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sunday guinea pig
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Donna staffordshire terrier mix

Cupertino, CA

May 2010


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Deb's Reviews

Pono Hawaiian Grill

120 Union St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
(831) 426-7666
When you go to Pono, it feels like a vacation. The decor, music, and vibe are straight from the islands. The full bar and lounge areas make you feel like you can hang out there all day. There is a second entrance through the back patio, so it's super easy to stop on by with your dog. And the patio is BIG, with multiple levels, a tiki bar, and tropical plants--so there's plenty of space to stretch out. It must be awesome to hang out there on warm evenings when they have live music. As for the food, I could have eaten the poke all day. It was refreshing and curiously satisfying, and they come in 8 or so flavors. If Pono was closer to home I'd hang out there all the time.

Depot Garden Cafe

718 B St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-9151
I'm not really an eggs benedict or hollandaise person. However, since that's what Depot Garden Cafe is known for, and they have one with avocado on it (one of my fave foods of all time), I decided to go for it. And it was honest to goodness the BEST benedict I've ever had. Smooth, lemony hollandaise. Perfectly poached runny eggs. Healthy topping portions. Toasty english muffin. And a huge side of chunky hash browns. The benedicts are only served on weekends but they have tons of other classic breakfast items that are available throughout the week.

The atmosphere is very welcoming, despite the oddly industrial-sounding name. There is a huge brick patio in the garden behind the restaurant that is spacious enough for a number of large dogs. Patio umbrellas offer some shade. The interior has a sunny country cottage feel. Service is kind and attentive. They have a lot of regulars that they know by name -- always a good sign.

Mama's Empanadas

San Francisco Metro Area
San Francisco, CA 94115
(650) 281-6431
Disclaimer: I've only tried the chicken empanada, and it was a day old. So maybe it's a teensy bit better when it's fresh. But the one I ate was pale, dry, and boring. Granted, they did put a lot of white meat chicken in there. But just thinking about it makes me bored out of my mind. Luckily I got it for free; I'd be pissed if I had to pay $5 for it. At that price I'd rather have a Subway sandwich, and I hate Subway.

Super Duper

721 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 538-3437
The venue itself is pretty cool - casual, dog-friendly patio, neat indoor loft sitting area. The chocolate shake is de-friggin'-licious. Everything else, unfortunately, was overpriced and greasy. For the price I'd rather go to Burger Joint (if I'm in the mood for a walk), which also uses Niman Ranch beef, and has larger portions with better fries and milkshakes that you need to eat with a spoon.

Sprouts Natural Foods Cafe

3123 Harrison Ave
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 541-6969
Just as we were about to give up on the South Lake food scene and resign ourselves to a week of heavy, over-seasoned, lackluster food, we came across Sprouts. What a diamond in the rough! Sprouts has healthy, fresh food and smoothies at reasonable prices (just about everything is under $10). They are also dog and kid friendly -- with big picnic tables outside for the pups and toys for the kiddies. Looks like they serve mostly soups, salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and several heartier entrees like rice bowls. It's mostly vegetarian, with some turkey thrown in. Everything arrives at the table looking perky and colorful, with like six different veggies. Healthy comfort food at its best!

Chavo's Mexican Restaurant

595 Bryant St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 495-5822
Quick, fresh, and cheap (for SoMa). I've tried some of the other Mexican restaurants in the area and Chavo's beats them all on the freshness of their food. The patio is big, sunny, and best of all, dog-friendly.

Erik's Delicafe

2 N Market St
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 998-2323
I was spoiled with an Erik's location down the street for my house as a kid. I was a super picky eater, and Erik's Abbot's Habit was the only sandwich I would voluntarily eat. Ever.

This downtown San Jose location isn't quite as awesome as I remember. The decor isn't as turn-of-the-century cozy, and there seems to be a little more bread and a little less of the sprouts that make Erik's sandwiches special. However there are clean bathrooms, parking validation and plenty of seating both inside and out. Good for a quick, on-the-go meal that doesn't stuff you to the gills.

Alice's Now & Zen Fest

Sharon Meadow
San Francisco, CA 94122
FREE concert?! You can bring your dog?!?! They sell It's-Its??!!!!

Sally's Restaurant

300 De Haro St Ste 332
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 626-6006
Something about this place really appeals to me, and I think it's the super casual vibe and sunshine. Plus they have a pretty spacious, doggie friendly patio outside, and a parking lot. No-fuss diner plus a spot to soak up the rays plus full tummy = win. The food is decent - nothing spectacular - but their specials looked interesting. The fig waffle looked ammaaazing.


501 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 241-9011
Woohoo, brunch in Hayes Valley! There's nothing better to do on a weekend morning if you're a brunchaholic like me.

