior of the employees before, during, and after the event.

An old lady had fallen down here and as a result, the paramedics had to be called to come to her aid. What did the employees do? Well, nothing actually. In fact, they did less than nothing and told the customers attending to her to not worry about her. It was the other patrons in the shop who called 911 and comforted her while the paramedics rushed over. All the while, the baristas were laughing and chatting it up with each other while stuffing their faces with cake. Not to mention that several of the people behind the counter weren't even wearing Starbucks uniforms but were moving about in back. One girl even talked about taking her top off and running around the store in her bra. The only employee that seemed to have her stuff together was the girl chasing after the paramedics with the clipboard, trying to document the situation. Besides her, the rest of the 4 or 5 people behind the counter were pretty useless.

Honestly, I've never seen such a sad state of a popular Starbucks location. The other complaints about the baristas are totally justified and coming here is a totally unpleasant experience. It's dirtier than other locations too but there are at least a bunch of dog-friendly tables outside. Nonetheless, there really are no standards at this location and it's high time they fire everybody here and hire a brand new staff. It's a zoo in there and the handlers have all gone off to bed.

Food: n/a

Service: 0/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 3/10

Zazie

941 Cole St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 564-5332
Rating
09/27/2011
My cousin was getting married and she wanted to get both sides of the family together at the dinner table. Their apartment was a little too small to accommodate everybody so we walked down the street to Zazie for a lovely evening.

The menu was prix fixe and we started off the evening with some red and white wine, and sparkling lemonade, along with some fresh rolls. The appetizers consisted of pate on bread with salad and steamed mussels in a white wine sauce. The pate was great of course and the white wine sauce was awesome with the mussels. I ordered the chicken with fresh fettuccine and bacon sauce. The chicken was unbelievably tender and fell of the bone. However, the rest of the dish was a little bland to be honest. I opted for the peach cobbler for dessert with fresh cream which was incredible and was my favorite course.

Service was pretty good and we always had plenty of wine, perhaps too much. The company was amazing and it was a fun evening for all. The back patio is lovely in the evening and I'm excited to go back to try their regular menu with my girlfriend sometime. They've even got a few dog-friendly seats outside when the weather is nice and your pup is in tow. Definitely worth checking out!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

SF DOGMA

Octavia St between Hayes and Fell
San Francisco, CA 94102
Rating
09/27/2011
I love the Hayes Valley area and it was awesome having this event in the park! There were so many cute dogs out and so many more to adopt. The SF SPCA was offering discounts on adoptions that should make it a much easier decision to do so when the time is right. I'm not sure who won the talent show but the prizes being offered were amazing to say the least. I'm definitely entering Doggy next year to perform her kangaroo hop!

Alice's Now & Zen Fest

Sharon Meadow
San Francisco, CA 94122
Rating
09/27/2011
This was my first Now & Zen since the first one with Jewel back in '99 or so. So much fun! Back then it cost $10 for a ticket but now it's free and even more awesome. I came a little late but caught the Goo Goo Dolls absolutely rockin' the stage. They played all of their hits, and my buddy who is the biggest fan in the world even scored a black balloon. There were tons of dogs at the event and they were all so well behaved. The crowds were loving every moment of the concert despite the sprinkling of wet weather here and there. While the sun didn't make a brief appearance till the end, it was still an amazing day. I can't wait till next year's concert! Maybe I'll even bring Doggy!

Stacks

501 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 241-9011
Rating
09/27/2011
My girlfriend and I wanted to grab some brunch before heading to the SF Dogma event in the park at Hayes Valley and saw the huge line outside of Stacks.  The neighboring breakfast joints didn't have nearly as much traffic so we decided to brave the crowd and give their food a try.  Everybody must know something we don't, right?

I ordered the hot link omelet on the recommendation of the server and it was served with hash browns and a bagel.  I kind of would have like toast instead but it was pretty good with the homemade jams.  The omelet was pretty tasty with the sour cream and fresh salsa but for an Italian omelet I wasn't sure why they were there.  Not too shabby though.

There were plenty of dog-friendly tables outside and nearly all of them had pups accompanying them.  Service was really slow and unattentive but that was likely because they were so packed.  Still, it could have been better.  Overall, I think I would still prefer to try another place instead of waiting 30-45 minutes in that line again for the super slow service.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Sally's Restaurant

300 De Haro St Ste 332
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-6006
Rating
09/27/2011
My girlfriend and I were meeting up in Potrero for a friend's birthday brunch and she chose Sally's as the place to hold it. Parking in the area is usually kind of tricky but luckily it was a weekend and there were no problems at all.

I ordered the sausage and avo omelet which came with some potatoes and toast. The flavors were pretty good and skipped the frills, but I did find a black hair in my home fries. That pretty much grossed me out immediately but my hunger ate around that little flaw. Overall, it was pretty decent and the manager was apologetic about the menu mis-pricing snafu too.

On the bright side, Sally's is very pet-friendly and there is some nice outdoor seating. Since you order at the counter people sometimes bring their dogs inside which doesn't bother me one bit. Service was alright but didn't blow my mind, and you pick up your food where you ordered it. I wasn't blown away by the food but the location was pretty nice. I will have to try some of their other menu its next time to get a better feel for the place, but otherwise it was a-ok for our group.

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Palomino

345 Spear St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 512-7400
Rating
09/15/2011
I've been wanting to try Palomino and had seen it in passing every time I took walked along the Embarcadero waterfront. It's located on the ground floor of the Google building too and I saw it when I had interviewed there a while back. It's supposed to have a great happy hour but this particular dining occasion was a business lunch.

The table started off with some of their focaccia and tomato "salsa". It had great flavor though it was only a tiny portion. I ordered the mushroom, ham, and goat cheese flatbread for my entree. At $15, it was pretty pricey for what it was. It smelled delicious but the ham was extremely salty and I unfortunately didn't finish the pizza. The combination with the goat cheese and mushrooms were great, but the salty ham was definitely a little off-putting.

The service was a little bumpy and didn't instill confidence, especially since the server had to ask whether we wanted bread and also pulled some plates before we were done with them. They've got a beautiful outdoor patio with bay views and is very welcoming to dogs, which is a huge bonus. I've got to come back and try their happy hour in the future but I wasn't terribly impressed with the food and service. Beautiful restaurant in a great location, but I'll seek lunch elsewhere next time.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Bay Area Pet Fair

10 Avenue of the Flags
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 229-3174
Rating
09/14/2011
Went to check out this event this past weekend and had a blast! In the two days, I heard that nearly 300 pets were adopted, which is a great success for the community. There were several that I would have loved to spend some one on one time with, but I unfortunately can't have a dog right now. Can't wait till I move to a larger space with a yard!

I'll be back next year for sure. Don't forget to print any discount coupons. They don't accept the iPhone version...

Peet's Coffee & Tea

5800 Northgate Mall Suite 146
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 526-0550
Rating
09/11/2011
My girlfriend and I went for a little stroll to the local Peet's since the weather was amazing and we needed to get out of the house in the fairly late morning. It's nice having the mall nearby so we can walk or jog over whenever we feel like it.

I ordered the refreshing peppermint mocha frappe which I was promised would taste like a frozen thin mint. Tipping the scales at about $5, it was no cheap treat to be sure. It sort of reminded me of said thin mint but not quite, and could have used quite a bit more mintyness for my taste.

The service was really good however, and the dog-friendly outdoor seating really made the experience. It's in the nice, newer side of the mall so there's plenty of parking to be had. Definitely a great place to go on a Saturday morning, and I may even find myself returning in the morning.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Mi Ranchito Taqueria

660 Laurel St
San Carlos, CA 94070
(650) 592-0597
Rating
09/04/2011
After a quick oil change, my buddy and I dropped into town to grab a quick lunch. There were lots of good places to try but Mi Ranchito was right in front of us and was inexpensive, so that's where we chose to grub.

I got the $7 chorizo super burrito which came loaded with guac, sour cream, and other goodies. Their chorizo wasn't half bad and was totally filling. I also grabbed some chips and salsa from their bar but found the chips and all salsa to be extremely salty. Combining them made it even worse! Overall, I'd grab another burrito again, but definitely staying away from the salsa.

They service was really good and the burrito arrived hot and fresh. The location is convenient and there was tons of parking out back. The outdoor tables welcome your dog to join you which is nice, especially on a hot day like today. Do it, but like I said, skip the salsa!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Blush Organic Frozen Yogurt

219 King St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 882-9889
Rating
09/03/2011
After a hefty lunch at HRD, my girlfriend and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day and walk down to Blush for a cold treat. It was Friday, and an easy work day, and it was a great way to cap off a nice long lunch break.

I got a small cup of tart with strawberries, raspberries, shaved chocolate, and Heath bars. I was a little disappointed to see that the chocolate was pre-shaven, compromising its freshness, but the rest was alright.

Service wasn't all that friendly but they do offer dog-friendly outdoor tables. Around lunch, the buildings block out the sun so it's pretty chilly to sit out front but the indoor seating is pretty much watched by the counter so it's kinda weird. It was some of the pricier froyo I've had and not all that impressive either. Gonna have to skip this next time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Lappert's Ice Cream

689 Bridgeway
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-3607
Rating
08/29/2011
My girlfriend and I were heading back into SF from Marin on a beautiful day and the thought of the cold fog chilled us to the core. Instead, we took a detour into Sausalito for a scoop of Lappert's famous ice cream and a leisurely stroll on the waterfront.

We shared a scoop of their chocolate macadamia nut in a cup. At nearly $4, it's a very expensive treat that tourists eat up in droves, so much so that there is a second location just down the street. On the bright side, every spoonful had quite a bit of macadamia nut in it, but it wasn't worth $4 to me. They accept cash only which doesn't help their case either.

The service here has an edge of attitude which doesn't make you feel very welcome at all. You pretty much order by pushing to the front of the line since there really is no order here, only chaos. There are two benches out front that welcome your dogs, but the long lines make it a pretty tight space to maneuver about in so moving along quickly is recommended. Overrated and under-satisfied, I will skip this scoop next time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 5/10

Ono Hawaiian BBQ

1501 Sloat Blvd Ste A
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 681-6388
Rating
08/23/2011
Ever since the "cheap Chinese" place got shut down for vermin contamination, my girlfriend and I have struggled to find a new regular joint. This offered the opportunity to try lots of new places and Ono seemed like a good choice this evening.

I got the seafood plate with fish, shrimp, and BBQ chicken, which came with rice, veggies, and macaroni salad. For about $9, it's not the cheapest plate lunch in the world, but it was pretty tasty for what it was. I particularly enjoyed the macaroni salad and the chicken, but could have taken a pass on the fish and shrimp. They've got combo deals that are pretty good and would consider it for lunch if I was in the area.

There is a nice outdoor patio that welcomes your dogs, but it's almost never sunny in the sunset so it's not often you get to use it. If I have a Hawaiian food craving I will be back, but it's right next to King of Thai Noodle and that's hard to beat for the price!

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Food Truck Crush

Larkspur Ferry Terminal
Larkspur, CA 94939
Rating
08/23/2011
There's nothing better than ending the long work week by getting off the ferry and into the open arms of tasty food trucks. There are 6-7 that line up every Friday afternoon to greet weary travelers with dinner. I tried the Indian truck as well as the cream puff truck and overall, enjoyed the bites. Prices are generally less than $10 for each item and you can get several different things to try. I think this is a great idea and it's a nice way to wind down vs the sprint people are usually making to get to their cars. It's outdoors and dog-friendly so come on out with your family and enjoy a nice meal!

Public House

24 Willie Mays Plz
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 644-0240
Rating
08/23/2011
As the final food stop on the Yapsie SOMA Pupcrawl, everybody was excited to enjoy some snacks and beers. When we pulled up, the side gate was wide open for us and we were greeted by the super friendly staff. It was pretty clear that everybody loves dogs!

We started off with pitchers of local brews Racer 5 and Trumer Pils, which quickly ended up being quite a few more pitchers after that. Not only did everybody love dogs, but the beers were crazy popular too! We followed that up with some of their famous corn dogs which were delicious with the mustard sauce. This was only a tasting, but I’ll definitely be back during game days for a full order!

The event staff was super helpful and I’m really excited to go back and enjoy their puppy patio. They even set out some water bowls for the pups and the patio offered great views of people watching on the beautiful day. Luckily it was an off day for the Giants so the traffic wasn’t too bad, but the area was still crawling with people, dogs, and of course Pupcrawlers. I had a great time!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Dog In Training

San Francisco Metro Area
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 425-5381
Rating
08/23/2011
Brenda joined the Pupcrawl to answer questions and teach our crawlers some new tricks like "spin" at South Park. She was super friendly and professional and would highly recommend her services if you've got a pup in need of training. She offers a wide-variety of services so check out her website for all the details. We would love to have her at the next Pupcrawl too!

Farmerbrown's Little Skillet

360 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 777-2777
Rating
08/23/2011
As the second stop on the Yapsie Pupcrawl (the first was The Creamery), Little Skillet has been a place I've wanted to go for a long time. Their lunch lines during the week (and weekends too) are usually super long so it's been tough getting out there in time to snag a 2-piece meal with waffle on work days. They had to close their window a bit early to get out to Outside Lands, but we still managed to get our order in before everybody head off for the day.

With a huge pan of chicken in front of us, it was time to dig right in. It had just come out of the fryer and the meat was so juicy and tender. I don't know what kinds of spices they use in their batter, but it's easily better than the colonel's. I still need to try their waffles which I hear are divine, but that will be on the next trip for sure!

The restaurant is really just a takeout window so you have to enjoy your meal outside, most likely on the dock across the alley. Since it's completely outdoors, it's completely dog-friendly of course. The startups in the area are mostly dog-friendly too so it's not uncommon to folks bringing their pups to lunch. The staff was super helpful in getting us set up for our event and I can't wait to go back!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Furry Tales

255 King St Ste B
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 618-0275
Rating
08/23/2011
Julia of Furry Tales was super accommodating for our Pupcrawl and we were more than happy to pull into the shop with people seeking some fun new stuff for their pups. They even had giftbags for us when we arrived and it was so enjoyable to browse their latest goodies. I was looking for a kangaroo costume for Doggy but it was still a little early to be shopping for Halloween stuff so we picked up some yummers instead for her. The staff here is so friendly and, while I haven't used their grooming services yet, hear that it's spectacular. It's a smaller boutique but that's what makes it so charming afterall. I'm looking forward to returning really soon!

Yapsie's SoMa Pupcrawl

San Francisco's SOMA neighborhood
San Francisco, CA 94107
Rating
08/23/2011
I might be a bit biased, but I had an awesome time at the SOMA Pupcrawl! It was amazing to be able to visit so many pet-friendly places in the area and try all of the food, drinks, and desserts (for people and pups) and it's hard to pick a favorite. Actually, those little mochi bites from Simply Mochi were pretty amazing if you ask me and I'll be ordering those for a party soon. Other fun places we went were The Creamery, Little Skillet, South Park, Public House (beer yum!), and Furry Tales. I personally can't wait for the next one to roll around!

Cafe Madeleine

149 New Montgomery St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 227-4077
Rating
08/18/2011
I was meeting up with an acquaintance visiting from San Diego and we decided to meet up in SOMA to catch up. She was in town for a big concert and it was a good opportunity to try a new, highly rated place downtown.

I ordered the ham sandwich, which was nearly $10. It was served on a small ciabatta roll and no sides. It was pretty expensive for what it was, but it tasted pretty good. Still, for a sandwich with only a stack of ham and 2 slices of apple, I felt a little bit cheated.

Overall the experience was good, but it definitely isn't a place to get a meal. They have some delicious-looking pastries in the window which I'll have to try next time, but I don't think I'll be back for the expensive sandwiches. There's some pet-friendly people-watching tables out front but it's usually too cold and windy on New Montgomery St to enjoy them.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Greenhouse Cafe

1722 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 829-9174
Rating
08/18/2011
I needed a place to get some work done and there were no Starbucks nearby. I used to work from the café that was here before, but it has since gone out of business and become Greenhouse Café.

I ordered the Vietnamese coffee thinking that it was the iced version but was surprised when it arrived hot. While it wasn't what I expected it was still pretty good, and was basically a hot version of the same thing. The cup was kind of small and the price was a bit high ($3.25) for a small shop, it still powered me through my day.

Greenhouse Café has plenty of seats inside (and even a few dog-friendly ones outside) and lots of outlets to plug into and don't make a fuss if you sit there all day like I did. I suspect I will probably be back very soon.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Chavo's Mexican Restaurant

595 Bryant St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 495-5822
Rating
08/17/2011
When I’m in SOMA it’s pretty much a given that HRD is on the lunch menu. However, my girlfriend wanted to try something new for lunch so we walked down the block to Chavo’s, a really popular Mexican joint, for a super burrito.

I ordered the carne asada super burrito which didn’t even come with a couple chips (that I could see). There wasn’t a salsa bar either. The burrito itself had pretty good flavor but I got a few pieces of meat that still had the hard cartilage stuck to them. The price is reasonable for SOMA but I wasn’t overly impressed.

This is a popular place for local startup folks to enjoy lunch and a beer at, but there are better choice, namely HRD. They’ve got a sunny patio outside that welcomes your dog, though I saw a big greyhound coming into the restaurant too. Maybe it was a service dog? I had no problem with the beautiful animal in the shop, though there were a few people giving the person the stink eye.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Fraiche Yogurt

644 Emerson St Ste 110
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 566-0055
Rating
08/16/2011
My buddy and I were meeting up with an old college friend downtown and the bars were absolutely packed on a Tuesday night. We wanted a quiet place to catch-up and chose to give Fraiche a try. Luckily we scored a table and ordered up some expensive froyo.

I got the small chocolate with fresh strawberries and shaved chocolate for $4.95. The quality of the yogurt and ingredients were excellent and the place was packed even late at night. The chocolate wasn't my favorite rendition of it ever, but there were a limited number of choices. It was painfully expensive compared to places like Yogurtland but for the area I guess it's appropriate.

Overall I thought Fraiche was a fresh concept in a saturated market. I don't really feel like it was worth at least 2x more than the competition, but it's worth a try. They've got a table or two outside that welcome your pets, but snagging a table can be challenging at any time of day. Check it out and see for yourself.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

455 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 243-9792
Rating
08/15/2011
It was a big day because I had been invited to be on TV with the Yapsie crew to promote the Pupcrawl on 7Live. The show wasn’t until later in the afternoon so I camped out at the FiDi Starbucks for a few hours to prepare.

I arrived at the busy coffee stop during rush hour, but that didn’t stop the baristas from whipping up my hot chocolate double quick. The cashier was a little slow but otherwise service was decent. As you might expect it was the same hot chocolate as every other location so it was tasty. I just wish they were a tad cheaper!

This location had some dog-friendly tables in the courtyard area right out front, but I doubt most people bring their pups to such a busy business area. You could though and that’s what matters most. Come by here on “bring your dog to work” day!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

The Prolific Oven

550 Waverley St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 326-8485
Rating
08/15/2011
My buddy and I were wandering around Palo Alto for the day and cruised into the Prolific Oven seeking sustenance, free WiFi, and power outlets. Luckily, they had a bit of all three and we found a nice big table to camp out at.

I ordered a hot chocolate so that I wouldn't get overly buzzed for the evening's event. Some how the lady was able to whip it up in about 2 seconds which is a record for me. Then I realized we came in to avoid the heat too and instantly regret my purchase. However, it tasted pretty good and my buddy's cookie was delish too.

The service was pretty good here and they had several dog-friendly tables outside. In the afternoon it's on the shady side of the street and generally a nice place to hang out. I'll be back for a slice of cake!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

6682 Alhambra Ave
Martinez, CA 94553
(925) 256-9862
Rating
08/15/2011
My girlfriend was visiting her sister in Martinez and I needed a place to camp out. After dropping her off, I made a beeline for the nearest Starbucks so I could get out of the blistering heat.

Being such a hot day, I opted for the peppermint mocha frap, which is normally a holiday flavor but apparently it made the regular menu and nobody told me. On such a sweltering day, it provided cool relief and made my day.

If there's one thing that sets Starbucks apart from the competition, it's the service and the fellas here were spectacular. There are several dog-friendly tables out front that sit in the shade, as well as benches in the sun. The bathroom has some issues at this location since the remodel so hopefully they work the kinks out. Otherwise it was a great experience!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Globe

290 Pacific Ave
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 391-4132
Rating
08/15/2011
When I was approached by 7Live to bring a group of Yapsie supporters into the studio to plug our weekend SoMa Pupcrawl, I immediately jumped on the opportunity! The event was in the afternoon so our group needed a place to grab a quick and yummy bite in the FiDi, and we chose Globe to satiate our taste buds.

I ordered the mushroom pizza with truffle oil. The mushrooms were great, but knowing that truffle oil was created in a lab is a little disconcerting. It's also not something that is an admired practice by legit chefs, but the pizza tasted pretty good anyway. I enjoyed the crispy crust too.

The service at the Globe was outstanding and very friendly, and Brillo the service dog was welcome inside with no problems. There are a couple of dog-friendly tables outside for non-service dogs and great people watching too. Our party had an online coupon which was accepted happily. The food is definitely not cheap and my total pizza bill came out to nearly $20. When you add on an appetizer and a glass of wine, it definitely adds up!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Pluto's

482 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 853-1556
Rating
08/09/2011
I’ve been hearing so much about Pluto’s salads but had never had the chance to give it a try. When my buddy who initially recommended it invited me out to a startup event in Palo Alto, we needed some lunch and naturally Pluto’s came to mind. I was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

You basically start off with a salad base and meat, and then top it with 7 ingredients and a dressing of your choice. I got a mish mash of things like beets, fennel, edamame, mushrooms, and more, with the gorgonzola vinaigrette, which was all topped with the rare tri-tip. Well, it was more medium rare than rare, but still delicious. I did find some mysterious and inedible seeds in the salad which was a little disappointing, but overall I was pretty satisfied.

The restaurant itself is a little dark inside so the prime seating is at the indoor/outdoor “bar”. If your dog is traveling with you, a seat on the outside of the bar is great, but not as optimal for people-watching. You’ll also have to keep your pup outside when ordering and getting your food. It would make things a bit easier if they brought the dish to the table for you but I didn’t find any such service. Overall, the service lacked a bit, but I would go back for the food.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Panera Bread

301 King St
San Francisco, CA 94158
(415) 777-2080
Rating
08/09/2011
I was working from SoMa super early in the morning and needed a familiar place to get some breakfast and work done at. Panera has never let me down (except with relatively slow WiFi) and I happened to really want one of their cinnamon crunch bagels.

Which is exactly what I ordered, toasted! With a dab of butter, it’s basically like a breakfast dessert. Oxymoron if there ever was one and I know I’m being quite bad by getting that. It was going to be a long day and it was the best way I knew to start it. Delish!

As a place to come with your dog, it’s just alright. There are several tables outside that you can tie your dog up at while you order your meal. It tends to be a pretty highly trafficked area so anxiety can be a problem with smaller dogs. Service wasn’t as warm as I’d expect from Panera, especially so early in the morning. There is room for improvement for sure, but still a decent place to grab a snack and rest your feet.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Creamery

685 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 896-1446
Rating
08/05/2011
Those that work in SoMa know what a good pick-me-up can do in the morning when getting off the crappy MUNI. There's several choices right off the line, but mine this morning was The Creamery.

I was worried about getting too wired so I opted for the hot chocolate. What I liked was that it didn't just taste like syrup and milk, but more of a subtle chocolate latte. It was definitely not what I expected, but turned out to be quite the pleasant surprise.

My favorite part about The Creamery was definitely the mega dog-friendly patio and the friendly, fast service. There's ever a water bowl outside for your pup when in need. It's at the hub of Caltrain activity so it's a wonderful place to people watch on a nice day.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

190 Donahue St Ste A
Marin City, CA 94965
(415) 289-0743
Rating
07/28/2011
After a meeting in Sausalito, I needed to find some WiFi nearby and the search for Starbucks began. Luckily there was one a stones throw away in Marin City so I cruised over for a drink and free Internet.

I ordered the iced tea again, which was just fine. After finishing that however, I asked for a refill and the girl behind the counter didn't even bother to mix it together, making for a half-hearted beverage and experience.

The bathrooms are clean here, but it can pretty noisy at times. The bar area is nice to work at though. There are a couple of tables outside in case you drop by after hitting up the pet store with your dog too. Above average location but with its flaws to be sure.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Sidewalk Juice

3287 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 341-8070
Rating
07/27/2011
My girlfriend and I were a bit early to a Yelp Elite event so we decided to explore the Mission a bit. We originally walked over to a popular coffee shop, but noticed a hole-in-the-wall juice bar by the name of Sidewalk Juice. It was too tempting not to stop in for a drink.

We ordered the Mint Madness and Berries Valencia. The mint was just alright to me but the Valencia was quite good. I don't know how they make it so smooth, but that's really what made this more than your average smoothie. We also got a vanilla and chocolate chip cookie sandwich which was quite soft and filled with vanilla goodness.

At $5 each for the smoothies and about $3 for the cookie, these were not cheap eats by any means. People swear by the smoothies here but they're just too pricey as an every day thing for me. I'm not saying they weren't good, but just not a destination for me. Since the whole experience is outside, go ahead and bring your dogs out to people watch on the benches next to the shop. It's definitely a good stop on a long walk.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Taqueria Los Charros

854 W Dana St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 969-1464
Rating
07/26/2011
Taqueria Los Charros | 854 W Dana St, Mountain View, CA 94041 | 650.969.1464

I met up with some folks at the Hacker Dojo and after a productive session, we decided to grab a bite downtown. Not really knowing the area well, one of the folks made the decision to try some local Mexican food. Pretty good choice as it turns out.

I ordered the chorizo super burrito, which was a pretty nice size actually. The chorizo itself had a unique flavor that I haven’t really experienced before, but was quite tasty when mingling with the sour cream and guacamole. The chips and salsa served to the table was very fresh as well.

I’m not a huge fan of the in between eating style of fast-casual and formal, especially with this kind of food. Our orders were taken at the table and food served to us so we were obligated to leave a tip. The service itself was unpolished to say the least and it didn’t seem very friendly. Besides that though, the restaurant itself was cozy and alive, and it was nice to get out of the office on such a great day. I think overall, our group was pretty happy. There are a couple tables outside that welcome your dog and this is great since you don't have to order at the counter. It's usually super nice out so there's no excuse not to bring your dog to work, and to lunch!

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Pizzetta 211

211 23rd Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 379-9880
Rating
07/12/2011
My sister’s family and I wanted to get dinner before I had to run off to the Peninsula for a meeting. They’d been wanting to try Pizzetta 211 for the longest time and we lucked out on parking and walked right in. If it wasn’t for the cute, dog-friendly tables outside, we never would have even noticed that they were open.

Prices for entrees typically ranged between $10-15 for a tiny portion. I decided to try their calzone, my sister the margherita, and my brother in law, pepperoni and basil. The food itself was delicious and you could taste the freshness of the ingredients. However, after we finished up, we were all still hungry and could have easily downed a whole other pizza.

For a place with such a high price point, I’m surprised that they only accept cash. Sure, it’s a small shop and all, but it seems pretty popular and I bet they turn a lot of people away as a result of the cash thing. I expected a whole lot more for our money and certainly didn’t feel like I got great value, leaving a less than thrilled taste in my mouth. For that kind of money, I’d much prefer Basic pizza. There’s a little bit of an elitist, hipster air here as well, but if you want just a taste of good pizza, give Pizzetta a try.

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Taqueria De Amigos

2974 S Norfolk St
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 571-8679
Rating
07/12/2011
It was late and neither my buddy nor I had anything to eat yet so we decided to stop into the local taco shop for a burrito togo. During the day they've got some dog-friendly tables out front to chill at, but I don't think most people come to their center with their dogs, unless they live in the nearby apartments.

There was a lot of tasty looking things on the menu but I decided to try their carne asada super burrito. For over $7, you certainly don't get much in the bulk department and I found the burrito to be a bit on the small side for something called "super". The carne asada itself was ok, but I definitely wanted more after finish it up. The salsa bar had some tasty options too, but the chips seemed really bland and perhaps a little stale.

Overall I was surprised by the size and price of the burrito, but the flavors were all there. I'd probably be back, but I may lead off with an appetizer or fill up at the salsa bar.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

2292 Bridgepointe Parkway
San Mateo, CA 94497
(650) 357-1533
Rating
07/12/2011
I needed a last minute meeting place with my team and Starbucks is always the go-to place when I'm on the road and need free WiFi. This location, with it's plentiful indoor/outdoor dog-friendly seating, served nicely.

I ordered a hot chocolate because it was getting late and I didn't need any more caffeine in me before getting started on the meeting. It's becoming difficult for me to tell the quality of hot chocolates since I've had so many and become kind of desensitized to it, but I'm sure this was a reasonable quality one. They added a ton of whipped cream which I didn't ask for, but helped to cool things down as I pounded the drink.

The service here was pretty nice even though I came on the late side. There's plenty of outlets to plug laptops into and comfy seating inside and out. Parking is plentiful too as it's in a strip mall, and it can sometimes get crowded. Still, it was a good place to get work done and better than Starbucks locations in Foster City.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Jamba Juice

44 E 4th Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 558-3918
Rating
07/09/2011
It was a beautiful Saturday in San Mateo and I wanted something refreshing to drink with my Japanese brunch. Naturally, Jamba Juice came to mind (wha??). My buddy and I dropped in to take advantage of the 2 for $5 deal they had going on.

We both ordered the acai antioxidant smoothies since it sounded pretty good. Unfortunately they took forever and a day to receive because either the line was backed up, the were understaffed, or there simply wasn't much of a sense of urgency or something, but everybody had a long wait. Once we received them, they were a bit on the icy side and not that smooth at all. A little disappointing to say the least.

It definitely took a lot longer to get our orders at this location and outdoor seating is shared with Starbucks next door. Dogs are welcome at those tables however, so spoil them with a walk as you spoil yourself with a smoothie. Just don't be in any kind of a hurry because it's going to take a while to make.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Ace's

998 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 673-0644
Rating
07/09/2011
I met up with an old event partner and we decided to go to Ace's for a few drinks and catch up and hear the latest. It was a Giant's game day and I'm glad I arrived a little earlier to save us some seats.

They've got a pretty good happy hour but it only applies to well drinks and Bud cans. I was in the mood for a snakebite (regularly priced), which game in a 20 oz size. They used a non-Wyder's cider which was fine, and a single sip helped to whet my palate.

The bartenders here are pretty friendly and Ace's is a dog-friendly bar. That means they're welcome inside to enjoy the game with you and your buddies. Just be careful that they don't get stepped on because it can get kind of crowded in here. After 9pm, they ask that all dogs be out, but till then, have them in!

Food: n/a

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Cafe Murano

1777 Steiner St
San Francisco, CA 94115
(415) 771-0888
Rating
07/09/2011
My old roommate was visiting the Bay Area from San Diego and wanted to grab a bite, so we decided to give Cafe Murano a try.

I arrived first and started off with a hot chocolate before he arrived. The hot chocolate was nice and frothy, and light at the same time. When he arrived, I ordered the prosciutto sandwich which was served with a nice fruit salad. The sandwich was on the small side, but was packed full of meat and cheese. The fruit salad consisted of fresh berries and I felt like u got decent value from the meal.

There's tons of tables near outlets if you want to get some work done and the WiFi speeds are pretty quick. They've got several dog-friendly tables out front and will bring your food out to you when it's ready. The dogs have to stay outside of course, but this is a great place to do some people watching and enjoying the weather.

Food: 8/10

Served: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Crepevine

367 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 323-3900
Rating
07/06/2011
It seems harder than it is to find a consistent and reasonably priced meal in Palo Alto, but Crepevine delivers with some decent eats. I usually pass on the crepes, but their pastas are definitely appealing to me. It was a lovely day so my girlfriend and I decided to stop in for a quick bite.

I ordered the Bari pasta because it’s a great deal and comes with salmon. The portion size was huge and I had difficulty finishing the well cooked pasta. My girlfriend’s seared tuna Caesar salad was enormous and she couldn’t even finish it. The tuna was well seared and of decent quality too.

This location has a bunch of seating outside so you can dine with your dog. In fact, on such a hot summer day there happened to be quite a few people outside with their pups. Service was ok but a little spotty, and I found myself refilling my own water one moment, and somebody else doing it another. It certainly makes it difficult to leave a good tip to be honest. Are you supposed to tip at these kinds of places? Overall, it was a decent meal.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Yogurtland

494 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 326-3264
Rating
07/06/2011
After a heavy meal across the street, there always seems to be room for a little bit of dessert. There seems to be a froyo place opening up on every block in Palo Alto and competition is heating up just like the summer. Heck, some of the places have had to lower their ridiculously high prices to compete, as they should. I'm pretty picky when it comes to froyo, especially when it comes to price and flavors, but this trip to Yogurtland failed to disappoint!

For starters, their flavors were all really interesting. They had green tea, pecan praline, dragonfruit, moca coffee, and a bunch of other new and delicious ones. All of their flavors actually taste like they were infused with real fruits and flavors, which apparently they are. Like most locations, this Yogurtland still fails to have anything minty, including candy and I the topping bar was kind of sparse. Nevertheless, this was probably one of the better experiences I've had at a froyo joint and I would definitely come back.

There were some chairs outside if you want to enjoy your froyo with your dog and people watching at the same time. They're not allowed inside of course, but with the weather like it has been, there's no excuse not to enjoy some froyo on a walk. All yogurt places should mimic this Yogurtland!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Philz Coffee

201 Berry St
San Francisco, CA 94158
(415) 875-9943
Rating
07/06/2011
I've been hearing nothing but rave reviews about Philz Coffee and as I slowly become a coffee connoisseur across my cafe travels, I absolutely needed to give it a try. Upon arrival, there were tons of people with their dogs at their outdoor tables in front and this is a fantastic place to fuel up as you start the day. Philz makes each cup by hand, individually brewing and prepping your pick-me-up with love.

The mint mojito iced coffee stood out on the menu and it was exactly the combination I wanted right then. They used whole mint leaves and really tasty coffee that gave me a very mild buzz, and not the kind that keeps me wired. The flavors were really robust from the high quality ingredients and it is now one of my favorite coffee drinks out there. At $4 it's not cheap, but it makes up for it with every sip. I'm definitely getting this again next time.

Philz has an awesome atmosphere and people are really friendly. Figuring out how to order the first time can be a little confusing but it all makes sense after a while. The energy in the room is great and the WiFi signal is strong. Bring your pup with you while you enjoy your cup of coffee, but make sure they stay outside. Sadly, they can't come in.

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

The Grove Cafe

690 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 957-0558
Rating
07/03/2011
My girlfriend had been telling me nothing but great things about the Grove and I needed to check it out for myself. It was an absolutely beautiful day for an early dinner so we ducked in for a quick bite before taking the dreaded L-train home.

I ordered the chicken pot pie and she ordered the lasagna, both served with fresh green salads. Since everything seemed to be made to order, the wait time was a little on the long side. However, it’s totally worth it. My chicken pot pie had a flaky crust and the contents were piping hot. Everything tasted extremely fresh and felt like home. The lasagna smelled and tasted great too and it was nice to be able to sample both dishes side by side.

The Grove’s food and atmosphere were super comforting and the service was friendly and patient. They’ve got a popular outside patio that welcomes dogs of all sizes, especially on such a beautiful day as this. I’ll definitely be back with my pooch and make room for dessert next time!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

The Yapsie and Dishcrawl Mission Pupcrawl

Mission District
San Francisco, CA 94110
Rating
07/01/2011
I might be a little biased but I had so much fun nonetheless! From Truly Meditteranean to Rocky's Fry Bread and Dynamo Donuts to Xanath, there were so many delicious things to taste for both people and pups. I personally learned a thing or two from Ruth (Dog Gone Good!) about teaching Doggy new tricks (and correcting bad behavior). I don't think there could have been a nicer day in recent history to go on such a pleasant walk. I can't wait till the next one, can you?

With Heart By Elaine

San Diego Metro Area
San Diego, CA 92101
Rating
06/29/2011
I've got a new favorite accessory for Doggy and it's these freakishly cute bandanas! There were several dogs wearing them at the Pupcrawl and I'm gonna snag one for myself. There's a bunch of really fun designs and my favorite are the Colores and Lucky Charm for sure! They're reversible and fit cats and dogs of all sizes. Make other dogs in the park jealous with a spiffy new bandana. For a custom, hand-made product, it's really inexpensive too!

