DC is for the dogs

Had you told me a year ago that the phrase, “Is it dog friendly?” would be part of my daily lexicon, I’d have laughed out loud.

Alas, this is me now. Calling up restaurants in hopes of convincing hosts to reserve outdoor tables. Basing my after work drinks on whether or not the restaurant has a patio. Switching from Marriott to Hilton because Hilton properties are more likely to have dog friendly policies (and I’m currently considering moving to IHG, because every Kimpton welcomes dogs without a pet fee).

My sisters remind me often this is abnormal behavior. But living in DC normalizes all kinds of things — not all of them good — including this particular obsession.

Here, I present a few of our favorite dog spots. When I say “our” favorites, obviously I’m referring to “me and Cappie.” Generally Matt likes what we like, but his limits are a bit more rigid than ours. (See: The time I booked us a yurt on an organic farm — in July — for our first anniversary after he’d asked me to “choose something really nice.”)

The Line Hotel: This boutique hotel in the old Masonic temple in Adams Morgan welcomes dogs into their lobby, where you can order food and drinks from acclaimed restaurant Brothers and Sisters to enjoy right there on the lobby couches with your pup. Brothers and Sisters makes a mean martini, which goes perfectly alongside their dry aged beef burger. During Winter Restaurant Week last year you could order Korean Fried Chicken nuggets in the lobby. Cappie and I ate multiple orders and couldn’t decide who liked them best.

Boating In DC: In one week I’ve recommended them twice, but… have you ever taken a puppy on a paddle board? It’s really, really fun. They offer life jackets for all sizes of dogs. They can’t guarantee your dog will like the water – but how do you know until you try?

Martin’s Tavern: The patio at Martin’s will always be my favorite spot to see the world go by. Since Cappie joined our crew, the staff at Martin’s have started to recognize me by my dog’s blond hair, not my own. I recently left my credit card there and the manager asked the next day to see Cappie’s ID. They heat their patio so this is a solid option through the Fall and starting again in early Spring.

Old Angler’s Inn: This historic inn near the C&O Canal and Great Falls Park (Maryland side) features two distinct patios, both dog friendly. The one at the entryway offers the full menu and a much more upscale vibe – in the summer it’s home to a large fountain, which becomes a massive fire pit in the fall and winter. If you sneak to the left of the building and go around back you’ll find the Beer Garden, the perfect spot for a mid-bike beer or post-run hot dog. This nothing fancy plastic cups and baskets of food spot is perfect for a quick bite. After a dog named Peaches attacked Cap along the River last week, we took to the Beer Garden to soothe our nerves. Cappie met another Cappi (no “e,” full name “Capital”) and we confirmed she was considerably less shaken up by the incident than I was.

Leopold’s Kafe: This precocious spot is a perfect place to indulge in one drink too many on a sunny afternoon with friends — human and furry ones. It’s tucked down on Cady’s Alley off Georgetown’s busy M Street, which makes it a pleasant respite from the manic shoppers and too-many-tourists vibe of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. This spot might make you think, “Too many pretentious Europeans,” but at least they’re not mowing you down with shopping bags. The food is upscale Austrian cafe food. Meaning some of it is really fabulous, some of it is really bland — but beautifully presented. If a menu item sounds confusing, ask about it before you order it unless you’re someone that loves surprises (like you think you ordered a chicken with salad, but really you’ve ordered a cold chicken salad spread). The pastries are perfection, and the schnitzel just like you’d get in your favorite Austrian Schloss. The bright orange umbrellas, gurgling fountain and top-notch people watching make the ambiance one of the best in Georgetown. Go for the Aperol Spritz, stay for the sixth.

Post-hike food and fare? This is a topic I can talk about for hours. More to come.



Alicia Amling View All →

Recovering journalist who discovered a life outside of news leaves you time for things like getting angry, cooking and traveling. Plus, hopefully, writing. I’m a wife, dog mom and Washingtonian.

1 Comment Leave a comment

  1. Thank you for sharing! I love knowing all fun places to take your dogs. If I go to DC I will check our your places. If you ever travel to along the way to CA via car I have some great hotels that are pet friendly. Check out my site. “Bella’s Doggie Blog”


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