There was quite a crowd outside waiting for tables. If they tell you it's a 15-20 minute wait, they really mean 25-30 minutes. Free coffee and tea outside makes the wait a bit more bearable. There are plenty of small cafe tables around the side of the building, where pooches are welcome.

The inside looks and feels like a Vegas buffet - crazy busy, and bursting at the seams with people and fake flowers and plants. Service is spotty. However, the food is good and hearty and hit the spot. The pancakes and bacon bloody mary's looked pretty killer too.

The Creamery

685 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 896-1446
The Creamery has a great laid back pub feel. There's a large sunny patio out front, always with a water bowl and at least one or two dogs. There's also a huge dog-friendly patio in back with some shade.

The food (crepes, sandwiches, salads, Ritual coffee) is okay. I do appreciate that they make an effort to use fresh, local ingredients. The owner/manager is a hoot! So very nice, with a happy ruddy complexion and Irish accent. Oh, and he loves dogs too!

Food Truck Crush

Larkspur Ferry Terminal
Larkspur, CA 94939
I LOVE this idea. What a cool, family-friendly, pet-friendly thing to do on a Friday night. There is a wide variety of eats, from Peruvian to Indian to BBQ to dessert. There's also a DJ who plays everything from Justin Bieber to Frank Sinatra, and an area set up with canopies, tables and chairs. Lots of dogs, kiddos, and people ferrying back in from SF.

Looks like they have a different lineup weekly. So far my favorites have been the lemon cream puff from Pacific Puffs (why are cream puffs so hard to find?!) and mac and cheese from The Rib Whip.

Don't forget to bring your $1 off coupon! You can get a Truck Buck on their Twitter or they sometimes hand them out at Larkspur Ferry Landing earlier in the day/week.

Public House

24 Willie Mays Plz
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 644-0240
Great venue and service! There's a nice big patio out front, right next to the AT&T Park gates, with big orange umbrellas. The staff is super nice and accommodating. They love dogs and are happy to bring out water bowls. I'm sure it gets slammed on game days, but on off-days this is a fun spot to kick back and enjoy some local beers.

As for food, I've only tried their mini corn dogs on Yapsie's SoMa Pupcrawl. I'll pass on those next time, but I'm not really a fan of corn dogs to begin with.

Farmerbrown's Little Skillet

360 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 777-2777
Little Skillet is a walk-up window on Ritch Street, which is really more of an alley. There are two good things about this: you can walk right on up with your dog, and you can get Blue Bottle Coffee right next door at Cento. Little Skillet specializes in chicken and waffles, with sandwiches and grits thrown in the mix. At $6 for a large piece (or two smaller pieces) of fried chicken and a hefty waffle, this is one of the more affordable meals in the neighborhood. The chicken is pretty good, but the kicker is the waffle and syrup. The syrup is thin and not too sweet. So when it soaks into the waffle and chicken...YUM.

Seating is on the loading dock -- so yeah, pretty casual. Every once in a while a car will come through the alley, so do keep an eye and a leash on your pup.

Park Chow

1240 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 665-9912
Even though their food is a bit hit-or-miss, Park Chow is still one of my favorite places to chow down by the park. They serve wholesome comfort-foody type stuff. It's cute and cozy, with a fireplace on each of the two floors and heat lamps everywhere. They welcome dogs on the heated patio, and are always ready with a water bowl and big ol' jar of treats!

Sidewalk Juice

3287 21st St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 341-8070
Berries Valencia is Sidewalk Juice's most popular smoothie flavor. It's OK. I'm not sure I'd come back for the juice alone, but there are a few things that make this a pretty cool place:

- It's just a window in a wall, with wooden benches and planters along the sidewalk. Which means -- bring your dog and do some people-watching!
- Good mix of healthy and not-so-healthy drinks, depending on your mood. They have quite a selection of kombucha if that's your thing, including The Hangover (which I'm told can cure hangovers and is pretty popular in that part of town).
- Friendly people.
- They use organic fruits and veggies. Even the mint cookies they used in our mint/chocolate/banana smoothie were from Valencia Whole Foods. Poor guy had to run across the street to pick them up from the store for us!

The Grove Cafe

690 Mission St
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 957-0558
The Grove feels like home. On the inside it's cozy, quirky, and has all these nooks and benches where you can hide away with your coffee and a good book. On the outside there is a charming, dog-friendly sidewalk patio with at least a dozen built-in wooden tables and benches. I often see people bring their dogs out.

The people who work there are super nice. The food (which includes everything from breakfast to dinner to dessert) is good, simple, honest, hearty. At first I balked at paying $8 for French toast, but it's definitely not your average wimpy-ass french toast! I've also tried their lasagna and chicken pot pie entrees with salad -- not bad for $10, especially in SoMa. Next on the to-try list is one of their ginormous warm cookies with a scoop of Three Twins ice cream...mmm...