Caffe Centro

102 S Park St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 882-1500
Rating
06/29/2011
It started off as another overcast day in SF until the skies opened up and rained all over my parade. I was joining my girlfriend for lunch and I wanted to try something new, so I braved the 5 blocks of rain to get to South Park and we dipped into Caffe Cento.

Their menu is mostly run of the mill salads and sandwiches and prices are pretty high given the location. I got the chicken sandwich which came served with, well, nothing really. It was just ok for me, and my girlfriend's soup was on the watery side.

Caffe Centro was very meh for me but is very popular with the local tech workers. I much prefer the offerings at HRD for every reason and will be going there instead from now on. Luckily Centro has some tables outside for your dog but they're not allowed inside. Tie them to the nearest tree before rejoining them with your lunch!

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Alice's Summerthing

Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94101
Rating
06/28/2011
Ok, so here's a concert that would demand quite an expensive ticket but was FREE! Alice's Summerthing is one of their quarterly events and was a huge hit. With headliners like One Republic and Michelle Branch, there must have been 10k people there by the time I showed up at noon. Luckily, I've got a friend on the inside so I immediately made my way to the VIP area where food and drinks were catered, and I was treated to a front row seat. Yes, really. With a front row seat with lots of catered food and drinks, this was shaping up to be the best day ever! The event was dog-friendly too and there were many people who had their pups in tow, even in the VIP area. We were blessed with a beautiful day and an awesome concert that was made all the better with a little help from our friends. I can't wait till next year!

Starbucks Coffee

299 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 947-0700
Rating
06/28/2011
I’ve since given up going to Epicenter because of their horrible customer service and found a new place to get work done in SOMA, the Marriott. Fortunately there’s a Starbucks connected to the hotel so I can get my coffee fix in the mornings, so what’s the problem? Instead of a smile in the morning you’re only greeted with scowls here which isn’t very welcoming as you try to start the day off right.

I ordered a hazelnut latte and a bagel with cream cheese, both of which were fine and the bagel was nice and soft. I didn’t discover till afterward however, that I had been overcharged for my latte and didn’t get my free add-on syrup when using my Starbucks Gold card. What the “buck”?

Upon further checking, I noticed that the employees here didn’t wear Starbucks badges, but wore Marriott tags instead, which is why they hadn’t received the proper training. But still, this doesn’t excuse either side for crappy service and with so many Starbucks on this block alone, I’m surprised this one is so busy. They’ve got some dog-friendly tables outside for those who like to bring their friends to work with them, but it’s usually so cold out that they’re not really usable. This Starbucks is definitely subpar compared to other locations. Skip it and go half a block down instead.

Food: 7/10

Service: 0/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 2/10

Dog Gone Good!

San Francisco Metro Area
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 437-0848
Rating
06/27/2011
Rose of Dog Gone Good came out to the Pupcrawl to answer questions from the group at Dolores Park. I was able to get some helpful advice about socializing Doggy with other dogs, especially smaller ones. The pamphlets for all of their services was really helpful too! I'm gonna need to book some lessons with Rose and Mike and continue Doggy's education. Thanks for your help Rose!

Rocky's Fry Bread

3318 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110
Rating
06/27/2011
Whether you’re exiting a hot club or just want something delicious in the middle of the night, you can always count on Rocky’s Fry Bread to give you exactly what you want. Rocky’s was one of the awesome vendors at Yapsie’s Pupcrawl and he served up some great Navajo treats. I loved both the savory and sweet and they’re absolutely delicious during any part of the day.

Rocky himself is freakin’ hilarious and totally entertaining as you wait for your bread to fry. This dude is one cool cat, and arrives on scene out of a cab! He doesn’t charge for his grub so leave him a kind donation. Send him a tweet to having him show up at your party and he’ll pull up at any pet-friendly location, in our case, Dolores Park!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Pakwan

3180-82 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-2440
Rating
06/21/2011
After a fun Elite event in the Mission, as well as some excellent shopping at Idol Vintage next door, our little group needed some dinner to power back up so we sauntered into the crowded Pakwan for some Indian/Pakistani grub.  I was in a good mood after a great blazer buy and wanted to treat my pals to a great meal.

We ordered chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, and the vegetable curry, as well as rice and naan.  My favorites were definitely the chicken tikka and paneer, but the naan kind of disappoints.  It's not chewy at all, and was mostly dried out and burned.  The rice was good however.

Prices are great and the whole meal came out to just over $28.  We could have easily fed a fourth person too.  Service was kind of slow but that might have had something to do with the large table next to us.  However, it definitely wasn't that friendly especially if you try to give them a credit card.  Cash only!  At least they've got some tables outside so your dog can join you for dinner.  They've got to stay outside the whole time so I'd recommend bringing a few friends to make sure nobody runs off with your dog!

Food: 8/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Xanath Ice Cream

951 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 648-8996
Rating
06/21/2011
Xanath was the second stop on the Yapsie Pupcrawl and I was eager for some yummy ice cream on this hot day. They're known for their vanilla and saffron flavors and the flavors are infused in every bite. In fact, you're supposed to enjoy their ice creams like a fine wine. Just let it melt on your tongue and allow the flavors to develop.

I tried the banana cream with chocolate chips. It had something else in it but I forget what it is now. Either way, it was delicious! I also got to sample some of their vanilla and saffron flavors and they were subtle, yet loaded with layers of flavor.

Xanath has some great flavors and there's bound to be something for everyone. They even offered us a complimentary vanilla bean to take home and I might even use it for my own ice cream creations. There's plenty of outdoor benches for your dog to hang out at too. They'll watch longingly for some ice cream to drip off and love you more for it. Enjoy your scoop and your day with your pooch!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee

2760 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 920-1978
Rating
06/20/2011
I needed to grab some donuts for the Pupcrawl and Dynamo was the obvious choice.  They've got a window outside to order from and the line gets pretty long quite quickly.  There's a line inside that is less busy and the dog-friendly patio out back is a great place to bring your pooch while enjoying your treat and some good coffee.

We ordered 15 donuts of varying tastes including the salted caramel, bacon, pistachio, strawberry Earl Grey, and chocolate.  Believe it or not they've even got special doggy donuts too!  Prices range from $1-3 per donut which is a little pricey but totally worth it.  Come early because the line gets pretty long and take a few togo!  They're not only worth the money, but the calories too!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Truly Mediterranean

3109 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 252-7482
Rating
06/20/2011
On the first stop of last weekend's Yapsie Pupcrawl, the day was kicked off at Truly Mediterranean for some lamb and veggie wraps. The wraps were delish and my favorite was definitely the lamb. The vegetarian was full of eggplant and other goodness and satisfied even my palette!

This was just a quick nibble on the tour so we didn't get to stay long but you can bet that I will be back! Best of all are the tables outside so you can share your wrap with your pup and do some people watching. It makes for a great afternoon!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Joe's Taco Lounge & Salsa

382 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 383-8164
Rating
06/20/2011
After the first hike of my Ruby on Trails Meetup group, our little group needed some sustenance to regain our strength. We decided to head to Joe's Tacos for some of their famous fish tacos and perhaps even a beer.

We started off with their chips and salsa and I decided to try their marinated grilled fish tacos. The fist thing I should say is that the chips were definitely not free and we were charged $2 for something that's normally a complimentary appetizer. How very Marin of them... The fish tacos were pretty good and came two to an order. Three would have really made my day though. Overall, not too shabby but they were to die for either.

Seeing as though I just got back from Mexico, any tacos would be challenged to follow that tough act. These tacos were good but I think I will stick to more authentic, and reasonably priced, fare in the future. Service was really bad though and charging for chips is a sin at these prices. I won't be back in a hurry. At least they've got some tables outside so your dog can enjoy the day with you.

Food: 7/10

Service: 2/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Lake Miramar

10710 Scripps Lake Dr
San Diego, CA 92131
(619) 668-2050
Rating
06/08/2011
I used to take Mickey around Lake Miramar all the time when I would go running with my friend. Well, she would go running and I would walk... Anyway, it was a great place to get exercise and the loop is exactly 5 miles all the way around. I never did get a chance to take him all the way around (5 miles is a lot!) but Mickey did love being outdoors and meeting new people. There is plenty of parking when you arrive but keep that leash on because you really need to adhere to staying on the correct side of the path since cars sometime drive through. I would say that's the biggest complaint, and there are also patches of gnats that pop up out of nowhere too.

Lake Miramar is a great place to bring the dogs and kids and people are pretty friendly as long as you clean up after your dog. Also, it's important to keep the dogs from chasing the birds and away from the shoreline. Keep the lake clean!

Costco

450 10th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-4388
Rating
06/07/2011
I paid this Costco location a visit to get my glasses fixed and noticed that several people were walking around with their pups! I never knew you could have them inside, but as long as they're leashed and well-behaved, they don't seem to have a problem. It seemed like it mostly small dogs (like Malteses') so I'd probably leave the pitbull at home. Still, a very cool thing to allow you to shop with your dog! Plus, you can get a nice dog bed on the cheap and grab a hot dog on the way out. Winning!

GEORGE Pet Store

2257 Larkspur Landing Cir #33c
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-5700
Rating
06/06/2011
I stopped by for their grand opening event this weekend and found the weather particularly frightful. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain and I was worried that the parade would get rained out! Luckily people still showed up and it a fun time was had by all.

The store is super cute and there were all kinds of tasty treats, toys, and other goodies around the store and it was awesome seeing so many people shopping. Doggy got to try lots of treats and the store owner and manager were awesomely nice as well.

Seeing as though this shopping center is soooo dog-friendly, it's so awesome that there's a convenient shop here for all of your fuzzy and furry friends' needs. You can bet that Doggy and I will definitely be back when we're in need of that cute kangaroo costume for Halloween! Don't forget to visit their other Bay Area locations and you can see more of what they carry online too!

Petco

1591 Sloat Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 665-3700
Rating
06/06/2011
I love all animals and I love dropping into local Petco to browse around. I'm on a search to find my new best friend and Deb L. and I decided to stop by and look around.

They had all kinds of great birds and rodents looking for a new home and we hung around the guinea pigs remembering the late Gimbo for some time. I had never really played with guinea pigs before but Deb assured me that they all had unique personalities and loved running around. Gotta watch out when they scoot into tight covered spaces though because they tend to do their business there.

There was a slight bummer with their small fish with tons of dead ones sucken to the bottom with other fish feeding on the carrion. That can't be good, and there was nobody around to clean up the problem. Overall, I'd call this a so-so Petco and a little extra TLC could go a long way.

Proud Pup Parade

2257 Larkspur Landing Circle
Larkspur, CA 94939
Rating
06/05/2011
A new pet boutique was opening up at the Marin Country Mart center and they were kicking it off with a fun dog parade with prizes. I decided to check it out with Doggy and crossed our fingers in hopes of winning one of the great gift baskets.

The weather outside was frightful, but that didn’t stop folks from showing up to compete for some great prizes. I don't remember exactly who took home the day, but a fun, treat-filled day was had by all. I know Doggy had a great time and even had her picture taken as an audition for the new Rover book. Hopefully she wins!

Will there be another Proud Pup Parade? I don't know but if there is, Doggy will be there! Woof!

Starbucks Coffee

2727 Mariposa St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 552-2649
Rating
05/31/2011
If there was ever a Starbucks with personality, it would be this Mission location. There's a bunch of great breakaway areas to work inside and out (it's a great place to bring your dog on a sunny day) and the menu boards are handwritten. People get together in groups here all the time and the lack of hipster 'tude makes it the perfect spot to GTD.

I ordered a cafe vanilla Frappuccino but forgot to get it decaf, the result being that I'd now be buzzing away for the rest of the night. It was delicious of course, but it did chill me out just as the rest of the cafe tends to do due to over air-conditioning.

I definitely dig this spot because of the great personality of the joint and the dog-friendliness of the area. It can get a bit windy sometimes though, but the abundance of free parking makes it an attractive spot to squat. Definitely worth checking out!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Starbucks Coffee

201 3rd St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 979-9530
Rating
05/27/2011
After one of my favorite coffee shops in SOMA actively started shunning their regulars by limiting WiFi and audibly complaining about customers who only order a drink, I refused to continue going. Starbucks popped back on my radar and luckily there are about a dozen locations in the vicinity. Unfortunately, not all are create equal.

I ordered my normal passion iced tea which was just fine. However, the trouble came when trying to log into the WiFi and finding out that it didn't work. Is this normal in this area? I picked up and headed a block or two away to another location and found that it too didn't offer WiFi. So far in very disappointed with SOMA Starbucks locations.

For some reason, downtown Starbucks shops don't seem to offer WiFi and some even offer 'tude with your tall latte. The hotels in the area make for great places to work out of though since area Starbucks close earlier too. There were a few seats outside and they're great if you brought your dog to work. Overall it wasn't a great experience.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Kara's Cupcakes

3249 Scott St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 563-2253
Rating
05/23/2011
While waiting for the doors to Republic to open for the evening's event, my 1 and decided to get our dessert on at Kara's down the street. The cakes in the window looked delicious so we waltzed in only to find others in our boat enjoying a sweet treat before getting their drink on.

There were about 10 cupcake choices and I could decide so we asked for a recommendation. There was only one strawberry creme left so I chose that one. The center was filled with a sweet cream and the strawberry flavors were very refreshing. It didn't feel too heavy at all, but at $3.50 it wasn't something I would treat myself everyday.

Unless I'm mistaken, the menu board clearly said that filled cupcakes are $3.25, but I was charged $3.50. Was this yet another case of a non-updated menu board? Since I was in a hurry I didn't bother to bring it up this time, but it still bothers me to no end. Costs of business have clearly gone up and updating a permanent menu board can be costly. Probably something to consider in the process of putting it all together. They have a single table outside if you've got your dog joining you on a windy day but otherwise it's a good idea to grab and go.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Sol Food

811 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 451-4765
Rating
05/23/2011
I've been really torn about Sol Food in recent months as the popularity of this local phenomenon has skyrocketed (along with prices) and quality and portion sizes have plummeted. They've opened several new locations on the same block (the pop-up dining room being a disaster full of unapologetic mistakes) and even pushed out a crazy popular promo which I bought into. Unfortunately it was restricted to the new Fourth Street location so my lady and I scooted over to give it a try.

I wanted to order the Friday fish special, but somehow they were already sold out early into dinner service. I defaulted to their popular two-piece chicken dish instead, the price of which recently increased a ridiculous 25% along with the rest of the menu. The food was delicious of course, but the dining experience has suffered as Sol Food continues to grow and improvise new dining locations. The new location has a "sort of" dog-friendly patio out back that you're forced to round the block to access. Annoying I admit, but I was eager to try the outdoor dining experience. Unfortunately it was windy and the heatlamps were either not on or not working, causing a lot of mumbling from the diners. Service was also really spotty but food arrived quickly, actually a little too quickly leading me to believe that the food was pre-cooked and being run out.

Sol Food's insane growth has also been it's crucial fault as it rockets toward being the most profitable restaurant in Marin. They're alienating locals like myself by increasing prices as aggressively as they are (did I mention 25% across the board??) and opening a bunch of spots with sub-par dining experiences. I've always loved Sol Food, but as things progress for them, they're clearly losing a bit of what made them so special...namely the soul.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Town Center Corte Madera

100 Corte Madera Twn Ctr
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 924-2961
Rating
05/23/2011
I haven't been back to the Town Center in over 10 years and my girlfriend wanted to check it out after seeing Barnes & Noble from the highway. Ever since Borders went kaput, I've needed a nice place to get some work done in somewhere other than Starbucks so this was a welcomed reprieve. As it turns out there's a bunch of spectacular stores here including REI and Sur la Table and a bunch of dog-friendly restaurants too. Heck, the entire outdoor part of the mall is very dog-friendly but ask permission before bringing your pooch into the shops. There isn't a heck of a lot of foot traffic right now so besides the occasional barking, it's a pretty quiet center. I'm looking forward to coming back and doing some unrestricted shopping before everybody realizes it's here and floods the place!

Primo Patio Cafe

214 Townsend St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 957-1129
Rating
05/19/2011
It was a rare beautiful day in SOMA and a nice day for eating at one of the great local eateries. My girlfriend wanted to grab some grub at the Caribbean cafe around the corner so we scooted through the narrow corridors that opened to a busy patio out back.

We share the jerk chicken and jerk steak entrees. I found the jerk chicken to be extremely flavorful and tender, while the steak was a bit tough to eat. The sauce was a nice contrast to the jerk flavor though but I found many piece of dried rice throughout. I sadly even found a hair in my chicken...

Service was a bit rushed and we were sat right in the middle so the sun was baking us as we ate. I don't know if I'd get the platters again since I think the better values are the pita sandwiches. It's a nice getaway from the city life and a pleasant lunch. Cone early to avoid the crowds!

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Crepevine

908 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 257-8822
Rating
05/13/2011
After a fun Meetup at one of the worst local pizza fusions, my girlfriend and I were a tad hungry and wanted a late meal. By checking out Crepevine, we had meant to grab a light meal, but it turned pretty quick when we stepped up to the menu board.

Instead of ordering any crepes, we opted for pasta. I've had bad experiences in the past with poor quality, pre-made crepes from the SF Crepevine and didn't want to repeat the experience. I went with the fettuccine with cream sauce and salmon. When it arrived, I was shocked by how much food was piled on the plate for less than $10. This was a deal indeed. The pasta was al dente and had a nice cream sauce, and the bit o spinach and salmon added welcome flavors to bring everything together.

Cashier service was ok, but our server was excellent. I rarely leave a tip at fast casual restaurants but all of our needs were attended to with a smile. They have a large outdoor patio that practically beckons for you to bring your dog and it's not uncommon for you to see others with their pooches staring up at their companion's crepes. This was definitely a better experience than last time, but ironically I didn't enjoy any crepes. The only ones I would consider are probably the dessert crepes, fully loaded for under $6.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Farmers Market at the Marin Country Mart

2257 Larkspur Landing Cir
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-5715
Rating
05/09/2011
I've been wanting to explore the Marin Mart farmers market for some time and finally had the opportunity to check it out with the lady this weekend. It was a beautiful day and people were enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of the market with their families and dogs. There's a ton of good food to try and even Cowgirl Creamery was serving up some excellent cheeses. The only con I would say about the market is that it's a little on the small side and isn't super highly trafficked. It doesn't seem like many people know about it unfortunately. Hey people, it's [unofficially?] dog-friendly!

Puentez Taqueria

243 3rd St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 721-7992
Rating
05/06/2011
Celebrating Cinco used to be done at Rockin' Baja Lobster but since moving up to the Bay, things have settled down quite a bit in the partying department. Instead, my friend and I opted to check out Puentez, which has been around for what seems like forever. It's a great little family owned shop, and responsibilities have been passed down through the generations, but the food quality has always remained high.

I ordered a steak quesadilla while my friend got a carnitas burrito. The quesadilla was excellent and was fully loaded with quality meat. It was so full that I had to eat the damn thing like a burrito to get it down. The burrito was a bit on the tiny side for me and was probably a third of the size of the stuff at San Jose Taqueria. Food here is relatively expensive too and there aren't any free chips or salsa bar. They offer potatoes in all of their dishes but don't sell them as fries unfortunately, so carne asada fries remain elusive in Norcal.

Puentez definitely has better food quality than the places around it and their quesadillas are excellente! Size-wise, I think there's some extra value that can be built in since they're relatively expensive. I think they'd be in trouble if a Chipotle rolled up but until then, they rock the king of local Mexican food. They is a huge patio area where you can enjoy your grub with your dogs, but they can't come inside. I'd definitely recommend walking around the back of the center after your meal to enjoy the waterfront sights and work off the pounds with your pup!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

The Whole Enchihuahua

Dolores Park
San Francisco, CA 94114
Rating
05/02/2011
A super fun day all around and there was some great costumes, both home-made and store bought. I can't imagine that the winner actually made their Frida Kahlo costume, but they took home some amazing prize package. The mariachi band was amazing and entertained a crowd of thousands of people too!

The Off the Grid folks were awesome and served up some great eats too. Sadly, the Toasty Melts crew ran out of the good stuff so shut down shop a bit early and luckily there were 2 other trucks to pick up the pieces. It was insanely busy throughout the park and there was a little bit of outside belligerence from some drunken locals. Other than that, it was a spectacular event and hopefully a ton of chihuahuas were adopted on site! We all need great homes and chihuahuas are no exception. If you missed out, go visit the SPCA and adopt today!

The Music Concourse Community Partnership

55 Tea Garden Dr
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 386-1923
Rating
05/02/2011
It was a stunning day in Golden Gate Park and since it was Bay Area dance week, there were some cool dance-related events going on in the Music Concourse. We grabbed some goodies and decided to drop by for a picnic.

There was some "interesting" interpretive dance sessions and a few lessons taught, but it was all strangely entertaining. There were dogs, both on and off leash, roaming around the concourse with their people and everybody was having a great time while trying to stay cool.

The weather lately has been spectacular and there's tons of fun stuff to do in the area. Go check out the Academy of Sciences or the de Young (or just the tower if a great view is what you fancy) and enjoy a wonderful day with your family, friends, and pups!

Kung Fu Tacos

Sacramento & Montgomery
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 577-4331
Rating
05/02/2011
After an a fun chihuahua costume contest in Dolores Park, I set my sights on the line of food trucks along Dolores, specifically Toasty Melts and Kung Fu Tacos. Unfortunately I waited too long and the grilled cheeses were all sold out so instead my friend and I opted for a few tacos.

We tried the asada, wushu chicken, and the BBQ duck. Of the three, I actually preferred the cheaper two (non-duck) and it probably had something to do with the sriracha sauce. Putting that on anything makes it so much better! The pineapple didn't compliment the duck in my opinion, and it wasn't all that surprising that it was the only one that didn't sell out.

The entire truck is run by this super cute family all working together. They turn around the tacos pretty quickly and, although the line was long, I was in and out of there in about 5-7 minutes. I'd definitely recommend any taco with the rooster sauce so stick with those and you won't be disappointed. Since they're outside, they welcome your pets in line too!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Jeffrey's Natural Pet Food Company

3809 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-1414
Rating
05/02/2011
Since it was Doggy's birthday, I wanted to get her a really special treat, something she had never tasted before. Immediately, Jeffrey's came to mind and they've got a huge variety of yummies sold in bulk so I could try several different kinds of things if I wanted to. I used to give Mickey and Jasmine lots of jerky and it was their favorite thing in the world so it seemed a logical thing to try with Doggy. The beef smelled good enough for even me to eat so I got a few ounces of that for her. When I got back to the house, she absolutely devoured the stuff and loved it so much she skipped dinner!

They had some super cute costumes and I'm thinking of looking for a kangaroo one since Doggy spends most of her time on her hind legs. First place I will be looking will definitely be Jeffrey's!

Also, I've got to mention the great service here. Conner was super helpful and knowledgable, and had great recommendations on different treats. The boutique is clean and really close to Dolores Park so while you treat yourself to a scoop or 4 from Bi-Rite, you can treat your pups to some goodies from Jeffrey's!

Peet's Coffee & Tea

2300 16th St Ste 240
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 565-6713
Rating
05/02/2011
After a solid morning workout, I needed something refreshing to kickstart my day. I had a Peet's gift card burning a hole in my pocket and was glad there was one located upstairs in the center.

I ordered a small passion iced tea to compare it to Starbucks and also enjoy some Internet usage outside at their dog-friendly tables too. Their tea was actually a bit punchier than Starbucks and reminded me of a cactus cooler or something. I actually liked it more than the stuff I normally get but unfortunately I don't think they've got a generous refill program.

This Peet's could have been cleaner but the service was decent. I like that they've got so many tables outside and folks like to lounge outside with their dogs. The weather outside has been stunning lately and Peet's passion iced tea is some good stuff while getting out of the heat. Go get some!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Fantasia Coffee & Tea

10933 N Wolfe Rd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 865-1689
Rating
04/26/2011
My friend and I wanted a bit of dessert after a nice sushi meal, and there were many choices in the center. However, given our poor experience at Yogurtland last time, and the horrible reviews of Verde, we decided to drive a bit to Fantasia instead.

I ordered an almond milk tea with pearls (a distinctly Norcal name for Socal's boba) and a slice of garlic butter thick toast. The tea was pretty good but the pearls were way too chewy and over-saturated. The toast wasn't cut very thick at all and I was left wanting for quite a but more.

The service here was flighty but kind. She initially forgot my pearls and then forgot my toast. Fantasia is busy at all hours so I can understand how it could happen, but twice to the same customer is way too much. Overall, pretty disappointed with the food and drinks in the area.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Coffee Society

21265 Stevens Creek Blvd #202
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 725-8091
Rating
04/26/2011
I had a lot of work to do and needed a place with a decent Internet connection to do it in while my gal pal helped her friend move.  Coffee Society was one of her favorite places growing up so that's where we headed after breakfast next door.

I decided to try their Almond Rocaccino, which is basically an expensive Almond Roca-flavored Frappuccino.  It was pretty tasty, but the flavor was syrup-based instead of being derived from the candy itself.  Still, it wasn't too bad but I do think it could have been improved if it was maybe topped with some crushed Almond Roca.

As busy as this shop is, they are terribly understaffed.  It took about 10 minutes to finally take my order, and was so long that my girlfriend ended up just walking out without her coffee at all.  It's a super popular place and their coffee is decent and it's a bummer that the service is so slow.  They've got a nice, big, dog-friendly patio where people love to enjoy their coffee and a conversation in the sun.  There's plenty of parking in the center too and a great study spot if you're a De Anza student.

Food: 6/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Harumi Sushi

19754 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 973-9985
Rating
04/26/2011
My friend and I had a really early dinner and became hungry again in the late even so we pulled into Harumi for some small bites. Unfortunately, that's simply not how we roll and before you knew it, we had a ton of food to gobble down. This place is mostly known for their cheap sake bombs and even the staff likes to get in on the action sometimes. "When I say sake, you say bomb!"

I ordered the roll combo with a California roll, spicy tuna roll, and an eel roll, served with miso soup. Extremely basic, it was decently priced at $15 and it was nice to satiate my fix for sushi. The quality was just alright though. My friend ordered a bulgogi bento with mixed tempura and salmon sashimi. The bulgogi was very dry and under-marinated, and was a bit disappointing. I hate wasting food so when she wasn't able to finish her meal, I gladly polished it off.

Overall, the service was kind but pretty inattentive most of the time. The food was mostly pretty mellow and bland, but I think it would be a fun place to come for a birthday party. It's not cheap for Japanese food either, so bring at least $20 to cure those hunger pangs!

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Eddie Rickenbacker's

133 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 543-3498
Rating
04/26/2011
My friend and mentor was kind enough to share a little time from his busy startup schedule to join me for a drink and talk shop. We decided to give Eddie's a try since it was nearby and we were on a tight time crunch. Upon walking in, you realize that you probably never want to come here during an earthquake for fear that the Harley's hanging above your head will fall on top of you. However, we were here for the drinks and updates were in order.

I started off with a Blue Moon and followed it quickly with a double Glenlivet in order to get myself thoroughly inebriated for the trip home. The service was pretty cool and we were able to get our drinks, and plenty hammered, pretty quickly.

This is a fun little bar with a lot of personality and a heck-of-a-lot of bikes swinging from the ceiling. My dad loves this kind of thing so I definitely plan to bring him in to check it out. This is right up his alley! If you're a Harley enthusiast, it's definitely work a look. If you want a stiff drink, it's good for that too. Mr. Higgins is the old tabby that used to hang out here, but he recently passed away. There's supposedly a kitten running around the bar now but I haven't seen it. Not sure if it's officially pet-friendly or what, but still a hip little spot!

Food: N/A

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

1 S Park Ave
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 243-0107
Rating
04/13/2011
I was getting some work done in South Park and my friend called me up for some lunch in the area. We decided to walk around the block from her work and check out the hip grilled cheese joint there. Known for the long lines, I had high hopes for this concept ever seeing it on America’s Next Great Restaurant and couldn’t wait to give it a try.

I ordered the mushroom grilled cheese and my friend had the basic grilled cheese with tomato. At $10 and $7 respectively, these were definitely not cheap eats. The only “side” they offer is an orange cutie, but that definitely didn’t make it a value meal. One of the biggest concerns from the show were the turnaround times, and I can tell you that they were pretty long. Even with tons of sandwiches pre-prepped (not sure how I feel about that), they still took forever to receive. Once they arrived, the mushroom was delicious while the regular was kind of plain and boring. Iono, I definitely don’t think I could eat it every day and I felt a little bit unsatisfied after the whole thing. Once you add sides and drinks, it gets downright expensive.

On the bright side, the patio is very pet-friendly and they welcome your dogs to join you any time. The lines can get kind of ridiculous during lunch so it’s best to come early. Not my favorite lunch spot in the area, but at least the mushroom grilled cheese was tasty.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Yogurt World

4646 Convoy St Ste 113
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-1688
Rating
04/13/2011
After a super fun evening of dinner and drinks at Min Sok Chon, the bros decided to grab some dessert while sobering up. With many choices in the next plaza, we decided to go to Yogurt World and the guys decided to hook me up since I lost the credit card roulette at dinner.

I got a bit of Irish mint, cookies and cream, and cappuccino, and topped it all off with a myriad of candies and fruits. They seem to have a better variety of flavors than similar yogurt places and certainly has more tart flavors that Asians seem to enjoy. For some reason nobody carries mint flavors which I love so I’m forced to pay the premium here (at least my friends were).

Despite their higher than average (SD) prices, they do offer a few of my favorite flavors that other froyo joints don’t. They toppings area could use some cleaning, but it wasn’t too bad. The place is always packed with UCSD kids so grab your froyo and chill outside at the dog-friendly tables. Park on the street because this parking lot is a disaster.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

House of Curries

2984 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 841-1688
Rating
04/12/2011
It was a beautiful weekend in the Bay so my lady and I cruised out to the East Bay to grab some grub and do some shopping. She had come out the week before to do the same with her sister and came with some great recommendations.

First stop was the House of Curries. We shared the chicken tikka masala and the curried peas with paneer with naan and rice. The tikka masala was tasty and I liked that it had a mild sour flavor to it. The paneer could have been softer, but wasn't too bad. The naan was soft and chewy and was great for dipping in the curry sauce.

House of Curries totally reminds me of a less expensive Naan & Curry, and I think they're related in some way. They've got a nice patio outside that was perfect for the lovely day and they whole heartedly welcome your dogs. It's about 8 blocks from campus, but if I was a CAL student, I'd be here all the time. It was very good stuff!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Carl’s Jr

25167 W Dorris
Coalinga, CA 93210
(559) 935-2980
Rating
04/10/2011
Needing to pitstop on the way back to the bay, we pulled into this Carl's Jr because the parking lot was packed and it seemed a good place to grab a "light" bite. When we crossed through the dog-friendly patio, we immediately noticed that this place was absolutely filthy but as they say, we were already pot committed.

I ordered a Big Carl sandwich to tide me over and it was the first time I've ever had a burnt fast food burger. For something with quality so heavily controlled, it's amazing that the screwed this up so bad. Definitely won't be back here again. There was even spoiled greens in my friend's salad.

Definitely wouldn't recommend anybody stop here for a bite and since it's a little hidden, don't even bother looking for it. It's hard to recommend fast food, but anywhere else is better than this!

Food: 2/10

Service: 3/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 1/10

Quickly

750 N Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Rating
04/10/2011
After a nice brunch of dim sum, my pals and I bid adieu to my friend’s parents and walked next door for some drinks for the long trip. We were lured in by their ad for $1.28 snacks and ended up ordering and spending quite a bit more, and even then, the total bill was super cheap.

I got a mango slush with apple jelly. It was a little too sweet for my tastes, especially at the beginning, but improved significantly when mixed all together. The prices are totally reasonable and were about 30% less than any other place I’ve ever been. They get you on the upsells, but the total is still pretty reasonable.

Great price, good service, and decent drinks. They’ve even got dog-friendly tables outside. That’s a win in my book. Go get yourself some sippers for a long road trip or even just a nice day!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

O'Brien's Pub

4646 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 715-1745
Rating
04/10/2011
When you've got the post dinner, drinks, and froyo thirsties like us, you go to O'Brien's for a pint. They have some great brews on draught and one in particular caught my eye, and we got a round for the entire table.

We all ordered the Kilkenny Irish Cream Ale, and it had a great bold, but slightly bitter flavor. Prices are totally reasonable at about $4-5 a pint, or if you're feeling frisky, get a 20oz glass. I was so full and loaded from dinner that I couldn't finish mine, but if I had more time and an empty belly, it would have all disappeared.

They've got a sweet, heated, dog-friendly patio where you can enjoy your beer while enjoying the game. It's quite literally an oasis in the jungle of Asian restaurants and shops and a favorite of locals all over SD. Definitely coming back here to enjoy a ball game and it's easy to see familiar faces if you come here often.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Yogurtland

19700 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 996-1776
Rating
04/08/2011
After a pleasant dinner with my friends, we decided to continue the conversation with some froyo next door. They had lots of dog-friendly tables outside so that was a big plus. At the clearly advertised $.30/oz price, I figured "what the heck" and we went work to choose our flavors.

This location had lots of interesting choices including green tea, guava pineapple tart, and even red velvet cupcake, and I had a bit of everything. There weren't that many candy toppings but there were plenty of fruit options. The yogurt was good for what is was, but I definitely had some issues about this place.

My problem is that instead of charging $.30/oz as advertised, they snuck my bill in at $.33/oz an had the gall to call it a promotion. After pointing out that charging me extra was no promotion, the cashier wouldn't budge and just kept pointing to the sign behind him for the promo as I pointed to the sign behind me on the glass. This was a Mexican standoff to be sure. Ultimately I ate the extra $.50, but was fuming afterward. I will never be back to this bait-and-switch establishment and encourage others not to as well.

Food: 6/10

Service: 0/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Ici

2948 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 665-6054
Rating
04/04/2011
There's some great dessert places in the Bay Area that whips up some amazing artisan ice creams. In the Elmwood area, Ici's long line reigns supreme. Everywhere you go you can find people enjoying a cone of the stuff and many store specifically let folks know to leave it outside.

My lady and I waited about 30 minutes in line before earning admittance, and sampled some of their famous flavors including Meyer lemon sorbet, lemon creme brûlée, curried banana, and wildflower honey. We got a cone each of the creme brûlée and one of the honey, and slowly made our way back to the car as we lapped up the delicious treat. The creme brûlée had some intense sour lemon flavors that could only cone from fresh juice and zest, while the honey was super subtle in sweetness, while being totally palette-cleansing and refreshing. The cone is the unsung hero here and was freshly rolled. There's a sweet chocolate surprise at the bottom of the cone that really pulls it all together in the end. At $3.60 for a small scoop, it's not exactly a cheap treat, but totally affordable when you consider the quality you get.

In the super hip Elmwood neighborhood, Ici is easily the king of ice creams. People come from miles around to sample their flavors, as evidenced with our visit and the fight over parking out front. They've got a bench out front for the many pet parents who want to share their experience with their dogs, and there are definitely lots of those to be found. Service was amazing and they have no problem if you want to sample all kinds of stuff. In a nutshell, I loved it and can't wait to come back.

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

The Milo Foundation

2060 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 454-6456
Rating
04/01/2011
Milo is a great organization that is committed to finding homes and caring for dogs and cats everywhere. I stopped by the check out the facility and visit all of the animals. They were so happy to see me and I wished that I could take them all home. The cutest ones were definitely the 4 puppies that I got to play with for a long while. They were so adorable!

They've got a great sanctuary space out in Willets that gives these animals a place to enjoy the freedom of the outdoors. They've got a long list of supplies that they could use to care for the animals so please donate!

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

773 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 896-5029
Rating
04/01/2011
It's really no surprise to me that Starbucks dominates the coffee market over players like Coffee Bean and Peet's. It really is all about the experience. In particular, this location is slow, unorganized, noisy, and they make it a pain in the butt to find the WiFi code which is limited to 2 hours.

Their drinks are pretty good though. I ordered the hazelnut blended drink, which in all its simplicity, tastes better than much of the Starbucks equivalents. That's about where the raving stops though and if it weren't for receiving a large giftcard, I'd probably be at a different coffee house right now.

They do have dog-friendly outdoor tables (dogs aren't allowed inside of course) and the sounds of the busy city outside contribute to making it a great place to people watch, but it's a bit out of the way for me. Once my gift card is used up, I will probably abstain from Coffee Bean.

