By Gale Hemmann
Both my dog and I love to eat. If you, like me, also like to take your dog out and about with you, you may have been curious about which Olympia restaurants welcome your canine companion. It turns out there are many places in Thurston County where your dog is invited to join you as you enjoy a meal at their outdoor tables. From burgers to espressos, burritos to smoothies, you can take advantage of the seasonal outdoor-dining areas at many local venues and have the best of both worlds: delicious, no-cooking-required food, and time with your pup.
This intrepid ThurstonTalk writer loaded up my mini fox terrier, Shayne, in his best summer outfit and hit the road to look for some great dog-approved choices for outdoor dining. Here is a sampling of some of the “dog-friendly” places I found around town:
- Vic’s Pizzeria: It’s hard to say who will be happier here: you or your pooch. Serving up some of the best pizza in Olympia, Vic’s offers their signature pizzas by the slice or the whole pie (the author highly recommends the Elvis Special). They also have vegan and gluten-free pizza options available every day. They offer plentiful outdoor seating and are indeed dog-friendly; the restaurant is named after Vic the dog, and they offer treats for your canine friend. (Shayne felt quite comfortable here and even made a new friend.)
- Eastside Big Tom’s: Drive up to the Eastside Big Tom’s window to order your favorite burger or sandwich (make sure to try their legendary “Goop” sauce), and then share your meal with your dog at their outdoor tables. If you’re feeling indulgent, you can also try the popular new “Glazed and Confused” breakfast donut sandwich.
- Dino’s Coffee Bar: If you haven’t checked out Dino’s Coffee Bar yet, you are in for a treat. This café, which roasts their own coffee, also serves breakfast and lunch, and features great local on the walls. Dino’s namesake is a friendly pup, and you can often find him visiting (he’s a favorite with customers). They offer free wifi and plenty of outdoor seating on their patio.
- The Bread Peddler: This authentic French-style bistro is an absolute delight to stop by for lunch or a pastry treat (it’s one of the author’s favorite writing spots). Whether it’s French press coffee and an almond croissant, or a bowl of house-made soup you’re after, you can take your goodies from The Bread Peddler outside and lounge with your dog at one of their sidewalk tables. (I could tell Shayne felt a little cosmopolitan while we dined here.)
- Darby’s Café: Whether you’re a vegetarian or meat-eater, you’ll quickly find a favorite dish at Darby’s. This local favorite was featured on The Food Network, and you’ll find some of the best hash browns and vegan eggs Benedict in town. They have several outdoor tables, and your dog is welcome to accompany you during your meal. The eclectic décor, great people-watching, and signature cocktails keep people coming back.
- Eagan’s Westside Drive-In: This drive-up burger stand, an Olympia classic, is convenient for dog-owners, as you can stop and eat your meal with your dog at nearby Woodruff Park. (Try the grilled cheese with pickles – it’s awesome.) They are also super budget-friendly, offering daily $1.00 “happy hour” menu items. The folks at Eagan’s keep a jar of dog biscuits stocked for their four-legged customers (Shayne always gets excited when we pull up to the window here, and customarily gulped down his treat).
- Paco’s Tacos: This spot is a long-time classic among my friends and co-workers. They serve up authentic Mexican food and offer unbeatable prices. You’ll find generously-sized burritos (try a “wet burrito”), superior chile rellenos, house-made tortilla chips, a fresh salsa bar, and plenty of a la carte items. A friendly owner and staff complete the experience. Their seasonal outdoor tables are a perfect place for you to grab lunch with your dog while in Lacey.
- Jamba Juice: Located in the Lacey Marketplace plaza, Jamba Juice offers some tasty on-the-go beverage, smoothie and food options. Did you know that, in addition to their trademark fresh juices, they also offer lunch items such as artisan flatbreads and fresh yogurt bowls? The staff I talked to were enthusiastic about allowing dogs at the outdoor tables.
- Red Wagon Burgers: This Tumwater spot (formerly Daybreak Deli) takes pride in their custom-made burgers and Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches. Their house-made onion rings also win rave reviews. For those looking for something a little lighter, they also offer a variety of salads and wraps (from chicken balsamic to vegetarian). Customers love the friendly staff and generous portion sizes. Their attractive outdoor dining area means you can bring your dog along too. Shayne was all smiles as soon as we pulled into the parking lot – clearly, he knows the scent of a good burger.
Another dog-friendly option is, of course, to pack a picnic lunch or pick up take-out from a favorite spot, and dine at one of Thurston County’s many awesome parks. You can also check out the booming food truck scene – the group downtown welcome dogs in their picnic table area.
Not sure if your favorite place is dog-friendly? I recommend calling ahead to ask them. At every spot I checked, dogs are required to be on leashes, so make sure to pack your pup’s leash and collar (and make sure to bring a portable water source if it’s hot out).
As Shayne and I headed home from our last jaunt, he and I both were satiated and relaxed. He was full of dog biscuits (and, I’ll admit, a few bites of “people food”) and I was pleased to know that so many local business owners are welcoming to four-pawed guests.