Dynamo Donuts and Coffee

2760 24th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 920-1978
OMG a place like this exists in the city?! Gourmet donuts plus awesome vibe = GENIUS! Their most popular flavor is maple glazed bacon apple; but really, all of the flavors sound amazing. The staff is super helpful and patient with the hordes of people who take way too long to decide what flavors to get (self included).

The best part about Dynamo is how friendly it is, to everyone -- adults, kids, dogs, families, trendy peeps, foodies, hippies... It really feels like a neighborhood place. The walk-up window is great for people with dogs and kids who just want to grab and go during their morning walk. Don't forget to get a doggy donut for your pup from the cookie jar on the counter! There is tons of seating inside too, as well as a patio out back. They have an open kitchen so, if you have some time, it's fun to watch them churn out their dreamy, delectable donuts.


3180-82 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 255-2440
Yum! The flavors are spectacular. Their menu focuses on vegetarian and chicken Indian/Pakistani dishes. It would be easy to be a vegetarian if I could eat Pakwan everyday. Loved their mixed vegetable curry - it had tons of flavor and was loaded with potato, peas, carrots, tomato and cauliflower (which I usually don't like, but in this case was delish). The only downer was the naan...nothing really special there.

Like most casual Indian places around here, prices are low and service is non-existant. Be prepared to order/pick up at the counter, seat yourself, and grab your own water/plates/silverware.

There are two unusually large round tables out front, perfect for family-style meals of up to 4 and/or a pooch. From what I've seen people are pretty easygoing about having dogs around, and don't mind if they duck in with you for a bit if you need to grab some table settings.


1591 Sloat Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94132
(415) 665-3700
Their pet supply selection was okay. You'll find the usual stuff. They also sell live pets - birds, guinea pigs (so cute!!!), rats, mice, hamsters, turtles, frogs, geckos, fish, and hermit crabs. It's good to see they make an effort to get their animals from humane and reputable sources. Bonus points for having a huge lot with tons of parking!

Sol Food

811 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 451-4765
Sad but true: Sol Food has raised their prices something ridiculous!

And this new location is a bit...awkward. I'm not sure how to describe it. They have a patio where dogs are allowed on one side - which is nice since the main location doesn't have outdoor seating. But then you realize you're sitting in some weird corner behind the restaurant where the garbage cans usually live. No amount of lime green paint and banana leaves can hide the chain link fences, garbage cans, and Mexican guy peeing on the opposite wall.

Last year I would have easily given Sol Food five stars for awesome food, atmosphere and service at a reasonable price. The food is still good...but the rest? Not so much.


908 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 257-8822
There is nothing too special or unique about the food, but Crepevine is a good solid choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Just about everything on the menu is less than $10, w00t! I was a bit disappointed by their crepe selection though. I thought there would be more variety, since "crepe" is right in their name...but most of their menu was taken up by other things... sandwiches, pastas, pancakes, etc.

The location and decor are great. Right on the main drag in downtown San Rafael, with very cute Parisian-style, dog-friendly sidewalk seating. Next time, if it's warmer out, I'd happily opt to sit on the patio.

The Whole Enchihuahua

Dolores Park
San Francisco, CA 94114
This was probably the kookiest Cinco de Mayo event I've ever been to. In one afternoon, we have: Chihuahua adoptions. Food trucks. Mariachi band. Uncharacteristically gorgeous weather. Uncharacteristically dressed up dogs on a catwalk. Slightly crazy pet people (but aren't we all?). A missing Wonder Woman dog. A chihuahua with Paris Hilton in her bag. And the list rollicks on... Lesson: Chihuahuas throw a mean party. Just another reason to adopt one.

Farmers Market at the Marin Country Mart

2257 Larkspur Landing Cir
Larkspur, CA 94939
(415) 461-5715
It is small - but kind of nice that it feels almost hidden away. While most farmers markets are for strolling, this one is great for just hanging out. There are plenty of places to sit, including under a big tent that serves as the food court. The market and shopping center that hosts it are very family and dog friendly; it's a shame more stores/vendors haven't moved in. (I'm not sure if the food area technically allows dogs but a lot of people had their pets with them.)

There were maybe just a few farmers selling produce, flowers and seedlings. The bulk of the vendors sold food and artisan products - breads, jams, meats, seafood, juices, cheeses, pies, BBQ, Mexican food, and the piece de resistance in my book - ice pops! With crazy-awesome flavors like chocolate avocado.

The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen

1 S Park Ave
San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 243-0107
I looove grilled cheese. Buttery crispy bread, oozy melty cheese, all smashed together, how can you say no?

Well, actually, I may say no to American next time if it means going during the lunch rush. Sandwiches go for about $7-10, which seems a bit steep for what you get--a smallish sandwich and mandarin orange. It's good, but not *that* good. If you expect me to pay that much for a grilled cheese, it better be damn good and better come with a side that you at least put some effort in. The biggest deal breaker, though, was the wait. It took forever. And ever. To their credit, they actually grill the sandwiches with butter the old fashioned way, instead of using a lame panini grill.

