.Dog-Friendly Dining and Cat Cafes in Honor of Pet Week

Fur-tolerant, spirit-lifting environments when we need it most

If one’s best buddy is a furry, ball-chasing bundle of energy commonly known as “my dog,” and one’s appetite leans to beer, burgers and beyond, the East Bay responds. Or let’s say a person wakes up one morning with a hankering for a feline fix and a cuppa cappuccino, chai or kombucha. We repeat: the East Bay answers.

Combining pet- and people-friendly environments with hunger- and thirst-pleasing menus, these seven establishments offer a starter’s list of places to visit when a body craves fuel and its heart and soul beat ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-BOOM for four-legged companionship.

Cat Town and RAWR Coffee Bar

Cat Town opened in 2014 as the country’s first cat cafe. Established to shelter elderly, ill, feral or injured cats and save them from euthanasia, Cat Town and the adjacent RAWR Coffee Bar present a one-of-a-kind opportunity to interact with adoptable cats housed cage-free while snacking on and sipping items brought from home or purchased at RAWR. 

The cafe’s limited menu includes Highwire coffee, a variety of tea and drinks, and vegan snacks; on one day, even a mushroom quiche. It also stocks cute cat toys and RAWR, a top all-natural raw cat food line. Recreational visits with cats are 50 minutes and cost $12; serious cat adopters and children under age two visit for free. Reservations are strongly encouraged as sessions often sell out. Special one-hour events include “Calm Cats and Yoga Mats” and TNR (trap-neuter-return) workshops.

The organization has grown since Ann Dunn launched it to change cat rescue locally and nationwide. In a phone interview, development and deputy director Quinn White says advising cat rescue operations from across the country has become a part of the mission. Outside cats brought in would stress the cats housed at the foster space and are not allowed. Staff and volunteers work with visitors to interact with the cats in safe, playful and always respectful ways.


Xochi the Dog, Cafe

Owned by Antoine Fouster and his mother, Tae Ha, this shop operating in the Buena Vista neighborhood near Lake Merritt opened in November 2020 during the height of the pandemic. Word-of-mouth quickly spread the good news and good eats of the shop’s menu, which reflects Spanish cuisine with empanadas and hot sandwiches served with green sauce and beverages ranging from drip coffee to Horchata lattes and bottled drinks.

Light breakfasts and pastries from Starter Bakery focus on local sourcing for ingredients and specialty items. Although Xochi’s open kitchen design means animals aren’t allowed indoors, a spacious outdoor patio invites all pups and their owners to enjoy a relaxed, family-style welcome and flavorful cuisine seven days a week beginning at 8am. Xochi closes at 5pm weekdays, 3pm weekends. xochithedogcafe.com/menu

Fieldwork Brewing Company

The award-winning craft brewery founded in Berkeley in 2014 now has seven locations throughout the Bay Area. The San Leandro Taproom and Beer Garden features a rotating tap list of fresh releases and sends a warm invite: “Well-behaved adults and children are welcome. Well-behaved dogs are welcome in the outdoor beer garden.”

Convenient curbside pickup and California-direct shipping of online orders are available, but why drink at home alone? Beer lovers can take Fido and blow the foam off a tumbler of sour ale or Westcoast IPA in good company while indulging in garlic fries, baked goat cheese, pizza, trapizzini, salads and more. Plus, there’s the dog shop talk and those cool hats for sale to add swag to dog-walking saunters and sojourns. fieldworkbrewing.com/san-leandro/

Nido’s BackYard

Owners Silvia Hernández-McCollow and Cory McCollow had a stellar idea in 2012: open Oakland’s first margarita garden, fill it with plants and bright colors, and serve delicious Mexican cuisine, with agave spirits and cocktails. The original restaurant, Nido, has evolved to become the couple’s elevated dining establishment, Odin, while the BackYard on the periphery of Jack London Square continues to thrive.

Diners can expect standard fare such as burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas and Mexican sides, but shouldn’t pass up the made-to-share taco plates, platters and kits. Special events like free movie nights, standup comedy acts, a Mother’s Day paint-along (fee for supplies) and more add to the attractions. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, although not invited to practice their Rembrandt or Picasso. nidooakland.com

Drake’s Dealership 

Dogs on leashes and children not on leashes must stay with adults at tables in this downtown beer garden, but other than that, freedom rules. There’s no lockup on great food and drinks and pet or parenting talk, just plenty of camaraderie and come-and-get-it food and beverage menus. House beers, wine and non-alcoholic drinks complement the full-service kitchen’s pizza, “Lil’ Bits” such as mac ’n’ cheese, and loaded pork fries, burgers, sandwiches, salads and desserts. It’s classic, from the beer to the big plates, to the beagle or basset hound or Borzoi at a neighboring table. drinkdrakes.com/story/history/

Brotzeit Lokal

Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome in Brotzeit’s Biergarten. Serving Bavarian cuisine using primarily locally sourced ingredients alongside a curated list of German craft beers, craft cocktails, wines and ciders, the waterfront location near the Brooklyn Basin neighborhood has a prime view.

House-made sausages are only the launching point for the menu’s Biergarten favorite starters, German specialty plates, boathouse favorites such as fish and chips, and more. There are usually 20 draft beers on tap that provide a terrific introduction to small German and Austrian family breweries, monastery microbrews and hard-to-find German beers. Quaffers can lift a mug and toast the good life with their best buddy in tow. brotzeitbiergarten.com

Temescal Brewing

Co-owners and founders Dvorit Mausner and Sam Gilbert have mastered the art of chill. “A chill place to hang out” is an oft-overheard comment when sipping a fruity Mescal Hazy, or one of roughly 15-20 beers available on the tap list that ranges from IPAs to lagers, pale ales, pilsners and more. A rotating roster of food trucks and the location just steps away from the MacArthur BART station add to the appeal. Food trucks in April included Mamas Papas, Smish Smash, Alameda Kitchen, Mezcla, La Patrona and more.

Well-mannered dogs are welcome on the patio, along with their well-mannered human escorts. There’s a community-minded atmosphere and ethos underscoring the operation that leads to festive happenings, like a transformation of the patio in December 2022 into the “No Jerks Ski Village.” Tinsel-covered trees, flaming-hot cocoa, infinite pretzels, outdoor heaters and 2,400 gift bows glued to a wall created a “Festival Ballroom” setting for snowboarders and skiers. A black lager (Coal) and West Coast-style IPA (Holiday Libation) appeared to mark the season.

Coming up with special events in May, the Weekly Trivia with Head Games Trivia continues on Wednesdays as does the First Tuesdays Monthly Magic MTC game-playing session. And for those dog lovers, there’s nothing better than Bones & Brews on May 11, when Oakland Animal Services shows up with adoptable pups and Diamond Dogs Treatery & Pet Boutique will be around all afternoon. After all, doesn’t “Fifi” deserve all-natural Handmade Organic Catnip Tortellini or “Fido” an Aburaya Chicken Jerky with Fish Powder or Organic Sweet Potato Jerky? temescalbrewing.com.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

East Bay Express E-edition East Bay Express E-edition