Dining Goes to the Dogs at Underwood Cafe, Pier 29 and Elsewhere

Puppies (and their parents) can grace the porches of California restaurants, thanks to a new law. Lots of establishments are getting in on the action.


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Photo by Stephen Loewinsohn

Dana Brook, Ellie, Underwood.

Across the estuary, Alameda also boasts a selection of restaurants where Sparky can feel like the leader of the pack. Dogs must remain on leashes at all California restaurants, and nowhere else complies with quite as much elegance as Pier 29, a sprawling seafood restaurant with two patios perfect for people with a dog in tow. Customers can opt to eat their oyster-and-bacon omelettes on the dock-facing terrace or indulge in a blue cheese New York steak on the new front deck that is equipped with special leash hooks. Longtime server Nancy Haley, who has worked at the venue for close to 20 years, notes that the patios are bringing dog-toting patrons in full force. “On the weekend, there may be 10 to 12 different families here with their dogs,” she says. “We have regulars who do their walk and then stop by.”

If you’re looking to spend your morning beside a quaint porch at the end of a quiet street, then pick up that leash and walk over to Little House Café, a friendly eatery that welcomes tail-waggers from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day of the week. Two patrons explained that they come to this cuter-than-cute diner twice a week, and there are always dogs enjoying the scene, without exception. Whether you opt for a mushroom and Gruyère crêpe (available during breakfast, brunch, or lunch service) or a Romaine Mumbai salad with raisins, coconut, almonds, cucumbers, and peppers, if you’ve got your best friend by your side, you’ll feel right at home at Little House.

It’s a dog’s life these days, and pet lovers throughout Alameda County are appreciative that Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada unleashed this new law into the books. As Ishikawa sees it, dining with dogs is nothing but good. “We’re animal people,” she says, adding that having dogs around “makes people happier. That’s my life’s work.”

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