There is a spacious patio in front, which is where all of their table seating is. (There is some counter seating inside.) The owner of the place loves dogs, so dogs are always welcome on the patio! If it wasn't on the shady, windy side of the building, it would be quite a nice place to hang out and people watch.

EDIT 7/1/11:
Got there at 11:30 and the wait wasn't so bad! The patio was also quite sunny and warm. Unfortunately the sandwich was still just okay, and the hipsters working there were pretty snooty even before the big lunch rush hit.

Jeffrey's Natural Pet Food Company

3809 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 864-1414
The folks at Jeffrey's are so nice!!! Knowledgeable, helpful, and care about your pets. This location is right on the corner across from Dolores Park, so every trip is also an excuse to play at the park. :) The store itself is small, but I personally could spend ages in there looking at all the hand knit dog sweaters and hoodies. Too cute! And so stylish!

Jeffrey's actually specializes in high quality, wholesome, raw food diets for dogs and cats. They also sell other natural and dried pet food, and a bunch of treats in bulk so you can buy just one piece or a whole bag. The beef jerky we got smelled great...almost wanted a nibble myself...and Doggy gobbled it up.

This store has a great neighborhood vibe. I love that a lot of their products (and of course their raw diets) are locally sourced.

Fantasia Coffee & Tea

10933 N Wolfe Rd
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 865-1689
I don't get why Fantasia is always busy. Their pearl milk tea is alright. This time it was just lukewarm and kinda bland. I think they used to be better back when I was in high school and all the high school kids and Taiwanese people would hang out there and smoke like chimneys on the patio...because it was the *only* place in Cupertino that stayed open past 9 besides the Donut Wheel. These days there are a few more places in town open later so the patio isn't as crowded as it once was, which is great for people who want to bring their pets and/or breathe. I came here again on a weekend afternoon and there was a huge line out the door, while the other boba places in Cupertino Village were nearly empty. They must still be doing something right.

Pine Lake Off Leash Dog Park

Sloat Boulevard & Vale Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
(415) 831-2700
What a pretty park! I love that there's this bit of nature in my corner of San Francisco (Sunset) when all the orderly, treeless streets start to look the same, and I'm too lazy to drive to Golden Gate Park.

There is a paved path around the lake, surrounded by trees and leafy hillsides. (And plenty of ducks for your dog to chase!) Technically dogs should be leashed until they reach the off-leash meadow play area, but no one really bothers to abide by that rule. Except for the one cranky old lady who yelled at us... but generally people are pretty chill.

In addition to the humongous play meadow there are some sitting/picnic areas. It feels almost remote since all you see is trees, grass and water. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be on misty mornings.

Pet Club

1850 S Norfolk St
San Mateo, CA 94403
(650) 358-0347
Pet Club reminds me of a Costco for pets. They have a tremendous selection of food, toys, treats, bedding, bowls, homes, and more for your dog, cat, bird, small animal, fish or reptile...even unofficial pets like hummingbirds and squirrels. They have whole aisles devoted just to birdseed or collars (organized neatly by size and color). Pet Club also has live fish, birds, hamsters, and cat adoptions. The staff was really friendly and eager to help. I spent much of my time in the small animal aisle and got a kick out of the hamster-powered princess carriage and racecar.

Leashed dogs are OK. Weekly vaccination clinic with onsite vet. My only suggestion would be to organize all the natural foods together.


2948 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 665-6054
Homemade ice cream and cones...what could be better? Their flavors change daily and include everything from traditional chocolate or cookies and cream, to imaginative gourmet flavors like honey sage walnut (delish, don't miss this one), spiced apple cider sherbet, and candied meyer lemon. They have rougly 10 flavors to choose from at any given time, plus ice cream sandwiches and other confections.

I recommend getting a scoop in a cone. It's really a special treat. Their ice creams are pretty mellow, so you can taste and almost smell the ingredients that go in. The best part, however, is the hand rolled cone. The shop smells amazing because of these sweet, buttery, home-baked cones with a bit of chocolate in the bottom. Guarantees your last bite is always at least as good as the first.

It is a small place, so most people grab and go. There is a bench inside and one outside for those who'd like to take a little extra time to enjoy a cone with their friends, special someone and/or dog. I love Ici because it reminds me how enjoyable the simple pleasures of an ice cream cone and afternoon walk can be.