Food: 8/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Double Rainbow Cafe

860 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 457-0803
Rating
03/27/2011
After a bumpy reunion dinner at Sol Food with old friends, our little troupe grabbed a few cocktails over at The Mayflower before heading back up 4th for a sweet nightcap at Double Rainbow. A fixture in the community, this was, and still probably is, one of the most popular spots to hang out late night in Marin.

Opting for a sundae, my lady and I chose the mint chip, cookies and cream, and a scooper's choice. I have no idea what that third scoop was, but it was all covered in hot fudge, whipped cream, walnuts, and rainbow sprinkles. The damn thing looked like a cupcake! It was quite tasty however, and the service was super friendly.

I hadn't been back to Double Rainbow in at least 10 years and was blown away to see my basketball coach from nearly 20 years ago there! It was totally nostalgic and a breath of fresh air to find out he was now running the place. Unless it's raining, they have some tables outside to scoot up to with your dog. I can't wait to come back for a nice, thick shake and great conversation. It's going to be the spot I head to after every Sol Food visit!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Sol Food Puerto Rican Cuisine

732 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 451-4765
Rating
03/27/2011
Sol Food is my favorite restaurant in town and when it comes to a hearty meal at a great price, there really is no substitute. The main location was closed for renovations so my buddy and I headed over to their itty bitty location on Fourth Street for some of their famous chicken.

I got their top selling chicken thighs served with rice, beans, plantains, and salad. For less than $10, this meal can't be beaten. They simply do the basics unbelievably well and the entire city keeps coming back for more. They've even got a single, lonely table on the corner of 4th and Lincoln for those enjoying their meals with their best fuzzy and furry friends. There's also some bar seating outside too.

Lately, Sol Food has been a victim of its own success by expanding a bit too quickly, compromising the food quality and overall experience. Their pop-up location on Fourth Street had seen its share of scaling problems. When my friends and I went the other night, we had no less than 9-10 major mistakes in our order, which annoyed our party, but also annoyed the Sol Food staff. Given that you order a few doors down and they bring you your dinner packed securely in wasteful to-go boxes, it makes logistics terribly complicated. They've got to manage this transition correctly or the whole operation and built-up goodwill could come tumbling down. I will certainly be back, but I really hope they get their act together and bring back the larger portions instead of the smaller bites that have been served lately. This particular experience was almost perfect, but there are definitely places to improve.

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Arizmendi Bakery

1002 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-4093
Rating
03/26/2011
An Arizmendi had (sort of) recently opened in downtown San Rafael and I had such a nice experience at the San Francisco one that I had to drop in for some pastries. They have a slightly different selection of treats here so my friend and I decided to share a few bites.

I ordered the cheese roll and she got the apple cinnamon scone. The cheese roll was very tasty and chewy and the scone was quite moist. Even the apples had a good amount of juiciness to them and it had a great balance of flavors.

There are many things on the menu that I'd love to try at Arizmendi and I will definitely be back with an empty stomach and my laptop (free WiFi!) and spend some time working from here. They've got dog-friendly tables outside in the courtyard and I can't wait to come back with mine!

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

The Embarcadero Waterfront

The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
Rating
03/19/2011
The Embarcadero (why do we put "the" in front of everything?) is one of the best places in the city to sight see. On the one hand, there's some cool landmarks like that bow and arrow sculpture and a random rocketship, but there's also the Ferry Building, Pier 39, TCHO, and a few other great spots along the way. Walking along the Embarcadero is not only a regular commute for many Marinites working in the city, but also a favorite route for dog walkers and joggers, and even people being dragged along on a walk by their big dogs. There's some park areas along the way where pups can do their business too!

If you want a nice, flat area to take Fido for a stroll, I recommend the Waterfront. If you're fortunate to go on a Tuesday, Thursday, or Saturday, score some awesome sausages at 4505 Meats at the Farmer's Market!

Vicente Park, Parkside Square, Bob Chemey Field

26th Ave & Vicente St
San Francisco, CA 94116
Rating
03/17/2011
Not sure if this is officially an off leash park, but there are certainly lots of dogs and their families roaming around and having a great time! The field is not fenced in (but the playground is) so you'll have to keep an eye on your pup while playing, but it's a great place to bring the family. It's basically attached to Pine Lake Park so it's easy to visit on a walk. Doggie loves it when I bring her by!

Starbucks Coffee

7514 Redwood Blvd
Novato, CA 94945
(415) 878-2002
Rating
03/14/2011
The location nearest Costco was absolutely packed so I needed to find an alternative nearby. Fortunately there are Starbucks spots on just about every corner so it was not hard to find a location with an empty seat.

I ordered the hazelnut latte since it's a cold day and it came out quite tasty. The syrup was free since I'm a Gold card holder now which saved me $.50! Now I've just got to figure out if I can get refills on those.

While this location was a bit smaller than most I've been to and the service a tad slower, the dog-friendly patio area was huge. It's more cramped at the tables so I recommend the bar next to the barista as a place to work from. Besides the comfy location, you get a great view of how your drink was made!

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Panera Bread

5800 Northgate Mall
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 444-0734
Rating
03/14/2011
I hadn't been back to Panera in SD since the Internet had slowed down but since moving back I had discovered one at the newly renovated mall! They've got a nice space there for nomming and getting work done so my friend and I headed over for some snacks.

I wasn't hungry so only got a lemonade. Prices have definitely gone up and there are no refills on lemonade, only the tasty green tea, which has increased in price by 50%. The pastries looked good though and I look forward to trying some next time.

They've got a beautiful patio that welcomes your dogs but it was a little chilly today to take the pup out. The service was good too, but the only power outlet I could find was hidden in the back corner. It might be tough to find a decent seat on most days but this might be my new, close-to-home spot to get stuff done!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

In-N-Out Burger

798 Redwood Hwy
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(800) 786-1000
Rating
03/13/2011
Driving back late to Marin on an empty stomach, I needed some hot vittles to ease my hunger pangs. I debated on whether to go to Jack in the Box when I remembered the In-N-Out on the way home. Thinking fast, I pulled right off the highway and made a beeline to get there before closing time.

The double-double animal style is my choice just about every time I come to an In-N-Out, which was recently unseated as SoCal's favorite burger. I recently got to try #1, Five Guys, and truth be told, they've got nothing on In-N-Out. The double-double still rules in my book!

Marinites can be kinda fussy about stuff sometimes and successfully vetoed a drive-thru at this location. It's also the first In-N-Out I've seen with a security guard so I guess this one gets kind of hairy sometimes. Nevertheless, I still think In-N-Out kicks Five Guys' ass and for the price of 1 Five Guys burger I can get 2-3 In-N-Out ones. There is no contest here, the double-double rules! The new outdoor tables come in handy for when you happen to have your dog dining with you too. Gogogo!

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Mount Tamalpais East Peak

Mill Valley metro area
Mill Valley, CA 94942
Rating
03/13/2011
Deb L. and I started out at the fire station and had a beautiful day hike out toward the East Peak. It took about 2 hours to finally get there but the view was well worth it. People brought their dogs of all sizes (including one of the smallest Chihuahuas I've ever seen) on their trek up and they all did great. Not sure I'd necessarily recommend small dogs on this rocky trail, but I think big dogs would be just fine. We met a beautiful pit bull mix named Sophie along the way who was so sweet! Just goes to show that they're darlings as long as the owners are awesome too. I can't wait to go on the hike again!

Ozone Thai Restaurant and Lounge

598 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 536-3266
Rating
03/10/2011
I was in the SOMA area for a meeting and needed a quiet place to chat with my old pals, coworkers, and mentors and 21st Amendment was both noisy and packed. Instead we walked across the street to Ozone and managed to find a very quiet spot at the bar, just in time for happy hour.

I ordered a Blue Moon which was only $2.50 during happy hour, what a killer deal! They've also got some nice appetizer specials but I didn't get around to trying them on this trip. The service was pretty good that's to be expected when it was as quiet as it was. They also had some rare Scotch that, at $25 per shot was a bit pricy for the occasion.

I don't know about the " O-ZONE" here (still don't get the name) but the ambiance here is pretty nice. The "outside" (it's encased in glass but I guess it's still outside) patio is dog-friendly so bring your dog wth you while you sip on a cocktail. The prices are totally reasonable even outside of happy hour and it's a great spot for a quiet meeting. I'd go back for drinks for sure!

Food: n/a

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

South Park

S Park St & 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
Rating
03/10/2011
There are tons of pet owners in the heart of the SF startup community and those people need a park! South Park is a nice little grove in the literal heart of the community which all the cool new companies call home. This park is on-leash only and it's a little on the small side, but it's always nice having a little oasis that your pup can call their home (or bathroom depending on how you look at it) away from home. If you're a dog owner living or working in SoMa, this is the place for you!

Cafe de la Presse

352 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-2680
Rating
03/09/2011
It's a treat to have such nice days downtown and especially when it's for an important meeting. My 10am was at Cafe de la Presse so I hopped onto the train and headed over.

Once there, I ordered an almond croissant because they're just so damned good. This one was quite tasty and had a light and sweet custard filling. I quite enjoyed it and it was definitely up there next to the one from Tartine.

What I like about this cafe is that it's really convenient and has a bunch of dog-friendly tables outside. Service was really helpful as well and the coffee never got too low. If it's not on the 7x7 Big Eat list, it should be. Turns out it's also a great place for a meeting!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

4094 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 626-6263
Rating
03/07/2011
I was doing some work with local pet-friendly businesses in the Castro today and realized that I showed up before most places opened. Instead, I walked over to the Starbucks near the corner and dropped in and hang out for a bit.

I had a coupon for a free Perfect Oatmeal and it was the last day to claim it so that’s just what I did. It came with brown sugar, nuts, and dried fruits to drop in and mix and together the ingredients really did whip up a great oatmeal breakfast.

This particular location seems to be super pet-friendly and besides the comfy outdoor benches where people shack up with their dogs, many also bring their small dogs inside while ordering. While not officially endorsed, people around here all love dogs so it seems A-OK to do it. There’s plenty of seating inside near outlets and people are really friendly. Great location to bring your pup, so do it!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

1 Ferry Bldg Ste 50
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 291-3276
Rating
03/07/2011
The Ferry Building is one of my absolute favorite places in all of San Francisco and having an amazing farmers market there 3x per week makes it 3x more awesome.

There's some awesome vendors and super fresh well, everything! On a beautiful day like today, people like to bring their dogs out to the market as well. There's a bunch if signs around saying dogs aren't allowed but I'll be damned if that ever stopped anybody. F- it, I'm bringing mine next time! Like McDonald's, I'm lovin' it!

Marin Yogurt Co U-Top It

245 San Anselmo Ave
San Anselmo, CA 94960
(415) 485-4441
Rating
03/02/2011
After a satisfying lunch with old friends at the awesome Sol Food, we decided to grab some froyo dessert at the brand new U-top It in San Anselmo. I remember some pretty fun times with friends over froyo and we were eager to give this new joint a try. When we arrived, we found it completely overrun with little kids and their moms topping off their cups and ringing up huge bills. That said, the price is not listed anywhere and not until you reach the counter do you find out how much you're really being taken for.

Before I get to that though, it all started with a sample. We weren't offered sample cups to try flavors ourselves and instead were fetched flavors by the doorman. A nice touch (I think?) but it would have been much easier just to go get myself a sample. Of the 8 flavors, only 3 appealed to me: carrot cake, dolce la leche, and cable car chocolate. The carrot cake and chocolate were alright (if not a little icy) but the dolce la leche was so saccharin-y sweet that it was difficult to eat. The toppings were abundant and certainly did nothing to lower the calorie count of the otherwise [mostly] fat free flavors. By the time I reached the register and weighed my yogurt, it came out to a whopping 9.8 ounces, half full in the 16 ounce cup. Well, that's when I found out that that it was $0.49 per ounce (it's not listed anywhere)! With tax, it came out to $5, which is kind of ridiculous when you consider that it's only $0.15-$0.39 in many of the places I'm used to. What's more, they charge for the cup as well which certainly doesn't help.

I might be making a mountain out of a molehill here and the main clientele probably isn't half as price sensitive, but this is definitely the most expensive yogurt place I've ever been to. That said, the area isn't cheap either, but it's pretty clear that they're making a killing. They just put some tables outside so people can finally enjoy their snacks with their pets (instead of tying them up), which is a nice touch. However, make no mistake, this is not a cheap treat and during busy hours the place is totally cramped and chaotic, and enjoying the froyo there is impossible. Truth be told, I wasn't that impressed.

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 4/10

Marin Country Mart

2257 Larkspur Landing Cir
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-4418
Rating
03/02/2011
Is it just me or did much of the life get sucked out of the plaza when it was rebranded? I think the old name was much better and it associated the shopping plaza with the actual ferry landing. The businesses that are here are mostly boutique-y, but most of the center is pretty quiet. Another problem I noticed is that many of the shops start off with the name "Larkspur Landing" so and so, and the new name confusion isn't helping anything.

It's admitted a good place to take your dog for a walk and there are some pet-friendly shops and restaurants in the area. The grassy knoll in the center of the um...center, is perfect for dogs to play in and there's even poop bags that pet parents can use to clean up after their pets.

The empty buildings make it feel kind of like a ghost town but there's supposed to be a nice pet store coming in soon. I've had awesome experiences with the Larkspur Landing Vet in the center so I'm looking forward to good things from the new pet store. It's been in "coming soon" mode for a while so I'll keep the candle lit but it better get here sooner than later!

If you camp out at Starbucks as much as I do, you'll notice the cute duck couple that doesn't seem to be afraid of people at all. The just waddle around the area doin' their thing!

It's a beautiful property with lots of potential, but with the downtown in the economy, it doesn't seem like many businesses are moving in. I really hope that changes soon.

The Honest Kitchen

145 14th Street
San Diego, CA 92101
(866) 437-9729
Rating
03/02/2011
I won some Honest Kitchen goodies at a LJ Brew House Yappy Hour event and every dog that got a taste absolutely LOVED them! My sister's dog, my lady's sister's dog, my mechanic's dog, and my friend's Havanese Cloud, loved loved loved them.

The only caveat is that the ingredients are all natural so storing the treats for long periods of time is no good. I definitely recommend the foods from The Honest Kitchen and the folks that work there are top notch and crazy friendly! You can see their stuff at local pet events so don't be bashful, walk up, and introduce yourself. They give lots of samples so give them a try. You'll be glad you did.

Chase Bank

926 Taraval St
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 753-3711
Rating
02/28/2011
They supposedly don't technically allow dogs in but people do it all the time. As soon as I walked up to the window I got the stinkeye and the standard Chase customer service (ie. none at all). The other tellers seemed more friendly but my chick was pretty bitchy. It took way longer than necessary to do a simply balance transfer but it finally got done. Overall, very disappointed.

Fred's Mexican Cafe

527 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-8226
Rating
02/24/2011
After an amazing evening at a tech event where my company was exhibiting, my team, friends, and I needed some food and drinks to celebrate the experience long into the night. We opted for Fred's since that is usually a friendly place for semi-drunk folks and was a pretty popular place to enjoy a margarita in the middle of the night. When we walked in, it was almost completely dead, which was just fine with me after the busy evening of shmoozing at Analog just moments before.

The dinner started with their house chips and salsa, and the salsa itself was very tasty and even had a nice kick to it. I ordered up the Rosarito combo served with a mahi mahi taco and chicken enchilada. For about $13, this was no cheap meal by a long shot since there was really only 2 simple items on the plate. I found both the taco and enchilada to be extremely bland and was disappointed by my expensive plate of food. The drinks are pretty heavy-handed which is nice, but the food is really what I wanted a healthy helping of. Unfortunately it was another case of the SD food blues for me and I would have much preferred an authentic street taqueria to this stuff, and at half the price.

While the service was decent, our waitress didn't smile once. I don't know what the deal was but it didn't seem like she wanted to be there at all. If it wasn't for the great company, it would have been a miserable dinner but fortunately we've got a great company of friends that can turn any frown upside-down. The heated patio outside is very dog friendly though so that saves this as a place to get a group of friends together. Perhaps I'll be back for some margaritas.

Food: 4/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 5/10

Chick-fil-A

10750 Camino Ruiz
San Diego, CA 92126
Rating
02/22/2011
Chick-fil-A was just erected in Mira Mesa and the community has gone wild for the stuff. Just prior to opening, there was at least 100 people waiting in line outside so that they could be one of the lucky few that won free Chick-fil-A for a year. I wasn't willing to wait for the couple days and nights required, but decided that it was finally time to walk in and see what all the fuss was about.

I decided to try the spicy Chick-fil-A (with pepper jack) meal with waffle fries and a cookies and cream shake (with whipped cream and a cherry of course) and my pal got a regular Chick-fil-A sandwich with Provolone. Unfortunately they put American cheese on her sandwich instead of the Provolone, but it didn't really matter, because they sandwiches tasted great. The star was definitely the chicken itself, and this was highlighted by the somewhat wimpy buns they were served on. They don't offer self-served drinks for some reason and I'm not sure if they offer refills.

As fast food goes, Chick-fil-A served some pretty high quality stuff. The chicken breasts were whole breasts instead of the liquidized patty things that some places serve, and the service was top notch. The price is definitely on the high end for fast food so if I had to choose, I'd probably still go for something like In-N-Out (sometimes you just want beef!) but Chick-fil-A was definitely impressive and now I wished that I had actually waited in line to get it free for a year. The place is really clean and there's even tables outside to sit at if you wanted to bring your dog with you. Trust me, the quality here isn't the same dog food you'll find at most fast food joints and I bet your buddy would love a bit of your Chick-fil-A!

Food: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

132 Vintage Way Ste F1
Novato, CA 94945
(415) 898-4147
Rating
02/21/2011
When I need to find a good reliable place to get work done, Starbucks is always there to rescue me. After a quick trip for some Costco grubbin’, my friend and I cruised over the shop in the local center. The first thing you notice is all of the people who brought their dogs and sit outside at the pet-friendly tables. Next, the inside is super homey and there’s even a fireplace in the corner and couches along the wall. Nothing is over industrialized and they maintain the classic look of a Starbucks.

I ordered the coffee Frappuccino with whip. Since it was kind of late in the day, I made it a decaf and even the contact high of other peoples’ caffeine (or maybe it was the sugar) piped me up to power through the rest of the work day.

This Starbucks is super busy so it’s a good idea to come a bit earlier and nab a seat. It’s literally packed the entire day but it’s a great place to get stuff done and watch all the folks hang out with their pups outside. I definitely dig this location!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Beanery

1307 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 661-1255
Rating
02/21/2011
There was some time between brunch and an appointment so my lady friend and I headed over to Starbucks to get a hot cup of coffee and some work done. Unfortunately, it was absolutely packed and there were no seats inside at all. Instead, we decided to walk over to Beanery in hopes that there would be a place to sit indoors while enjoying a hot beverage. They've got a few dog-friendly outdoor tables off the sidewalk but it was way too wet to sit outside.

The menu is kind of small and uninteresting so I ordered their special pumpkin latte. The pumpkin flavors were pleasant and there was a lot of spice in it which reminded me of the holidays. Is it actually pumpkin season right now?

While their pumpkin latte was decent, the service was a bit rude and they don't offer WiFi nor accept credit cards. What's the point of a hanging out at a café on a rainy day if it doesn't offer internet access? Beanery is just alright in my book but isn't a place I can see myself going to regularly for the lack of internet and other things. I heard Good Earth has WiFi so if Starbucks is busy the next time I'm in the area, I'll be heading there instead.

Food: 7/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Shack

763 E Foothill Blvd Ste A
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
(805) 546-8623
Rating
02/17/2011
Driving up to the Bay Area from San Diego by way of Highway 101 can be a harrowing experience, especially during the holidays. We decided to stop for some dinner after picking up my cousin in SLO and he recommended we give The Shack a try. As it turned out, it was one of my cousin's favorite places to get a great meal on a student budget.

I decided to go with the Monday special, Dave's Mushroom Madness. All I can say is that it was an awesome burger, especially for the price. It was covered with piles of grilled mushrooms, Swiss cheese, avocado, bacon, and all of the fixings that you could possibly want. At less than six bucks, I nearly took one for the road. Yes, it was that good. All of the rest of their food looked awesome too, but it was Dave's Mushroom Madness that forever made me a fan of this pub's grub.

Honestly, The Shack is one of the best college pubs I've ever been to and is a great spot for watching sports, eating a great meal, and boozing up with your buddies. If I had gone to school at Cal Poly SLO, I would have to have dropped in several times a week! The students are blessed to have such a great bar within walking distance from their campus, something UCSD students will likely never have the privilege of enjoying.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Avila Beach

Avila Beach Metro Area
Avila Beach, CA 93424
Rating
02/17/2011
During the off-season, Avila Beach is kind of quiet and ghost towny, and there are lot of cottages for sale in the area. There are lots of cute shops around and the sandy beach is only dog-friendly outside the hours of 10am-5pm. If you do decide to bring your dogs out during that time, expect local old geezers to yell and shake their fist at you, just as I witnessed yesterday. Still, it was a really pleasant place to go for a walk and there are two long piers to venture out too!

Coronado Ferry Landing

1201 1st St
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 435-8895
Rating
02/17/2011
For as long as I've lived in San Diego, I had never seen such a beautiful view of the city as I did from the Coronado Ferry Landing at the Old Ferry Shopping Center. Your leashed dogs are welcome to walk around with you and Coronado is a very dog-friendly town to begin with. It's sort of touristy, but the views are undeniable. The shops and eateries are questionable and overpriced so I'd skip those, snap a few photos, and find a proper restaurant!

Bob Jones Trail

Avila Beach Metro Area
Avila Beach, CA 93424
Rating
02/17/2011
After a mega relaxing night in the sulfurous waters of Sycamore Springs, my lady friend and I wanted to go for a nice hike out to Avila Beach via the Bob Jones Trail. The entire "trail" is paved and flat so the going was easy all the way out to the water. Leashed dogs are welcome and the scenery is nothing but green and beautiful, especially after a brisk rain. With a good mix of straights, curves, sun, and shade, the Bob Jones Trail was more of a road than anything but was still a lot of fun.

West Point Inn

1000 Panoramic Hwy
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-9955
Rating
02/17/2011
The hike up to the Inn is beautiful and the grounds are dog-friendly. However, dogs can't stay overnight which is a bummer. If you want to bring your dog up you'll have to stay leashed and on the dog-friendly trails. Bring a camera because the views are breathtaking! They've got a pancake brunch special sometimes too so I will have to give that a try sometime.

Mint Downtown Thai

732 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 546-8424
Rating
02/17/2011
I flew all the way down to SD to spend valentines day with my lady and was excited for the lovely night I had planned. After a lackluster experience at a crappy cupcakery, I was hopeful for a better dinner at Mint Thai restaurant downtown.

We came for their "special" valentines day menu which offered one appetizer, two entrees, and one dessert to share for $40. We went for the spring rolls, which were ok, but kind of dry and not fresh at all. The peanut sauce was ok though. For our entrees, we shared the salmon curry and the shrimp with asparagus. They dumped the brown rice on the plates so it was a little more complicated to "share" then I'm used to. The flavors were ok though but the salmon was a bit overcooked and there were tough stalky bits o asparagus that needed to be spat out. At $18 on the regular menu, I wouldn't order the salmon again though. We shared the sweet sticky rice with custard for dessert, which was the best part of the meal, though it doesn't really say much. Overall, I was very disappointed with the food.

As it turns out, the "special" menu is one big overpriced sham. In fact, ordering the same dishes from the regular menu would have been much, much cheaper (by about 20%!). The service was definitely the worst part of the experience and it was ssssllllloooooowwwwww. The dining room was definitely not busy but dishes took forever to arrive and the hostesses and waitresses were clueless and clucking away. What the hell was this crap? Next time, I'm just gonna cook at home. Even the dog-"friendly" patio outside isn't worth coming back for because by the time I get my people food, the poor dog would have starved by then.

Food: 5/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Honeymoon Cafe

999 Price St
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
(805) 773-5646
Rating
02/16/2011
After a beautiful hike out to Avila Beach, my friend and I cruised out to Pismo Beach for some brunch grub at Honeymoon Cafe. A quaint cafe with a very pet-friendly patio, their menu featured some tasty options. I was ready for just about anything with eggs.

I opted for the pastrami hash with sunny side up eggs and my friend got the veggie scramble. The pastrami was delish and I loved the flavor of the runny yolk in the hash. The homemade jam was awesome on the toast as well. The veggie scramble was very fresh but left something to be desired. It was tasty, but could have used a little something extra to kick it up a notch.

The food was pretty good but the service was excellent and very friendly. The dog-friendly tables were a bit wet from the morning rain but otherwise would make a great place to enjoy brunch with your dog. Walk on by if you're in the area!

Food: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Coronado Cupcakery

1201 1st St
Coronado, CA 92118
(619) 437-0166
Rating
02/16/2011
After an invigorating meeting in Coronado, I decided to walk over to the pier to surprise my lady with a nice Valentine's Day cupcake. The waterfront area is absolutely stunning and may be the best view of San Diego one can get. I was hoping that the breath-taking views would compliment a moist cupcake, but the stuff offered here was way sub-par.

I got her a chai spice cupcake which seems to have been sitting a while. The buttercream was rock hard and the cake was firm and more like a muffin than cupcake. At $3.25, it was super disappointing and a total ripoff.

As it turns out, most of the center's shops are mostly for tourists and the eateries seem a bit apathetic. I was totally unimpressed by the whole experience and even the service was poor. The center is dog-friendly and there are tables where you can post up while "enjoying" your cupcake. However, no part of this experience was enjoyable and I won't ever be coming back here.

Food: 1/10

Service: 2/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 3/10

Chicken Pie Diner

14727 Pomerado Rd
Poway, CA 92064
(858) 748-2445
Rating
02/12/2011
One of my best friends in the whole world asked me to grab some dinner and under no circumstances would I ever say no so we cruised up to Chicken Pie Diner in Poway. Styled in the old school diner style, I was looking forward to good old fashioned comfort food. Being Asian, I immediately noticed that we stuck out like a sore thumb in the joint and it was somewhat a shock to see so many obese Americans in one place. The food here would certainly be rib-sticking.

We decided to share the chicken pot pie dinner, the turkey dinner, and an Oreo shake. Just from looking at it, I could tell that we were in for a pretty heavy experience and I was eager to dig in. Once I did however, I found both dishes to be very "one-note" since it was all slathered in the same white gravy. It was difficult to get a distinct flavor out of anything and left our little table quite disappointed. At least the shake was satisfying but I know it would all eventually end up on my ass.

I really wanted to like this little diner but it fell quite a bit short of anything but mediocre. I hear the chicken pie place in Linda Vista is much better so I will be sure to give it a try next time. There's a big patio outside if you want to enjoy your meal while walking your dog. You're gonna need to do a lot more walking to work off this meal so get a move on!

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

El Patron

9460 Mira Mesa Blvd #H
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 549-3467
Rating
02/12/2011
It was at that weird part of the day where you're hungry but it's a little too late for breakfast but early for lunch. Seeking something hearty, I decided on a compromise and grab a breakfast burrito from El Patron. Luckily they had a special breakfast burrito and a drink for only $3.99 and I was instantly sold.

The burrito was filled with ham, eggs, cheese, beans, and sour cream, and I had to dump as much of the delicious guaca salsa as could fit inside. Together, it made for just the combination of flavors that I needed for the summer day and the drink was a really sweet kicker to the package. This was definitely one of the best deals in town.

El Patron needs to compete with the likes of In-N-Out which is located in the same plaza, a tall order for any business. But through good food and great value, it pulls off the trick nicely. There's a single lonely table outside where you can tie your pup up as you lunch too. The service may be really slow and uninterested in their customers, but this isn't the kind of place for that anyway. However, if you want a cheap and satisfying meal, you've come to the right spot.

Food: 7/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Broadway Coffee

4633 Convoy St, Suite 102
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 505-9660
Rating
02/11/2011
Hidden away in the middle of a secluded plaza on Convoy, Broadway Coffee is a decent departure from the hubbub of yogurt and boba across the street. I dropped in this evening for a friends' networking event and pulled up to the table where I was greeted by the kindly couple who owned the little café. Sensing that not ordering anything would be in bad form, I decided to try one of their actual food items since very few of their drinks were actually caffeine free.

The menu was relatively sparse, but I decided to try their turkey panini with provolone and a side salad. I went in not really expecting much since it's sort of a random café in these parts and the combination lived up to that expectation. The sandwich was unsubstantially small and the salad was just an unimpressive medley of the basics, sort of like this review.

I probably didn't give Broadway Coffee a fair review since I didn't actually order anything to drink. However, considering that the food was totally lackluster, I don't really put much stock in their coffee driving up their rating here. I have heard that their desserts are actually quite good, but I doubt any of the items were actually made on site since they seemed to lack most of the facilities to do so. The tables outside are dog-friendly but don't really provide any kind of a view of anything interesting on the narrow walkway. While it may be a relaxed little venue for a networking group, I think I will find my dinner elsewhere.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Costco Food Court

12350 Carmel Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 675-0981
Rating
02/11/2011
Whenever I go to Costco I end up buying way too much stuff. There is one thing I need to get every time though and that's a polish dog. For $1.50 it comes with a drink and then I dump a bunch of condiments on top. It totally fills me up even after stuffing my face with samples. There's tons of outdoor seating and people bring their dogs out while enjoying their "dogs" (bad pun, I know).

Puppy Bowl VII

One Discovery Place
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(240) 662-2000
Rating
02/10/2011
I don't think I've ever seen anything more adorable in my life. I caught the Puppy Bowl during halftime of the real big game and was blown away by the cuteness overload. They featured some small, some large, but mostly medium-sized pups who were all available to be adopted.

Amy has got to be my favorite and I wish I could take her how NOW! I didn't get to catch much of it before jumping back to the Super Bowl, but damn, the Puppy Bowl was a nice reprieve from the boring half time show. I hope they all found great homes!

Mount Tamalpais State Park

801 Panoramic Highway
Mill Valley, CA 94941
(415) 388-2070
Rating
02/09/2011
I needed to clear my mind and gather my thoughts and I couldn't think of a better place to do that then hiking Mt. Tam. I always enjoyed the drive up the mountain and that turned out to be pretty therapeutic too. I wanted to reach the east peak so I parked by the fire station and hiked up one of the dog-friendly paths. I hiked around for two hours and couldn't find my way to the peak, but did find some cool waterfalls before turning around. The views were amazing and I had to take it all in. It's a great drive and a fun hike, and ended up being a great reprieve from burning the candle at both ends of work and life.

Gelato Vero Caffe

3753 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-9269
Rating
02/07/2011
After a heavy Mexican meal on a scorchingly hot day, there's nothing like cooling off with small serving of Italian ice cream. While the lunch compartment of my stomach may have been full, the dessert car of this foodie train always has room. Luckily, just down the street stood a classic San Diego gelateria.

My choices of the day were my ever favorite gianduia (a chocolate hazelnut flavor) and their mocha rum crunch. The gelato was silky smooth and possessed some extremely strong, bold flavors. As always, the gianduia was decadent and the crunch of the mocha rum flavor added a new dimension to the otherwise velvety landscape in my biodegradable gelato bowl. Their gelato offerings were incredible, but my only complaint would be that they simply could not fit enough in my small serving size!

Gelato Vero Caffe has adapted the now ubiquitous practice of selling their servings by the ounce. With the price tag of $0.63 per ounce, this is definitely not a cheap treat. While they serve up a deliciously creamy confection, I don't think their product justifies the cost, especially when gelaterias like Mondo Gelato sell it for significantly less per ounce. If you're in the Mission Hills area, definitely drop in for a taste. The dog-friendly tables outside are perfect for enjoying your gelato on a hot San Diego day. However, be cautious of the potentially high cost of your treat because you won't have any control over how much your scooper decides to pack into your particular serving.

Food: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Board & Brew

2675 Gateway Rd
Carlsbad, CA 92009
(760) 929-2739
Rating
02/07/2011
Reconnecting with some of the best colleagues you've ever worked with is always an exciting occasion, and the opportunity to do so came up to rejoining at the new Board & Brew in Carlsbad. I guess it's partially due to the lack of eateries in the area, but this place was packed. However, it did not reduce the quality of service from the staff that immediately recognized my Yelp t-shirt and commented on how awesome Yelp was.

I ordered the Turkado, a turkey sandwich with avocado. The size was pretty good and all of the ingredients were very fresh, especially considering how quickly the turn their ingredients. While the sandwiches are very reasonably prices, the combos kick up the cost to nearly $10 per person. That's pretty pricey when you consider that the only value add is a drink and chips but I was still pleased with my overall meal. When you're the only show in town, you can pretty much charge anything you want.

Board and Brew is an awesomely laid back sandwich shop with excellent, fresh ingredients. This particular location is very out of the way for me but if one opened up locally, it would definitely be my choice over Subway and Quiznos. The tables outside made for a great place to chat with my old pal and the best part is that you can have your dog with you while you eat. I definitely dig the sandwiches here and hope they open some nearby!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Cotixan Mexican Food

8110 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 549-9204
Rating
02/07/2011
Having a buddy visit from the Bay Area is always fun and one of the must do things when they come to visit includes grabbing a burrito at the nearest all night Mexican joint. For convenience sake, we decided to grab some burritos from the Cotixan's on the corner.

After quickly browsing the menu we decided to split 2 breakfast burritos, one with chorizo and the other with machaca. Of the two, I definitely enjoyed the sausage more. It had much fuller flavor and was more satisfying to eat. That's not to say the machaca wasn't good as well, but I think the vegetables overpowered the flavor and presence of the shredded beef. Plus, I typically prefer sausage for breakfast as well.

Overall, this Cotixan location was actually very satisfying. Their entire "dining" room is outside and dog-friendly. The reasonable price, double drive-thrus, and close proximity to home all make it an attractive, and sobering, place to eat at any hour. Ever since I graduated from college, I haven't really been able to find a burrito that comes close to the size and value of an OVT burrito. While Cotixan's can't touch the sheer girth of the campus version, the value is definitely there.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Epicenter Cafe

764 Harrison St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 543-5436
Rating
02/05/2011
A lunch meeting in SOMA drew me out to Epicenter cafe to meet with a fellow entrepreneur. It was an absolutely beautiful day and the dog-friendly tables out front looked pretty welcoming so I sat down to wait for the fellow to arrive.

I ordered a hot chocolate to sip on during the meeting and found it to be pleasantly rich, creamy, and reasonable at $2.50. The cafe was so clean and both pet and entrepreneur-friendly that I ended finding a nice spot by the window and spent the rest of day getting stuff done.

It's only a short walk from the Powell station and the service and location were great. The food looked delicious though I didn't get a chance to sample it on this trip. I definitely will next time though!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Chase Bank

700 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 274-3500
Rating
02/05/2011
I was getting some work done in SOMA today and stopped by a Chase to do some banking business. This location has a weird layout inside and some of the customers can be a little unsavory, especially being a downtown branch. The teller I talked to was pretty cool though and he said that dogs are more than welcome into the bank so come on by. Just be wary of the weird vagrants inside and out.

Chef Xiu

855 W El Camino Real
Mountain View, CA 94040
(650) 988-8820
Rating
02/02/2011
I was meeting up with my buddy in Mountain View for some lunch before a big event in the evening and we wanted to try something new. We knew we wanted Chinese and had heard good things about Chef Xiu's lunch special. It's sort of a hole-in-the-wall so it's easy to miss from the street.

I ordered the beef chow fun which I thought was on the lunch special menu but found out later that it was not, so I didn't get a salad, only some hot and sour soup. The soup was nice comfort food for a day like this and perfect right after my workout. The beef chow fun was over-sauced but had welcomed spice you usually don't find.

The service was so-so but at least they had a couple of dog-friendly tables outside. For the price, the food wasn't too shabby and I like that the lunch specials are a fairly complete meal. I wouldn't mind coming back to try some of their other dishes in the future.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Cuesta Park

615 Cuesta Dr
Mountain View, CA 94043
Rating
02/02/2011
I needed some editing help and my buddy had some spicy feedback to share with me. Since all of the coffee shops on Castro were either packed or closed (on a Tuesday??) we headed down to the dog-friendly Cuesta Park to enjoy the lovely warm weather. There's lots of clean benches to chill at and there are a lot of dogs all around.

There's an off-leash area next to the tennis courts where walkers and trainers call home but it's a good idea to keep an eye on your pup(s) since the area isn't fenced in. The people are nice though and the weather is beautiful so go out and play!

