Food & Drink

The Most Dog-Friendly Bars in DC

Published On 10/13/2016 Published On 10/13/2016
Cantina Marina

Cantina Marina


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.

The Brig

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.

Glen's Garden Market - Dupont

Glen’s Garden Market

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.

Lyman’s Tavern

Columbia Heights/Petworth

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.

Denizens Brewing Co

Denizens Brewing Co.

Silver Spring

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.

Room 11

Room 11

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.

Busboys and Poets

Busboys and Poets

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 Feed & Grain

Alexandria, VA

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!

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1. Cantina Marina 600 Water St SW, Washington, DC 20024

Southwest DC’s Cantina Marina is the culinary embodiment of Margaritaville, from its nautical theme to its beach bites-style menu. The Cajun-meets-Tex-Mex joint is built to resemble a beach shack; with cerulean blue and lemon yellow wood paneling dotted with decorative plaster fish, Cantina Marina would be less conspicuous in sunny Key West than the District. Embrace your temporary vacation, though, and comb through the platter of “Super” nachos to rescue the shrimp, steak, and Andouille sausage that’s smothered by chili, pico de gallo, crema, avocado, and jalapeno. The salads, entrees, and sandwiches offer Creole options, like Jambalaya pasta and the Bayou burger. You’ll want to wash your savory plates down with an ice-cold beer, a margarita, or a sweet specialty cocktail, like the blueberry lemonade. With a location right on the water, it’s likely you’ll pour hours into this place; and you know, it’s your own damn fault.

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2. the brig 1007 8th Street SE, Washington, 20003

The Brig, located in Capitol Riverfront, is a casual neighborhood beer garden best suited for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. German and craft brews are the main event here, but the fully stocked bar will fulfill your hard liquor desires. Settle into one of the picnic benches on the outdoor patio on a sunny day, and complement your beer with a bratwurst, hot pretzel, or even a burger. But keep your eye out for hungry pups that might try and snag your meat; The Brig is so canine-friendly that servers will provide water bowls for their furry crowd. At The Brig, be prepared to pay a slightly more than you’re used to; but you’ll be delighted at what a few extra dollars will get you at a beer garden whose selection and quality is so compelling.

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3. Glen's Garden Market 2001 S St NW, Washington, 20009

Glen’s Garden Market’s Dupont store-deli-bar crossover is one of the elite few that actually makes the phrase “something for everyone” seem genuine. The neighborhood staple, which offers a sampling of sandwiches, pizzas, salads, craft beer, and organic, gourmet groceries, sources all of its ingredients from local farms in DC’s backyard. Every sandwich is stacked with 1/3lb of sustainably raised and thoughtfully prepared meat; try the Carnivore Panini, which is topped with prosciutto, fig jam, mozzarella, and Parmesan on ciabatta. With rows and rows of perfectly packaged epicurean treats, Glen’s is like a candy store for adults. And while Glen’s is pricey, it is well worth it; so treat yourself. Head there on weekdays for a post-work happy hour, but get there early as the homey picnic tables fill up quickly.

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4. Lyman's Tavern 3720 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Sliders, dogs, and tacos are the main staples at this Columbia Heights dive bar. Here you will find pinball machines, PBR on draught, local beers like DC Brau, National Bohemian, and Atlas Brew Works, and a good number of domestic bottles. If it gives you any idea of what the atmosphere is like, the casual bar features stuffed jackalope heads, cross-stitched signage, and retro decorations. Now with the addition of an outdoor patio space, hot dogs aren't the only dogs welcome at Lyman's ... in other words, bring your pooch.

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5. Denizens Brewing Co 1115 E West Hwy, Silver Spring, MD 20910

Denizens Brewing Co is quite the set up in Silver Spring, complete with a beer garden and barbecue -- since you know there are few things better in life than chowing down on a pulled pork sandwich while drinking craft beer and playing cornhole outside. Head brewer Jeff Ramirez makes super-innovative brews, and if you grab a seat inside you can hear, see and smell the brewing process. The real pro move here is to just ask the bartender what bottles they have available... sometimes, you’ll seriously luck out.

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6. Room 11 3234 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20010

Room 11 is a neighborhood restaurant, bakery, coffee shop, and wine bar in Columbia Heights. The small den has an ultra-relaxed atmosphere, with end-grain wood flooring cut from 80-year-old yellow pine, a pearl-colored zinc bar, and walls with inlaid wine racks. The American menu consists of cheese and charcuterie boards and large plates, like miso pork belly and grilled strip steak. Here, you can order both standard cocktails and inventive house recipes with exciting twists and flavors, like “When Rails Fall,” with Jamaican rum, Punt e Mes, fig, lime, and burlesque bitters.

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7. Busboys and Poets 2021 14th St NW, Washington, 20009

Named for American poet Langston Hughes (who worked as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel prior to gaining recognition as a poet), Busboys and Poets is part alt-bookstore and part vegetarian-focused restaurant. Owner Andy Shallal describes his hangout as "a community where racial and cultural connections are consciously uplifted… a place to take a deliberate pause and feed your mind, body and soul..." Speaking of feeding, you'll want to consult the vegan-friendly menu that offers cafe staples like salads and sandwiches, plus some out-of-this-world vegan nachos.

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8. Virtue Feed & Grain 106 S Union St, Alexandria, VA 22314

Harkening back to the warehouse’s original purpose as a feed mill, Virtue features exposed brick, hand-crafted furniture from recycled wood, shabby chic accents, and a warm, industrial feel. This casual, American tavern, located near Old Town’s waterfront, is known for its long tap list, stellar happy hour, and delicious brunch options like the Eggs Chesapeake that goes swimmingly with the loaded Virtue Bloody Mary. During the patio months, Virtue is happy to throw your dog a bone … literally.