There is plenty of confusion surrounding whether or not dogs are allowed in the outdoor patios of restaurants in Boston. Finding a outdoor patio at a restaurant which allows dogs can be challenging until you know what to look for. I think most everyone understands dogs are restricted from going inside a business which prepares and serves food unless your dog is a service animal. Many dog owners understand your only hope is to find an outdoor patio where your dog might be welcome. But even then, there are times when dog owners are turned away and others when we are happily welcomed.
I thought I would find a better answer to the where? and why? questions that I receive on a daily basis. It took a little digging but I have some answers, suggestions of best restaurant bets for dog owners and tips to ensure proper etiquette.
What are the Rules and Etiquette for Dogs in Restaurants?
For those who do not know, you cannot take your dog inside a restaurant unless they are a service dog. What you may not know is an enclosed patio area is considered to be inside as well. If there is a fence around the patio you should have your dog outside the fence, which is a common sight in Boston. If the patio is sunken below street level, as commonly found on Newbury Street, your dog will need to stay at street level, often tied to a parking meter.
Full service restaurants where servers are bringing dishes and other items back inside are more closely scrutinized out of fear that some disease from a dog will make it’s way back to the kitchen. Restaurants where you order your food, eat outside and throw away the wrappers are much less regulated.
With this in mind, your best bet is to seek out street-level patios with wide sidewalks (more room for people to pass by) or off the street altogether. There are plenty of restaurants that try to do their best to accommodate dog owners by providing bowls of water, treats and sometimes even a dog specific menu. Also, look for more casual restaurants that do not have a wait staff returning to the kitchen with dishes.
Restaurant Etiquette For Dogs
Face it, there is etiquette for everything, especially when you are living in an urban environment like Boston. Etiquette and table manners have always been a highly sensitive subject, even before you add in the dog component. That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind while eating out with your dog.
Exercise your dog before you sit down to eat. Your dog going to the bathroom while at a restaurant is about as bad as it gets. You can easily avoid this issue by letting your dog go to the bathroom in advance.
No visiting or begging and from other tables. Even many dog owners dislike begging at the table. You never know what a non-dog owner is really thinking. They might say your visiting dog is ok to you, but in reality they were just being polite. Let people come to visit your dog instead. Trust me, they will…
Paws off the table even if it is ok at home. One of the big concerns at the Health Department is what may be on the feet of guests. Your dog’s feet do not belong on a restaurant table anymore than your feet.
Just remember, even if the outdoor seating scenario looks like it would work, not all restaurants are welcoming to dog owners. All business owners have the right to decide with whom they would like to do business. If you are turned away, be cool, there is always someone else who would like your business. Here are a few restaurants in the various Boston neighborhoods worth the support of dog owners.
[box style=”blue”]Gelen Moore of Boston Business Journal just created a map of every Boston, Cambridge and Somerville restaurants with an outdoor patio and a liquor licence. Not every location will work for dog owners, but this map is a great start.[/box]
Boston’s South End Dog Friendly Restaurants
Your best bet for a dog friendly patio is in Boston’s South End. These days the South End is host to some of Boston’s best restaurants. Several of these restaurants have fantastic outdoor seating off the street or on wide, shaded sidewalks.
On Tremont Street, Pops Restaurant has an outdoor patio on a wide sidewalk. On occasion, the restaurant hosts events which give back to the dog community. Stephie’s on Tremont has consistently great food. Your dog will be on the other side of the fence, but the staff more than makes up for it. Hammersley’s has a great courtyard area under the trees right on Tremont as well.
I have already taken the time to write about The South End Buttery, a hangout for many dog owners where you will find dog biscuits and water bowls by the door. During the day, it is common to see well seasoned city dogs hanging out on the sidewalk, while owners step inside for coffee or to order lunch. Just up the street, Coppa has a few tables out on the sidewalk of Shawmut Ave. and a fantastic menu. Another great lunch spot where you can find a great sandwich is Flour Bakery on Washington Street.
Back Bay and Newbury Street
Newbury Street in the Back Bay can be a little tough. Most of the outdoor seating is sunken below street level, or the sidewalks are narrow with heavy foot traffic. Stephanie’s on Newbury happens to be on a wide section of sidewalk shaded by large trees. In my opinion, this is your best option for lunch, dinner or brunch served by a waitstaff with your dog in Back Bay.
If you are looking for a fantastic sandwich for lunch, check out Chris Young’s “WICH!T” at 244 Newbury Street. He has a outdoor patio with a few tables that are perfect for a dog friendly lunch on Newbury Street. This is one of my favorite lunch spots in Boston. Whichit, also offers free delivery for orders over $15. I asked if he would deliver to a customers hanging out in a nearby park with their dog. Chris laughed and said “Absolutely”.
Over on Boylston Street near the Prudential Center, there are a number of outdoor patios where you could have your dog just outside the fence. Near the Nordstom Rack there are a couple of patios as well.
Downtown Boston, Financial District, North End and Waterfront
When you are in downtown Boston in the Financial District or along the waterfront there are a couple of restaurants with outdoor patios that work well for dog owners. In Columbus Park, check out the dining area overlooking the marina at Joe’s American Bar & Grill.
If you have the time to walk to the other side of the North End, the Fairmont on Battery Wharf has outdoor seating overlooking the harbor near the Coast Guard Station.
Save the effort of walking over to the outdoor restaurants at the Boston Harbor Hotel or The Intercontinental, as neither will allow dogs to sit outside their patio areas.
And you cannot build this list without mentioning the Brendan Behan Pub in Jamaica Plain, where you can bring your very well-behaved dog along for a beer and a game of pool.
What are you Favorite Spots?
I am sure you have found a few great restaurants where you can have your dog just outside the dining area. Please feel free to share your favorite spots below.