Tully's Coffee

1509 Sloat Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 665-9055
Rating
02/01/2011
Waking up on my brother in law's couch on an early Tuesday morning after a week of traveling, I needed a hot cup of Joe to get me fired up for the long day. Fortunately he agreed and we headed down to Tully's before the work day began.

I ordered a grande cup of hazelnut coffee and we headed outside to the single, dog-friendly bench out front to sip and chat. The coffee was a welcome counter to the cold SF morning and warmed my soul. I sweetened it to all hell since I'm not really a coffee connoisseur and can't tell one cup from the other. However, this one gets a passing grade.

This location is packed in the mornings and there is a lack of order in the line when moving between the counter and pick up area. There isn't much seating inside either so getting work done can be tricky. Overall, this location was mediocre for it's lack of tables, outlets, and flow, but is the closest coffee shop in the area so it will have to do.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

San Diego Pet Expo

2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd
Del Mar, CA 92014
(800) 999-5400
Rating
01/31/2011
My awesome attorney told me about the annual San Diego Pet Expo and you know I absolutely had to go! My pal and I cruised over to the Del Mar Fairgrounds to play with some rescue pups and enjoy the Splash Dogs distance leaping competition.

There were soooo many rescue organizations present that I completely lost count. Chopper, Doc-Barker, and a few other pet-lebrities were even making an appearance! I got my first glimpse of a zonkey! Or was it a zorse? Either way, it was definitely something unique and a marvel to see up close.

The website for the pet expo explicitly stated that you weren't allowed to bring your dog, yet just about everybody at the event had. Might as well make it pet-friendly right? Besides that, I had a lot of fun seeing the leaping competition and playing with all of the super sweet rescue dogs. I hope they all make it into great homes.

Starbucks Coffee

13255 Black Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92129
(858) 484-7234
Rating
01/31/2011
It's been a while (at least for me) since I've been to a Starbucks. Fortunately this particular location had plenty of tables (even a big bench!) and an outlet was pretty easy to find. They've got a bunch of dog-friendly tables outside and even a water bowl for your pooch.

I decided to try something new today and went with the vanilla bean Frappuccino. While it was pretty good and you could taste the bean, it simply reminded me of a shake versus a real frap. In other words, it was kind of boring.

Service at this location seems sort of indifferent and the baristas talked to customers in kind of an abrupt tone. As a place to work from though, it was pretty good. It's quiet and convenient and there is tons of parking and places to get a quick bite to eat. It's pet-friendly so that's always a plus so bring your furry friends along if you need to get some work done outside.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Sweetea

2435 S King Rd
San Jose, CA 95122
(408) 238-7038
Rating
01/25/2011
My buddy really wanted some Thai tea which we couldn't get at the Vietnamese coffee place we just came from so we dipped into Sweetea for some boba.

I ordered an almond milk tea with boba and it was immediately better than the stuff at Tea Era because there was no powdery residue from the mix they use to make the drink. The boba was pretty good too and was nice and chewy. For less than $3.50, it was also a decent value too.

Popping into solid boba shops has been tricky to find in the area so far but this was a pretty good experience. I sometimes miss San Diego for the abundance of boba places but will be keeping an eye out for more like Sweetea. There are even tables outside to enjoy your drink at with your pup if you happen to be going for a walk.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Urban Outfitters

665 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-0102
Rating
01/25/2011
This place is hipsterific to the max, and yet I still dig it for all of the cool stuff you can't find anywhere else. The books are hilarious and strangely fascinating and I wish they offered a vintage rocking chair or something so I could enjoy the reading.

I remember having to buy some Topsiders here once to get into a club and they've got a pretty generous return policy as long as they're not too badly scuffed up. You can bring your dog in here while you browse too so it makes for a great shopping experience to have your companion with you. And yes, your dog does think you look fat in that dress.

Rei Do Gado Brazilian Steak House

939 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 702-8464
Rating
01/25/2011
Rei Do Gado is a very popular Brazilian-style steakhouse just outside the Gaslamp. Whenever my dad comes to visit, we've always got to stop by for some of their salad bar and well-seasoned meat. Their lunch special is extremely attractive since it is only a third of the price as what dinner would cost, and that's what my buddy and I found ourselves lured by today.

While the lunch special may offer fewer choices of meat, you really don't notice as ten different cuts circulate around the room. My favorites are definitely the chicken and cheese, baby back ribs, and the sausage. The meats are cooked with nothing more than a touch of sea salt, just as it should be done, and brings out all of the outstanding flavors of the meat. Their salad bar is no slouch either, and offers many high quality choices including their seasoned rice, seafood curry, mushroom salads, and fresh fruit.

If you're looking for a really fun atmosphere surrounded by servers carrying sharp knives and swords of meat, there's really no better place to go than Rei Do Gado. Come hungry though because you will want to save room to sample everything. Your dog can hang with you on the outdoor patio, but I they're not allowed to eat the meat! Puppy dog eyes or not, it's probably not good for them. Meat isn't something that I can eat much of since it's so bulky, but I try my damnedest to fill my belly with the tender stuff. This is easily one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego, and I look forward to every trip...to the salad bar!

Food: 9/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

1066 Foster City Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 341-4419
Rating
01/23/2011
After pulling an all-nighter at the Hacker Dojo the night before, I needed a lot of caffeine in me if I had any hope of making it through the day. Half asleep, I drove down to Foster City to meet up with my buddy but stopped in for a shot to fire me up.

I ordered a latte this morning and realized that it's kind of a boring drink without all the holiday goodies in it. It had a nice punch that helped in the alertness department but otherwise fell short for me.

My favorite part about this Starbucks is the dog-friendly outdoor seating and all of the dogs that were hanging out with their owners outside. My least favorite part was the skinny barista dude with the attitude. When he called my drink, he pretty much just dropped the latte on the counter without even saying anything, like I was inconveniencing him. This location is also kind of dirty as well and there were almost no outlets for laptop users like me could plug into. Meh at best.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Tea Era

271 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 969-2899
Rating
01/23/2011
My buddy had been raving about how Tea Era was his go to place in Mountain View so you know I had to give it a try. We had been doing some credit card roulette and I was on fire and luckily managed to win yet again.

I ordered the almond milk tea with boba to compare it with some of the others I've had. Unfortunately, the folks at Tea Era don't really seem to care about the quality of their drinks and I was left with a mouthful of undissolved, chalky powder. It was actually kind of gross and I was not impressed.

It may have been close to closing time but the drinks and service at Tea Era were a pretty big letdown. Every sip came up powdery I was this close to tossing it. They have some nice outdoor seating where your dog is welcome but I'm definitely skipping this one next time.

Food: 2/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Marin Humane Society

171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd
Novato, CA 94949
(415) 883-4621
Rating
01/16/2011
I needed to find a caring and compassionate place to put my baby Jasmine to sleep and from the time I made the first call to the Marin Humane Society, I knew they would be a good place to have the procedure done.

They offer a little side room off the main lobby as a private area to say our last goodbyes to her before they brought her to the operating room in back. I was so sad that they didn't allow the family to be there during the procedure but can understand as well. Alternatively, other services did offer that option but the cost was at least 8x more and didn't seem half as compassionate so the difficult decision was made to forego it.

It's been a heartwrenching day for my family as we laid Jasmine to rest today. I wish the side waiting room was a little more quiet and private but under the circumstances, served us well. The adoption area was actually a welcome distraction and we actually considered adopting a new puppy on the spot but it was a little too soon for us. The Humane Society was the best possible combination of compassion and cost-effectiveness for my family and, while it doesn't make it hurt any less, I know they were gentle and will be as they take her to be cremated and ultimately bring her back home to us.

Woodlands Pet Food & Treats

296 Bon Air Center
Greenbrae, CA 94904
(415) 461-7387
Rating
01/11/2011
My baby Jasmine is about 16 years old and is ready to go. I wanted to give her something really special to munch on and that she might really enjoy before she left us. I had seen Woodland Pet Food when I was at Peet's last week and they're known for their large selection of gourmet and organic foods and knew there'd be something good for my baby in there.

I picked up some chicken flavored treats and a can of the senior formula pate food for her. While I expected the price to be on the higher side (since this was Marin afterall), I didn't expect it to be nearly $11 for the two items that would probably have been half that anywhere else. However, under the circumstances I figured that the expense would be worth the perceived higher quality and bit the bullet.

Service here was lukewarm and apathetic at best. The staff only had about half the answers to my questions about senior food and treats and I wasn't even offered a bag nor a thank you on the way out. Perhaps the pickin's are thin for pet food around here or it was just an off day, but for the prices I paid for this stuff, I'd definitely expect at least a smile. I didn't receive any of those things here. Not a very warm experience at all.

Service: 3/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Troya

349 Clement St
San Francisco, CA 94118
(415) 379-6000
Rating
01/08/2011
I was meeting up with my entrepreneur buddy from Socal and some of his friends for dinner at Burmese Superstar. We waited for half and hour before being told our table would take another 45 minutes at least so we said forget it and went across the street to China First. We sat down and realized that it was actually colder in the restaurant than it was outside and everybody was bundled up. Again we said screw it and went back across the street and saw Troya, a unique Turkish restaurant. We were so thankful that it was warm when we walked in and were immediately sold.

They started us off with some bread with condiments of olive oil, a spice mix, and crushed pistachio nuts. The oil and nut combo was definitely my favorite. We ordered the lamb dolmas and borek as appetizers and both were excellent. The borek was really nice and flaky and topped with a dash of the sauce was heavenly.

The moussakka, beef turlu, and chicken beyti were the entrees and I really enjoyed the creamy moussakka and the chicken beyti had a nice bite to it. The turlu was a little bland though.

We chose baklava and kunefe for dessert. The baklava was really delicious and had the perfect amount of sweetness. The kunefe was alright and was sort of like a cake. I was expecting a little more sweetness but it was extremely subtle by my tasting.

The service and ambiance here is excellent and I was so glad that we came here. The portion sizes aren't huge but prices are fair. They've got 2 dog-friendly tables outside where you can dine with your pooch but in this unseasonably cold weather, you should probably wait till the summer to utilize them. This is definitely a great restaurant and the meal was very enjoyable, especially with a fascinating group of co-diners.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Apple Store

451 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 617-9000
Rating
01/08/2011
Downtown Palo Alto is a pretty cool place to hang out and sip a fine cup of coffee especially at places like Coupa Cafe. It's also the home of a fine example of an Apple Store. I'm in the market for a new MacBook Air so my buddy and I went in to check out the goods. Like the rest of downtown Palo Alto, the Apple Store is pet-friendly so if you're shopping for a new machine or just need to make a stop at the Genius Bar, bring in your pooch in and make some new friends!

SliderBar Cafe

324 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 322-7300
Rating
01/07/2011
Getting an earlier than usual start to the day, I scooted over the Palo Alto to find a spot to get some work done. With my stomach growling, I needed to grab a quick breakfast so I'd be able to focus and noticed the $1.99 breakfast special of an egg slider and coffee and was lured in by the deal.

I rolled up to the counter to order the special and, in the process of being rung up, noticed that I had actually been charged 25% more for my meal than the advertised rate. I inquired about the discrepancy and was told that they'd changed the price but had not changed the signage, leading me only to feel like I was bait and switched. Stomach gurgling, I decided to bite the bullet and convinced myself it was still a good deal.

When the biscuit arrived, I was glad to have a hot meal with coffee but found the sandwich to be really bland, even with the bacon and cheese inside. The coffee was ok, but there was absolutely no effort to check on me or refill my cup. Not a great experience to be sure.

SliderBar feels kind of like an upscale diner than anything else. They've got bench seating outside where they allow your dog to join you. However, the food was just so-so. They've got several advertised specials that make the place appear to be a deal, but after getting burned once, I'd seriously question the legitimacy of the other bargains. Definitely not one of my favorite places in PA.

Food: 4/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Chef Liu Mandarin Cuisine

236 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 938-2968
Rating
01/07/2011
I needed to pick up some stuff from my buddy in Mountain View and he suggested we grab a quick bite on Castro. We decided on Chinese but wanted to try something new and Chef Liu caught our eye. We were greeted by friendly faces and were welcomed in Chinese so things were off to a good start.

We ordered the Hunan lamb and garlic eggplant dish. Soon after ordering, I noticed that they had a special menu of 3 dishes for $24 that we weren't presented with. Since we had nearly reached te price threshold already, I asked if we could upgrade and, disappointingly, were discouraged to do so. The dishes we got were just ok, definitely not amazing for the price. The green onion in the lamb dish was super tough and difficult to eat so we mostly just tossed them aside.

I was really disappointed in the food and overall experience here. The only thing that really saves it is the service, which was extremely friendly. While they do have a dog-friendly patio, next time I will probably just find myself going back to HK Bistro instead though.

Food: 5/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Starbucks Coffee

54 E 4th Ave
San Mateo, CA 94401
(650) 548-1764
Rating
01/07/2011
I had a last minute meeting planned with a fellow UCSD alum in San Mateo to talk shop and we decided to meet up at the local Starbucks. I only saw one or two tables outside so I questioned the pet-friendliness of this location but after sitting down indoors, was shocked to find that this might be the pet-friendliest location ever.

I ordered a Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino and as you might expect, it was pretty tasty and got me wired up for the meeting. That was all well and good but I've got to rave on about the awesome dog situation here.

There's a sort of covered hallway from the street that opens into Starbucks where it seems like everybody and their mom was sipping their coffee with their pets. It was clearly the place to be and I'm definitely coming back with the pup next time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Waterfront Pizza

969 D Edgewater Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 573-6634
Rating
01/06/2011
It's been a while since my buddies and I got together for a nice meal since we're scattered throughout the Bay Area so we decided to all meet in Foster City for some grub. The location wasn't necessarily convenient for everybody but it was central for us all and we all made the pilgrimage to reunite the "bros".

Since they seem to be better known for their Middle Eastern food than their pizza, I decided it order the lamb kabob rice plate. The meat was a little under-seasoned and overcooked for my tastes but the veggies were delicious and the rice was fantastic. For the money, the portion size was kind of small for a place where I ordered at a counter so I was a little disappointed at that as well.

The food was good but not great and the kabob plates were downright expensive at $16. The hookah patio out back looks pretty sweet and you can have dogs back there apparently but I think they have to come around the side. Waterfront is a super popular place for the hookah and the restaurant itself seemed a little quiet. I will come back to try to pizza next time and hopefully it's warm enough to sit outside.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Iron Cactus

683 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 777-1004
Rating
01/05/2011
I had a late evening meeting in San Francisco with some startup folks and was running late. Weaving through traffic, I managed to find a decent parking spot right near The Iron Cactus and dashed in for my meeting and some tacos. As it turns out, it was Taco Tuesday and $1 tacos sounded divine.

While the meeting went really well and opened my eyes to the many challenges that startups face, the food disappointed like mad. I ordered 3 of their Taco Tuesday specials with carne asada, pollo asada, and carnitas. Topped with only raw onions and cilantro, the tacos were extremely bland and the onions were really overpowering. Even topped with two of their salsas didn’t seem to improve them. They may only have been $1, but I’m not sure they were worth that much. The other menu items were significantly more expensive but after trying their popular tacos, I can’t really figure out why they are so.

The location is really convenient if you work in the SOMA area especially since it is right next to the Caltrain station. They’ve got cheap drinks and a super dog-friendly patio too. People bring their pets out all the time so you know it’s a popular spot for the pooches. Their big on sustainability too so maybe I’ll give this place another shot especially if I need a taco fix. I’m definitely asking for less onion though.

Food: 4/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Apple Store

1516 Redwood Hwy
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 927-5820
Rating
01/05/2011
It's no wonder that the Apple Store is easily the busiest shop in any mall. Is it the iPads, iPods, iPhones, and other products beginning with "i or iP"? Nope, none of the above. It's because you can bring your dog in to shop with yod u!

I was checking out the new Macbook Air and the staff was really helpful in answering my questions. As I become entranced by the crazy tiny machine, I noticed a wet nose sniffing me up and found a furry fellow greeting me. Not all dogs in Corte Madera are the small yappy variety and the Village is a very pet-friendly place. Browsing all the cool new Apple stuff is much more fun with your pets so bring them out!

Starbucks Coffee

1000 Metro Center Blvd
Foster City, CA 94404
(650) 341-5752
Rating
01/05/2011
I've been to few Starbucks with as much pet-friendly outdoor seating as this roadside Foster City location. It's surrounded on all sides by clean, umbrella-covered tables. Unfortunately, there aren't many places to sit inside and even fewer outlets for nomadic Starbucks customers like myself.

I went with my usual passion iced tea. Sweetened with just the right amount of what appears to be simple syrup, I love that I can get free refills at any location that I happen to be at.

On a beautiful day like this, it's such a relief to be able to get some work done outside in the sun. Starbucks are notoriously cold and this location was no exception. I also noticed that it's got one of the dirtiest floors I've seen in a Starbucks which makes it kind of gross to spend too much time in. This location gets a pass for the outdoor tables, but they could definitely give their floors some TLC.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Chase Bank

401 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
Greenbrae, CA 94904
(415) 461-7794
Rating
01/03/2011
I've had mixed experiences with Chase in the past (especially with Southern California locations) but the Greenbrae location seemed like another pretty good location. Your dogs are welcome to join you while you do your banking as long as they don't bark at people. The teller helping me was pretty friendly and even asked what breed my dog was and the convenient location with plenty of parking is really nice. While their non-stop fees still irk me to no end, I didn't get any sort of stink-eye here so that's a moderate win in my book.

Peet's Coffee & Tea

276 Bon Air Center
Greenbrae, CA 94904
(415) 461-2695
Rating
12/30/2010
My sister generously gave me a gift card to Peet's for Christmas and I wanted to put it to use on this chilly December night. I was coming from the gym so I stopped by the Bon Air Center location to get my late evening fix.

I wanted something without caffeine so I got a small peppermint tea. It came way too piping hot for me to enjoy for at least 15 minutes while it cooled, but it was great for warming the soul after a long workout. The WiFi was supposedly limited to only 1 hour but I didn't have much trouble keeping it going much longer.

The nice thing about this location is that it has a ton of dog-friendly outdoor seating. Considering that the entire center is dog-friendly, this is a huge plus for the community of walkers that come through every day. There's tons of parking available so it's never a problem!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

The Village at Corte Madera

1618 Redwood Highway
Corte Madera, CA 94925
(415) 924-8557
Rating
12/29/2010
I've got a love/hate relationship with The Village since I used to work at a store here. On the one hand, it's upscale, dog-friendly, and the chicks have a tendency to be hotter. On the other hand, everything is really expensive and since everybody is so affluent, people can be a tad on the snooty side. They've since demolished the food court in favor of an Anthropologie so the only real options for grub are Cheesecake Factory, Boudin, and...that's about it.

That said, lots of stores keep a bowl of water out front so that's a definitely plus in my book. Any dog-friendly place is a good place and you're bound to find lots of the yappy variety here.

Bon Air Shopping Center

158 Bon Air Shopping Center
Greenbrae, CA 94904
(415) 461-6939
Rating
12/29/2010
Bon Air is a great place to do some shopping away from the craziness of The Village in Corte Madera. The best part about Bon Air is that the center is pet-friendly, but you've gotta have a leash on the whole time. People walk through with their pups all the time and there's a lot of tables outside of the many cafes and restaurants, as well as lots of flat places to sit a spell.

My favorite shops in the center are Computer Connection and Woodlands Pet Food of course. There's plenty of parking and Peet's is a good place to hang out and use the free WiFi. Plus there's tons of those dog-friendly tables I was talking about before right outside.

It's not the cheapest mall out there since it's in a pretty affluent area, but it's always a reliable place to find welcoming places when you shop with your dog.

Squat & Gobble

1 W Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 665-9900
Rating
12/29/2010
My friend had raved about how amazing the crepes at Squat & Gobble were so I was eager to come in and try one for myself. The place reminded me of a Cheesecake Factory so things started off well, but that would pretty much be the peak of the experience. The rest turned horrifying over the next hour and a half.

After struggling with the computer system, I finally managed to order the Marina crepe for myself and the Chicken Pesto crepe for my friend. Unfortunately I didn't get a receipt and we were led to the back of the restaurant where we were assured our food would be right up. Well, a half dozen re-assurances and over an hour later, no food at all. The people at the next table even commented on our bleak situation and I went to speak with the manager about it. I was once again re-assured that the food was on the way and a short 15 minutes later the food finally showed up. Let me just say that it was utter crap. Both crepes were soggy and completely tasteless and I soon discovered that my crepe had no salmon in it because they had served me a Mama Mia crepe instead. The salad was a dreary mess and the potatoes were burnt and boring. Unapologetically, the manager never even offered a refund and we had to demand one despite her objections to give one to me. When it finally came, it was only for the one dish that was messed up and the entire 2 hour ordeal was enough to condemn the place.

I have never seen such disregard for the customer experience as I have at Squat & Gobble. Dog-friendly outdoor tables or not, I'd never bring my dog here because even they would be disappointed with the quality of the entire package. Seriously though, this is up there with Alive! as one of the worst dining experiences I've ever had in San Francisco.

Food: 0/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 3/10

Chase Bank

300 Las Gallinas Ave
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 479-5439
Rating
12/29/2010
After my absolutely horrifying experiences at multiple Chase locations in San Diego, I finally have a decent one to report at their Terra Linda branch. Both the personal banker and branch manager were really helpful in setting up my accounts in order to avoid fees and knew what they were doing without having to refer to the boss every few sentences.

The branch is dog-friendly especially since the Guide Dogs for the Blind is next door. Bring in your pooch to do some banking here! The experience was unlike at any other location so it might just be a special occasion here but I can't deny that it went very smoothly.

Fort Funston/Burton Beach

500 Skyline Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 561-4323
Rating
12/28/2010
The weather outside has been generally frightful and my sister's dog, Doggie, hasn't gotten a chance to run around in a while. I brought Doggie with me to pick up Deb L. from the train station and we all headed over to Fort Funston to get in a morning walk.

There were hundreds of dogs and their owners out and Doggie got in a pretty good walk. Just about every dog was off leash and everybody was super friendly. The views over the cliff are spectacular and the whole area reminds me of La Jolla Cliffs and Blacks Beach in San Diego, but much chillier. Doggie loved the unrestricted open space and the ability to play with all of the other dogs. A huge bonus is how clean the area is and all of the owners were picking up after their dogs.

We went for maybe a mile or so before turning around because the rain was starting to come down. Doggie was a bit disappointed and decided to run off with a big pack of dogs so I had to chase her down. Such are the perils of going off leash, but I can't think of a better place to do it. It's a great place to go almost every day, but just beware of all of the sand you're bound to collect along the walk. I can't wait to go back and neither can Doggie!

Amici's East Coast Pizzeria

790 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 961-6666
Rating
12/27/2010
Since it was the day after Christmas (and a Sunday to boot), most of the restaurants on Castro St had closed up early. Needing a place for a reunion with friends, Amici's became our destination for the evening.

We decided to go sick and order a large Milano pizza and family-sized fettuccine Alfredo. The Milano pizza reminded me of the awesome stuff that Basic serves up in SD, but not quite as good. The fettuccine itself was extremely well cooked and the sauce was great because it wasn't too thick nor too creamy. Unfortunately the portion sizes aren't that huge for the money and our hungry group of 5 ordered another large pizza, this time with half pesto and half spicy pepper chicken. Their pesto is really tasty here and the chicken was pretty good too. The crust itself could have used a little more seasoning and crispness, but that might just be a personal preference.

Overall the food was pretty good. I've had better thin crust pizzas at a better value, but in a pinch, Amici's came through. They got a large patio that's very pet-friendly so it's a good place to stop for a quick salad or pizza on a warm evening walk. A solid 3.5 stars in my book, it's a pretty good option for a non-hole-in-the-wall pizza joint with premium toppings. Just be prepared to pay a premium price for it.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Red Rock Coffee Co

201 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 967-4473
Rating
12/27/2010
On the day after Christmas there was almost nowhere open on Castro to sit and just enjoy the lovely day. Fortunately Red Rock had some Gypsy Jazz going on and my buddy and I swung by to enjoy the music over a cup o' joe.

Their holiday eggnog latte sounded delightful so I ordered a mug of the good stuff. At $4, it wasn't cheap but had just the right amount of sweetness that warmed me up inside. In fact, I liked it even better than the Starbucks' version! On such a cold day, it really hit the spot for a comforting afternoon of jazz at an awesome, non-profit cafe.

Red Rock is a really popular spot for locals and startup junkies alike. There is fast WiFi, plenty of seats, and quick a few outlets to plug into. There are even 2 outdoor tables to sit at with your dog, but being so chilly out, most people opted not to stop. Regardless, Red Rock is bad ass spot to get stuff done and enjoy some live music on occasion. Come early though because seats fill up quick!

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Sage French Cake

3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-3484
Rating
12/27/2010
While enduring our 40 minute wait for a table at the Original Pancake House, my party decided to get our just desserts at Sage French Cake in the next plaza. I'm not usually into pastries, but this cute little bakery made a delicious birthday cake for a friend so I definitely had to try some of their other tasty treats.

We all decided to share a slice of their tiramisu at their solitary pet-friendly outside table to minimize the potential ruining of our brunch. The dessert was fantastic and was unlike any other tiramisu I had enjoyed before. The luscious, custard-like texture and flavor of the Marscapone cheese and the subtleness of the rum-soaked ladyfingers really brought it all together, and was clearly a labor of love by the pastry chef and owner behind the counter.

If you're looking for a great cake for your next celebration, or just very well executed desserts for an afternoon treat, search no further than Sage French Cake on Convoy. I assure you that, while on the relatively pricey side, the quality and flavor is worth every penny.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Starbucks Coffee

647 Irwin St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 485-4964
Rating
12/21/2010
Starbucks may be ubiquitous all over the world but there are few that provide plenty of parking, lots of clean indoor and dog-friendly outdoor seating (somebody actually brought their small dog into the building with no fuss), copious outlet access, a huge open space as well as private breakout areas, and friendly service. This is easily one of the best Starbucks I’ve ever been to.

I went with the refillable tall passion tea to power my day and plopped down at a nice window seat. Even the plastic chairs are ergonomically designed and styled, and quite comfy here. The drink was pretty good stuff as expected and I went through quite a few cups in the few hours I was here.

While you can find a Starbucks location everywhere, they are definitely not created equal. However, I think I discovered one of the best ones today and this has become my new GTD location post move. Guess you’ll be able to find me here everyday now!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 10/10

Taqueria San Jose

615 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 455-0999
Rating
12/20/2010
Easily the best burrito in Marin, Taqueria San Jose has been around for as long as I can remember. Located under Highway 101 at 4th Street, this hideaway always manages to attract a packed house, and many of the local laborers dine here for every meal. It's easy to see why since their burritos are absolutely huge and full of your choice of meat, rice, beans, salsa, and other goodies and the chips and salsa bar is awesome.

My choice for the night, and the only thing I ever order here, was the carne asada super burrito. What makes it super is that, in addition to the standard stuff, it comes with extra cheese, sour cream, and guacamole. Super indeed, this thing is delicious from the first bite to the last. The carne asada was perfectly seasoned and cooked just right, and all of the ingredients tasted very fresh. All of the salsas are made in house and added great spice to the burrito and were especially good when scooped up with their homemade tortilla chips. I would recommend going easy on these salsas though because some of them are very spicy!

Whenever I come home from San Diego, I have to drop in for this fantastic burrito. While the stuff they serve in SD is pretty good, it simply can't compare to the fresh flavor combinations and ingredients of Taqueria San Jose. It may be located in a somewhat shady location, but if you happen to be in Marin for whatever reason and looking for a really great meal, don't be afraid to drop in for some great Mexican food. There's a single lonely table outside but your dog is welcome at it and I've seen several of them out there before. Just keep them away from the heavy door!

Food: 9/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Roger's Deli & Donuts

295 E Middlefield Rd
Mountain View, CA 94043
(650) 965-2204
Rating
12/19/2010
When you're looking for some great breakfast food, sandwiches, and pastries near Hacker Dojo, look no further than Roger's. A favorite of the local hacker scene, Roger's serves up some fabulous favorites for bargain basement prices.

I went with the bacon omelet, which was a no nonsense deal topped with tons of cheese and served with potatoes and toast. For less than $6, this was a killer value and tasted great! It's and even better value than Denny's and when you need some quick, greasy spoon-type fare, definitely come here.

There's lots of variety on the menu and you can try something new everyday. I'm looking forward to trying a big, meaty sandwich next time I GTD out of the Dojo. I can't wait! They've even got tons of outdoor seating so you can enjoy some breakfast with your dog. I even saw a guy bring his dog INTO the deli! Not sure that's actually allowed, but outside is all good!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tapioca Express

740 Villa St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 965-3093
Rating
12/19/2010
After dinner, my buddy and I still had some time to kill before heading to a startup's holiday party. We weren't sure where to go so we opted for some familiar boba milk tea at Tap Ex.

I ordered a small almond milk tea with boba, coming out to over $3. The tea was fine but the boba was really mushy, like too mushy. We should have definitely gone down the street for milk tea instead.

They've got some dog-friendly tables outside but nobody would be putting them to use on such a rainy evening. This location is extremely dirty and reminded me of a Berkeley cafe instead of the normally clean places along Castro Street. Definitely won't be coming back here. Yuck!

Food: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Gyros House

212 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 940-9316
Rating
12/17/2010
My buddy and I needed some grub before heading to the Hacker Dojo to get some work done. We dropped by Castro Street and walked along until we happened upon Gyros House. A sudden Mediterranean craving struck and the desire for gyros took over so we strode in for some grub.

I ordered the lamb and beef gyro, which came to over $8 with no sides. I was a little disappointed about the price because it seemed on the high side, but the gyro itself was very good and the yogurt sauce was delicious. The meat had a ton of flavor but the meal went by a little too fast for me and I wanted more. I didn't want to spend another $8 though so left to satiate my belly elsewhere.

The service was pretty nice here and there was no argument about putting multiple meats into the gyro. In fact, multiple meats are a menu item so bonus points for that. The weather outside was frightful (there was no delightful fire inside unfortunately) so we opted to skip the dog-friendly outdoor tables this time. I liked Gyros House and plan to come back, but it's more fitting as a snack than a full-fledged meal.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Tem's Barbeque

6715 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 558-7072
Rating
12/17/2010
An extremely popular lunch spot for the office workers in west Mira Mesa, Tem's Barbeque serves up some meaty meals for a reasonable price. Located in the half vacant Plaza Sorrento Shopping Center, I would probably never have selected it as a lunch spot if not for my friends' recommendation.

Wanting to try just about everything, I chose to go with the 4 item plate with rice. The choice was difficult but I finally decided on the barbecued chicken and pork, a chicken curry, and a beef curry. Without talking about each individually, they were all extremely tasty. I especially liked the pork, but found that both the barbecued items were a bit too sweet for my taste, but still not too bad. To avoid the inevitable food coma of finishing this massive meal in one sitting, I decided to take half home to enjoy as another meal.

Tem's is definitely a great place to get some good barbeque variety. Whether you're craving chicken, pork, or beef, they will definitely have something that will satisfy your appetite. For less than $10, you can get a pretty hearty meal that you can easily enjoy as leftovers. With its great food and reasonable prices, it is no surprise that Tem's is as popular as it is. If I worked in the local offices, I would definitely make it a regular weekly lunch spot, and recommend it to those who do.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Chipotle Mexican Grill

2400 E Charleston Rd
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 969-6528
Rating
12/17/2010
After a long drive to the Bay, I decided to stop in Mountain View and pay a visit to an old friend. It was about dinner time and he just left the Dojo so we decided to grab a bite to eat. He had a BOGO coupon for Chipotle and, while I know it’s basically unauthentic Mexican food, it sounded pretty darn good right then.

I ordered the steak burrito with all the fixing’s. I unfortunately found a bit of tendon in my meat which made it tough to chew and got caught in my teeth. Is this the price we pay for a quick, thrown together meal? The service was quick as expected but a bit disorganized so orders seemed to get mixed up. Other than that, it was a decent burrito and tasted even better since it was BOGO.

A favorite stop of Googlers, Stanford students, and startup folks, this location had a huge outdoor patio where people often bring their dogs while on their breaks. It’s a great place to people watch but a true pain in the butt to get to since cars rarely yield long enough to make the turn toward the plaza. However, if I lived in the area, I’m sure I’d be stopping in more than once in a while for a big, healthy-ish burrito.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

7030 Miramar Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 831-9264
Rating
12/17/2010
Desperately in need of a quick Christmas gift, I debated on what gift card to get my mechanic. I ultimately decided on Starbucks because everybody drinks coffee and loves Starbucks! On the way over, I stopped into this location and hopped on in. It’s one of the rare locations with a drive-thru so it’s a popular stop for everybody that works in the area.

When I popped in, there was no line so I moved straight to the front. I had sort of a complicated order since I was trying to earn as many stars as possible toward gold status but the cashier was extremely accommodating. I was able to get in and out with my gift card in about a minute and everybody was extremely friendly. I also really liked the large, open space and layout which makes it an ideal place to get work done if you’re looking for a place with pretty good WiFi.

They’ve got a couple of nice tables outside where you can enjoy your coffee with your dog. I’m sure there’s a few pups in the area that go to work with their companions so this is a natural stop for them throughout the workday. If I needed a place to work that was convenient for freeway options, this would be my choice!

Food: n/a

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Tea Station

9003 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 527-1888
Rating
12/15/2010
Let's be honest, there's absolutely nothing special about Tea Station. The quality isn't exquisitely better and they've somehow managed to fool the Asian community into thinking this was some kind of special sauce when the truth is that it's just a big price gouging scheme.

Being forced to order something expensive, I went with their small almond milk tea with boba. At $4.75, this was a lot more expensive than large versions of the same thing elsewhere. With tax and tip applied, the drink cost more than $6 for something sub-standard. You can get this crap everywhere and I plan to next time. Paying a premium to sit down is total BS and if you get it to-go, you won't be allowed to use any outdoor seating either.

There's something about Tea Station that always bugs the hell out of me and that's their ridiculous prices and even more ludicrous policies. There's a minimum purchase for everything from people to credit cards to the length of the stay and additional purchases required to stay more than a set amount of time. What's more, their drink prices are literally twice as expensive as everywhere else, yet always seem to find themselves busy. A large almond milk tea with boba costs a cool $4.00 at Tea N More and $3.75 at Tapioca Heaven. On the other hand, the same thing costs $8.00 out the door here. In fact, the small size at Tea Station is 30-40% more expensive than the large size elsewhere. If I hadn't been dragged out and found myself in their trap, I'd vow never to come back on principle alone. Not even the dog-[not-so] friendly tables outside could do it.

Food: 5/10

Service: 2/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 2/10

BBQ Chicken

4768 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-3333
Rating
12/14/2010
BBQ Chicken is one of those strange anomalies that sometimes pops up on the radar, but you don't know what to make of it. A fusion of part southern fast food and traditional Korean restaurant, they serve up a variety of thing you would normally find in a bucket as well as some classic ethnic dishes.

Our large group decided to order a medley of things to share so that we could sample as much as possible. We got some of their signature olive chicken, teri-gold wings, rice cakes, drumsticks of fire, and BB wings. My favorite items were definitely the teri-gold and bb wings. They both had a lot of flavor and wings are probably my favorite part of the chicken. The olive chicken was alright but lacked flavor when compared to chicken from places like Popeye's. The drumsticks weren't nearly as spicy as they claimed and I could have definitely used more heat from them. Though a little out of place, the rice cakes were pretty good and were one of their many Korean offerings on the menu.

Even though it's called BBQ Chicken, they seem to specialize in the fried stuff. I've never actually had the barbecued chicken nor most of their Korean offerings, but I don't really miss them as I enjoy the flavors of the finger licking goodness. It's more of a sit down chicken dinner place versus a fast foot joint, so expect slightly higher prices. There's plenty of outdoor seating so bring the dog along with you while you wait. However, it's a pretty fun place to have a meal, watch the game, and throw back a pint, and for that I definitely recommend checking it out.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Daphne's Greek Cafe

10728 Westview Pkwy
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 693-4471
Rating
12/13/2010
After a long day of getting things done at my local Starbucks, I was a bit too tired to go home to make dinner. That's when I saw the $6 Daphne's special next door and decided to give it a try. Daphne's has always been sort of an enigma to me since it's half fast food restaurant, half sit-down dining, but at their price points, I guess it's sort of a nice median.

Given 4 appetizer choices, 6 entree choices, and 2 dessert options, there are many different ways to customize your meal. My friend and I decided to share the meal and try different options. For starters, we got the fire feta and lemon chicken soup. Both were really tasty and the feta was surprisingly spicy. I wish I knew what they seasoned it with. The soup was very refreshing but was just a little more tart than I would have liked.

