Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
One word: Coronarita. It’s a mini Corona tipped upside down into a bigger-than-your face margarita that slowly drains itself into your glass as you suck down a brain freeze-inducing mound of bad decisions. Cantina Marina is decidedly dog-friendly... it may even be too dog friendly, if that's a thing. There are always dogs here. There might be an inside, but the point of Cantina Marina is sitting outside, gazing at the boats in the harbor, and people watching the other day drinkers. If your pup is easily overwhelmed the crowds, this might be too much, but if they're an attention hound, you're in the clear.
Barracks Row/Navy Yard
This summer added a new beer garden to the DC scene: the Brig, a fun neighborhood spot that’s a short walk from Nats Park and the newly developed Capitol Riverfront area south of Barracks Row. Think very traditional German beer garden scene (giant beers taller than you can finish before they get slightly warm) plus big screen live sports. The patio is dog friendly, and it's a great happy hour spot before moseying down Eighth St SE for dinner.
Dupont (& Shaw)
Where else can you find wine on tap, local ice cream, and made-to-order really, really, ridiculously good-tasting sandwiches? OK, so it’s pricey. And full of hipsters... and kombucha chugging post-workout yuppies. It doesn’t matter. You feel good shopping here (locally sourced products, and the place is powered by wind!) and they love seeing you with your dog. Both locations offer seasonal Yappy Hours, complete with water bowls and fancy dog treats outside on the always dog-friendly patio.
In the last year, this already excellent neighborhood dive added a side patio, complete with cute potted plants... and more importantly, a huge window, so you can order your next slushy cocktail or beer without leaving your pooch’s side. Servers will happily set down a water bowl for your dog, so the only trick is bringing a friend or finding someone to watch your pup long enough to get in a few games of pinball inside. Inside Lyman’s, you kind of feel like you're in your friend's cool basement hangout: the place is stuffed with vintage knick knacks and taxidermy... plus you drink free on your birthday. Hungry? Ask for the free popcorn, dressed up hot dogs, or the medianoche sandwich (think of a Cuban’s spicy cousin). Although that last one's probably not great to share with your pooch. If you’re extra lucky, you’ll get to meet Bubbles, the owner’s own canine.
This dog-friendly beer garden is a great place to pick up other humans... or have your pup make a new friend. The huge, picnic table-filled garden is an easy 10 minute walk from the Silver Spring metro, and a great addition to the neighborhood since opening in 2014. There’s a bar outside, where human patrons can taste among Denizen’s own 45 beers (cheap wine is also available, but no liquor), and there’s a smaller version of the menu for outside patrons, but it’s equally tasty, and features a lot of the same simple food (quinoa bowls, brisket patty burgers). Denizen’s has branched out to include occasional events onsite like live music, and their detox/retox beer-and-yoga class... although it might be best to leave the downward dog to the humans, and leave your pup home for that one. Oh, and be sure to fill a growler for the road.
Columbia Heights, DC
You fancy, huh? This is the kind of place where you’ll either have to look up some of the ingredients in your cocktail or just trust your server to bring you something delicious. But the truth is, Room 11’s drinks are a work of art, and worth the splurge. Pro move: take Fido to the dog park across the street first, so that he’s mellowed out and you can kick back and watch everyone in line trying to get into the recently recognized Bad Saint just next door. Room 11’s seasonal menu has lots of tasty nibbles, and if you’re here on the early side for brunch, be sure to snag a Bullfrog bagel.
Shirlington (& other locations)
Happy hour? Check. Brunch? Check. Allergen-friendly dishes? Check. Busboys is a great local chain that keeps expanding, and the location in Shirlington is a short walk from one of the best dog parks in the DMV (think dog beach and river!) and is close to Dogma Bakery in Shirlington Village, where you can get your dog an Insta-worthy treat before or after you treat yourself to good food, local beers, and fine cocktails. It’s pretty popular, so plan to wait for a table on a nice day.
Virtue has a nicely sized patio that’s a fun space for happy hour, dinner, or brunch in Old Town Alexandria. The menu is classic American and a little overpriced for what it is, but the staff is very dog friendly, and will help you and your dog feel at home. If you get a chance to peek inside check out the bright airy spaces and mix of rustic and upscale furnishings. Tip: skip dessert and head over to Dairy Godmother for homemade custard and puppy pops!