2967 College Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
(510) 849-0701
This is possibly my new favorite clothing store. Great stylish duds from boutiquey and big brands, at regular person prices. It's like a cooler Marshalls, or Anthropologie for thrifty girls like me. In addition to women's clothing and accessories they have a salvage section, and plenty of stuff for men too. Small dogs are ok, but ask before bringing in a bigger dog since the store is kind of cramped and can get a bit nuts during sales. Be sure to sign up for their mailing list so you get notified of when they have their glorious 70% off ALL clothing sale. :)

Marin Humane Society

171 Bel Marin Keys Blvd
Novato, CA 94949
(415) 883-4621
I came with a friend who was looking to adopt a dog. Though we didn't add to the family that day, it was a great experience to see all the kind and caring volunteers and animals that hopefully find a good home. There are cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and dogs of all ages and sizes, that look well cared for. The dog area is the largest by far, with an individual fenced-off area for each dog and an exercise/training classes area out back.

Arizmendi Bakery

1002 4th St
San Rafael, CA 94901
(415) 456-4093
With a name like Arizmendi, I expected something more exotic. But they are just a good laid back bakery with humble homey baked goods - artisan breads, rolls, muffins (including vegan flavors), scones, cookies and pizzas. Flavors vary depending on the day of the week.

They have huge, hearty scones with flavors like corn-cherry and currant. I had the apple cinnamon scone, which hid big soft chunks of fresh apple, and got the moist-but-crumbly ratio just right. Their cheese roll is crusty and cheeeeesy - just about all you can ask for in a cheese roll. While they pay close attention to the quality of their food, however, the table tops could use a wipe.

There is a shared plaza with tables right outside the door, making this an easy place to grab breakfast with your dog. It's also really popular with families, given the casual and self-serve atmosphere. And they've got free wifi to boot.

The Embarcadero Waterfront

The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
The Embarcadero - it's part touristy, part local, part yuppie, and very San Francisco. This is one of my favorite walks in town, and I'm not alone. On any given day you'll see visitors with big cameras taking photos of the skyline, ridiculously fit joggers, couples out with baby strollers, people out walking their dogs, yuppies and young pros brunching or lugging bags of fresh finds from the Ferry Building Farmers Market.

The road starts at AT&T Park and passes under the Bay Bridge, but doesn't really get interesting until Rincon Park at Folsom St. It's a small patch of grass with the city skyline on one side, a view of the water and bridge on the other, and a giant bow and arrow stuck in the grass (you can't miss it). I never fail to see children, little dogs and puppies playing on the grass. Too cute. Definitely friendly for small dog play dates.

When you have recovered from the cute overload, continue north to the Ferry Building. There are tons of really cute, interesting and expensive foodie shops in there. I don't know if they allow pets inside, but there are a bunch of benches and cafes/restaurants with patios behind the building, adjacent to the ferry landing. And that is where I usually stop, or hop on the ferry to Larkspur.

If you keep moving north you'll eventually get to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, which is tourist town. I don't know who would buy half the random stuff in those stores, and the clam chowder and seafood I've tried has been very so-so... but still an area you have to explore if you're new to the city (though probably not with your dog; it can get crowded).

Mount Tamalpais East Peak

Mill Valley metro area
Mill Valley, CA 94942
You can come to Mt. Tam 10 times and take a different trail each time. My geography's a bit fuzzy so I don't recall the trail names...but I do know we hiked out to West Point Inn (which has a pancake breakfast on Sundays in the spring/summer...yum) and then continued on to East Peak. It was roughly a 3-hour hike taking the long way to the peak, with gorgeous scenery and hillsides thick with eucalyptus, redwoods, creeks and waterfalls. Most of the time we had the trail to ourselves, until we got within the vicinity of the East Peak.

The East Peak has a parking lot that's maybe 10 minutes to the summit. There's a snack shack (hot dogs!), picnic tables, visitor center, gift shop and water fountain with a water bowl for dogs. Leashed dogs are welcome here and, given the short distance to the peak, dogs (and people) of all sizes and activity levels can make it to the top without too much trouble. It does get rocky though, and you may have to clamber over a rock or two, so you still should wear closed-toe shoes and might need to give smaller dogs a boost. The view is incredible - you can see for miles in any direction. Don't forget to pack a sandwich - it's a great place to enjoy a picnic lunch on top of the world!

Bi-Rite Creamery

3692 18th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 626-5600
I'm going to cut right to the chase. Brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl - GO TRY IT. It was so good when I tasted it, that it left me speechless for a few seconds. You might think, "Ginger? With brown sugar and caramel? That's weird." But it's that little bit of zing that makes all the difference. It's even better than their famous salted caramel flavor. Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodle) is also delish.

I've been to Bi-Rite twice - once on an unusually scorching fall day, and once on a frigid rainy night. And both times, despite the uncomfortable weather, there was a line down the sidewalk. People don't do that for "just OK" ice cream.