For entrees, we split the chicken kabob and crispy shrimp plate with fries and the chicken kabob and gyro plate with soup and rice pilaf. The chicken was very tender but the shrimp was a little overcooked and fries overly seasoned. The gyro meat was a little overcooked and wasn't nearly as good as the stuff you can find at The Kebab Shop, but wasn't terrible either. I enjoyed the rice pilaf and it was a nice contrast to the accompanying Greek salad.

We shared the baklava and pecan delight, which are both basically super sweet delicacies made of puff pastry and nuts. They were both a bit much as a finisher but were pretty good little bites.

For what it is, Daphne's isn't half bad. As a fast food joint, their portion sizes and prices are decent, and the food quality is better than most comparables. There's tons of outdoor seating at this center so bring your dog with you and bask in the sun awhile. It's not the best or classiest Mediterranean restaurant I've ever been to, but for a quick bite, it's definitely worth checking out.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Punjabi Tandoor

9235 Activity Rd, Ste 111
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 695-0956
Rating
12/13/2010
Punjabi Tandoor is a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that often has a long line wrapping around the building during corporate lunch hours. I had heard nothing but great things about the food here and was excited to finally have had the chance to drop in for some take out. It has even been called San Diego's best Indian restaurant by some of the local heavy hitters.

I decided to try the #5 special combo which came with rice, tandoori chicken, curry, a vegetable side, nan (they spell it this way), and kheer for dessert. I really enjoyed the curry over rice and the vegetable side, and the kheer was a refreshing finish to the filling meal. While the tandoori chicken was just ok, the nan was really unappetizing. Besides being well charred, the bread was extremely chewy in a rubbery kind of way. I've heard that one could judge a restaurant by their nan alone, and if this were the case, Punjabi Tandoor would fail.

I'm not sure it's necessarily the best Indian food in town, but it isn't too bad considering the price. However, there are a few other aspects of the experience that stuck out, including the feeling that the restaurant and kitchen were a bit on the dirty side. Prep was being done out in the open on an overflowing table and many scraps were falling onto the floor, and old, cold rice was used in my friend's combo plate. Details like these prevent me from giving this restaurant a higher grade, but it is details like these that really ruin the experience. It's a great place for lunch if you work in the area but I probably won't go out of my way to dine here if I were absolutely craving Indian food. On the bright side, there's a few dog-friendly tables out front for those that work in the area and bring their dogs to work. This definitely makes it a destination if you need to dine with your dog.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Christmas Card Lane

Ellingham St & Renato St & Oviedo St
San Diego, CA 92129
Rating
12/13/2010
One of the most unique spectacles of the holidays in San Diego is the light show on Christmas Card Lane. Located in Rancho Penasquitos, it's awesome to me that an entire neighborhood participates in this annual showcase in front of their homes.

The best strategy is to park near the entrance on Oviedo and then walk around the neighborhood with your dogs leading the way. The neighborhood is very pet-friendly but just remember to pick up after them.

The air was so festive that it inspires me to want to participate as well and I'd have to go with a little bit of South Park action in my yard. My favorite houses were definitely those with the trains in the yard and also the house that looked like a picturesque cottage out of a West Elm brochure. Sooo beautiful!

Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel

1 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 564-3333
Rating
12/13/2010
The Hilton Hotel in the Gaslamp was the scene of the 3rd Annual Gaslamp Pet Parade and people were coming out in full force on the beautiful day. The park itself is nice and open but I don't think it's leash free since the train runs right next to it. There's a doggy 'oasis' that cycles water but tends to overflow and completely soak the area around it. I heard that several dogs got sick from it as well and I'd never let my dog drink from it.

The hotel itself is pet-friendly and allow large pets up to 75 lbs with a fixed $50 fee. Seeing as though they've got the super pet-friendly Gaslamp just a stones throw away, this is a great hotel to stay at if you're traveling with your pets.

La Puerta

560 4th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 696-3466
Rating
12/13/2010
A poker buddy was visiting from out of town and we decided to get together with some friends for happy hour at La Puerta. My only other experience here was at the Seis de Mayo Yelp Elite party and I was eager to try some of their unique flavors.

The table started up with their complimentary chips and salsas and I ordered their organic margarita, the Organic Electrica. Made with all organic ingredients including agave nectar instead of triple sec, the flavors were much more pure and well defined than most other margaritas I've enjoyed.

Upon my buddy's recommendation, I went with the chicken enchiladas topped with their mole sauce. With hints of many spices in this chocolate sauce, it was extremely delicious and I found myself literally cleaning my plate of it. Admittedly, the portions aren't what I would expect from most Mexican restaurants, but you could certainly taste the quality.

I don't make it downtown for happy hour nearly often enough since I don't work there anymore, but it's always nice to get together with friends and chat it up over a drink. I'm looking forward to the next opportunity when everybody is in town and has time to get together whether it's for poker or for drinks!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

345 Market St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-6945
Rating
12/13/2010
Those that know me know that I spend a heck of a lot of time at Starbucks, and a trip downtown to check out the dog parade was no exception. This particular location has a large dog-friendly patio out front where people-watching seating is prime.

I ordered a venti caramel brûlée frappuccino and joined my friends out front with their dog Cloud and just chilled for a while and enjoyed the hot December day with the other dog owners. The frap was refreshingly sweet and I really dug the location...of this location.

The service here was great and the folks downtown seem really nice. There were a few other dogs camping with their owners outside too! Just remember to leash them up when ordering your drinks because they're definitely not allowed inside.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

December Nights Balboa Park

1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-0512
Rating
12/13/2010
I look forward to attending December Nights every year because you get to enjoy all of the great food, free museums, and tons of San Diegans walking their dogs on a beautiful, winter evening. The parking situation is a trainwreck but my friends and I have figured out some handy tricks over the years that make it a breeze. Don't think I'll be so quick to give up the ghost so easily because this secret is staying right here.

This year I tried both the Argentinian sausage and the German bratwurst and the Bavarian stuff was definitely superior. The Scottish apple cider was bomb-diggity but the stuff we picked up from Poland (I think) was completely undrinkable. The desserts from Scotland were pretty sweet too and their bread pudding was to die for.

The museums themselves aren't pet-friendly so if you bring your pups, you'll be strictly restricted to staying outside. I'd recommend carrying most small dogs since there are soooo many people walking around you don't want them to get stepped on. Bring them out for a good time with the family and try some fabulous ethnic foods!

Gaslamp Holiday Pet Parade

401 K St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-4040
Rating
12/13/2010
I tried to volunteer for this event but it was so popular that it filled up double quick! Instead, myself, Amanda C, and Spencer L accompanied Cloud the Havanese for a fun day in the sun.

There must have been hundreds of dogs of all sizes out walking in the pet parade. In fact, there were even some cats and lizards as well. Some were dressed up in costumes (including their owners) and many were out to win the big prizes for cutest, best tricks, and other superlatives that only the kookiest pet-owners would vie for. It's all in good fun and everybody had a great time, especially Cloud, who came home completely pooped.

It was such a rockin' good time that I definitely plan to go out there again next year, and maybe even have a booth available. I can't wait!

Horton Plaza Shopping Center

324 Horton Plaza
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-8180
Rating
12/13/2010
Horton Plaza is both one of the most fascinating places in San Diego and one of the most frustrating ones at the same time. It's crazy design of half floors is influenced by "Horton Hears a Who" by Dr. Seuss and getting lost is supposed to be part of the fun. But it's also a real pain in the butt to locate your car when you're trying to leave because the parking situation is actually crazier than the mall one.

On the bright side, the place is pet-friendly and you can bring your dog for a walk all over the mall, but you have to ask individual shop owners if you can bring them inside. There's nothing but outdoor seating at the restaurants so you're all good there.

The area is super dog-friendly so I usually just park at Horton Plaza and hoof it down to the Gaslamp whenever I hang out downtown. Bring your dog and have some fun cause there's always special events that are friendly for Fido going on. Just remember to bring a bunch of bags in case of a little accident.

In-N-Out Burger

2005 Camino Del Este
San Diego, CA 92108
(800) 786-1000
Rating
12/08/2010
Between films at the San Diego Asian Film Festival, my friends and I had a hankering for a quick and tasty meal, and In-N-Out immediately came to mind. When we arrived, we were a little discouraged by the perpetually long line, but knowing of their legendarily fast fulfillment times, that anxiety quickly faded away. We sat one person down at an available, dog-friendly, outdoor table to camp the spot for the rest of us and braved the line with the rest of the hungry souls.

I ordered my usual Double-Double meal "animal style". The combination of the secret sauce (let's face it, it's Thousand Island dressing) and grilled onions is amazing and makes my mouth water just thinking about it. In the fast food category, there really is nothing that comes close at any price. There's also something about the fries that are awesome too. I'm guessing it's the oil they use to fry them, but those as always excellent as well.

When I have a craving for a great burger at any time in the day, there's always an In-N-Out nearby to satiate me. While I'm told that the east coast has a few options that come close, nothing can ever touch the incredible Double-Double. It's just not happening.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

In-N-Out Burger

4375 Kearny Mesa Rd
San Diego, CA 92111
(800) 786-1000
Rating
12/03/2010
After a long work day that I was only half way through, I finally found some time at 4:30 in the afternoon to grab a bite to eat. I needed something super quick and also tasty so I cruised into my nearest In-N-Out for some burger goodness. This particular location had tons of pet-friendly outdoor seating too, but unless you were traveling I'm not sure why you'd have your dog at an In-N-Out by the side of the freeway.

It was pretty quiet when in pulled in and I ordered the double-double with fries. The service is usually super fast but much to my chagrin, this particular shift moved uncharacteristically slowly. They didn't really even seem that interested to be at work to be honest and the fry girl literally seemed to be asleep at the wheel. My fries were sadly under filled too.

This was one of my first tastes of disappointment from an otherwise hyper-reliable chain of eateries. While the food itself is always awesome, the service here was definitely subpar. I'm still a lifelong In-N-Out customer but I'll go to the other locations where you get plenty of service with a smile.

Food: 8/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Starbucks Coffee

1080 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 683-7621
Rating
11/30/2010
Needing a place to get stuff done in a quick and busy-like way, I sought out my nearest Starbucks. There's tons of them to choose from in Hillcrest, but the one at the Uptown Shopping Center has the biggest, doggiest friendly patio I've seen at a Starbucks so I head right over.

I ordered a venti Peppermint Mocha Frappuccino with my Starbucks card and plopped down by the window to GTD. It arrived pretty quickly but the cashier seemed a bit bored when I originally placed my order. While the Frap was tasty, I quickly realized that this Starbucks was infested with those little bar flies. In fact, one flew into my drink and I was forced to discard the damn thing because that's just gross. I should have probably demanded a new one for the trouble but I didn't want to raise a fuss.

This Starbucks location is definitely dirtier than most others I've been to and the copious amount of flies really is gross. I don't know if it has anything to do with all of the homeless folks who come in to use the bathroom or hang out on the patio, but it would be nice if somebody at least set some fly paper out. While the big patio was full of friendly dogs, it's not enough to lure me back here...unless I was a frog of course.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Chase Bank

1415 India St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 237-1090
Rating
11/30/2010
I needed to meet up with my team in order to open a business checking account and for some crazy reason we opted to use Chase. Call me crazy, but I guess it seemed kind of convenient at the time since I use them for my regular banking needs. Even then it was unwilling since my account was grandfathered in when Chase acquired Wamu.

When we got to the branch, I was delighted to see people bringing their dogs in. However, that’s about where the niceties stopped. While our personal banker was nice enough, he was extremely poorly trained. What’s more, Chase’s ridiculous red tape made it extremely complicated to sign up for a checking account and the ordeal took over an hour to complete. When I’ve opened accounts in the past (when it was a Wamu), it only took about 20 minutes and there were no issues. Now the accounts aren’t even free and the annual fees weren’t even disclosed so I got to enjoy the surprise when I got home.

Honestly, I’ve had it nearly up to here with Chase and wish that Wamu was still around. No hassle banking was about the greatest thing ever. I don’t know why Chase makes it such a pain in the ass to do business there, but it certainly doesn’t make me want to use their services in the future.

EDIT: I tried to call later in the afternoon to ask a simple question and then was put on hold for 10 minutes while my personal banker opted to ignore my call. I know because the woman who answered the phone said he was just standing there and didn’t pick up. Our team was led to believe that the account would be free when in fact there was a massive fee involved and our incompetent personal banker kept deferring to his equally incompetent manager. I opened the account today and I’m ready to close it immediately. I absolutely hate Chase and would never refer them to anybody.

Cafe 976

976 Felspar St
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 272-0976
Rating
11/30/2010
Seeking a hip new spot to discuss the launching of a hot new startup, I had to look toward one of the more progressive parts of town. I'm always open to try new restauranta so my friend suggested that we meet at Cafe 976 in Pacific Beach. Just off the main drag through town and only blocks from the beach, this cozy, but bustling, cafe offers free WiFi and dog-friendly outdoor seating that provided the perfect backdrop to discuss business.

The menu offerings truly runs the gamut, and there is likely something to appease the tastes of all. My selection of the day was the spinach burger, an unusual but healthy alternative to the humdrum hamburger I had been gorging on the past few days. Served with a fresh green salad with feta and balsamic vinaigrette, the homemade spinach patty was served between lovely slices of fantastic focaccia. This leafy green pair is probably the healthiest meal that I've had in ages, and it's all homemade!

My only complaint about this beach town bistro is that, when you sit outside, a flight of flies attempt attacks on your food. Swatting them away over my meal isn't exactly my idea of fun but I'm not sure if there is really anything the café can do about them. It's only a minor complaint and I definitely recommend giving Café 976 a try. I would definitely go back more often if not for the notoriously never-ending PB traffic. However, if you're in the area and have your dog with you, it's worth checking out!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Absinthe Brasserie & Bar

398 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 551-1590
Rating
11/29/2010
After a great dinner with friends in Hayes Valley, it seemed only appropriate to drop into one of the more famous, albeit crowded, bars in the area for a smart cocktail. Absinthe features Jaime Lauren, one of my favorite contestants from the Bravo show Top Chef, and has become a local hero for her energy and creativity in the kitchen. While we only really came for the absinthe loaded drinks, I was excited at the potential of being able to meet her.

Absinthe is known for serving up some excellent absinthe cocktails and it was my first change to try some. I ultimately ordered a drink without the green stuff but did get a chance to try it via friends' cocktails. I haven't quite warmed up to the unique flavor and effects but can see myself enjoying it after a few tries. I ordered the "Scarlett O'Hara" which consisted of Willett Single Barrel Bourbon, Nardini Amaro, and Leopard Brothers blackberry liqueur, with a lemon twist. It was extremely tasty and the twist was peeled on the spot, which added an additional layer of quality and freshness to the cocktail.

Since we were occupying a table, we decided to order some fries to nibble on. The fries were delicious with their bell pepper aioli, Dijon mustard, and vinegar dipping sauces and I really enjoyed the small cut with perfect crispness. However, the fries were cut a little too small for my tastes and were a little difficult to eat.

While we didn't get a chance to meet Jaime, we did get to enjoy some really great cocktails. The service and ambiance were extraordinary and it as a great venue to hangout and catch up with friends. I'm not sure whether absinthe has quite grown on me yet, but it was definitely an interesting new drink. Absinthe is every bit the awesome, classic bar that many have raved about, and despite the inflated cost of the cocktails, worth every penny for the unique experience. If you're around during a warm day, the tables outside are totally dog-friendly and only enhance the already excellent experience. Come for dinner and you just might be able to have your picture taken with San Francisco's own Chef Jaime!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Zanzibar Cafe

976 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 272-4762
Rating
11/29/2010
I've heard tons of great things about Zanzibar, and have driven by many times, but had never gotten a chance to try it until today. My incubator working group needed a convenient place to meet in order to talk about our projects and since two members of the team lived in the area, this was the recommended place for the job.

I started off the morning with their maple-flavored coffee as recommended by the very attractive waitress who happened to be enjoying it herself. It had the slightest hint of sweetness and maple flavor, which I enhanced with copious amounts of sugar and cream. For breakfast I decided to go with their avocado, tomato, cilantro, and Fontina cheese omelet with sourdough toast. The omelet itself was light, fluffy, and delicious but I found the potatoes to be dry and overcooked and the toast was burnt. However, the mixed fruit bowl was very fresh and complimented the otherwise perfectly cooked omelet.

While it's a little on the expensive side for the amount of food you get, the location is very cozy and right on the main drag through PB. The service was excellent and allowed us to hang around for nearly 4 hours and it turned out to be a pretty good meeting place for our little group. There was no space for laptops so we might have to find more convenient location next time, but I would definitely come back. We were able to get a lot done out on their little dog-friendly patio and it's a great place to do a little people (and pet) watching on a warm weekend!

Food: 6/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Julian Pie Company

2225 Main St
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-2449
Rating
11/27/2010
If there was a place that was a must-stop in Julian, this would be it. It's easy to see why it's so popular after tasting their pies and people come from far and wide with their families and pets to enjoy a small slice at the dog-friendly outdoor patio.

My friend and I shared a slice of the Dutch apple pie and the apple and berry pie. Both were exquisite and my favorite part was definitely the crust and crumbled topping. Though not cheap, there's really no other reason to come to Julian than for pie.

Julian Pie Company would have earned a perfect score if not for their inability to scale with their success. Waiting for the bathroom is a nightmare and seating is basically non-existent. It's still an absolute must when going to Julian but you might find yourself "holding it" for a while.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Romano's Dodge House

2718 B St
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-1003
Rating
11/27/2010
You would be surprised at how many restaurants in Julian are extremely poorly rated considering that the place is a total tourist town. However, therein lies the problem. In finding a place to eat, my friend and I stopped into several places and were welcomed with nary a smile, and most of the time found ourselves shunned away. Perhaps they figure they will never see us again after this visit, and they would be right. Enter Romano's, a welcomed sight for sore eyes. Tucked away on a side street, I think I might have found the best overall restaurant in town by a long shot.

We were greeted immediately and brought to a table by the door, even though it was busy. We were started off with some bread rolls and butter which did a good job of tiding us over until our large meat lover's pizza arrived. I was a little disappointed to find out that they didn't do half and halfs because the chef literally found it inconvenient (minus one star) but otherwise everything was good. The pizza had tons of tasty toppings on it and the crusty was crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside. The prices are totally reasonable and the pizza was only about $18.00.

They've got a nice little patio where you can dine with your dog and I simply couldn't recommend any other place for a meal in the area. Don't waste your time anywhere else. Drop into Romano's for a pie of a different sort before munching on some of the traditional apple stuff Julian is famous for.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Hero's Deli

2000 Main St Ste 108
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-9920
Rating
11/27/2010
Needing a little break from exploring Julian during the day, I saw a sign advertising $2 milkshakes and it was a deal that was difficult to pass up. My friend and I dropped in to find a long line building and figured it was a pretty popular place. Instead, we found that the service was simply slow.

I was finally able to order and got the small strawberry shake. I was relieved to find that they used real ice cream in their shakes instead of having the mixer pump it out of a machine. It had decent flavor but was disappointed that the shake was barely filled to the top, and then topped off with too much whipped cream.

The service is crazy slow and they're totally under-powered here. They could definitely use a better system for serving guests. There's some really cramped indoor seating but the place to be is outside at the table or benches with your pup, and doing some people watching. The weather is usually great so get outside and explore Julian!

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Fashion Valley Mall

7007 Friars Rd
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 688-9113
Rating
11/27/2010
Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year so my buddy and I dropped by the biggest mall in SD to try and sweep up some of the holiday deals. I didn't do too much damage this year...yet...but did manage to score some goodies from the Banana Republic.

While I'm not sure it is officially a dog-friendly mall, there are countless people out to do their shopping with their pups. By far the cutest one I saw was a lab puppy who was so young that they didn't quite know their extremities well enough yet and flopped its legs about as it was distracted by all there was to be distracted by. It was the cutest thing ever.

I don't think all of the stores allow dogs into them so you'll have to ask each individually. Even so, it's a beautiful outdoor mall that is a great place to take your dog for a stroll while shopping so bring them on by!

Starbucks Coffee

8250 Mira Mesa Blvd, Suite H
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 586-6361
Rating
11/22/2010
My friend and I wanted to take advantage of the sweet holiday BOGO deal at Starbucks and scooted over to the nearest one over at the Mira Mesa mall. Little did I know that this would be one of the worst experiences I would ever have at a Starbucks.

My friend and I got the caramel brûlée frappuccino and the caramel apple spice. We wanted to reload our Starbucks card before ordering but the dimwit behind the counter couldn't figure out how to do the transaction so he charged everything to the credit card instead. What's more, despite being well within the promo time, he didn't even offer the BOGO price and it had to be pointed out to him and checked before he even made the effort. Finally, the numbskull put the hot caramel apple spice in cold cup, essentially communicating that we wanted it iced (it's never ordered iced) and the kind barista who made the drink caught the mistake and immediately fixed it. While the drinks came out decently, if not a bit too sweet, my friend and I had the distinct sense that the cashier might have actually been high or at least stupid. In fact, he should hope he was high otherwise it would just make him an idiot.

Despite being a pet-friendly location, this Starbucks is also known for their band of nomadic old Filipino gentlemen who camp at the outside tables to play chess while chain-smoking all night long. They're there every day and even past closing hours. I don't have a problem with them hanging out there but the area has become a big toxic cloud of smoke and for the Starbucks faithful, it's on the list of must-avoid locations. What a shame.

Food: 6/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 1/10

O'Bistro

4934 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 223-2202
Rating
11/20/2010
It was a rare Friday where my buddies and I didn't have a poker game scheduled and we all decided to grab some grub. Always in the mood to try popular new (at least to me) places in town, I learned that O'Bistro Café in OB was super pet-friendly and Cloud, my friend's Havanese, was eager to hang with the gang on the patio for dinner.

My lady friend and I decided to share a bowl of the lobster bisque which was so rich and deliciously creamy that it was practically a meal in itself. In fact, it was so popular that literally everybody at the table had to order it and it's easy to see, and taste, why it's one of their most popular dishes. For our entrees, we decided to share the meatloaf with jalapeno gravy and the fettuccine in dill cream sauce with smoked salmon and caviar. Again, two more super rich dishes (did I mention there was caviar in the pasta?!) that totally satisfied my palette for decadent foods. The meatloaf had great flavor and the jalapeno gravy was a very spicy and unique flavor against the savory backdrop of the homemade loaf of meat. The caviar was a total surprise and added the perfect amount of saltiness to the pasta.

The food was excellent and the service was extremely friendly. One unexpected, but pleasant, surprise was the arrival of the house magician who performs every Friday night. I've never seen a magician at restaurant before but this guy was good, like really good. Seriously, I had my eye on him the whole time and he still managed to bewilder us all with his sleights of hand. While it may seem a bit out of place, we were totally entertained by him while waiting for our food. O'Bistro often hosts pet events and their patio is a great place for dining with your pooch. I had a great time at O'Bistro and highly recommend the food. The dishes were on the heavy side but that's exactly how I like them. They've got a bunch of sandwiches and sushi rolls that seemed on the lighter side. I'm really looking forward to going back to try some of their new specials and get another bowl of bisque!

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Pizza Port Ocean Beach

1956 Bacon St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 224-4700
Rating
11/20/2010
Pizza Port is a super popular spot in town and known for their pizzas and unique local brews. My buddy arranged a dinner there on wing night and sounding super tasty, we cruised over to this dog-friendly beach grubbery.

My friend and I got there a bit early and decided to share a small Carlsbad pizza with chicken, artichoke hearts, feta, sundried tomatoes, and a few other goodies, along with 15 wings and 5 cheese sticks. While the pizza itself was pretty decent, the wings and cheese sticks were super salty and tasty like they came frozen out of a bag. I found myself drinking so much water and even then it didn't help. Even at the super cheap price point I would definitely not order them again.

I kind of dig the communal seating thing and the people there are usually pretty friendly about sharing the space. There's some decent outdoor seating in case you do bring your pooch and it's a pretty good spot to do some people watching while sipping a beer. While I wouldn't go back for their wings, I do need to return to try some of their beers. Next time, I won't be DDing!

Food: 5/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Fiji Yogurt

1010 University Ave Ste C-103
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 297-0850
Rating
11/19/2010
I needed to meet up with my friend to get some work done and the local Starbucks was packed to the brim. We decided to check out the Fiji Yogurt in the same center because they offered WiFi. While the WiFi signal was protected and quick, the yogurt here was extremely disappointing.

For starters, they don't post the price per ounce anywhere so there's no way to know if you're being ripped off. I barely put anything into my cup and yet came out spending more than I would for a large cup from Yogurtland. What's more, the machines have these stupid censors that prevent who-knows-what and you have to trigger them before anything comes out. Plus, I've never seen machines that pump faster so when getting a sample, you end of with more yogurt on your hands than in the cup. The yogurt was runny, icy, and flavorless and I would never go to another Fiji Yogurt again.

Service at this location was terrible, and that's surprising when you think about the fact that there is next to no interaction with the employees anyway. There is no bathroom either so you're SOL if mother nature calls. The only thing it's got going for it is ample outdoor seating so you can come by with your dog. However, if you ask me, I wouldn't waste my time here again.

Food: 2/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 2/10

Pannikin Coffee & Tea

2670 Via De La Valle
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 481-8007
Rating
11/17/2010
I don't normally work from Del Mar but a local group was getting together to co-work from Pannikin so I took advantage of the popular dog-friendly cafe. Located on the second floor of the center, there are tons of covered outdoor tables where you could hang out and work with your pup close by.

I kicked off the day with their Vietnamese iced coffee, which was pretty good for an American cafe. While it wasn't made in the slow drip style, it had a pretty authentic flavor and a solid espresso kick.

I was really impressed with the amount of seating at Pannikin and can see why it's a favorite of some of my entrepreneur friends. It's even great for groups, and their prices are totally reasonable for the area!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Petco

11160 Rancho Carmel Dr
San Diego, CA 92128
(858) 451-8347
Rating
11/16/2010
I needed to drop into Petco to look for a new leash for Doggie but immediately got distracted by all of the creatures that greet you in cages as you walk in. There doesn't seem to be many people working at this location so getting help to find a particular item was kind of tricky.

My friend and I found ourselves wandering around the store and I wasn't able to find the correct leash, nor did I see any small Chuck-It toys either. They did have a different brand, but no "Chuck-Its"!!!

Pizza Port Solana Beach

135 N Hwy 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
(858) 481-7332
Rating
11/11/2010
Located in beautiful Solana Beach, Pizza Port is a favorite amongst locals. I've been looking forward to checking them out for the longest time and finally had the opportunity to try some of their famously tasty brews and crafted pizza pies when a buddy came to visit from the Bay Area.

Our party started out with a pitcher of the Toronado Brown, a very dark brew. I normally don't like anything this dark as it tends to be too bitter for me, but the Toronado was quite nice and very refreshing during the brisk evening.

We ordered a large pizza Roma which came topped with several kinds of meats and vegetables, a "works"-style if you will, as well as a basket of their hot wings. Each slice was piled so high with toppings that I was forced to eat it with a knife and fork, a method that's blasphemous for most pizza aficionados but necessary to get the job done here. The pizza was very tasty and delicious though I felt that the bottom of the crust could have been more firm. The hot wings apparently only come in one temperature, insanity. These things remind me of the suicide wings at Callahan's and the beads of sweat came rolling down my brow as soon as the chicken touched my tongue. The heat only added to the flavor and the beer went a long way in alleviating the burning.

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience at Pizza Port. The unpretentious and fun atmosphere, along with great company and food, really made this a place that you really could come anytime. Seating on busy evenings might be tricky so be sure to come early or you just might get stuck with standing room only! This is especially important if you've got your dog with you but if you're lucky you'll be able to snag one of the dog-friendly tables on the patio.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Cafe Hue

3860 Convoy St Ste 106
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-7947
Rating
11/11/2010
My friend and I had planned to get some dessert after dinner, and despite already having a dessert at Wa Dining OKAN, decided to go next door to Café Hue for dessert part 2.

There were lots of things to choose from and we had a difficult time deciding whether to have a waffle or crepe. We saw the gelato case and decided to give a few of those a try. While they had a pretty good selection of flavors, I found them all to be way too icy and sort of sludgy at the same time because the case wasn't cold enough. Despite that, we ultimately decided to get a scoop of coconut gelato on hot waffle. When it arrived, the gelato was already melting and sort of fell apart when you cut into it. There was also way too much shredded coconut in it that it actually made it kind of unappetizing to eat. I much prefer fresh coconuts in my ice cream. The waffle itself was quite tasty and reminded me of the Chinese cocktail buns that you'd find in Asian bakeries. That was really the only high point for me in this dessert and wasn't into the gooey gelato at all.

Overall, I was disappointed with my experience here. I've read that they're really popular and people love the desserts, but they just didn't measure up to some of the other things out there. I'd rank it a little higher than Crepe World, but just barely. I don't think I'll be back. If you do decide to drop in, there's a single table outside to hang with your pup at.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Wine Steals

1953 San Elijo Ave
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
(619) 846-4903
Rating
11/10/2010
Wine Steals was the location of the kickoff meeting location of a new Meetup group I joined for tech professionals. Known for their large retail selection of wines, it is a beautiful location to gather a group to chat outside over a few glasses of the libation. They've got a beautiful patio where you're welcome to bring your dogs and the view is great. Prices are normally a bit on the high side, but happy hour makes it all go down a little smoother and much cheaper.

Being that it was happy hour, there were several glasses of wine for only $4 and pizza slices were only $2. After tasting a few of their selections, I settled on a fine Ernst & Co. Sauvignon Blanc that had just a hint of dryness and sweet apple overtones. To pair, I decided to try the Pinor Noir pizza which was topped with prosciutto, shaved Asiago cheese, a drizzle of white truffle oil, topped with arugula, and garnished with red bell peppers. While both were delicate individually, together they were deliciously assertive without being pushy. Seriously though, this was definitely some good stuff.

While this was my first time at this location, this was not my first time at Wine Steals. I really enjoy coming here and enjoying a fine bottle of wine while relaxing with friends. This location had a great patio that was a perfect end to a beautiful summer day. Parking may be a bit tough in this area, but the hassle is definitely worth the reward of being able to enjoy a fine glass of wine with a sophisticated slice of their delicious pizza. Just make sure to arrive early because this place gets pretty busy!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

OB Noodle House

2218 Cable St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 450-6868
Rating
11/10/2010
I had never even heard of OB Noodle House before but it was selected as the location of a Meetup group's dinner and I'm always eager for an excuse to check out a new restaurant. I was totally unsure of what to expect and the last thing I would have guessed they served was Vietnamese food. An interesting concept in a laid back beach town, I looked forward to sampling some of their more familiar dishes.

I went with the standard #1 pho dish that you can find at any Vietnamese restaurant, the extra large pho with mixed cuts of meat. The soup was really under seasoned for my tastes, and even after adding the obligatory sauces, didn't help in adding the great flavor I'm used to from solid Vietnamese food. I can see why the food here would appeal to the OB demographic, especially when paired with the copious amounts of alcohol served here. However, I'm not fooled by the toned-down flavors of a westernized bowl of noodles.

While it was OK for what it was, I was generally not impressed by OB Noodle House's food. I have to compare apples to apples and it just wasn't up to par with most of the Vietnamese food in San Diego in terms of both taste and value. The food cost about 20% more than a standard Vietnamese restaurant and it's difficult to ignore when I'm used to paying much less for a better version of the same thing, and with a much larger portion. While it's clearly a popular restaurant with a large fan following, I don't think I will be back. If you've got a dog, the place is pretty friendly and there's a few tables outside where you can enjoy your dinner with your pup after a walk. The opportunity cost of not going to a place like Pho Ca Dao is just too high.

Food: 5/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Babycakes

3766 5th Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 296-4173
Rating
11/09/2010
A hidden-away cupcake shop is a strange place to have breakfast, but Babycakes turned out to be a pretty good location for a team meeting. Serving a variety of baked goods and breakfast items, we gathered the group on their back patio for our weekly pow-wow.

I decided to try their spinach and cheese croissant for breakfast. While relatively expensive, the little, stuffed, puff pastry was quite delicious and had just the right amount of seasoning. It was also obviously made in house. There was a ton of spinach in every bite and it was an excellent way to start the day.

While parking was a minor issue on a Sunday morning, the shop definitely made for an intimate location for getting things done. The location is not necessarily the most convenient place to get to but the scenery more than makes up for that. There's some great outdoor seating where your pooch can hang with you while you enjoy your day in the sun. I am definitely looking forward to coming back for some of their famous cupcakes!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Mediterranean Wraps

209 University Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 289-0866
Rating
11/08/2010
After sipping on some great hot chocolate jut across the street, my superlative speaking friend pointed me in the direction of what he claimed to be the best shawermas on the west coast. A little skeptical of his claim, I first phoned in only to find them closing in a few minutes. However, the very kind owner insisted that I drop by and even kept the shop open as he waited for our little party.

I ordered the lamb shawerma over the phone and it was ready for me when I arrived. At $8, it was a little pricier than I expected but was extremely delicious. The lamb was tender and the whole wrap was juicy and flavorful. I'm not sure if it was the best shawerma, but it was pretty damn good.

To cure an empty stomach that was full of liquor and liquids, the lamb wrap really hit the spot. The restaurant was beautiful and it's no wonder the place is a popular student spot for a quick, albeit relatively expensive bite to eat. If I'm ever in the area again, I'm definitely picking one of these up after some cocktails! If I'm sober, I'm even gonna bring my dog and people watch for a bit. Best pre-hangover cure ever.

Food: 8/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Coupa Café

538 Ramona St
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 322-6872
Rating
11/08/2010
After attending my first Bay Area Yelp Elite party in Palo Alto, my buddy met up with my fries and I and took us around to some of the hot spots around the area. He insisted to take us to one of the best cafes in the area for their famous Venezuelan hot chocolate, and needing some caffeine in my system, decided to drop into Coupa Cafe.

Even late at night, the place was completely packed with Stanford students and it was clear that it was a hugely popular place to hang out. I ordered their popular Abuela hot chocolate. It was very tasty and had just a hint of bitterness that comes with good dark chocolate. It was clear why it was so popular and the venue for enjoying it over good tech conversation with great friends was awesome.

Judging from the packed house alone, it's easy to see why the Coupa Cafe is one of the most popular off campus places for Stanford students to hang out, study, or even nap. There's a special energy there that somehow makes you feel smarter just being amongst it. Heck, even the dogs that chill with their owners at the outdoor seating seem smarter. If I were a student there, the Coupa Cafe is definitely where you would find me!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Broken Drum Brewery & Wood Grill

1132 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-4677
Rating
11/08/2010
The Drum has been a popular San Rafael gathering place since it was opened. If you're looking, you can always find old friends and schoolmates hanging out and enjoying a pint of the local brew or snacking on some of their famous loaded nachos.

I decided to go with the Black and Blue burger and prepared, well, black and blue. I was assured that the meat was of high enough quality to be consumed rare and it turned out quite tasty. I wish that they had put a bit more bleu cheese on the burger, but it was otherwise not too bad. I had it with a side of sweet potato fries but was not told that there would be an additional charge. The fries came out burnt which was very disappointing but otherwise the meal was pretty good.

Though I haven't been back in years and the price has shot up since then, the Broken Drum is still a hip place to hangout with friends over a beer. Join your buddies on the patio while enjoying a beer, and bring your best [furry] friends to hang out too. This place is totally pet-friendly! I just hope that the rare meat of my burger doesn't give me food poisoning. So far, so good!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Wired Cafe Le Bistro

8935 Towne Centre Dr Ste 110
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 450-0880
Rating
11/06/2010
A weekend meeting with the boss to discuss finances can sometimes be an anxiety-inducing experience, but having it at Wired Cafe can help to take the edge off.

The boss offered to treat me this morning so I decided to go with the potato and onion soup with salmon quiche combination. The soup arrived first and had a very rich, full-bodied flavor and texture. The vegetables were fresh and tender and I found myself finishing every last spoonful. I think I might have found myself licking the bowl if I were enjoying the silky soup at home.

The quiche followed quickly on the heels of the soup and I had high hopes for the mini French pie. Sadly, it was a major disappointment. While the pastry was delicate and flaky and the custard light and airy, the whole thing was entirely too salty. I found myself consuming 3 glasses of water before finishing the quiche.

