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    Dining with Dogs

    By David Landis–

    This week’s column is guest written by Gaston and Alphonse, The Gay Gourmet’s adorable pound pups.

    Gaston: Why is it when Dad goes out to eat, we just have to sit there quietly? We’re hungry too, for gosh sakes. Well, we’ll show them. We’ve put together some of the best places in San Francisco where when food falls to the floor, dogs win.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: First up—Mer Sea, a casual café/restaurant in reused containers with outdoor seating on Treasure Island. It boasts a one-of-a-kind view of the city’s skyline, and a great path for dog-walking post-noshing. My favorite fall-to-the-ground snack? Crispy tacos with chicken at their popular weekend brunch. Go early.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: Next up, who doesn’t love a burger and BBQ—all at outdoor picnic tables? When you dine at 4505 Burgers and BBQ on Divisadero, hope that a big chunk of that juicy hamburger flies out of Dad’s hands onto the ground. There’s even a #4505patiopups hashtag on Instagram.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: Since we both have French names, we’re always partial to French cafes, and what better place to enjoy la dolce vita than Bistro Central Parc in NOPA? It’s on Central Street and less of a scene than Divisadero Street. When those crispy fries come bouncing our way, we’re in dog heaven.

    Alphonse: Oui!

    Gaston: There’s something for everyone at Off the Grid, the big food truck extravaganza outdoors at the Main Parade Ground in the Presidio. Culinary offerings range from Argentinian to Indian to Mexican to Filipino and more. Since many folks eat standing up, it means better eats for the dogs. And best of all, after our tasty lunch, Dad takes us across the way to Crissy Field, where dogs can run leash-free on the beach. Check the website, as hours and locations vary due to the seasons.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: For something elegant, there’s nothing quite like Le Colonial on Cosmo Alley (off Union Square), which is celebrating 21 years in business. This institution has an iconic standing in San Francisco’s dining history. It used to be the home of Trader Vic’s, where the “see and be seen” crowd gathered to imbibe. There’s a beautiful covered patio where dogs are welcome. We love the fusion of French and Vietnamese cooking. Dad always orders their Mai Tai, which is good for us because then the crispy rolls (Cha Gio Tom Cua) tend to easily slip out of Dad’s hands to the floor.

    Alphonse: Dung! (That’s “yes” in Vietnamese.)

    Gaston: We haven’t been there yet, but we’re hearing good things about the Berkeley Boathouse at the Berkeley Marina. You can dock your boat and then dine at this waterfront eatery. The burrata plate with fried basil pesto and marinated heirloom tomato balsamic glaze sounds right up our canine alley. Dogs can dine with their human companions on the deck/patio—or even hang in the courtyard where there are bocce ball courts and fire pits.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: For dining with a view, there’s nothing like Mission Rock Resort, just a couple of blocks from the new Chase Center. You have unobstructed views of the Bay from the second floor balcony dining area; even dogs have a view! We love the Dungeness crab that sometimes drops unknowingly into our mouths.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: For an upscale seafood experience with a view of the Bay Bridge, book an outdoor table at Waterbar. Dad loves their oysters; I’m not convinced they’re a doggie culinary delight. But we love the fritto misto with bay shrimp. Yum! And afterwards, it’s always fun to walk along the Embarcadero with the great smells from the Bay.

    Alphonse: Double Woof!

    Gaston: For a great casual weekend brunch, there’s nothing quite like the tropical ambiance of the Palm House on Union Street. They always bring bowls of water for the pups on the patio and Dad thinks it’s like a trip to Hawaii or the Caribbean. We like the sweet potato fries that magically fall from the sky.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: If you’re in the Castro (one of our fave neighborhoods), the place to see and be seen is the back courtyard at Starbelly. Dad likes the wines by the glass, but we vote for the house-made chicken liver pate. What’s not to like about meat?

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: Homemade dog milk bones and the breakfast pizzas reign supreme at Rose’s Café on Union Street in Cow Hollow. We like the Steiner Street side patio because it’s more private and quiet—and you can score big with non dog-owners who drop food willy nilly.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: If you’re in North Beach, it’s too bad that dog-friendly Washington Square is closed for the foreseeable future due to renovations. But Original Joe’s, a great Italian-American throwback to the 50s, is still a classic. Grab one of the outdoor patio tables either on Union or Stockton and while away the day. Dad likes the classics here: spaghetti with meatballs, a glass of Chianti, and zabaglione. The portions are huge, which means more for dogs, yay!

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: If you’re headed out to Ocean Beach, first check the dog rules there; they keep changing. Last we heard, it’s “dogs on leash”—which doesn’t make us happy. But for a dining repast, it’s fun to head to the Park Chalet. The backyard patio has ample space for dogs and the American fare takes center stage. The fried chicken sandwich is delicious.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: For a great burger in the Marina, Causwell’s is the place. It’s a retro double thin-patty burger with American cheese, but Dad says they also have a great wine list. Our favorite is their onion rings, but they’re not always available throughout the day. Sit outside on the Chestnut Street sidewalk and you’ll see some cute poodles pass by.

    Alphonse: Woof!

    Gaston: For the best pizza in town, head to Delfina. The California Street pizzeria location is near our dog park (Alta Plaza), but the 18th Street full service restaurant is much more trendy. Dogs are considered rock stars at Delfina, and if they have it, don’t miss the seasonal cherry pie—it’s a pizza with cherry tomatoes.

    Alphonse: Don’t I get to talk?

    David Landis, aka “The Gay Gourmet,” is a foodie, a freelance writer and a PR executive. Follow him: @david_landis, email him at: or visit online at:


    Dog Day on the Bay Hosted by Hornblower Cruises & Events on November 3

    Partnering with Petco; Portion of the proceeds benefiting Friends of Oakland Animal Services

    Hornblower Cruises & Events, the charter yacht and dining cruise company, has announced Dog Day on the Bay sponsored by Petco that will take place on Sunday, November 3, with em”bark”ation at Pier 3 in San Francisco beginning at 3 pm with a cruising time of 3:30 pm. The “Pet Cruise Director” will be dog-training expert Darris Cooper. A portion of the proceeds will benefit local nonprofit Friends of Oakland Animal Services and a donation drive on their behalf will be hosted with adult-sized bath towels, fleece throw blankets, Kong rubber toys, and treats for dogs or cats being sought.

    Pier 3 is located on the Embarcadero, north of the Ferry Building and close to the Embarcadero BART station and the Muni F line, making this two-hour cruise an accessible option for a weekend excursion with a favorite furry friend. Human guests can enter their companion in costume and trick contests to show off their dog’s favorite moves or their cutest outfit while the four-footed set can peruse the doggie treat buffet sponsored by Petco and then visit the “relief” area on the Sun deck. Tickets are available to purchase:
    or from the reservation call center at 415-788-8866. Dogs cruise for free.

    The cruise tours the San Francisco Bay with views of some of San Francisco’s top sights. Highlights include traveling under the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges and around Alcatraz Island. Snacks prepared on board by Hornblower’s chefs plus libations from a full bar will be available for purchase while cruising. There will also be musical entertainment from a local DJ.