Some things to note:
- They have some indoor seating, but there is rarely ever a free seat. Bet on standing or sitting outside, at Dolores Park across the street, or getting it to go. Bring your dog; it's a great pit stop on walks or when you're spending an afternoon at the park!
- They have vegan (coconut) flavors! They also have popsicles which sound pretty darn mouth watering.
- There is a separate window (and shorter line) for frozen yogurt and baked goods. It's really just a window facing the sidewalk, so definitely for grabbing and going.

South Park

S Park St & 2nd St
San Francisco, CA 94107
South Park is a totally random and tiny strip of grass in the middle of the city. It is surrounded by tall trees and a bunch of cafes, lunch spots and tech startups. There are a few picnic tables, a playground, and perhaps some bums hanging out at the southern end. I have to be honest, this is a pretty lame park when you compare it to all the other parks in the area. But I'll take what I can get when I'm itching to get out of the office!

I have seen people walking their (leashed) dogs there and having picnics. Quite a few of the surrounding cafes and restaurants have outdoor seating as well, so it's easy to grab brunch or lunch with your pooch while you're out for a walk. At the very least, it offers the neighborhood's backyard-less pets a patch of grass to roll around in.


360 Ritch St
San Francisco, CA 94107
You really have to know where Cento is to find it. It's down a small side street, and is really just a window. They sell Blue Bottle Coffee, and from the looks of it, that's about it. Maybe a few pastries too. Sometimes, that's all you need. My americano was almost as thick and black as mud...yum.

There are no seats or tables, but at any given time you might see hipsters, young professionals, retirees, and/or their dogs hanging out on the sidewalk, in the street or sitting on the loading dock across from Cento. Otherwise it's more of a grab-and-go type place if you're strolling about in SOMA in the late morning or early afternoon. (Their hours are kind of limited, but are perfect for 9-to-5ers on coffee breaks.)

Honeymoon Cafe

999 Price St
Pismo Beach, CA 93449
(805) 773-5646
What an appropriate name for such a cute and friendly cafe. They have all the quirks and charm you need for a sleepy beach town eatery - local artwork, creative clutter, mismatched furniture and plates; fresh, healthy, affordable food. The best parts were the extremely nice and helpful service, and the enormous pet-friendly patio which I'm sure is packed on sunny weekend mornings (alas, it rained during our stop in SLO). You do order at the counter, and then they bring the food to your seat. My veggie scramble was just OK; I imagine it would be better if I got the burrito version. Still, definitely reasonable for the price.

Bob Jones Trail

Avila Beach Metro Area
Avila Beach, CA 93424
What a lovely walk! I envy the people who have the Bob Jones Trail in their backyard. This flat and paved trail is ideal for morning strolls, dog walking, and casual biking. About 2 miles long, it ends at Avila Beach (which, by the way, allows dogs before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m.).

Along the way you'll see and/or pass through:
Lots of green trees and hills
A creek (and maybe even salmon depending on the time of year)
A golf course
Houses you wish were yours
Children's play area
Woodstone Marketplace (casual, affordable eats)

Books Inc.

855 El Camino Real Ste 74
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 321-0600
Growing up in the bay area meant weekend trips to Books Inc. It's smaller, cozier and friendlier than your average large book retailer. While the location I spent so many hours at as a kid is long gone, this one in Palo Alto still seems to be going strong. They are very welcoming to both people (I got a genuine "Hello!" and smile) and pets (note the big yellow PETS WELCOME sign). Definitely a homey place, with a great choice of books and gifts. I never even got past the first two tables in the store, there were so many interesting reads to check out! It's like they were "reading" my mind. hah.

Town & Country Village

855 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94301
(650) 325-3266
I could spend all morning here. Maybe I've just been living in SoCal too long - I bet locals think this is just a "meh" sort of shopping center, especially given the wealthy area - but I was charmed by all the interesting little cafes and shops. Even the architecture was charming in its own way, even though snobbish people might complain that it's old and outdated. You've got your Peet's, Trader Joe's, Books Inc., Hobees, Douce France, CVS, plus countless other eateries and boutiques full of things I'd never buy but that make for interesting window shopping. The center is interspersed with several patio areas that are great for kicking back with your pooch, sipping some morning coffee and reading the paper.

Given the location (across the street from Stanford University, next to Palo Alto High School, between Page Mill and Sand Hill Roads) you'll see lots of students, professors, intellectuals and entrepreneurs. The place gets pretty nuts around lunch time, when all the high school kids migrate over for their pizza/burrito/Jamba Juice fixes and the parking lot becomes a mess. So try to avoid it during lunch hours, or make sure you park your car and butt somewhere beforehand. All in all, a pleasant place to spend your day.