I've heard nothing but great things about Wired Cafe and finally had the opportunity to visit. However, this visit turned out to be quite the letdown but I will give them a chance to redeem themselves on my next visit when I will give their famed sandwiches a try. Till then, I will stick with my beloved Panera Bread. At least they've got a great patio and the place is super pet-friendly!

Food: 6/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Mateo's Hot Spot

4479 Everts St
San Diego, CA 92109
(760) 473-1902
Rating
11/06/2010
After a long night of boozing, I tend to crave a bite to eat. Fortunately, Mateo's Hot Spot was just around the corner to satiate my hunger pains. Located in front of some of Pacific Beach's most divey bars this wiener stand attracts some of the town's most toasted patrons.

Of the extensive menu, I decided to order the El Grunge, a polish with bacon and cream cheese. I've never tried my hot dogs with cream cheese before but much to my surprise it was pretty tasty! You wouldn't think that it would add much, or maybe even make the hot dog too heavy, but cream cheese has such a mild flavor that it seems like it would go with just about everything.

Needless to say, I am now a convert and in the future I'll hold the kraut and opt for the cream cheese. If you're in PB and need a great after drinking treat, march over to Mateo's and grab a cream cheese polish! Feel free to bring your dogs while enjoying your dog cause it's all outdoor seating...err...standing room only!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Wahoo's Fish Taco

2195 Station Village Way
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 299-4550
Rating
11/06/2010
Born in Southern California, the Wahoo's Fish Taco story actually originated with three brothers in Brazil. These days, Wahoo's is a staple in the extreme sports scene and have established many restaurants and boast even more followers. My Wahoo's experience actually starts in the sky.

After a day spent flying in a Cessna 172, my buddies and I developed an appetite for some tacos. Of the dozens of restaurants in the area that served them up, we decided that none could beat the quality and flavors of this locally loved eatery. To get a feel for the unique Wahoo's flavors, I decided to order the 2 taco combo platter with both the regular and spicy fish, served with a heaping helping of ahi rice and a split of the spicy Cajun white beans and black beans. The tacos, though a little meager in size, were delicious and had a nice balance of flavors. The textures were a little on the dry side so the addition of a sauce of some kind would definitely improve that aspect of the dish. I loved fluffy the ahi rice, especially when paired the beans. They give you a huge portion of it, but I was able to finish it all without any difficulty and only wished that I could have more.

For my first dining experience at Wahoo's Fish Taco, I was happily surprised by the quality of the food here. Everything was definitely fresh and the portions were quite large. The restaurant itself has a very laid back feel, and it seems that anybody is free to tag a sticker to any part of the building. They've got a great patio where your dogs can hang with you as long as they're not trying to snag your tacos! I will definitely check out Wahoo's again, if only for the very attractive women who seem to flock here every day. Need I say, "Yum-o"?

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Burger Lounge

1101 Wall St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 456-0196
Rating
11/03/2010
Burger Lounge is the current hip place to get an expensive meal so when the opportunity arose to dine there, it was high time to review this La Jolla hotspot. I was a little wary of going to a La Jolla burger joint so I went on their website to check their prices. At $6.95 for a basic Lounge Burger, it seemed like it would be a pretty decent price for a gourmet sandwich. However, when I arrived, I found that the website did not actually reflect the prices at this location. While the site may or may not be accurate for their other locations, burgers in La Jolla started at $7.95 instead of the $6.95 price point. Their onion rings were also more expensive at $3.95 instead of $2.95.

I ordered the Grilled Lounge Burger with cheddar cheese and half and half of fries and onion rings. While the burger itself was pretty juicy and the produce was certainly fresh, the burger was a bit lacking in the flavor, texture, and wow department. Considering that their very basic burger $8 without the fries, it's a high price to pay for something that lacks the personality of a really great burger. I think it might be slightly more justified if it had that little extra kick of avocado or something to bring out the savory flavors of the meat. The fries and onion rings were lackluster, and were cut so thinly that were basically fried potato scraps by the time we received them.

All in all, the food was just so-so. Paying the astronomical prices for what would essentially be considered street food is somewhat ridiculous, especially since there are next to no options on how a person might want to customize their Burger Lounge experience. It really did feel like the people who opened this place were just being lazy when they put this concept together. Slapping a burger on a fancy square plate and charging $8 for it doesn't make it gourmet. There's next to no seating inside but at least it's located in La Jolla so there's always somewhere nice to sit outside. Their tables are dog friendly so if you do drop by, don't forget your pooch. Before deciding to drop in, beware of the bait and switch. It may have been an honest mistake, but the onus is on them to quickly fix it.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Prepkitchen

7556 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 875-7737
Rating
10/31/2010
It was my friend's birthday weekend and we wanted to check out somewhere new for brunch so we headed to Prepkitchen in La Jolla. By the same proprietors as Whisknladle down the street, Prepkitchen is known for making just about everything in house and I was really excited to give them a try.

I ordered the half tuna melt with butternut squash soup, served with leafy greens, chips, and pickle (all home made) and my friend ordered the beef hash. The tuna melt was excellent and was irresistible when dipped into and enjoyed with the soup. The portion sizes weren't huge, but totally satisfying. My friend's hash was served like an open-faced and topped with poached eggs which oozed golden goodness when broken. The combination of flavors were excellent though the portion sized was still on the small side.

Prepkitchen is located in a tiny little plaza with plenty of dog-friendly outdoor seating and offers free Bird Rock Coffee, as well as a free olive bar (it's more of just a single jar). While not a coffee connoisseur myself, my friend assured me that it was some high quality stuff and I enjoyed my fair share of the house-brined olives. It was the last day of the Prepkitchen counter-service as we know it and they're re-opening in a few days with full service!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 10/10

Michele Coulon Dessertier

7556 Fay Ave Ste D
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 456-5098
Rating
10/31/2010
After enjoying a beautiful brunch at Prepkitchen, my friend and I decided to take a peek across the way at the dessertier in the same plaza. It was hidden away in the back of the plaza, but easy to spot once you look past their dog-friendly outdoor tables.

We poked our heads in to peer at the display case and her eye caught hold of the rack of delicate macaroons so we had no choice but to pick a few of the pretty petits fours up for the road. The macaroons were perfectly bite-sized and were flavored with berries and chocolate and melted effortlessly in your mouth.

I may not be a pastry expert, but I really enjoyed this little sandwich cookies. At $1.50 each, they're definitely not a cheap treat, but great to enjoy once in a while. It made for an excellent dessert for our delicious brunch next door and I look forward to enjoying both again.

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Starbucks Coffee

8657 Villa La Jolla Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 452-4205
Rating
10/24/2010
My buddy was visiting from out of town and we wanted to get an early start on the day. We cruised over to La Jolla to grab some Jamba Juice but I entered to plaza at the wrong entrance. Since Starbucks was right in front of us, we decided to go there instead of driving to the other side of the plaza.

I ordered up one of the new pumpkin spiced lattes to kick off the day. It definitely had the essence of pumpkin in there and was very sweet and refreshing. I'll probably be enjoying a buzz for the rest of the day from it.

The parking lot at this Starbucks is one of the worst I've ever seen. The service is nice though, and there are plenty of dog-friendly tables outside to accommodate your pals. It's not that good a location to work from since it's kind of cramped, but it's a quick fix near campus which makes it a popular spot. It's right next to Trader Joe's too!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill

10714 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 831-0634
Rating
10/23/2010
My buddy came back to SD and we decided to grab some brunch at Rubio's and catch up a bit. This Rubio's tables are crazy close together but the dog-friendly tables outside were wet so we resolved to being cramped in with the rest of the lunch crowd.

I ordered the chicken burrito especial which was whipped up in record time despite the crowd. I liked that the ingredients were all very fresh and there were large slices of avocado in the burrito and the black beans were firm instead of mush.

The service here was stellar but unfortunately, like most parking lots, the dining room would benefit from the removal of one or two tables to provide space for ample privacy. As it is, they're only 6-inches away from each other and that makes having a conversation quite difficult. I may be back for the service, but I will be sitting outside next time.

Food: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Sunrise Deli

7920 Silverton Ave Ste A
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 549-3663
Rating
10/22/2010
My pet-loving friends and I decided to grab some lunch with the pups down at Sunrise Deli, a non-descript little place hidden away in an industrial park. Hearing that it was super dog-friendly, we had to check it out.

They've got some stellar daily specials and I went with the 1/3 pound Swiss and mushroom burger served with fries. For only about $5, I couldn't think of a better deal, besides perhaps the amazing In-N-Out. They've got several Korean dishes to boot and are featured on the lunch specials as well. There's so much to choose from on the menu that you'll likely never be bored!

While the food was pretty good for the price, it didn't compare to the pet-friendliness of the place. Throughout the day, several people came by with their dogs to have lunch, which was quite delightful. If I worked in the area, I'd definitely come by everyday!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Yappy Hour at La Jolla Brew House

7536 Fay Ave
San Diego, CA 92037
(858) 456-6279
Rating
10/12/2010
I've been anxious to check out Yappy Hour at La Jolla Brew House from the moment that I heard about it and when it rolled around recently, you know where I was headed.

When Deb L. and I got there, the sponsors were all busy setting up and only a few dogs were there. When Chopper rolled up in the back of the Harley, the party was on! Soon, a bunch of pups rolled in and the butt-sniffing began. The people appetizers were great and Deb L. and I shared the cheese fries. There were even some affordable dog-friendly dishes too and the dogs were eating it up.

I had so much fun meeting all the new doggie friends and their owners and look forward to kicking off out own sponsored Yappy Hour there soon. Claudette is an awesome host!

Aroma Cafe

909 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-7272
Rating
10/10/2010
I had a business meeting in La Jolla and my contact suggested that we meet at Aroma. Never having been there, I was always up for trying something new. Unfortunately, the prices an lack of service were a major turn-off.

Since I wasn't really in the mood to eat (and this place is relatively expensive to boot) I decided to get a cup of hot green tea. At $3, it definitely wasn't cheap, nor was it that good. Service came around quite infrequently and didn't seem to care about us so much so that my meeting partner even commented on it. Even the management inside wasn't very responsive.

While the patio seating was really dog-friendly and several people were having lunch with their pups, I can't get over the complete lack of service. I mean, what am I paying for here anyway? This would definitely not be my first choice of places to go in the future and there's plenty of places in the area that will treat you right, and serve some pretty good grub as well.

Food: 5/10

Service: 3/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

The Living Room Cafe and Bistro

1010 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 459-1187
Rating
10/08/2010
After a business meeting in La Jolla, I desperately needed a place to rest my dogs (feet) and stumbled upon a great place for resting your dogs (4 feet). The Living Room presented itself as a good place to GTD so I ordered up a drink and whipped out the lappy.

I went with their strawberry and banana smoothie, which I found to be pretty tasty and had the sort of tang that you might find with sweetened strawberry topping versus the fresh version. I thought it would actually ruin the smoothie at first but then quickly realized that I kind of liked that flavor with the banana.

As a place to work, I found that there was a good amount of space and tons of outlets to plug into. There were more fruit flies than I really cared to swat at but overall it was a decent place to work from. They've got a couple dog-friendly tables outside as well, but it's kind of cramped out there. Too bad parking can either be a pain in the butt or expensive, otherwise I would definitely visit more often.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Holiday Inn Hotel San Diego-Mission Valley

3805 Murphy Canyon Rd
San Diego, CA 92123
(858) 278-9300
Rating
10/04/2010
I've been to this Holiday Inn three times now for great community events and every time I've been increasingly impressed with the service and grub.

Known as one of the most family-friendly places to stay on the road, I recently found out that they're super pet-friendly too! Judging from the people-accommodations and service, the pet version has got to be just as great. I do wish I could bring my dog to the Rayo Grill to hang out while I eat (they've got great Mexican grub) but unfortunately there's no patio. However, that won't stop me from staying here because the team serves up some world class accommodations.

It's a little tricky to find off the freeway but it's super close to the Q and pet-friendly beaches too. For weary travelers who've got pets, pull over to the Holiday Inn off Aero!

Starbucks Coffee

4240 Kearny Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 278-9365
Rating
10/01/2010
It's becoming increasingly difficult to find places with reliable WiFi, power outlets, and comfortable seating and when I found myself in a bind, I Googled for the nearest Starbucks since I know those are everywhere. Luckily, there was one I had forgotten about within walking distance so I cruised over for some GTD action.

I ordered myself a sweetened passion tea as I plopped down on this hot day with my laptop to work on my project. The tea was sweet, but not too sweet, and did an excellent job at cooling me off and helped me focus on the task at hand. I've often seen people with this reddish tea and wondered what it was, and it was so good that it has become my new, caffeine-free, summer drink.

This Starbucks has a bunch of tables against the wall that have access to power outlets. It's also a very clean space and seems to be frequently mostly by a Japanese crowd. They'd got a great space outside where you can chill too and enjoy your treats with your dog as well. Another great feature about this location? You don't need a parka to enjoy sitting inside!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Opera Cafe & Patisserie

9254 Scranton Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 458-9050
Rating
09/26/2010
On my first weekend back from SF, my best buddy and I decided to grab some brunch over at Opera. Located in a corporate shopping plaza, this French-style cafe can be difficult to spot from the street or to know about at all. Luckily I had her to show me the way to one of SD's best quality breakfasts.

There's lots of delectable items on the menu and I didn't know where to start. Everything looked great and it made it very difficult to choose. I eventually settled on their very popular steak and Brie sandwich with fresh greens salad and shared an almond croissant with my friend. She ordered the veggie quiche with potatoes and fruit. It was one of the most beautiful days in SD to date so we opted to sit outside on the large, dog-friendly patio.

The croissant was very delicious and very fresh. It didn't have the rise or the filling of the Tartine version but for SD, it's as good as it gets. My sandwich was served open-faced bs had a great balance of tender steak and rich Brie. The salad was lightly dressed and consisted of tender, leafy greens. My friend's quiche was rich and well-seasoned, and served with some very delicious, sliced golden-brown fingerling potatoes with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. The fruit cup had a great variety of seasonal fruits that rounded out an excellent meal.

While you may not get the huge portions of the local greasy spoons, you don't want them either. Wired Cafe is a close comparison to Opera, but they're not even close when it comes to the food quality, service, and atmosphere. Opera serves up just the right amount of grub that you'd want for just the right price. More local places should take a note from Opera and maybe, just maybe, we can all start to make strides toward leading happy, healthier lives.

Food: 9/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 10/10

Surf City Squeeze

4545 La Jolla Village Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
(951) 907-4911
Rating
09/26/2010
Being one of the hottest days of the year, my best bud and I needed something refreshing to cool off with. Opting away from froyo, we decided to share a drink from Surf City Squeeze.

We were intrigued by the idea of the watermelon lemonade so we went sick and got a large. I'm not sure if real watermelon juice was used, but it went a long way in mellowing out the sour flavor of the lemonade. I actually liked that it wasn't as sour as a normal lemonade and watermelon was the perfect compliment on a day like this.

This was my first try with Surf City and while the service and quality was questionable, the lemonade was pretty good. It wasn't exactly cheap either, but considering what we're willing to pay for coffee over at the Starbucks next door, I guess it isn't so bad. There's tons of outdoor seating around the smoothie shack and UTC is a pet-friendly mall, making Surf City a pretty good place to drop into for a drink.

Food: 7/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

South Beach Bar & Grille

5059 Newport Ave, Ste 104
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 226-4577
Rating
09/22/2010
I don't have long left in SD before I move up north for good so I needed to hit up and try the most popular places to eat before I do. South Beach is known for their Taco Tuesdays and since I touched down on a Tuesday, it seemed appropriate to come in and finally check it out.

Finding a table is definitely tough and we had to scope around and was finally able to lock one down. Since everything was $2.50, I decided to try their grilled lobster and shark tacos, as well as their fried calamari and oyster tacos. It was difficult to identify one from the other simply by looking, and I found it tough to find the minor taste variances as well. The flavors were muddled by the salsa, sour cream, and other ingredients, which while flavorful, really blotted out the flavors of the seafood. However, the calamari stood out to me as being the most interesting while the oyster was the least interesting. Ultimately though, not highlighting the fish became the tacos' ultimate downfall and l was disappointingly left wanting quite a bit more from them.

South Beach has been hyped up to me over the last few years and I'm left to wonder what everybody was raving about. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't mind-blowing either, and I know my friends will be pissed to learn that my socks were blasted off over them. Sadly, it seems it's just another place to get (albeit a good deal on) fish tacos on a Tuesday. At least they’ve got a patio, so bring your dogs by!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Pioneer Park

Church St & Franklin St
Mountain View, CA 94041
Rating
09/20/2010
While waiting for my buddy to pick me up pre-wedding, I decided to chill at the Mountain View public library. While not a dog park, the adjacent Pioneer Park is a very pet-friendly place to lie under a try on a hot day and read a book. There's even poopie bags just in case you forgot your own!

Larkspur Landing Veterinary Hospital

1019 Larkspur Landing Cir
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-6133
Rating
09/18/2010
Jasmine is getting old and I believe it is time to let her go. Unfortunately I've been meeting a great deal of resistance from my mom so I needed a professional opinion to help make the inal decision. The ladies at the reception desk were unbelievably friendly and compassionate in helping me talk out the situation and I was able to set up an appointment for the next day to bring my baby in to get looked at.

When I brought Jasmine by we were promptly seen by Dr. McDermott. She was amazing in helping my sister and I understand exactly what was up with Jasmine and, despite everything wrong with her, if she was suffering or in pain. Luckily, Jasmine is a trooper and is being well taken care of by my mom so it's not necessary to say goodbye right now and helped to reassure me that she is in otherwise good spirits.

The folks here are amazing and I would highly recommend them for everything. The exam was $40 and was a pittance to pay to know that Jasmine would be OK. Paige was also awesome in helping me cope and helping me understand the best course of action. Honestly, thinks definitely one of the best vets around and I will continue bring Jasmine, along with future pets, for all of their vet needs.

Lotus Veterinary House Calls

168 Richland Ave
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 282-2541
Rating
09/17/2010
I was looking for home vet service for my 15 year old Maltese, Jasmine, and read that Dr. Feigenbaum had absolutely perfect reviews so I decided to give her a call for some information. I left a message and it was returned the same evening and I was able to get really good advice from her. Unfortunately my sister's family doesn't want to let Jasmine go in her home in SF (which I totally understand) so we're unable to take advantage of Dr. Feigenbaum's services, but she was really compassionate to our situation and was a pleasure to talk to. I would highly recommend her in-home services for all SF pet lovers.

Borders

588 Francisco Blvd W
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 454-1400
Rating
09/17/2010
Borders in San Rafael has a bunch of tables outside that your dog can hang with you at while enjoying a cup of coffee, but they are also welcome to join you as you browse in the store. Just make sure they don't pee on anything otherwise you just bought it!

Once in a while there's some vagrants chilling in the reading area so I try to avoid it like the plague. There's almost no outlets here to plug a laptop into so it's not the best place to get work done either. Still, it's not a bad place to hang and read a book so make sure your dog is quiet so everybody can focus!

Boomerangs Gourmet Burger Joint

4577 Clairemont Dr
San Diego, CA 92117
(858) 483-9500
Rating
09/10/2010
On the recommendation of some foodie friends touting Boomerangs as one of the best burgers they'd ever had, as well as the impromptu going away party for a friend, I decided to drop in with the group to see our comrade off to her new adventures in life.

I heard some rumors that the burgers here were pretty darn good so I was inclined to select only the biggest, fattest burger that I could put together. I choose the pound heart attack with bacon, mushrooms, and roasted garlic mixed in, topped with blue cheese crumbles, and served with a side of garlic fries. The concept of having the ingredients mixed in is kind of novel, but it's really hard to differentiate the flavors from everything else that's going on in the burger. However, the real novelty revealed itself when I cut a cross-section of the sandwich only to find that the patty itself was over 2 epic inches thick, and counting the blue cheese, was well on its way to a massive 3 inches! The large plate of fries were excellent and had tons of fresh garlic and cilantro covering each piece.

While they make a mean burger, I unfortunately have one or two major complaints. First off, the place is almost impossible to find without the help of GPS to get you in the general vicinity, and a few phone calls to finally find your way in. Boomerangs is located in the middle of a group of nondescript buildings and is completely invisible from the street. The only indication that there is actually a restaurant here is the badly faded, low-contrast painted mural on the side of the building, which is mostly blocked by the building in front of it. Coupled with the one-way streets with no turning points, it took me nearly half an hour to find the restaurant after I had arrived in the area. Second, let's face it, service here is slow. Like, molasses slow. Like, watch the weeds grow slow. The bulk of our admittedly large group had arrived at 1pm, only to have our order finally taken a 2pm, and the last of our burgers delivered nearly an hour after that. I had arrived when it was bright out and it was getting dark by the time we left. The fact of the matter is that a simply burger meal took nearly 3 hours to complete. Our group managed to entertain themselves for the most part, but it is still an unacceptable amount of time to wait for a burger, even one of this caliber.

Overall, I really enjoyed the food at Boomerangs. The overall package needs an overhaul, but if you can weather the wait, you'll be rewarded with a delicious burger of massive proportions. However, if you're in a hurry, don't even bother because you will hardly even see a waiter come around to take your order, even during off-peak hours. They do have a dog-friendly patio so your pet can keep you company while you wait. If you're lucky, you'll wait only about half the time, but even then you may find yourself desperate enough for some food that you'll just cross the street and find yourself at McDonalds, saving you a huge amount of time and money, and filling your belly with marginal, yet satisfying, eats.

Food: 8/10

Service: 3/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Gelateria Frizzante

1025 Prospect St, Ste 130
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-5798
Rating
09/10/2010
Of the gelaterias I've sampled so far, I think Gelateria Frizzante's creamy texture definitely ranks towards the top. It's located in the heart of one of the ritziest parts of town and captures a lot of the tourist traffic that passes through that wants to enjoy some Italian ice cream while gazing over the water and watch as seals sunbathe on the beach.

For this review, I decided to try the gianduia and pumpkin flavors. I really liked the strong, concentrated flavors that come with gelato, as well as the tiny dark chocolate shavings that were whipped into decadent treat. Pumpkin was one of their seasonal offerings and possessed the potent flavors of the holiday season. There were many other choices to try, but unfortunately Frizzante restricts your choices to a maximum of two, even for the medio size offering.

The space itself was a bit dark for my tastes, but the bench just outside provided for some premium seating real estate for people watching and enjoying the warm La Jolla sun with their dogs. There are several places in La Jolla Cove that serve gelato, but make Frizzante a destination to stop into when you want to have a nice stroll through the jewel of San Diego.

Food: 9/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Spreckels Lake Golden Gate Park

Spreckels Dr at 36th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94121
Rating
09/07/2010
Spreckels Lake is a popular meeting place for people who love those electric motor boats. It's also a popular place to walk your dogs and watch the R/C folks do their thing. They've gotta stay on leash, but it's a nice place to drop into if you're in Golden Gate Park anyway. Check it out!

Bi-Rite Market

3639 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 241-9760
Rating
09/07/2010
After a day of being a fatty in the Mission, my buddy and I needed to cool off and relieve ourselves from the heat. We ducked into Bi-Rite Market to check out some of the unique drinks and find a cool libation to chill out with.

I decided to try a big ass bottle of tangerine Italian soda and my friend got a grapefruit soda made with 62% juice and 38% fizzy water. They were both totally refreshing and decently affordable. The grapefruit soda packs quite a tart bite to it and there's no doubt that it's mostly juice.

This isn't your mama's grocery store and some of the prices are out of this world. However, they've got stuff there I've never even heard of before and it's definitely worth a shot. They serve sandwiches from the deli and you're welcome to enjoy them outside at the dog-friendly table if you're lucky enough to snag the seat. I would totally shop here everyday but I'd go broke in the process. At least it would be delicious!

Food: n/a

Service: 9/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 10/10

Ocean Beach

Fulton St & Great Hwy
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 556-8642
Rating
09/07/2010
After a long ass hike though Lands End, we finally got to Ocean Beach. This place is cold as shht but dog-friendly. Doggie had a great time running around in the sand but she's too small and timid to go into the water. There's a bunch of other dogs around that provide their own entertainment for Doggie and she seems to enjoy the other canine company. Don't forget your sweater cause the salty sea breeze will chill you out fast.

Sutro Baths

Point Lobos Ave & Merrie Way
San Francisco, CA 94121
(415) 561-4323
Rating
09/07/2010
Doggie doesn't get out much so it was nice to take her for a nice long walk. Along the way we passed by Sutro Baths which was the home to an actual bath house before it burned down. The nice thing is that dogs on leash are allowed to walk through this area but be careful because people have been washed away!

Petco

208 Vintage Way
Novato, CA 94945
(415) 898-9416
Rating
09/05/2010
I needed to grab some soft doggy treats for my elderly Maltese named Jasmine, and dropped in to see what they might have. I got lost in the treat section and couldn't find anything appropriate but luckily one of the staffers was able to direct me to what I was looking for.

As it turns out they've got at least 2 treat sections so the layout of the store was kinda weird. I must have crushed treats in a dozen bags before I found the right one and I wish they would put little windows on the treats so I knew what I was getting.

Anyway, the staff was pretty helpful and I was able to get in and out in just a few minutes.

Baja Betty's

1421 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 269-8510
Rating
09/05/2010
My biz partner and I decided to meet up for a beer and plan the roadmap of our project. We had originally selected Alibi to chat at but it was a little too local for a conversation. Next we walked over to Wine Steals but it was so loud inside that I couldn't even hear myself think. We finally found a nice, dog-friendly table outside at Baja Betty's and it was just right. The patio is a bit on the crowded side so tying your dog up on the otherwise of the fence might be a better idea.

There's nothing to comment about the food since we were only there to drink, and it was a Dos Equis and Pacifico party all night. The service at the bar was great, but the waitresses never checked up on us and we were quickly left without a beer refresh or any love at all.

While Baja Betty's turned out to be a good place to get our meeting on, it would have been nice to have the opportunity to order an appetizer or something. Sadly, we were totally neglected all night and it makes me worry about the food, and package ad a whole. With an abundance of eateries around, I will opt for something else instead.

Food: n/a

Service: 2/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 4/10

LIV Juice Bar and Smoothies

1225 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 688-3997
Rating
09/05/2010
After a light sushi dinner, my friend and I had some time to kill before a meeting so we figured we'd get some healthy dessert. There was a hip little juice bar that had great reviews so we dropped in for a snack.

We decided to share the strawberries and cream topped with granola. The treat was a little sweet for me and I wish that the strawberries and cream was a tad chillier. The granola is an unfamiliar addition since most places don't put it on, but it was nice to have a bit of texture with the rest of the dessert.

This joint has some decent items but a serious lack of customers. It was a bit weird to hang in the empty lounge area while the woman behind the counter found herself chilling outside instead since it was so slow. There's a dog-friendly patio but the place seems to lack a bit of people friendliness. I wasn't that impressed with the overall package and I'm sure there are much more satisfying alternatives in the area.

Food: 6/10

Service: 5/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Ichiban

1449 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-7203
Rating
09/05/2010
I had an important meeting with my business partner at a local bar later in the evening and needed a place to grab a quick light bite before loading up on alcohol. I had heard mixed reviews about Ichiban (mostly from friends who competed in their sushi eating competitions) and needed to try it for myself. Noting that they had sweet happy hour deals, my friend and I dropped in for some rolls.

The setup here is a little unique because you order at a counter and then they bring the food out to you. We shared the eel roll, soft shell crab roll, rainbow roll, and Philadelphia rolls. The quality was decent for only a few bucks we roll, but they weren't wrapped very tightly and fell apart when you picked them up.

Overall though, it wasn't too shabby for the cheap price. The patio is pretty small and tight so while the restaurant is pet-friendly-ish, they recommend tying them up on the sidewalk side of the barrier. I'm looking forward to trying their sushi challenge next time and gorging my face with some sushi!

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Dolores Park

18th St and Dolores St
San Francisco, CA 94114
Rating
09/05/2010
While not a dedicated dog park, Dolores Park is sure a popular place to hang out with your pooch. There are all sorts of hipsters that lay claim to their sections of the hill and it's a great place to sit and enjoy that salted caramel scoop you just picked up from Bi-Rite. Definitely check it out on a beautiful day!

Bi-Rite Creamery

3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-5600
Rating
09/05/2010
Bi-Rite is one of the crazy popular places to get dessert in SF and there is usually a long line that snakes its way outside and around the corner, even on the chilliest of nights. They're most famous for their salted caramel flavor so you know I had to put it to the test.

Once I got into the shop and tried some of their unique flavor combinations, I had to go absolutely sick and ordered 3 scoops. The first was obviously the salted caramel, but I followed that up with the brown sugar with ginger swirl as well as the ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles). Let me just say...wow! All three flavors were absolutely great, with the standout being the superstar salted caramel. It wasn't overly sweet and the saltiness was extremely subtle, but there was a very special balance of flavors that you've got to taste to understand. The brown sugar and cinnamon flavors were also phenomenal and the flavors were so well balanced with their accompanying combinations.

While I didn't totally dig some of the flavors in the case, they simply weren't for me. However, the choices I did make were soooo good, and I can totally see why people are willing to stand out in the cold to score a scoop or two. There is seating outside where you can hang with your dog (the whole neighborhood is pet-friendly) and I highly recommend bring them to keep you company in line. The Mission has some really cool eateries, and none more cool than the cold scoop of their famous salted caramel.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

600 Guerrero St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 487-2600
Rating
09/03/2010
I've been hearing phenomenal things about Tartine for the longest time but never had the opportunity to check it out till now. Often regarded as the best bakery in the city, you know I had to put it to the test.

My buddy insisted that I try the panini with the Sopressata, Fontina cheese, broccoli rabe, and pesto, all grilled on comfort bread. We also tried the frangipane croissant as well. Let me say that both were absolutely spectacular! I have now officially tasted awesome, and it goes by the name of Tartine. The flavors were all extremely distinct and it was grilled together to perfection. Even the pickled carrots that came with the sandwich were sensational. That croissant, it was just, wow. It was so good I even took one home with me to San Diego! Honestly, it's difficult to pick a favorite because the quality and flavors here are so amazing. If I lived in the area, I'd probably come here every day.

The vibe here is great and they occasionally have live music playing as well. The food isn't the cheapest around but considering the quality and flavors, it's great value. There are a couple tables outside where you can enjoy a pastry and a glass of wine with your dog, and everybody seems to have the same idea. There's usually a line here and it takes a little while to whip up the sandwich, but it's absolutely worth it. This is now officially my favorite bakery in all of San Francisco, and perhaps beyond.

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 9/10

Coffee Bar

1890 Bryant St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 551-8100
Rating
09/03/2010
My old college roommate wanted to show me around the Mission district today and introduce me to some of the most popular spots in the area. Coffee Bar is apparently the best hot spot for folks working on startups, which was apparently by the fact that 100% of the people there had laptops.

We were planning to spend some time there to work so I ordered a "Connie Mac" panini and a Vietnamese iced coffee to power me through the work day. The panini was loaded with turkey, bacon, mozzarella, and pesto and more and came with a fresh spring salad. For $10, the sandwich had awesome flavor but a bit expensive. However, when you factor in that we were using the space to work for much of the day, it seemed like a bargain. The Vietnamese iced coffee wasn't as good as the drip-style stuff in the authentic restaurants but not too shabby either. I'm super sensitive to caffeine so having it at about 2pm was a bad idea and I expect to pay for it the rest of the night.

As a place to work on your startup projects, Coffee Bar seems made for the nomad. They've got a great patio area where you can enjoy a glass of wine while your dog sunbathes. When I move back to the city, this is where you'll find me in bootstrap mode.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere 9/10

St Stephen's Green

223 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 964-9151
Rating
09/03/2010
After an awesome conference, my startup buddy and I decided to catch up over a beer. Sadly, most places in downtown Mountain View close really early but luckily we were able to find St Stephen's and grabbed a beer.

I accidentally ordered a snakebite when I meant a black velvet but it's all good. I think they used harp and cider but it was delicious nonetheless.

Like many of the businesses in the area, this pub has an awesome street patio where you can chill with your dog. On a beautiful evening, there's about nothing better than to nurse a beer and hang with your best friend. I'd definitely recommend St Stephen's to anybody looking for a place to hang, and I hear their food is pretty good too!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Amarin Thai Cuisine

174 Castro St
Mountain View, CA 94041
(650) 988-9323
Rating
09/03/2010
My buddy and I were on our way to a seminar on Santa Clara and needed a bite to eat before the long evening ahead. Since he lives in Mountain View, we cruised downtown to try one of their abundant Thai restaurants. For this occasion we chose to dine at Amarin and since it was a warm night, opted to sit outside.

We decided to order the pad thai and green curry with chicken. The pad thai had good flavor but the portion size seemed a bit unsatisfying. The green curry was pretty darn spicy (a good thing) and the portion was good, even though it was in such a small bowl. They were decent dishes but nothing extraordinary.

The outside tables are definitely where it's at in the beautiful weather, but also comes with the detriment of being neglected by the wait staff. In fact, we didn't even get water until well into our meal. The food was decent but not the best I've ever had, but it was the lack of service that really killed it for me. With all of the competition just on that block, I will be giving their competitors a try in the future.

Food: 6/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Irving Pizza

1825 Irving St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 564-3900
Rating
09/03/2010
I met up with my buddy in the FiDi after work and we decided to grab a drink and catch up. We rode the train back to his pad and originally planned to hit up Underdog's but it was totally packed so instead we went across the street for a slice and inexpensive beer.

I ordered a slice of the sausage and pepperoni with a Sam Adams draught. It took a while to heat up but was pretty tasty and comparably grease-free. The beer was less than $4 a pint and a solid bargain compared to other places in the area and they've got TVs, making it a good alternative to the crowded bars.

Service was kind of slow and but the place is a pretty satisfying dive. They've even got a couple tables outside for all of you dog walkers out there. Since they've got late hours, it is a great place to grab cheap eats and drinks and, being the night owl that I am, I'm sure I will be back.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Baker Beach

Gibson Rd
San Francisco, CA 94129
(415) 831-2750
Rating
08/30/2010
What's better than a pristine beach on a totally clear day? It's a dog friendly beach! There were tons of pups running around out here and, while I don't think it's officially leash-free, many responsibly run around without one.

Some of the best views of the bridge can be had down here and it's a great place to get those tourist photos in with the visiting relatives. Just make sure to bring a jacket or a wetsuit cause it gets pretty windy and cold out here.

Lands End Trail

El Camino Del Mar & 32nd Ave
San Francisco, CA 94101
Rating
08/30/2010
After a short work day, my friend and I weren't quite ready to call it a day so we cruised over to the Legion of Honor for a hike through Lands End. So few trails are dog friendly these days so it was refreshing to discover this gem so close to the beach.

It offers some of the very best views in the city and you can get a very clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge in most spots. There are several lookout points as well as forks in the road so it's tough to get bored out here.

There's also plenty of parking so that's not a good excuse not to come out either. Get your butts out there and take your dogs for a hike!

Stern Grove Off Leash Dog Park

19th Avenue and Wawona Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 252-6252
Rating
08/27/2010
Located in Pine Lake Park and adjacent to the large dog field is Stern Grove. It's not as open as the field area, but a pleasant place to walk as well as catch a show. Judging from the number of times Doggie stopped to sniff, I think there's tons of dogs that a pass through here but it's also spotless and free of dog doo. I prefer the West side of the park, but Stern Grove sure is a pretty place!

Pine Lake/Stern Grove Trail

Wawona St
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 252-6252
Rating
08/27/2010
Pine Lake is an awesome play to walk your dogs and there's plenty of other pet owners to chat with along the way. The rule is that you have to have a leash on outside the off-leash area but most dogs are smart enough to know not to do anything silly. Unfortunately there was an incident yesterday that is changing all of that now but that doesn't make the park a great place to go for a short (or in my case, long) walk. Awesome dogs friendly owners is a winner in my book! Plus, it doesn't hurt that it's super close by making it convenient too. Love it!

Pine Lake Off Leash Dog Park

Sloat Boulevard & Vale Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 831-2700
Rating
08/27/2010
My sister's dog 'Doggie' (that's her real name) was being a good girl for being cooped up at home all day so I decided to take her out for a nice walk through the park. The closest one was Pine Lake and there was a large off-leash area so we made a beeline for fun!

It's located in the center of the park, near 30th Ave, and was unfenced as far as I could tell. The big dogs seemed to get along with the small dogs and all of the owners were chatty and friendly. Doggie is more of a people dog and doesn't really play well with others so she spent most of the time hiding under me. I'll be taking her back for future trips so hopefully I can slowly socialize her a bit better so she can join in the fun!

