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.


Rory Henderson, Daisy, Pier 29.

Photo by Stephen Loewinsohn

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Every morning when Oakland-based restaurateurs Amber Ishikawa and Dominick Scala open the doors to Underwood Café, they know they can count on being greeted by a crowd of friendly, familiar faces. In this case, some of their most loyal and enthusiastic patrons happen to be covered in fur and not only walk on four legs but also prefer their beverages from a bowl on the patio. That’s because these owners have opted to run a dog-friendly venue, and the local pet lovers are showing up in droves.

Since the enactment of more than 900 new California laws on Jan. 1, including a bill that allows canine companions to join their human friends for outdoor meals, restaurant owners can choose whether to designate their patios as hound-hospitable or Fido-free.

“Dogs bring light to the place,” Ishikawa says of their decision to welcome all “breeds” of customers. “They are here every day, all day, and we love them.” When you bring your dog with you to Underwood, which doubles as a shared workspace, you’ll see that pets are doted on with treats, easy-to-reach water dishes, and all the shade they need. And if the sun is a bit bright, Ishikawa notes that she’ll happily tilt their umbrellas to accommodate the pets sleeping on the patio’s wood floor. Regulars Bernie, Linden, Scamps, Mojo, Mico, and Kona clearly appreciate the favor on their near-daily visits to the café, as they cozy up at the feet of owners enjoying a hot mocha, summer squash frittata, or glass of rosé.

Another canine-friendly eatery is Brotzeit, a biergarten serving super-sized house-made sausages and waterfront views of Oakland’s embarcadero. Krista Granieri, who owns the place with her husband, Tony, couldn’t be more thrilled about the new law. “We are very excited about the new law,” she says. “In Germany, everywhere is dog-friendly. People even take their dogs—and their beers—on the subway! It was never a question for us. We are dog owners and wanted people to be able to enjoy our biergarten and relax with their pooches.”

At any given time of day, you are likely to see a few of said pooches lying beneath tables while their owners savor two-liter boots of beer and hearty portions of fish and chips or bratwurst with sauerkraut.

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