Parkhouse Eatery

4574 Park Blvd
San Diego, CA 92116
(619) 295-7275
Let me get the bad news out of the way: The wait was horrific on an empty stomach. Do not go to Parkhouse on a holiday morning if you have a large-ish group. (We had a group of 6 and waited forever for a group of chatty ladies to clear out, which they didn't, so the Parkhouse staff finally figured out to put a couple of tables together for us.) Our server seemed kind of slow and grumpy but everyone else who worked there seemed friendly enough and on-the-ball. The food took a while to come out, even

Now the good stuff:
This place has great character. There's a big dog-friendly patio with flower boxes, umbrellas and little antique touches - feels like your'e eating in a garden. The inside of the restaurant feels like a Craftsman home, with stained glass windows, paintings, homey furniture and recessed ceilings.
The food is pretty good, though nothing to write home about and pricey depending on what you get. I got the two-egg breakfast for $7.25, and would get it again. They give you mashed potatoes instead of the usual breakfast potatoes, which was an interesting change and quite tasty (and filling). They use bread from Bread & Cie for the toast, and homemade jam - another plus there. Overall the food is not bad, once you pick out the annoying parsley sprigs and inedible toasted spaghetti sticks that they use for decoration.

Starbucks Coffee

13255 Black Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92129
(858) 484-7234
As someone who has just joined the ranks of the un/self-employed, I am grateful to have a place like this for my "office." There are outlets everywhere, plenty of natural light, always at least one or two seats open, a cozy reading corner with armchairs, and a large table in the middle for group meetings or families. This Starbucks also has a nice shaded patio with plenty of tables, benches and even a couple of lounge chairs, as well as a water bowl for pets. It's located in a shopping center with a lot of easy parking and just about everything you need to run your errands, from Vons to Chase to Cotija's (yes, you must have their carnitas tacos). Golden Bagel is right next door and has an outdoor patio as well, so you really have double the breakfast options in one place. Service is pretty friendly. I really can't think of anything else you could want in a Starbucks, except perhaps an ocean view and almond croissants--but a girl can't have everything. For now, this is easily my go-to Starbucks.

Filter Coffee House

1295 University Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 299-0145
Filter is a local independent coffee shop that I love to support (drinking a yummy latte here right now, in fact). Here are a few reasons why:

The people who work here are super nice.
They are very dog friendly. There is a water dish and sidewalk patio outside, AND they go out of their way to let pet-owning patrons know that they can bring their dogs INSIDE!
They open up two of the walls for a breezy open-air feel during the summer.
They have some covered parking in the back.
I haven't tried their desserts but they look AWESOME.
They're open 24 hours.
Free wi-fi (you have to ask for the password)
Really fun, eclectic feel with funky mismatched furniture and artwork by local artists.
Buy 10 Get 1 Free cards
Real mugs.
And I may just be imagining this part but it's worth mentioning… This place has great energy and every time I come here I get more done than anywhere else.

Only four stars because the prices are a bit higher than average, and parking can get tricky in Hillcrest during peak hours. And it is so far from my house :(

Crest Cafe

425 Robinson Ave
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 295-2510
Their slogan is, "Healthy, Hearty Comfort Food." I couldn't have said it better myself. Most days they have breakfast all day - so, being the brunch lover I am, I typically get breakfast no matter what time it is. It's hard to go wrong here; just about everything comes in nice portion sizes, at a reasonable price, and will leave you feeling satisfied and not fat. They also have interesting things like mango and brie quesadilla, butter-stuffed burger (no joke), apple bacon cream cheese biscuit, blueberry biscuit bunt french toast, and whatever other specials they come up with.

Understandably, weekend mornings can get busy. So here's a tip: There's open seating at the bar and sidewalk tables! It works out pretty well if you have a dog - no wait in line, water dish for your pooch, wholesome al fresco brunch for you.

A few more perks: cheerful and helpful service, free delivery, and they're open until midnight!

Fort Funston/Burton Beach

500 Skyline Blvd
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 561-4323
Love this place! It's a place that both dogs and people can truly enjoy. The greenery and ocean views are gorgeous, there are both paved paths and sandy areas for walking depending on how adventurous you're feeling, as well as the occasional bench for reading or resting on. Plenty of parking too.

You'll meet lots of really friendly folks with sweet and well-behaved pets. It must be a popular place for dog walkers, judging by the mobs of happy pups that Doggie kept trying to run away with!

I'd recommend a visit to Fort Funston even if you don't have a dog with you. It's hard to walk away from this place without a smile on your face. :) <--(see?!)

Sage French Cake

3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 571-3484
This is one business I love to support, for several reasons.
1. Do you know how hard it is to find French-Japanese pastries in San Diego?!
2. The pastry chefs work super hard - they work both the back (kitchen) and the front (cashier) at the same time, and you can even watch them work through the window behind the counter. They are always extremely polite, smiley, and patient (since I always take FOREVER to decide what to get).
3. The chefs really care about the quality of the desserts, both taste-wise and appearance-wise. They offer lighter, not-as-sweet desserts, which I prefer to the "let's use lots of butter, chocolate and sugar and then dust with gratuitous gold flakes" philosophy.
4. It is impeccably clean inside and they also have a table outside where you can sit with your pet. I don't often see people hanging out inside though (must be mostly desserts-to-go and full cake orders).