Polly Ann Ice Cream

3138 Noriega St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 664-2472
Rating
08/27/2010
After a big hefty dinner of some excellent pizza, my sister and bro-in-law decided to grab some dessert with the baby. I suggested some froyo, but after hearing about the wheel of destiny over at Polly Ann's, I had to give it a spin.

I happened to land on bubble gum, a flavor I can't stand. Fortunately it was flanked by French vanilla and green tea! Boy was I in for a treat. Their green tea ice cream tastes just like the stuff from Shimo's, one o my favorite sushi joints ever. I've been craving this stuff ever since I left for San Diego and was elated to finally taste the dark smokiness of the green tea in this authentic ice cream. It was a fabulous end to a great evening.

The ice cream at Polly Ann's is excellent but the wheel of destiny really put it over the top for me. It's one of the coolest gimmicks I've ever seen in an ice cream shop and there's even a ~5% chance of winning a free cone! I can't wait to come back and spin again, and I've got my fingers crossed for some green tea. Also, I heard that if you bring your dog, they even hook them up with their own special doggy cone. How cool is that shht?! WIN.

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Greenhouse Cafe

329 W Portal Ave
San Francisco, CA 94127
(415) 829-9140
Rating
08/27/2010
This cafe was highly rated as being a great place to get work done so my buddy an I mosied on over and grabbed a seat. The shop is a good size, but there aren't any large tables with comfy seats where it's convenient to shack up with 2 lappys.

I decided to give their mango raspberry smoothie a try. At $4.50, it was whipped up on the spot but I couldn't tell if fresh fruit was used. However, it was definitely refreshing and powered me through the day's work an stimulating tech conversations with my buddy.

The seating arrangement here is a tough sell and it's a backbreaking ordeal to use a mouse on the odd-height tables. Not sure it was the best choice for GTD, but a solid neighborhood place to kick back and read a book or chill with a furry friend at their lone outside table.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Free Summer Movie Mania at Liberty Station

Farragut Rd
San Diego, CA 92106
Rating
08/22/2010
This newish shopping and community center has some of my favorite places to shop, but it's also the venue where many of the best events are held as well! On this occasion, my friend and I decided to catch Raiders of the Lost Ark, a favorite from when I was a kid, and enjoy the company of the community (and their dogs) under the starlight.

These events typically happen in the summer, after sundown, and I try to make it to as many as I can because it's a great excuse to get out there and enjoy the awesome SD weather and the company of [fuzzy] friends.

Your dogs are totally welcome at just about all of the events here and it's a great way to socialize your pups and also enjoy the festivities!

Liberty Station

Farragut Rd
San Diego, CA 92106
Rating
08/22/2010
I've been coming to Liberty Station for about a year now and there's always great new, pet-friendly businesses moving in. I think most of the restaurants have outdoor seating (some of my fave's being Five Guys and Panera) and there's a bunch of wide open grassy areas to explore as well. Be sure to ask of your furry pal can join you in the store before you enter, but most seem to be pretty cool with the idea. All in all, a great place to sped the day with your best bud and also do some shopping!

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

2445 Truxton Rd, #103
San Diego, CA 92106
(619) 223-1679
Rating
08/22/2010
One of my best friends and I headed over to Liberty Station to have a nice picnic and catch a film under the stars. While shopping at Trader Joe's for some snacks, my keen eye spotted the small Five Guys sign and I freaked out. After coming off I freshly unseating In-N-Out as the people' favorite burger, you know I had to drop in and see if their best was really better than THE best.

The lines here are pretty long and head right out the back door. Five Guys offers their guests raw peanuts to munch on while they wait but that has the side effect of littering the entire restaurant floor with discarded peanut skins and shells making the whole place seem really dirty. Plus, it wasn't really appetizing watching a bunch of extremely overweight folks jam their grubby hands into the bin over and over to replenish their cheeks with the stuff.

To compare burgers, I ordered the bacon cheeseburger with everything, along with an order of fries. The meal took a while to prepare and there was almost nowhere to sit, especially not outside at their dog-friendly tables, and people would just crowd up the pick-up area waiting for their grub. When we did receive it, I noticed that the bag was completely soaked through with oil, and as Homer Simpson protests, it's no good unless he can see through the oily bag. I just find it to be a little gross.

Finally the time came to take a bite out if my humongous sandwich and I found it quite delicious. Ordering it with everything did sort of muddle the flavors all together and it was difficult to appreciate each part for what it was. The fries were kind of soggy once I got to them, but were well seasoned and cooked well done. Tasty as they were, they were on the pricey side. We didn't even bother with a drink because it would have brought the total cost to $20 for the 2 of us and that was kind of ridiculous for fast food.

While the Five Guys burger was pretty good, the question you have to ask yourself is whether it was twice as good to cost twice as much as the awesome In-N-Out burger. Ultimately the answer is no, maybe it was on par or a little better, but definitely not worth the huge price tag you're asked to pay and the distance you have to drive to go get it when there's a perfectly good In-N-Out everywhere. Sorry folks, I'm sticking with the far better value here and going with a double-double animal style.

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Cardiff Dog Days of Summer - Contest & Canine Festival

124 Aberdeen Dr
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
(760) 436-0431
Rating
08/16/2010
My friend mentioned that there was a big dog festival up in Cardiff-by-the-Sea on the day of the Del Mar races and, as a huge dog lover I had to check it out. Parking was a bit tricky as the whole area was completely crowded with people and their pooches.

There were tons of great vendors and just about every breed was represented. Some people even dressed their dogs up and one was even rocking his own Harley! I really enjoyed playing with the rescue dogs and was sooooo tempted to adopt this beautiful little lab on the spot! Unfortunately my house won't allow dogs so I'm SOL but perhaps I can figure something out to bring Lucy (I've already named her) home with me.

I was really reluctant to leave but overall it was a really fun day! I can't wait until they bring it back again next year and have my fingers crosses that Lucy (her real name is Brownie) finds a great home.

Screen on the Green - Balboa Park

1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-0512
Rating
08/09/2010
Balboa Park is one of the most beautiful places in town, and when Screen on the Green rolls around, you know it must be time for some summer fun. The film was being co-sponsored by SDAFF so I definitely had to drop by to support.

They were showing Kings of Masks tonight and my friend and I decided to drop by to enjoy a picnic with the film. The area is very pet-friendly and there were tons of dogs out this evening including my buddy Mike R's beautiful baby golden, Taylor.

If you've got a pooch and enjoy summertime films in the park, this is the absolute best place to do it. It's unofficially BYOB so just be careful not to let the fuzz catch you with an open glass container!

Cotijas Mexican Grill

9335 Paseo Montalban
San Diego, CA 92129
(858) 538-5543
Rating
08/05/2010
After enjoying a late night birthday tribute to the legendary Bruce Lee, my friend and I found ourselves starving for some sustenance. Since it's San Diego, the only thing open at this hour was Mexican food and Cotijas was the closest thing near us. This place is actually surprisingly difficult to locate because its front entrance is hidden from view, and worse yet they've got some sneaky deal bait posted at the checkout window that is nowhere to be found on the regular menu.

My friend and I decided to split the carne asada fries and some carnitas tacos. Truth be told, we could have probably done with only the tacos but our eyes betrayed our stomachs and we over-ordered. The tacos were pretty damn big and were WAY better than those at Mama Testa's from a few days earlier. The [not so] healthy portion of carne asada fries were really good as well, and definitely better than most of its competitors in the area. I especially liked that the fries weren't double-fried/burnt like Cotixan's tend to be.

While their dining room isn't open late, their location kinda sucks, and they don't inform you of the bargains until after you order, Cotijas isn't so bad. There is a single outside table where your pooch can hang (if you can find it) and it's a decent late night alternative to the Jack in the Box in the same plaza. Overall, it wasn't superb, but not too shabby either.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

MIHO Gastrotruck

San Diego Metro Area
San Diego, CA 92104
Rating
08/05/2010
The mobile food truck biz is blowing up and MIHO Gastrotruck is the gourmet version of this new rage. Sourcing local, quality ingredients and serving some high end recipes, this is one truck that stands out from its competition. However, how does it stand up?

I decided to try their farm fresh burger, highly recommended by the cashier. It didn't take that long to prepare and when I received it, came medium. If I had a choice I would have ordered it medium rare, but now I'm just splitting hairs. You could definitely taste the quality in the meat and the deliciously grilled onions really set this sandwich off. I heard that the other items weren't as good as the burger so I guess I chose well, but it wasn't without its disappointments.

My biggest complaints would definitely have to be the price (almost $8!) and the quantity. There just wasn't much meat for some that cost $8 off a truck. While it tasted great, the juxtaposition of the burger and the truck threw me off and I couldn't help but feel like I was overpaying in a huge way. Even though you can pretty much enjoy this truck anywhere outdoors, making it very dog-friendly, much better burgers could be had for far less. Even though those other sandwiches aren't as mobile, I will have to take a pass on this the next time it rolls around.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Mama Testa

1417A University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 298-8226
Rating
08/02/2010
My work buddy and I had just completed a marathon work day and demanded some comforting tacos in our bellies to ease the hunger pangs. When in Hillcrest, I hear there's no better place for tacos than at Mama Testa. Unfortunately, Mama would ultimately disappoint this eater.

We had originally planned on some take out tacos, but needing a rest, we decided to stay for their large selection of salsas. My favorite happened to be the tomatillo and jalapeño, but I was unable to give them all a try because there were simply too many! Just about everything on the menu are tacos so I decided to try their popular mojados de carne. These were basically rolled tacos swimming in beef broth and I found the presentation to be really sloppy as the broken, soggy tacos floated around in the soup. In fact, that's about all it was and while it tasted ok, I felt like I've had much better out of my own kitchen at a fraction of the cost. Even my friend's tacos were really dry and under-seasoned.

The restaurant is really cramped and finding a decent seat is definitely a challenge. Even their pet-friendly patio outside was full and after the great experience at Filter, I was looking to come down from the high with some solid grub. Unfortunately we chose the wrong spot and were disappointed, but there are lots more to try in the area and I know we'll find a winner on the next trip after Filter.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

Filter Coffee House

1295 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-0145
Rating
08/02/2010
I've been looking for a new place to get work done during the weekends and it's been a struggle to find a place with free parking, WiFi, flexible hours, power outlets, and good eats and drinks. My friend suggested that we check out the popular, pet-friendly, 24-hour Hillcrest cafe known as Filter. Weekend parking is free and I managed to find a space out front so we cruised right on in. The first thing you notice is the great patio and totally open windows that make the whole place feel welcoming. People hang out with their dogs there all the time and the while Hillcrest area is extremely pet-friendly.

We decided to try their iced java chip and ice mint chocolate blended drinks as we planned to spend the rest of the day working there. At $4.95 each, they're definitely not the cheapest drinks in town, but they sure were tasty and were a great pick-me-up to power me through the work ahead.

If there was a 24-hour cafe near campus when I was a student, you'd be able to find me studying there all the damn time. Unfortunately, there isn't, and students are relegated to their lonely dorm rooms. There are definitely not enough of these gems around town and this is one I'll be holding on to with both hands. I plan to be here almost every weekend so be sure to say hi!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Brazil by the Bay

3770 Hancock St Ste G
San Diego, CA 92110
(619) 692-1410
Rating
07/29/2010
Some friends were back in town from school and war and wanted to find a late night meal. We had a coupon to Brazil by the Bay and they had great reviews so we decided to check it out. This place is located in sort of an industrial area and pretty tough to find in the dark but it was the only shop with any light on so it stuck out just across the street from the Sports Arena.

I ordered the tri-tip with the Brazilian cheese sauce. For about $15, you sure didn't get a whole lot of food or value. There were just a few slices of the chewy tri-tip and a little rice, all of it swimming in the cheese sauce. The tri-tip seemed a bit overcooked for my taste and I was unimpressed by the overall lack of value.

The staff was really nice and it seems like a cool family joint, but the meh food coupled with the high price and terrible location really didn't do much for me. They have a little patio outside where you can dine with your dog, but I'm not sure I really want to stare at the dingy Sports Center while I eat. The prices are pretty close to those of Rei do Gado's lunch special and it's absolutely no contest between which I would choose. Sorry Brazil by the Bay, even with the promos, I don't think I will be back.

Food: 6/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

La Jolla Brew House

7536 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 456-6279
Rating
07/22/2010
I haven't been to La Jolla Brew House in years since I moved out of the area but remember the good times I used to drop in for a drink and some live music. There was a local Meetup group going down this evening and my buddy and I leapt at the opportunity to meet some new UX folks while throwing back a cold one.

I started off with a pint of their happy hour Hef and we ordered the giant pretzel and trio of sausages to share. The saltiness of the pretzel was a perfect compliment for my cold beer and the sausages were really tasty with the mustard and kraut. There are a few other dishes I really want to try and next time I'll definitely get one of those pizzas I always loved back in the day.

More than even the food and brews that makes this place badass us how pet friendly they are. A few times a month, they hold what they call "Yappy Hours" where tons of people bring in their four-legged friends to mix and mingle over some appetizers. There are even special dog appetizers too! If you've got a pet, this is one of the coolest places to bring them. I will definitely be back to experience it!

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 10/10

Yogurt Swirl

9168 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 693-9999
Rating
07/19/2010
Summer isn't the only thing that's heating up in San Diego because the froyo craze is driving prices per oz down down down. My friend and I normally go to Yogurtland as a medium between the high prices of Yogurt World and the basically free stuff at Yogurt Heaven. The quality and service are also things I look for in a decent froyo shop and Yogurtland seems to have that pegged. Enter: Yogurt Swirl.

I spotted this place once after dining at the pho joint next door and I think the two share the same owner. The biggest selling point here is their bargain basement price of $.25/oz of froyo. There aren't many flavor choices, nor are they all that interesting (vanilla, chocolate, etc) but they get the job done. The texture is on the watered down side so it didn't taste as good as Yogurtland's offerings, but for a quick fix, it was decent enough and totally affordable. It's about 30% cheaper than Yogurt World and the price really can't be beat if all you want is something cold to eat.

At one time I actually considered opening a froyo shop in SD, but competition is fierce and margins are small. Yogurt Swirl is evidence of this and without the low prices to attract customers, I don’t know if it would still be around. It is also not a place I see myself hanging out with friends since the plaza is dark and parking is tight so I would only really come here for some quick satisfaction and bouncing just as quickly. Fortunately there are a couple nice tables outside if you want to hang out with your dog on a hot day.

Food: 6/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

1549 El Prado Ste 10
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 702-8138
Rating
07/14/2010
My buddy and I dropped by Balboa Park to listen to the smooth stylings of Orquestra Bi-Nacional de Mambo as part of the Twilight music series here several times a week during the summer. It was such a beautiful day and the best part about it (even better than the music) was that everybody brought out their dogs to enjoy the day with them. There were so many pups to play with that it became the highlight of my evening, even more so than the music (which by the way was excellent). The whole area is very pet-friendly so come on out and enjoy the day with your pooch. I'm looking forward to coming out to more of these concerts, if only to play with the dogs!

Kabuki Japanese Restaurant

88 W Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91105
(626) 568-9310
Rating
07/07/2010
After a long day of hanging out at The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, we had worked up an appetite of mammoth proportions. I called up my buddy in Alta Dena and we decided to grab some grub out in Old Town Pasadena. We decided that it was a great sushi night and stepped into Kabuki, a posh place right in the middle of it all. Being the overly generous guy he is, he annoyed me by insisting to take care of the bill. My buddy is a very classy guy!

Insisting that we go sick, we ordered up a bunch of different things to try, including some tuna, salmon, albacore, egg, sea urchin, a spider roll, spicy tuna roll, a crunchy roll, seaweed salad, and more. The fish quality was excellent and the fish slices were huge. The rolls were a little difficult to eat due to their arrangement and also the thin slices, but it all went down the same way...deliciously.

Food in LA has always been better than that found in San Diego, and this is another example of that situation. However, with the quality comes the price, and you simply can't find the same value in former. The restaurants in LA are also swankier than those found in SD and Kabuki had a huge, beautiful patio where your dog can dine with you and has plenty of room to move around. It was a very fun and flavorful experience that I definitely wish to repeat, but I'm going to make sure he allows me to pay next time.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Civic Center Lagoon Park

Civic Center Dr
San Rafael, CA 94903
(415) 499-6387
Rating
06/27/2010
Mickey and Jasmine used to love walking around the lagoon and chasing the geese who live here. The path, the pets, and their people are super nice and it's absolutely beautiful during the day. About half of the path is paved and the other half isn't, but there's also tons of grass for them to run around in. I love walking around here as much as they did, but now I have to carry Jasmine around since she's so old and Mickey isn't around to lead her. It's still nice to come out and I try to make it out as often as possible!

Field of Dogs

Civic Center Dr
San Rafael, CA 94903
Rating
06/27/2010
I brought my little Jasmine here to watch the other dogs play. Unfortunately she's about 15 years old and her legs aren't so great anymore so she couldn't really handle playing with the other dogs. However, she likes coming out to see what the other dogs in the neighborhood are up to. Before he passed away, Mickey used to like coming here to run around after a walk around the Lagoon.

The path to the park could be a little better upkept, especially since it's in the shadow of the Civic Center. I wonder who is in charge of that, but I hope they clean it up soon.

There's plenty of water for her to drink and lots of room for dogs to run around. The people here are really nice and are a delight to talk to and really like Jasmine. I can't wait to bring my sweetie back to the park and see her friends.

Ranchos Cocina North Park

3910 30th St
San Diego, CA 92104
(619) 574-1288
Rating
06/25/2010
My buddy just got back from Afghanistan and I was super excited to finally see him again. We decided to get a group together to try this Mexican vegetarian joint (they have lots of meat dishes too) and catch up on old times.

I ordered the trio of enchiladas, served with rice and beans. There was one each of the chicken, beef, and cheese, but all of their flavors just sort of blended together and I couldn't really taste a heck of a lot. The sentiment seemed to be shared across our table and only one of us liked our dish. My buddy's chimichanga was popular so if I come back, I guess I will give that a try. The enchiladas themselves were only warm and that certainly didn't help things. Everything totally lacked a distinct flavor and I was completely underwhelmed.

While the service was kind, it was also kind of slow, and they even forgot my friends' sangrias. Their got a tiny patio where you can sit with your dog, but I'm not sure there's much that ultimately doesn't look, and sort of taste, like something your furry pal would thoroughly enjoy. This is just another North Park restaurant that's let me down and I'm fast losing faith that I'll find some I really like in this neighborhood.

Food: 4/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Silver Clouds Restaurant and Karaoke Bar

1994 Lombard St
San Francisco, CA 94123
(415) 922-1977
Rating
06/22/2010
Serving up nightly karaoke, Silver Cloud is one of San Francisco's most entertaining dive bars. There's nothing more hilarious than watching people make complete fools of themselves as they belt out their favorite shower song in front of a crowd.

I decided to munch on some fried calamari to fill my stomach before a long night of partying ahead at Infusion Lounge. The calamari was well seasoned and nicely fried, but the crispy crust annoyingly tended to crumble off of the slippery seafood when I tried to dip it into the tartar sauce. Annoying as it was, it really went far toward providing a barrier to the impending alcohol that would follow at the next party place.

I've been coming to the Cloud for years and always have a great time. Cheap drinks, good service, and hilarious karaoke performances add to the charm of this 3 decades old bar. Though sometimes it can get crowded and people can get rowdy, Silver Clouds is always making sure that your drinks are full [and stiff] and that everybody is having a great time. As long as they keep it up, I'll be coming back! If you come during lunch or dinner there are tables outside where your dog can join you for some surf and turf, but it's probably a better idea to bring a date instead.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Comforts

335 San Anselmo Ave
San Anselmo, CA 94960
(415) 454-9840
Rating
06/22/2010
When you're looking for some great comfort foods, look no further than Comforts in San Anselmo. They serve up lots of the stuff that your mom makes at home for family dinners, but now you can have it anytime, for a price. The large patio is also nice for bringing your dog out to and they can join you under the table.

With so many things to choose from, the meal decision was a difficult one. I ended up trying the almond crusted pork chop with a side of Comforts' famous Chinese chicken salad. Sold by weight, the pork chop was delicious. The almond crust could have been a bit crispier, but it definitely hit the spot, and despite the fact that I'd never tried it before, reminded me in some way of home. The Chinese chicken salad is extremely fresh and the portion size is huge. Being one of their most popular items, they were flying out of the restaurant and into some happy bellies. The secret is in the dressing and has a special tang that brings it all together. It's some good stuff and I would highly recommend it.

Comforts does not have the most affordable meals on the planet, but sometimes you just want that something that reminds you of home. For that, it's an awesome little Marin staple that, until now, you couldn't leave home without. Even your pup will appreciate a little chicken salad once in a while and I'm sure will be happy to clean up anything you happen to drop on the ground. It's that good!

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

901 Columbus Caffe

901 Columbus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 409-9001
Rating
06/20/2010
We weary travelers needed a place to rest our feet after walking through the North Beach street fair and decided to duck into this non-descript shop for some refreshers.

My friend and decided to share a soy latte, some homemade tiramisu, and a few bottles of water. This cafe was relatively expensive but the tiramisu's soaked ladyfingers were exceptional and the latte had a nice subtle sweetness to it.

This cafe was a great place to rest our dogs (feet) but there's also a table outside where your real dog is allowed to hang out. You can't bring their great happy hour drink deals out there but anything else is fair game. If I lived in the area, I would definitely drop by for a drink or even just to get some work done.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10

Alamo Square Off Leash Dog Park

Buena Vista Park and Dolores Park
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 831-2084
Rating
06/20/2010
San Francisco is a super dog friendly town and many parks in the city allow you to even be off-leash and Alamo Square is no exception. Known as being the park across the street from the Full House house, the park is unfenced but allows dogs to be off-leash as they play with their owners and the other dogs. There's dogs of all sizes and even a water fountain just for your canine pal.

The park gets kind of windy but it's a total treat to be there amongst all of the other friendly people and pets. This place is awesome and I only wish my baby Jasmine were in better shape to be able to enjoy it.

Hooters

410 Market St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 235-4668
Rating
06/13/2010
I have never been a big fan of Hooters. While they have some decent lookers at this location, and the service was actually pretty good this time, the food still falls way short of the mark.

We started off the meal with 2 pitchers of beer. We were told that we needed 2 pitchers for our 6 person party since a pitcher only poured 4 glasses. In fact, however, each poured over 6 and we were forced to pound the second pitcher, not a problem per se, but we were definitely sold the second one. We ended up sharing curly fries and several kinds of wings, including the hot and garlic lemon spiced, and all of the wings were all dry, over fried, and absolutely tiny.

As usual, the food disappoints and the costumes were as trashy as ever, but our waitress was really attentive and sweet. It didn't hurt that she was the most attractive one either. While I wouldn't go anywhere out of my way to dine here on a regular basis, this location was definitely not as bad as the defunct PB one, and even has a small patio where your pooch can dine with you. I definitely plan to bring mine next time to attract the Hooters girls over!

Food: 4/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

In-N-Out Burger

9410 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
Rating
06/08/2010
One of my favorite places in the world for a quick, delicious, affordable, and fast meal is In-N-Out Burger. With locations strewn across California (with a few in Nevada, Utah, and Arizona and well), there is always an opportunity for an In-N-Out fix. I was only introduced to this killer social sandwich after graduating high school since the closest location was about 30 miles away; that is, until they opened on only about 5 miles away, making it much easier to acquire.

My favorite item on their abbreviated menu is their Double-Double meal, "Animal-style". Animal style is the addition of extra pickles, "spread" (thousand island dressing), grilled onions, and mustard fried into each patty. If you've never had it before, it is to die for. I never would have thought that a mustard patty with thousand island could be so incredible, but this big burger easily "whops" the competition. Their fries are also astounding and are cut fresh right before your eyes. Topped with grilled onions and cheese, these taters make for a meal in itself, enough to crave even my animalistic appetite.

Nothing at In-N-Out is ever frozen and you can really taste the difference in quality that makes this not so ordinary burger joint great. Whether you walk in or drive through their drive thru, you can always expect the same extraordinary level of food, service, and quality every time. The tables outside are inviting for your dog to chill at and I like to slip mine a fry or two once in a while. I've sampled them all, but I can categorically say that no fast food restaurant makes as good a burger as my beloved In-N-Out. As they say, "that's what a hamburger's all about!"

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

The Mission

1250 J St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-7662
Rating
06/07/2010
I so enjoyed my trip to The Mission last weekend that I had to come back again today for more of their famous breakfast fare. This East Village location was beautiful, and looked like an old school admin building converted into a restaurant, but was in an area that was quite a bit shadier than the North Park one. However, that wasn't enough to stop me from giving it a try. There is also a sweet patio to boot and your dog is welcome to join you at the table. I did see a lady bring her Chihuahua into the restaurant, but I'm sure she was later seated outside.

My friend and I decided to split the Mission French toast and the breakfast croissant. We even ordered a side of their scrambled eggs and potatoes cause they rock! The French toast was as sweet and light as I remember from last week but this time I got to enjoy a whole lot more of it. There were eggs, peppers, and cheese sandwiched in the croissant and was extremely fresh and vibrant and pleasure to eat. I just wish there was more of it. The fresh fruit plate was very refreshing too and it was nice to finish off the meal with some berries.

If it isn't already clear that I dig The Mission, then I don't know what to tell ya. The French toast is simply to die for! If I had to choose a great place for some brunch, it would have to be The Mission. If I needed to choose a location, I'd probably go with North Park. It's just a heck of a lot closer. However, I've got to complete the trifecta so it looks like my next stop is going to be the Mission Beach branch!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

El Indio

3695 India St
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-0333
Rating
06/05/2010
On Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives recommendation I decided that today was a good day to give El Indio, a San Diego classic, a try. History courses through the veins of this Mexican eatery, where the founder built the first tortilla machine in San Diego. To this day, it still cranks out hundreds of fresh tortillas every hour.

My friend and I decided to share the beef enchilada and beef tamale combo as well as the grilled chicken supreme quesadilla. Everything at El Indio is made to order so it takes up to 15 minutes to prepare your order, but when you finally receive it, you won't be disappointed. The tamale and enchilada were very tasty and smothered with cheese and red sauce, and came with sides of rice, beans, and "a few chips". The 5 chips were freshly fried and I only wished that I could have a few more, especially because I was splitting the meal with my friend. The quesadilla was delicious and filled to its edges with piping hot, melted cheese and tender chicken. Our supreme quesadilla even arrived with sides of guacamole, sour cream, and salsa ranchera.

When you come to El Indio, be sure to come hungry because this is some seriously stuffy (as in you'll be seriously stuffed by the time you're ready to hobble out) food. I could barely move after finishing every last bean on the plate, washed down by some cool, refreshing horchata. If you've got your dog with you, there's even a private outdoor patio area across the street where you can dine with your pal at your side.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Board & Brew

1212 Camino Del Mar
Del Mar, CA 92014
(858) 481-1021
Rating
06/05/2010
This was my first time at this Board & Brew location and the scenery of attractive people was a welcomed sight on this beautiful day. It seems as if all of the locals come here for lunch before hitting the beach. It also seems a favorite eatery of entrepreneurs, which was the reason for my visit today, and the seating outside made for a great meeting of minds as we feasted on some high quality sandwiches. The tables out front also make for a great location to rest your dog while you grab a bite!

I decided to order the chicken club sandwich this time, a combination of marinated chicken breast, bacon, cheese, and the usual fixings. I'm not sure what it was marinated in, but the chicken had great flavor and while not necessary, the bacon added even more great tastes. As they say, everything is better with bacon!

While the meals may be a bit pricey, I really enjoy the vibe of Board & Brew. It's a really hip place to hang out and grab a meal before or after spending the day at the beach only steps away. If there was one nearer by, I would never go to those chain places again. For my $5-7, this is the sandwich place for me.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Panera Bread

10751 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 530-4000
Rating
06/03/2010
I absolutely love Panera Bread and come here at least once a week to enjoy a hot meal to take advantage of their free Wi-Fi. While their sandwiches may be a little on the pricey side, nothing beats the quality of the breads they use. Everything is baked in-house and you really can taste the enormous difference in quality.

I decided to go with the Broccoli Cheddar Soup in a Bread Bowl today. In fact, I think I order that just about every time I come. Their sourdough bread bowls are always warm and delicious, and filled to the brim with the piping hot soup. Perhaps the only sourdough bread bowls that can beat Panera Bread's are Boudin Bakery's, but only in San Francisco.

Even during their busy lunch hours, when Wi-Fi is limited to only 30 minutes, their customer service fails to falter. You can always count on the friendly staff to find your number and deliver a hot and delicious soup, salad, or sandwich in only a few minutes. If you can, I recommend going during hours when the scent and sounds of "hot bread" resonate through the kitchen and eating area, signaling the birth of fresh-baked bread from their ovens. If you've never experienced Panera Bread, grab your laptop and make a beeline for the nearest one! If you've got a dog, they can join you at the outdoor tables but unfortunately there's no power outlets out there. If they did, it would be the perfect place to get stuff done and hang out with your dog!

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Tea N More

7380 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, Ste 120
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-2926
Rating
05/28/2010
Of all of the tapioca tea places in the Clairemont area, Tea N More seems the most differentiated. Offering more than just the normal fare, books, vending, and other homely offerings make this place a welcoming escape from ordinary options like Tapioca Express, and their parking is better too. They even offer some tables outside and an open grass area where your dog can play. Just be careful the little guy doesn't run out into the street!

For this review, I decided to order the almond milk tea with boba to use as my yardstick. I really enjoyed the subtle and silky flavors of their version of this popular flavor. I'm not sure if the use a liquid or powder mix to make their almond milk tea, but it was nice not having to sip through chunks of powder like at Tea Station. The boba also had the proper texture and taste, and provided just the right amount of chewy and firmness.

Though I don't often find myself making Tea N More my first stop when I crave boba, it's definitely one of the better and more hip spots to kick back and sip some tea. Definitely give this hot spot a try but bring your wallet, because as boba goes this place is not exactly the most affordable.

Food: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Mondo Gelato

435 10th Ave
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 955-6300
Rating
05/28/2010
Gelato is one of my favorite indulgences and Mondo Gelato serves up the best example by far. Using only the freshest ingredients to whip up the most authentic flavors on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, these guys know how to satisfy my sweet tooth for silky indulgences. The entire East Village is very dog friendly and Mondo Gelato is no exception.

Sharing a serving with a friend this evening, we decided to go with her favorite Vitamin A.C.E. and my stracciatella, essentially the chocolate chip ice cream of the gelato world. I had never tried the tart and tangy A.C.E., but it was surprisingly refreshing. Containing vitamins A, C, and E from oranges, lemons, and carrots, even the most conscientious calorie counter can indulge in the guilt-free Italian ice. As always, the stracciatella was extremely rich and smooth as silk. I don't know where they get their chocolate, but it is phenomenal in this creamy combination.

Though it may be a long drive downtown, and possibly require several laps around the block in search of parking, Mondo Gelato is definitely worth the trip. Like at the Cheers bar, you can rest assured that fellas behind this remarkable neighborhood gelateria will know your name, and always offer fantastic, personalized service.

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Park Chow

1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 665-9912
Rating
05/28/2010
Park Chow is a very cute and quaint cafe located at the foot of Golden Gate Park. As you walk in through the dog friendly patio, you're greeted by the comforting glow of a fireplace and warm smiles. This morning, my friend and I decided to enjoy our meals upstairs and away from the hubbub, but still within the soothing flicker of the second fire.

My selection for the day was the fusilli pasta with chicken and sausage in a tomato cream sauce. While the food was excellent and was seasoned perfectly, the servers did manage to mistake my order twice, first bringing the wrong dish and then the wrong portion size. However, the kind servers were quick to offer a second portion of the fusilli while only charging for a single smaller portion.

They may have botched my order twice, but this was not enough to tarnish the otherwise flawless package and fantastic food here. I would definitely encourage hungry California Academy of Sciences visitors to enjoy a meal here.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Bovine Bakery

11315 Shoreline Hwy
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956
(415) 663-9420
Rating
05/28/2010
As you walk down the main street of town, it is impossible to miss the long line of customers patiently waiting to purchase their baked goods from the Bovine Bakery. As you walk up and in, the first thing you notice is the smell of freshly baked confections. As seemingly the only place in town that opens past 3pm, my friend and I decided to make it a stop to grab dessert after lunch, and bring some cookies with us on our hike through Point Reyes.

At nearly $2 each, the cookies are not cheap. They did have a great selection though and there were many cookies to choose from including oatmeal chocolate chip, raisin, peanut butter, and many more. Ultimately I wanted something relatively unique as a dessert to the large lunch and settled on a ginger cookie. With the hopes of aiding in digestion, my cookie was very tasty but didn't have quite the bite I was looking for, but instead had a much more subdued flavor.

The service was excellent and the lovely ladies of the Bovine Bakery were extremely helpful in narrowing down the choices for me to make a selection. The bakery was very busy all day and for great reasons, and will definitely be a stop for whenever I visit Point Reyes Station in the future. They've got some nice benches right outside so my dog will be joining me on my next trip!

Food: 7/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Cream Coffee Bar

4496 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 260-1917
Rating
05/28/2010
I had been hearing a lot about Cream from friends and, as somebody who works from home, recommended it as a great spot to get some stuff done. I happened to already be in the University Heights area for a meeting so I decided to drop in to see what all the fuss is about.

Before getting down to business, I decided to try their Tropical Cyclone smoothie. Filled with blended mangos, papayas, strawberries, pineapples, banana, and orange juice, the smoothie left a slightly dry taste in my mouth. It was full of flavor, but probably isn't going to be a favorite of mine here.

As a café, Cream was pretty average and sort of resembles an urban, coworking space. There are tons of people on their laptops and plenty of tables and outlets to choose from, and I'm told there are lots of people working on independent startup companies who camp here. There's a pretty good amount of outdoor seating so chilling here with your dog is not a problem. WiFi speeds are impressive considering how many people are connected to their network and it's generally a pretty solid place to get some work done. For that reason alone, I would definitely come to check this place out again. However, unless I was already in the area, I probably wouldn't go that far out of my way.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tea Station

7315 Clairemont Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268-8198
Rating
05/28/2010
Talk about a rip-off, Tea Station definitely takes the cake when it comes to ridiculously overpriced boba. After tax and tip the large almond milk tea drink came out to almost $8, which is astronomical in the world of the milk teas. Taiwanese people love this place for some reason and come in troves. While there aren't many sit-down boba joints that can compare with their tea quality, their package goes toward forcing away much of their clientele, yet we always come back for more.

They have recently done away with their ridiculous $25 minimum charge for credit cards but still tack on a little extra for sit down service. What's more, each person is required to spend a minimum of $4 for enjoying their drink there. How can anybody like $8 tea drinks? I really don't see the appeal of overpaying at all, while their tea is actually pretty good, I tend to refuse getting boba here out of principle. On the subject of boba, my came out almost like mush and had a very slimy texture.

Service was appalling and inattentive, and when our waitress would finally stop by, she could barely speak a lick of English. Our drinks were all brought out individually and over a 20 minute time span. In the past, I've been kicked out of two different locations for breaking the unspoken $10 to half hour rule, meaning that I didn't spend the mandatory $20 per person per hour to sit there. Plus, when they need your table, they either transplant you or kick you out altogether. I honestly don't see the appeal and would much rather go across the street for boba at half the price and none of the hassle. On the bright side, there's a couple of tables outside where you can sip on your boba with your puppy, but considering how packed this place gets, you'd be lucky to actually find a seat.

Food: 7/10

Service: 1/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 6/10

The Flame Broiler

8867 Villa La Jolla Dr, Suite #606
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 587-8989
Rating
05/28/2010
With all of the campus eateries closed, I ventured off to find something new to try. Even with all of the places to try, it's amazing difficult to find a decent place for a meal. With my options running out, I ultimately decided to stop into The Flame Broiler for some fire-grilled goodness. Since there is no indoor seating whatsoever, you're forced to sit outside. This is awesome since your dog can join you, but it's not so good if it starts to rain (which fortunately almost never happens in SD).

After glazing over the prices for a simple bowl of rice, I decided on the combo bowl with chicken, beef, broccoli, and brown rice. The meat and vegetables were well seasoned and I liked that there was a brown rice option as well. It was a very well balanced package for what it was, but ultimately left me hungry for something more filling.

