Here are the dog-friendly places – and a few almost entirely dog-friendly streets – where Jazzy and I like to eat, along with the dishes that particularly please our picky palates (well, mine at least … Jazzy’s palate is not particularly picky).
1000 Great Highway (at Lincoln Way), 415-386-8439, www.parkchalet.com
The Park Chalet is one of the most charming outdoor dining spots in the City. Located behind the historic Beach Chalet, it’s the perfect place to stop after one of those long walks on the beach. Comfy Adirondack chairs adorn the lawn surrounded by tall trees and Golden Gate Park trails. They feature live music, a menu of tasty small plates, and special events like Taco Tuesdays ($3 beers, tacos and 2-for-1 margaritas), and handcrafted beers.
Not-to-miss dishes: Onion strings, lobster fritters, sticky ribs, Dungeness crab roll.
3665 Sacramento Street (at Locust), 415-921-3200, www.caffesociale.com
Sociale rates up there on the charming scale, too – if you can find it – and it also happens to be one of the Northside’s best (and most underrated) restaurants. Tucked behind a storefront, Sociale is the very definition of a hidden gem. Chef Tia Harrison turns out beautifully balanced dishes including wonderful house-made pastas and sustainable meat, poultry and fish on a seasonally changing menu. The secluded brick patio is heated for year-round enjoyment.
Not-to-miss dishes: Marrowbones, roasted game hen, bucatini with guanciale (pork jowl), fontina-stuffed fried olives.
2162 Larkin Street (at Green), 415-447-0441, www.amarenarestaurant.com
My Sicilian roots are showing – I like the “mama’s recipes” kind of Italian places, and Amarena is one of my favorites. Another underrated gem, this sweet little spot on Russian Hill has a few sidewalk tables perfect for people watching with your pooch over a plate of house-made pasta.
Not-to-miss dishes: Gnocchi with mushrooms in Gorgonzola sauce, tagliolini con osso buco, petrale sole in lemon butter sauce, oven-baked eggplant with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Steiner Street “Restaurant Row”
Marina (between Lombard and Chestnut Streets)
Most of the restaurants on this stretch of Steiner have sidewalk seating, so it’s tough to pick just one. It really depends on our mood.
Not-to-miss dishes: the California veggie burger at Lettus; bouillabaisse at Bistro Aix, BBQ bibimbop at Hahn’s Hibachi; chilled potato leek soup at Nectar; whole roasted crab with scallion, garlic, black pepper and butter sauce at Three Seasons; fried egg sandwich at Rose’s Café (not on Restaurant Row, but worth a jaunt up Steiner to the corner of Union Street – they even have house-baked dog biscuits).
Again, there are so many doggie-friendly options on and around Chestnut Street that it’s tough to choose. It’s another “let your taste buds take you” experience.
Not-to-miss dishes: Milanese-style chicken breast topped with almonds and crispy sage at Emporio Rulli, cream cheese-stuffed French toast at Judy’s Cafe, “Whiz with” cheesesteak at Jake’s (Buchanan Street just off of Chestnut), chilaquiles and carnitas tacos at Mamacita, banana pancakes at Bechelli’s, “You Pick” salad at Blue Barn.
Like the Marina’s Chestnut Street and Steiner Street Restaurant Row, Columbus Avenue offers plenty of sidewalk dining choices, but the food isn’t as consistent because many of the restaurants are geared toward tourists. Still, there’s no street in San Francisco as nostalgic for me as Columbus. I remember as a child going with my grandfather when he visited from back east. He would sit at the sidewalk cafes, smoking cigars and speaking Italian with the old guys from the neighborhood.
Not-to-miss dishes: All-in-one sandwiches at Giordano Bros. (choice of grilled meat topped with provolone cheese, fresh-cut seasoned fries, and olive oil and vinegar coleslaw on thick-sliced, fresh-baked bread), pork scaloppine topped with eggplant and fontina cheese with sautéed Swiss chard at Calzone’s, pumpkin ravioli at L’Osteria del Forno, whole grilled Tai snapper at Rose Pistola, American “Kobe” burger at Rogue Ales.
Get Across Town: Zazie
941 Cole Street (at Carl), 415-564-5332, www.zaziesf.com
One of my best memories of Jasmine as a puppy is our first Monday night “doggie dinner” in the garden of Cole Valley’s most adorable bistro, Zazie. On this particular night they were doing a coursed dinner with wine pairings along with a coursed dinner for your dog prepared by a dog bakery (no vino for Fido, though). While they don’t do special events like that often, it’s always “bring your doggy to dinner” night Mondays on the back patio, and dogs are welcome anytime at the couple of sidewalk tables in front.
Not-to-miss dishes: Un deux trois (two eggs, three strips of bacon and a buttermilk pancake), croque monsieur, brandy chicken liver pate on grilled levain, poulet sauté grand-mere.