Tiramisu: Nice and light, but tasted kind of average.
Napoleon: Yum!!! Flaky puff pastry layers and tons of wonderful fluffy cream. Would have been perfect if the puff pastry was a little softer and flakier (more fork-friendly).
Fruit tart: Yum again! I found a nice surprise inside the crust - a thick layer of almond paste! This was really enjoyable to eat with all its layers: fruit, custard, butter crust, almond paste, more butter crust.

Christmas Card Lane

Ellingham St & Renato St & Oviedo St
San Diego, CA 92129
Every family should make a visit to Christmas Card Lane a part of their holiday traditions. Not only is it fun and beautiful and makes you feel like a kid again, it gives you an excuse to walk off those extra holiday pounds.

Christmas Card Lane is a Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood where everyone decorates their house with as much Christmas/winter stuff as possible, ranging from Christmas lights to giant greeting cards to abominable snowmen. We went on a Sunday night, around 9:30, and some of the houses had already turned their lights off - so try to go earlier in the evening. I was surprised that I didn't see any kids, but there were plenty of adults and dogs strolling about. Music, familiar characters, winter treats for sale - they've got it all. The only thing missing is snow!

Julian Pie Company

2225 Main St
Julian, CA 92036
(760) 765-2449
I'm a sucker for the dutch apple pie. I've learned to buy only a slice at a time otherwise I eat the whole darn pie by myself. At $13-15 each, the price is a little harder to swallow than the appley goodness...but definitely worth it if you are a Julian pie virgin or only make it up there once a year. The hot apple cider is excellent as well and knocks me out every time on the car ride home.

This pie co. is in a great location - down at a quieter end of the street, with a used book store right across the way, and a large patio with benches, tables, and a water bowl for your pooch. There isn't a whole lot of space inside and the line can get slow and muddled. Definitely get there in the morning or early afternoon if you want to avoid the line.


4934 Voltaire St
San Diego, CA 92107
(619) 223-2202
This is definitely one of those homey-type places. I bet they have tons of regulars. The owners and staff are so friendly and welcoming to both human patrons and dogs. Most of the seating is outdoors on the covered patio. And it's actually super comfortable, with cushioned chairs and love seats. They've got an eclectic menu and it was honestly hard to decide between all the sushi, sandwiches, pasta and pizzas - everything sounded pretty delicious and even a bit upscale for OB (though prices were quite reasonable).

I shared the lobster bisque, meatloaf with jalapeno gravy, and pasta with salmon and caviar. And yes, the pasta really had caviar on it, on a dollop of creme fraiche. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I wasn't expecting caviar at a dog-friendly cafe in OB. The meatloaf was excellent - none of that dry tasteless loaf with ketchup business. If you are not super hungry, share a bowl of lobster bisque with someone and you'll be gravy. It's like a meal in itself. They also had a cocktail menu that looked pretty fun.

A shout-out to the magician. The potato trick still boggles my mind.

La Jolla Brew House

7536 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 456-6279
I finally stopped by for a Yappy Hour last Thursday. There were some nice people and especially some nice dogs!

Even though I didn't bring one of my own it was nice to hang out on their spacious patio and watch the festivities while munching on fries smothered in cheese and bacon. When it got a little chilly they turned on the fire pit and heat lamps and it was coziness all around. They also had a couple of vendors, adoptions and a raffle. We even met a local celebrity; Chopper (the Harley-riding boston terrier) showed up with his owner.

Appetizers were $2 off. They also had $3-4 drink specials.

Tip: Park on the street instead of in the tiny lot if you don't want to pull an embarrassing six point turn. Saw too many cars come *this* close to hitting the wall. (Although, some lady still backed into my car even though I parked on the street. Watch out for those LJ drivers...)

Cardiff Dog Days of Summer - Contest & Canine Festival

124 Aberdeen Dr
Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007
(760) 436-0431
Despite the clouds, unseasonably chilly temperatures and tricky parking on narrow streets, it was a treat to see so many friendly dogs and people out on a Saturday morning. It was larger than I expected, covering several crowded blocks. There were costume contests, lots of complimentary treats, pet photo shoots, an agility course, adoptions… The vendors were cool but as always at these kinds of events, the dog/people watching was the best part!

Some highlights:
The boston terrier that rode in on a Harley
Three pugs in a stroller
Adorable lab mix puppies and spunky dogs at the adoption tent
Dogs dressed up with stunna shades, ballerina skirts, jean shorts, pink leis, etc.

Aside from said parking, the location was great too. If we had more time I would have loved to have brunch at one of the adjacent cafes or wander down to the beach.