With all of the dining choices in the area, it's still extremely difficult to find something that I would actually want to eat. I'm really getting tired of the big, ubiquitous corporate chains and the boring flavor profiles. Trying to find a reasonably priced meal is also pretty difficult as well. Having small local options like The Flame Broiler is a really nice change to the otherwise boring landscape of chain restaurants serving up the same processed crap. Sometimes you just want something wholesome and flavorful, and The Flame Boiler serves that up in spades.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Kono's Cafe

704 Garnet Ave
San Diego, CA 92109
(858) 483-1669
Rating
05/28/2010
I'm definitely not a morning person and this is especially true on the weekends. However, when friends are visiting from out of town, I guess anything is possible. Parking can be difficult in PB, but we agreed to meet at Kono's at 8am to beat the crowds. However, there was already a line forming even then. This place is clearly a local hotspot for some of the best breakfast deals in town. With kayaking, a workout, dinner, and karaoke on the horizon, I was going to need all of the energy food I could get. It's a pretty tight squeeze once you get inside and if you've got your dog you'll have to tie him up until you get your food. There's a small patio out back where your buddy can join you but space there is pretty limited too.

I opted for the big breakfast #2, a hungry man's feast of French toast, a heaping pile of potatoes and eggs, bacon, and a biscuit. The French toast was very good but I wish that they had some real maple syrup to go over it besides the single serving high fructose corn syrup stuff. Besides that, it was great. Ever since I started working out, I seem to be able to eat less and less for better or for worse, and I was unable to finish my huge brunch. I always hate wasting food but there was absolutely no way I was going to completely consume this thing unless I wanted aches and pains to plague me as I kayaked. Ultimately I made the right choice to discard the extra carbs and pat my already big belly in satisfaction.

For what you get for the price, there is no better value in town than Kono's. Just be sure to come early enough to get ahead of the lines or you will definitely find yourself waiting quite a while for your meal. Huge is the operative word for this place so come with a huge appetite while braving huge lines and enjoying your huge breakfast and you'll be leaving with a huge grin on your face. If you've got any leftovers, I'm sure your pet pal would love to get his paws on it. I'm just not sure how healthy all those carbs and protein would be.

Food: 8/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Nobel Park

8820 Judicial Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 552-1626
Rating
05/27/2010
This is definitely one of the nicer, and newer, dog parks I've been to recently. There's tons of parking and the people are generally really nice. The grass could use some time to regrow and get green, but otherwise the park is pretty clean and poop-free.

There are two separate areas for big dogs and small dogs but since Cloud is only like 20 pounds, I don't think I'd risk letting her run around with the larger breeds. If I did, I don't think Amanda C. and Spencer L. would let me play with her there anymore!

Westfield UTC Shopping Mall

4545 La Jolla Village Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 453-2930
Rating
05/27/2010
Almost all of San Diego's malls are open air so it's nice that UTC is pet-friendly. While you can't bring your dog into the food court, there are a bunch of places outside to eat where your dog can join you. There's even convenient patches of grass where they can play and even poop, and the mall is kind enough to provide little trash bags for you to use to clean up.

Not all of the shops themselves let you bring bowser in but unless I see a sign that says otherwise, I'm assuming it's OK. This is a pretty nice mall to bring your dog to but isn't very big. I don't see many large dogs here and most people have those little toy dogs around La Jolla anyway. Seeing as it's completely open, it's a great place to spend the day with your pooch, no matter how big they are.

Lake Poway Loop Trail

14644 Lake Poway Rd
Poway, CA 92074
(858) 668-4770
Rating
05/25/2010
I don't normally go on many hikes (I prefer hitting the gym instead) but my friends managed to convince me to go for a walk with their Havanese, Cloud, around Lake Poway. There's normally a parking fee but if you tell the gatekeeper that you live in Poway, there's no charge.

The trails are a bit bumpy and definitely dusty, with lots of elevation changes, but it was a beautiful day to hang with friends and once you got to the top of the hill the views were breathtaking. The trail is about 3.5-4 miles around and half of our group walked it while the other half ran it.

The only snafu that we encountered was a scary 3.5 foot long rattlesnake near the slopes of the fenced off dam. There was also a few sections of horse crap that was left on the trail. You definitely don't want to step in that! All in all, it was a pretty easy hike for somebody as out of shape as me, and Cloud seemed to have plenty of energy to do it all over again!

Richard Walker's Pancake House

520 Front St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-7777
Rating
05/24/2010
My friend and I were looking for some brunch grub after an early morning walk through Little Italy when we decided to make the trek over to Richard Walker's Pancake House. I had heard a ton about it from friends so it seemed like a good idea to drop by and give it a try.

Once we arrived, we found ourselves waiting in a short line before we were led through the dog-friendly outdoor seating area to a tiny table by the front door. For starters, this restaurant is obnoxiously cramped and we ended up scooting our table out of the walkway so my friend wouldn't get knocked in the head and back by passing servers.

I ordered the mushroom and Swiss omelet served with pancakes and my friend decided to try the spinach crepe with potato pancakes. The food was universally unseasoned an unbalanced. My omelet was totally tasteless and I ended up slathering all kinds of spices to get it to taste like anything. There were no potatoes or fruit to balance it out and I quickly got sick of eating the damn thing. Fortunately the pancakes were decent and were a nice reprieve from the blandness of the omelet. My friend's crepes and potato pancakes were equally bland and they used a low quality cheese that filled the crepes with basically a nacho cheese sauce. The potato pancakes were only improved with some apple sauce and sour cream but the damage had been done.

I'm not normally led astray by my peer's reviews, but this place was terrible. Right as the food was being dropped off, I was left the check like you might expect at a Denny's or something. The servers were also all gathered by, and blocking, the front door as they talked trash and complained about a street washer situation earlier in the morning. I really don't care to listen to that crap as I tried to enjoy my bland and boring meal to no avail. While it might seem like a nice place to enjoy a flapjack with your furry friend, I implore you to find somewhere else to get your fix. This pancake house was a total flop.

Food: 3/10

Service: 3/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 3/10

Pastalini

7190 Miramar Rd, Suite 109
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 695-9779
Rating
05/21/2010
Hidden away in an obscure part of a Miramar business park there is a great little eatery that San Diego has been needing for a very long time. Pastalini's concept of picking a pasta, sauce, meat, and veggies, and then sautéing them all together resembles that of the mall Mongolian stir-fry but with my higher quality food using mostly locally grown ingredients.

I decided to try the fettuccine with spicy Cajun shrimp sauce, 6 jumbo grilled shrimp, and marinated mushrooms and zucchini. For only $5.95, this deal is nearly impossible to beat. They even offer a Yelp coupon for 20% off the total bill between 5-7pm, making the deal even sweeter.

The service here is exemplary and the manager went well out his way to make sure his guests enjoyed their experience. They also offer free WiFi and outlets to plug your laptop into, making this a great place for students to study and enjoy a great, reasonably priced meal. If you've got a dog, they've got some outdoor seating so that's not a problem either. They may only have been open for 6 months, but Pastalini's food, prices, and service will ensure that it will prosper and be around for years to come.

Food: 8/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Milano Coffee Company

8685 Rio San Diego Dr, Ste B
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 688-1882
Rating
05/20/2010
I'm definitely not a morning person and constantly have trouble pulling myself out of bed before the sun is directly over me. However, this morning I wanted to attend a gathering of local young professionals to chat about social media and willed my body to make the early morning pilgrimage to fill my body with coffee, pastries, and imported South African Sally Williams candies. Once I made it out to the general area, the café itself was extremely difficult to pinpoint and nobody on the street seemed to know where it was. Even my GPS seemed to lead me astray but a quick call to the shop for directions soon remedied that.

I decided to get some of my favorite hazelnut coffee. I haven't quite graduated to the level of coffee connoisseur yet and can't really tell the difference between one brew and the other so it is difficult for me to critique them, especially when I've preloaded it with syrup, sugar, and cream. As far as I'm concerned then, coffee is just coffee and all the same to me.

While the coffee may not have stuck out during this visit, the area is pretty nice, albeit a bit pretentious. I didn't get a chance to try their breakfast sandwiches, but from the aroma of things it certainly smelled good. The cafe is really student friendly and there is a large outdoor area that has a bunch of tables to read at or for taking a breather while walking your dog. I will definitely have to come back to try a pastry with my coffee next time. However, they sort of look like the kind you might find at Costco, and if that's the case, the food will be just as lackluster as the coffee.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Jamba Juice

10724 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 578-2355
Rating
05/20/2010
I used to go to Jamba Juice on campus all the time, but haven't gone back since graduating. There are locations everywhere, but I never really treat it as an essential part of my day (as coffee drinkers do) and more often as a novelty. However, the weather was hot and I needed to cool down so my friend and I dropped in to claim their latest BOGO offer and we went sick by ordering their largest "Power-sized" smoothies.

There were tons of new flavor combinations to try, many that I didn't recognize, but my choice of the day would be their Pomegranate Pick-Me-Up. I've been really getting into pomegranates lately and decided to try Jamba Juice's creation with the exotic, grenade-like fruit. It was very refreshing and flavorful, but perhaps a tad on the sweet side. That said, all of their smoothies have been a little sweeter than I tend to like, but are also great on hot summer days as today.

I normally skip the Jamba Juice on the way to the gym, but this BOGO deal was too good to pass up. My buddy and I could enjoy them outside in the sunny, pet-friendly courtyard that's shared with Starbucks while chatting about start-ups. While I probably won't be back in a while in an effort to save some money, I must admit that I definitely enjoyed the energizing smoothie. It was exactly what I needed to supplement my attempt at a healthy diet (despite being loaded with sugar) and helped me power through the second part of my day.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Sonic Drive-In

10515 Mission Gorge Rd
Santee, CA 92071
Rating
05/20/2010
After a very filling okonomiyaki dinner at Tajima, I was craving dessert and wanted to give Crepe World a try. However, parking in their lot, and in the area in general is a total nightmare and discouraged me from dropping in. Instead, I decided to take the opportunity to cruise out to Santee to try Sonic for the first time. Known for drink combinations numbering in the thousands, Sonic has been hyped up for years by their nonstop advertising in San Diego, despite not actually having any restaurants in the area.

My friend and I decided to make the long trip out to Santee for some Sonic goodness. When we arrived, the drive-in stalls were all completely packed so we ordered from the menu board on foot. This place definitely attracts a larger [read: fatter] folk, and it's easy to get carried away with sides as you order. The average party of two appeared to order at least a half dozen items each. I decided to minimize the fattiness and stick with the Jr. Deluxe Burger and the Oreo Sonic Blast. The budget burger actually packed a decent amount of flavor but was completely slathered in mayonnaise which dripped in droves off the edges. The artery clogging Sonic Blast was extremely sweet and thick, and had large chunks of Oreo cookie throughout. In fact, it tasted like the whole thing was made out of the cream of the cookie itself! After getting about halfway into the Sonic specialty, I was pretty sick of it and wished that I went with something far less savory.

After years of being teased by their commercials, I'm glad that we finally have a Sonic to try. While everything was decently good, it didn't come anywhere to being as good, nor as affordable, as In-N-Out. There's only two options for enjoying your food here and that's either in your car or at the outdoor tables. There's absolutely no indoor seating so your dog can hang with you at your heart's content. At 30 miles out of my way, I spent more on gas than I did on my burger and drink, further decreasing the value of going all the way out to Santee. I don't really see a reason to trek that far out to grab a late night burger and shake, especially with In-N-Out so nearby. Unless a bunch of friends are headed that way to check it out, or they open one up nearer to home, I probably won't be driving that far out for a long while.

Food: 5/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tapioca Heaven

9225 Mira Mesa Blvd, Ste 115
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 537-0842
Rating
05/20/2010
Tapioca Heaven is one of those places you've been to a few times before but just hasn't really stuck out in one's mind as the "it" place for boba. My friend and I had just finished lunch at Tofu House and weren't really feeling Tapioca Express or Green Tea House and decided to try something "newish" closer to home.

While their full menu isn't clearly listed, the suggestions on the wall are top sellers for a reason. We decided to share the mango shaved ice and I also got a strawberry mango slush. The mango shaved ice was pretty tasty but was a tad too sweet for my tooth. The mangos were nice and fresh and the condensed milk mixed with shaved ice complimented the vanilla ice cream underneath it all. My slush was also extremely sweet and contained a combination of strawberry boba and mango jelly. It was the first time I had been to a place that actually combined the two and that was a definite plus. However, I was a little disappointed that there was no fresh fruit in the drink at all.

Overall, I think I have the same impression of Tapioca Heaven as I did after the first time I went, which is that it is a good place for a varied boba fix, but nothing extraordinary and definitely not a place I would bring a laptop to and hangout for a few hours. The location and ambiance probably have something to do with it but there are also probably better drinks for the money somewhere else. Also, there's only 2 tables outside so if you're bringing your dog it's a good idea to secure a seat before ordering.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 5/10

Chipotle

8250 Mira Mesa Blvd, Suite G
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 586-2147
Rating
05/20/2010
I'm normally not a regular customer of Chipotle due to their comparably expensive burritos but a BOGO coupon in the mail lured me into my local shop to sample their famously fresh fare. It was a really nice day and the dog-friendly outdoor seating made it an attractive choice for enjoying a fresh meal.

I decided to try their carnitas burrito with the fresh tomato and corn salsas, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Guacamole adds nearly $2 so I opted out, but I'm told that it too is extremely fresh. I was pleasantly surprised after taking my first bite of my burrito and found that I could actually taste each individual flavor! I usually find that the burritos from lesser taquerias are usually filled with soggy, overly saturated flavors that really muddle the flavor of a fine burrito. While Subway claims that you "eat fresh" there, I've never quite had that same experience as I did with the Chipotle offering. While it didn't come with a side or drink, the extra cost definitely translated into far superior value.

There really is no surprise that Chipotle is the fast food Cinderella story of the century. Their combination of great, fresh flavors and fast, courteous service have propelled it to the top of the fast food chain. If I had to choose between a burrito or a burger, I think I would have to go with In-N-Out every time. However, Chipotle went a long way toward making an impression and I will definitely be back soon...with my other BOGO coupon!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Chipotle

8657 Villa La Jolla Dr
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 554-1866
Rating
05/20/2010
This is my second day in a row of having some Chipotle for lunch, but this experience was definitely not as good as the one in Mira Mesa. For starters, I could barely understand the woman behind the counter because her accent was so thick and her voice was so small. It took several tries and a hold up in the line to finally get across the line, but finally managed to get there.

I went with the chicken tacos this time with the black beans, fresh tomato and corn salsas, sour cream, cheese, and lettuce. The beans were extremely wet and made it very messy to eat the tacos without spilling all over the place. Likewise, the tacos were carelessly slopped together and I was forced to finish the lot with a fork. I was definitely unable to differentiate the flavors like I could at the Mira Mesa location and the ingredients didn't seem as fresh.

I'm not sure if it was the food quality, service, or location, but this Chipotle was definitely not as pleasant to eat at. Despite being fairly slow, many of the tables were left dirty and nobody seemed to care to wipe them down as they did at the other location. Even the tables outside where you can tie up your dog seemed cleaner than the ones inside. From the expectation of a good experience alone, I don't think I would return.

Food: 6/10

Service: 4/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 4/10

Lollicup Coffee & Tea

14805 Jeffrey Rd, Suite #A
Irvine, CA 92618
(949) 559-9436
Rating
05/20/2010
Knowing that I would have a long drive back to San Diego ahead of me after a trip to Disneyland, I needed to get some caffeine coursing through my veins. Not wanting the jitters of a Red Bull, I decided to track down some boba. I wasn't familiar with the area but there was nothing but Asian shops in the center so I knew that there must be a place nearby that served some mill tea. I only had to walk outside and around the corner to find what I was looking for...a quaint little Lollicup.

I ordered a large almond milk tea for the ride home and it was delivered lickity split. The boba was pretty good and had just the right consistency and had the faintest coffee flavor. The tea itself wasn't anything special, but it definitely did the trick of keeping me alert on the road home.

It seems like you can find a boba shop on just about every corner these days, but not all of them are created equally. Besides the overpriced stuff at Tea Station, most of the milk teas are pretty much the same. The boba itself is sort of hit and miss and it's really hard to find something really consistent. Being that this was my first, and probably only, visit to this location, I was pretty happy with my boba and would definitely recommend it to anybody that goes to UCI. It also seems like a great place to study, especially with the many outdoor tables in the back where you can share the shade with your dog while sipping on your drink.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Marin Brewing Company

1809 Larkspur Landing Cir
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-4677
Rating
05/20/2010
The closure of the Bay Bridge was making a bit difficult to get back to San Francisco from Marin so a few of us decided to meet up at the "brew co" for a few handcrafted pints. This was a popular hangout back in high school, though nobody could actually order anything back then, and I hadn't been back in several years.

I tried the blueberry ale which left the faintest hints of the fruit on the tip of my tongue. We also decided to order some thick cut garlic fries. They weren't nearly as spicy as we had expected and asked for an extra side of garlic to supplement the flavor. The brew and fries definitely complimented each other nicely. By the time we finished, the traffic had let up and we hit the road back to the city.

MBC is a great place to hang out with a few old friends and kick back over micro. There's even a big outdoor area where you can enjoy a beer with your pet while people watching gym folks. Depending on who's around though your pooch might have to chill on the other side of the barrier. The food is a bit on the pricey side but the beers are just right. There are many breweries in California but there are few as famous as Marin's and I highly recommend dropping in if you're in the area or just need to wait out the traffic of a bridge closure.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Cold Stone Creamery

10716 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 695-9771
Rating
05/19/2010
I come to this plaza all the time and have never been inside of Cold Stone. I usually don't treat myself to such confections, but when the invitation to join some of my housemates for dessert arose, I was eager to hang with the gang.

There are tons of choices and I had a difficult time deciding. The girl behind the counter was very helpful and I decided to go sick with some of their "Mint Mint Chocolate Chocolate Chip" concoction. It's basically mint ice cream with chocolate chips, fudge, and brownies mixed in. I had decided to go sick and order their largest, "gotta have it" size, which weighed in at nearly $6. This was definitely not a cheap treat. It was very rich and tasty and was entirely too much of a good thing, forcing me to take the rest home with me.

My friends and I ate our treats at one of the many tables in the courtyard and it's a really nice place to be with your dog during the day. In the evening however, it gets quite chilly and my ice cream didn't help. This is only the second time I'd ever gone to Cold Stone. I had a pretty bad taste in my mouth after the first visit since it cost nearly $10 for my dessert, including the tip that got the crew behind the counter singing. While totally novel, I can't really see myself coming that often, especially since I'm on somewhat of a diet and I can literally get 2 gallons of ice cream for the price of a single cup here.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Arizmendi Bakery

1331 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 566-3117
Rating
05/19/2010
You've got to get up pretty early to get the best baked goods in the city and you might as well take the dog with you as you do. It was my last brisk day in San Francisco for a while and my buddy insisted that we stop by Arizmendi for some gourmet baked goods before heading to the airport. There's some benches out front where you can park the pup while you run in for some scones.

On his recommendation, I picked up a pecan roll and the kind and very helpful staff helped me choose a cheese roll for the road. I started with the cheese roll and found it very pleasant and had just the right amount of saltiness and savory-ness that I wanted in the morning and pat of butter would really bring it over the top. The pecan roll was excellent with my green tea and had great gooeyness but wasn't overly sweet. The recommendations were an excellent start to my day and I can see myself coming in regularly for my morning pastry fix.

Arizmendi is just another example of great San Francisco fare. All of the breads and pastries are fresh out of the oven and warm as you bite into them. The service was phenomenal and helpful in selecting from the many choices and I would have been lost in variety without their help. It's clear why Arizmendi is so popular and I definitely recommend checking it out if you're in the Inner Sunset area.

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 9/10

Cafe Verrazzano

14677 Via Bettona, Ste 110
San Diego, CA 92127
(858) 756-0532
Rating
05/19/2010
When meeting up with one of the greatest business minds in San Diego, I needed a place convenient for both of us, with a great environment for chatting and brainstorming. With little nearby that would suit our needs, we chose Cafe Verrazzano for its privacy and great reviews.

Being my first time there, I went with the house's recommendation of the popular Chiaramonte sandwich for $8.95. Served on sourdough with grilled chicken, pesto, tomatoes, provolone, and sweet red onions, and a side of kettle chips, the sandwich was extremely flavorful and the tender chicken really popped with the pesto. To compliment the sandwich, I also tried their acai smoothie made with apple juice for $4.95. I'm not sure if really berries were used but it was very smooth, and you could really taste the velvety acai.

We enjoyed our sandwiches at the outside table area where you're more than welcome to bring your well-behaved pet. It was a pleasure to buy lunch for my newest mentor and the food was very tasty, albeit quite expensive. I learned a ton in the short time I had with him and discovered a great new cafe in the mean time. Service alone would keep me coming back and I look forward to my next visit.

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Spices Thai Cafe

6785 Mira Mesa Blvd, Ste 143
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 552-8845
Rating
05/19/2010
I hadn't seen my buddy for a long while and I wanted to treat him to lunch so we decided to meet up at Spices Thai Cafe. Upon stepping inside I realized that it was crazy busy as the lunch crowds were just kicking it into high gear but fortunately finding a table for 2 didn't take very long.

I ordered the Panang curry lunch special that started off with a small bowl of very refreshing vegetarian Tom Kha soup. It had great flavor and spice but didn't not nearly prepare me for the super spiciness if the curry. I had ordered it a 7 out of 10 on the spice scale, but it really felt like a 9 and burned me up pretty good. That said, it was pretty tasty and was served with a pair of fried won tons and a pair of small egg rolls. The only thing I would have changed besides the level of spice would be to ladle the curry into a bowl so it wasn't all over the place and soaking everything. This would have improved my enjoyment of the meal as well as the presentation.

Overall, I really enjoyed the lunch special at Spices. There was a ton of food for the money and they even have a great outdoor patio where you can bring your well behaved dog. If I'm ever looking for a spot to chill for a quick meal with my pet, I would definitely drop by here.

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Tapioca Express

7770 Regents Rd
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 597-0088
Rating
05/19/2010
I was having dinner with a friend in La Jolla and needed a place where I could chill till the dinner bell rang. For one reason or another I was feeling tired and figured that I would get a caffeine injection while getting some work done. After seriously cramping my brain to think of the few locations in the area, I finally resolved to Tapioca Express. Since they expanded to this new location, their food and drinks had been lacking the quality and value of the years before so I've been apprehensive about going back. Due to the lack of choices though, I finally resolved to give it another chance.

Per usual, I ordered an almond milk tea with boba. I wasn't very impressed with the watered down milk tea, but the boba had great texture to it. Unfortunately they didn't our much boba in so I had finished it up well before I got to the bottom of my drink.

La Jolla really doesn't have enough places where people can hang out late at night nor get a decent WiFi signal. For this, I am glad that TapEx is here but it's barely adequate to serve the needs of the students. Like their drinks, TapEx is just "good enough" but there are definitely improvements that can be made. There's some tables outside where you can chill with your dog, but there's so many smokers and students in and out of there that you're probably better off finding somewhere else to kick it and avoid the hassle.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Yogurtland

8220-F Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 566-6100
Rating
05/18/2010
The froyo craze/gold rush has hit San Diego hard and the two clear front-runners are Yogurtland and Yogurt World, both of whom have Mira Mesa locations. I haven't been the biggest consumer of the stuff since it got here but my buddy wanted to drop in for some and, after a long day of work in the home office, I would have accepted just about any excuse to get out.

If there is a single flavor that I would want every time, it would definitely be something minty. After a quick pass by the different flavors, not a single one fit the bill and I was left with chocolate, chocolate, tart, tart, and tart. After dumping a sprinkle of candy on top, the total bill came out to nearly $4 for a somewhat lackluster novelty.

There's a couple of tables outside where you can tie up your dog while you grab your froyo, and then enjoy it while you (and I don't necessarily recommend this) share some with your buddy. If it's good for people it can't hurt can it? For some reason, the machines at this location sounded like hell. Every time you pulled the lever, it would literally sound like there was a car accident going on outside. I'm not sure if they just needed a shot of WD-40 or what, but it definitely made the experience less enjoyable than at other locations. I hope they spend some of the sacks of crash they're pulling in from the business to fix the problem soon, because there are lots of other yogurt joints for me to choose from.

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Starbucks Coffee

4545 La Jolla Village Dr
San Diego, CA 92122
(858) 457-1044
Rating
05/18/2010
UTC is a great place to hangout and chill with a Frappucino while people watching with your pup. There's tons of tables in the courtyard area and since UTC is a dog-friendly mall, it seems like everybody brings their best friends out on a hot day. I don't normally drink caffeine in the afternoon, but it's hard to say no to half-priced Frappucino happy hour at Starbucks. I figured it was too good a deal to pass up so I scooped up a pair for my friend and I to sip on before grocery shopping.

I ordered a venti green tea frap and a venti cafe vanilla frap with whipped cream mixed in. I actually liked the less expensive cafe vanilla better than the green tea, which reminded me of drinking a green tea shake, which I guess it really was. Both however, were pretty darn good, and I will probably be going back a few times this week to take advantage of the deal.

Unwittingly to me, at least at the time, I would be paying for the caffeine later that evening and early the next morning when I couldn't sleep and eventually stay up for the rest of the night. Damned be me that I be so sensitive to caffeine. Lesson [not] learned, I will definitely make sure to get decaf next time because I certainly can't turn down a great deal like this!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 6/10

Tea Garden

4685 Convoy St, Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 277-8988
Rating
05/18/2010
In my attempt to try and find a new work spot I stumbled upon a newish tea joint called Tea Garden. I heard some pretty good things about it from friends so I decided to check it out. I'd recently given up on Tea N More due to their unusably bad WiFi issues so I needed to find a place to hang at during the day so I could get stuff done.

The first thing Tea Garden reminded me of upon walking in was of a hybrid between a Tea Station (the abundance of Taiwanese people and Chinese menus) and Tea N More (lots of tables and outlets to get stuff done). I decided to order a large almond milk tea to review as my tea benchmark. The first thing I noticed was that the boba was super mushy and the tea was extremely grainy. I tried to shake it up to dissolve it but it didn't help and really didn't help the tea taste very good. It also gave me the biggest caffeine buzz I've ever experienced from almond milk tea. To be fair, I'm a bit caffeine sensitive but this thing hit me pretty hard and I found myself with a significant high.

While the tea was definitely not the best, nor the cheapest around, the WiFi was definitely fast. The seats aren't very comfortable though and seating arrangements can be a bit awkward. Parking is also a bit tricky and it seems like the street parking is your best bet. I still need to try their chicken snacks since those have gotten some decent reviews and will give those a try the next time I'm in. For now though, the WiFi is good enough that I think this might just be my spot for getting stuff done during the day. There's even tables outside where you can relax with your dog, or in my case, where I take a 15 minute break before hunkering back down to work. If they offered some outlets outside it'd be the best combo of work, fun (with your canine companion), and sun!

Food: 5/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Wine Steals

1243 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-1188
Rating
05/18/2010
My friends and I were looking for a new spot to enjoy some happy hour drinks when Wine Steals popped into my head as a decent spot to discuss business. It was also conveniently located to all of us and parking was pretty easy to find on a Monday evening ad well.

Our little group decided to share a bottle of Otto's Constant Dream Sauvignon Blanc, a tasty white wine with fruity notes and finishing withal bit of grapefruit. We also ordered some fresh hummus for the table and I decided to try a slice of their Cabernet pizza, with roast beef and blue cheese. Everything tasted quite nice, especially when paired with the wine though I wish they would give a little more bread with the hummus.

As none of us knew a thing about wine, our server was very helpful in helping us choose something that suited us perfectly. There's even a great patio outside to enjoy some wine with your dog as well! As it turns out, Wine Steals turned out to be a great departure from our normal happy hour spots and I'm definitely looking forward to coming back.

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

The Kebab Shop

9450 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 586-0499
Rating
05/18/2010
This latest location opened in my backyard within the last year and has been gaining a ton of traction since. There's a couple of tables outside that anybody can use so it seems like a pretty good place to enjoy a meal while walking the dog. Not wanting to brave the In-N-Out line, my buddy and I decided to drop in for some shwarma.

I had had an awesome experience at the downtown location with a heaping helping of the lamb plate and decided to get a container to-go on this visit. I ordered the lamb with caprese salad and falafels and we decided to have a few bites at the restaurant before heading to a poker game. I quickly realized that the portion size for the to-go containers was much smaller than the dine-in plates and was a little disappointed, but the meal was definitely as tasty as I remember, especially with copious amounts of the garlic yogurt for dipping.

While I was a little bummed by the smaller portion size of the to-go container, I love coming here for the lamb. The price is fairly high considering it is fast-ish food, but it's definitely on the higher quality end. I will definitely be back and order the same thing, but this time it's going on a plate for sure!

Food: 8/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Tabe BBQ

5187 College Ave
San Diego, CA 92115
Rating
05/18/2010
I've been hearing so much about the elusive Tabe BBQ truck lately and have been really curious to try their Korean BBQ tacos ever since. As far as I know, the concept had been derived from a similar truck in L.A. called the Koji truck and had been a major hit. It's been one of those really hip, in-the-know things to tweet about and I finally got my chance when I stumbled upon it at the Asian culture festival at Liberty Station.

I decided to order a signature Korean BBQ beef taco and 5-spice fries to try. At $3 and $2 respectively, it certainly isn't the cheapest meal on wheels I've ever had, but also very reasonable at the same time. The taco was fabulous and the beef had tons of flavor. Topped with some lettuce and salsa, and some of their spicy mayo, it was a joy to eat, albeit a bit messy. The fries were pretty good too, and I could really taste the white pepper and other spices throughout.

The taco was definitely one of the best ones I've ever had and it seems like the perfect marriage of what is basically Korean carne asada and the taco. I really love the business model, and while a fairly pricey bite especially when considering that you're eating them on the side of the road, the taco was worth every penny in quality alone. I probably won't be chasing the truck around town to get my fix, but if I do see them again, I will certainly be ordering more. Honestly though, the best part is that since you're eating off a truck, it's ONLY outdoor seating so you can enjoy your street grub with your dog!

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Panera Bread

667 San Rodolfo Dr
Solana Beach, CA 92075
(858) 481-0050
Rating
05/17/2010
My incubator group meets weekly but chose not to go to our original location in PB and instead decided to meet at the Panera Bread in Solana Beach. There was a lot more space for laptops here but unfortunately the WiFi is always really slow. However, the convenience of the location and the beautiful day assured us that this was the right play for the gathering. We decided to sit outside since it was so sunny out and there were tons of shaded tables where people were parked with their dogs, and we were parked with our lappies (and I'm not talkin' about chihuahuas!).

Between discussions in the group, I decided to order some lunch. I settled on their "You Pick 2" deal and ordered a half turkey sandwich with a half Greek salad with an iced green tea. The turkey sandwich and salad were sort of boring and I immediately wished that I had stuck with my usual soup in a bread bowl. The iced tea however, is always refreshing an the unlimited refills justifies the otherwise lofty price tag of $2.99 for the small cup.

This was the first time I had been back to Panera since discovering Starbucks' fast WiFi and haven't looked back since. It is fine for holding team meetings but the Internet speed makes it really difficult to get anything done. We will probably come back for next week's meeting and this time I will be sure to stick with the soup.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 8/10

Marin Coffee Roasters

546 San Anselmo Ave
San Anselmo, CA 94960
(415) 258-9549
Rating
05/17/2010
Marin Coffee Roasters is one of my hometown's many great local cafes. My go-to place for the last year or so, I love dropping in for a cup of Joe while people-watching and taking advantage of their high-speed WiFi offering. People are always pulling up on their bikes and with their dogs, and there's even a comfy bench right outside the front door to hang at while your pup gets a rest and you get your favorite brew.

On this trip, I decided to change it up and try their equivalent of Starbucks' mocha frappacino. The actual name escapes me at the moment, but it was basically the same idea. To be honest, I actually like the Starbucks version better as they tend to blend them a bit smoother and the turn out less icy than the Coffee Roasters' take on it.

There are a few things that I would modify about the overall package of Marin Coffee Roasters' offering such as making it more laptop friendly, but all in all, it's another great example amongst the abundant Marin cafes.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

10720 Westview Parkway
San Diego, CA 92126
(858) 831-0313
Rating
05/17/2010
Seeking a new space to get some work done, I discovered Starbucks' free WiFi with a friend. While the process of getting set up is convoluted, I can't complain about the speed. Their Frappuccinos are pretty good too!

Unsure of what to order, the cashier suggested I try the Cafe Vanilla Frappuccino with whipped cream blended in. I went with that and was glad I did. While it was a bit on the sweet side, the drink was very light and airy, and very addictive. It was just the kick I needed to jump into getting things done after lunch.

I'm glad to have found a new chain of places to visit that has fast Internet access. It looks like I won't be going to work at Panera anymore! That said, it's freakin' freezing in here and you'll definitely need a sweater or jacket on if you plan to stay awhile. My favorite feature of the area is the courtyard area where there's tons of tables to warm up at and mingle with other people and their pets.

Food: 7/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Starbucks Coffee

4898 Convoy St #100
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 560-0337
Rating
05/17/2010
Seeking a place where I could hunker down and get things done, I decided to duck into Starbucks for some of their free WiFi. Unfortunately my Starbucks card hadn't been used in a while so I was compelled to buy an overpriced drink to reactivate the Internet benefits.

I'm extremely sensitive to caffeine so I wanted to avoid the coffee drinks. I noticed the new Vivanno smoothies and, in the spirit of my new health and fitness lifestyle, decided to give the strawberry banana one a try. Well, for $4, you certainly don't get much for your money. Served only in their grande size (that wasn't even filled to the top), the smoothie was pretty bland. I could taste a little bit of the banana but almost none of the strawberry. I honestly would have been much better off hitting up the Jamba Juice and getting a much more substantial smoothie for the money.

While I typically enjoy most of Starbucks offerings, the Vivanno smoothies were pretty lackluster. They may be somewhat healthy, but $4 for that perception is highway robbery considering the alternatives. Unfortunately however, until Jamba Juice gets their act together and offers free WiFi, I guess I'm stuck being gouged like everybody else. Fortunately, there's some cozy tables outside where you can bring your dog and just hang out in the sun, or at least play with other peoples pets!

Food: 4/10

Service: 8/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 8/10

Starbucks Coffee

6765 Mira Mesa Blvd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 623-0641
Rating
05/16/2010
After leaving one meeting, I had a few hours to burn before running to the next one so I decided to camp out at Starbucks and enjoy something hot to drink in the meantime. This particular location is nice because it doesn't seem to attract the pyramid scheme weirdos who seem to congregate at the location by the theater and there are plenty of places to eat nearby.

In my pursuit to limit my caffeine intake, I decided to try the decaf Caramel Macchiato. Despite being decaffeinated, I definitely experienced a solid buzz. I probably shouldn't have gone with the huge venti size and it will likely keep me up all night. While the drink was pretty tasty, the copious amount of caramel made it a little too sweet for me. I'll probably go with tea next time.

I really like that this Starbucks doesn't require you to arrive in a parka to enjoy and it's also got a little patio where you can chill with your dog while sipping your favorite brew. The noise level is a bit higher and outdoor seating is limited too, but at least there is a nice little gathering area inside with comfortable seating and a fair number of outlets. It may be a bit cozier than the Starbucks by the I-15 but considering that this one isn't a freezer, I definitely prefer it. It also gets a lot more sun!

Food: 7/10

Service: 7/10

Price: $

Atmosphere: 7/10

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

401 G St
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 231-7000
Rating
05/16/2010
My buddies and I were taking a break from the weekend work day and decided to get something to eat. Seeing as though we had a large dog with us, we needed to find a place that would be pet friendly while allowing us to enjoy the football game. While walking down the Gaslamp, we noticed the patio at Rock Bottom and were greeted by the hostess directing us straight to the patio.

I ordered the Laredo burger, their version of a Southwestern sandwich. To my surprise, they were actually able to make it rare and it turned out pretty good. There was nice spice from the Pepper Jack cheese and chipotle aioli and there was even some guacamole in there to round things out.

The food was pretty good and it was really nice finding a place where we could bring the dog. The service was kind, but extremely slow and we were freezing our butts off on the cold patio since there were heat lamps. Overall however, things were pretty good and we could see the game while enjoying our meal so this would definitely be on the list the next time I'm downtown, and with the dog.

Food: 7/10

Service: 6/10

Price: $$

Atmosphere: 7/10