Dining Out With Kids: What’s Your Opinion?

Mom helping daughter cut food.At OpenTable, we’re fans of all kinds restaurants. We love romantic restaurants as well as those that are good for groups. We love to find places where you can dine with your four-legged friends. And because we were all little foodies once upon a time, we’re glad there are terrific kid-friendly restaurants. But, not everyone thinks kids and restaurants go together.

While there are plenty of ways to make dining out with children a positive experience for all parties (including the people at the next table), some parents choose not to bring their kids to certain restaurants. Also, not every restaurant goes out of its way to accommodate children. Still, there are upscale restaurants in New York (though Eater NY would disagree) and London that embrace tiny diners, as well as many more all around the U.S..

Do you take your children to fine-dining restaurants? Do they enjoy it? Have someone else’s children ever marred your fine-dining experience? Weigh in here or tell us what you think on Facebook.

Petiquette: Etiquette Tips for Dining al Fresco with Your Pet

petiquetteI love dogs as much as I love dining out. My husband and I eat out often with our shelter rescues Nortyn, a Lab-Husky mix, Indiana, a German Shorthaired Pointer, and Bernie, a Patterdale Terrier. We’ll be doing so even more during the last days of September as that’s when dog owners celebrate National Dog Week.

Here are my tips for making any meal out a success for people and pets.

  1. Obey the rules. Don’t request to sit somewhere that would violate the restaurant’s policies regarding pets. Likewise, don’t try to sneak your dog into places that are off-limits.
  2. Be mindful of other guests and keep your pet near you and under your control at all times. Even when other diners express an interest in your pets, they’ll still want to eat their meal in peace
  3. Be aware of your pet’s well-being (Is she hot? Cold? Hungry?). While many restaurants will bend over backwards to provide for your pet, it’s up to you to arrive with treats and other essentials (see our suggestions).
  4. If your pet  happens to have an accident, clean it up immediately and discretely. Do not burden wait staff with this, ahem, duty.
  5. Praise and pet your pet. Ignoring your furry friend can lead to destructive, attention-getting behavior. The point of dining out with your pet is to enjoy quality time together.

Take part in National Dog Week by dining out with your pet at one of these top pet-friendly restaurants or another eatery near you.

Essential Utensils for Your Domesticated Dining Partner

essential-dining-utensilsYou can ensure a smooth al fresco dining experience for you and your pet if you’ve got the right gear in tow. Check out these five must-haves for your restaurant-loving pet.

1.    The Popware Travel Dog Bowl: This 1-cup+ travel disc pops up to provide your animal companion with its own drinking bowl. It easily clips onto a leash, belt buckle, or knapsack and comes in pink or blue.

2.    REI Adventure Dog Pack: Going out for the tasting menu? Make sure your dog is prepared for the long haul with this practical pack. She can carry her own bottled water, treats, and toys – and perhaps even a doggie bag on the way home.

3.    Florence Bella Bag: Dog owners never know when nature will call, but no one wants to carry plastic baggies into a fine-dining establishment’s outdoor seating area. The Florence Bella Bag is designed for pet-owners (and diners) who are interested in fashion and discretion.

4.    Buddy Belts Dog Harness: No matter how well behaved your dog (or other pet) is, most restaurants will ask that you keep him leashed during your meal. Instead of tugging at its neck all night, set your pet up in a Buddy Belts dog harness designed for style and comfort.

5.    Hang Loose Hawaiian Cooling Top: Even though it’s fall, dogs can still overheat easily if they’re seated in the strong sun for too long. Help your pet remain cool with this cute shirt that holds a 65-degree temperature for three days after being dipped in water.

The Best Restaurants to Feast with Your Furry Friend

pet-friendly-restaurantsNow that the dog days of summer (and the hot and humid weather that usually accompanies them) are behind us and National Dog Week is about to begin, it’s a great time to take your pet (or two…or three) out on the town and to your favorite restaurant. Not every dining establishment will accommodate pets.  But, typically, those with outside seating can. And many go out of their way to welcome your four-legged or two-winged dining companions. Of course, some folks take more exotic companions out with them. Our fans on Facebook have reported seeing everything from a ferret and a cockatoo to a baby pig and a skunk!

Here’s a list of 10 restaurants around the U.S. that don’t mind accommodating pet-obsessed owners and their animals.

1.  FARM at The Carneros Inn, Napa, California
OpenTable diner Kathy Johnson enjoys taking her canine companion to wine country. “FARM at the Carneros Inn is very pet-friendly. If you are in their outdoor lounge/bar area, you can have your dog at your feet while you sip great wines and choose items from the bar menu.  Dogs can also be nearby if you are seated in the outdoor terrace of the formal restaurant.” FARM specializes in serving food that complements wine, so go hungry and thirsty.

2.  Tabla, New York, New York
Diner Lisa Hanock and her husband are fans of this pet-friendly, upscale Indian restaurant. “We’ve found quite a few restaurants that enjoy hosting four-legged pals, but the most welcoming restaurateur has got to be Danny Meyer. At Tabla, (across from Madison Square Park, which has a popular dog run), you can order from the dinner menu while your dog enjoys a designer bowl of water and packaged cookie treats. We’ve taken our 90-pound Belgian Shepherd many times.”

3.  Log Haven, Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City’s Log Haven takes its appreciation for dogs to a new level during the months of June through the second week of October with a “Dog Days of Summer” special. Diner Kathleen Bratcher, her husband, and their dog Bella give Log Heaven’s seasonal American cuisine and canine hospitality a rave review. She says, “We were offered spacious patio seating, cool water, high-quality dog treats in a stainless steel doggie dish, and brass-plated dog tags with ‘Log Haven’ embossed. They also offer a reasonably priced dog meal created by their chef, Dave Jones, and a special cocktail menu for adults with a refreshing ‘Salty Dog.’

4.  Besito, Huntington, New York
Besito (which means ‘little kiss’ in Spanish) embraces all of its customers, including those who can’t order for themselves. With outdoor seating ideal for people- and pet-watching, Besito, known for its authentic Mexican cuisine and tableside guacamole, has an ever-present bowl of Milk Bones on the sidewalk along with an endless supply of cool water. It’s the perfect place for Fido to make friends.

5.  The Farm of Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
The Farm (no relation to FARM at The Carneros Inn) serves innovative American cuisine at each of its locations around Los Angeles and happily welcomes animal companions. The Farm’s Kelli Richardson reveals, “The Farm is one of the most pet-friendly restaurants around. We have even hosted an event, ‘Eat With Your Paws for a Good Cause,’ to help raise money for needy animal shelters.  At each of our locations, we are more than happy to accommodate four-legged guests of guests. We will set up a bowl of water for the dog just outside our patio or next to the table. We are very mindful of health department rules regarding animals in restaurants.  But, our patio allows us to comply by keeping animals just outside of the railing.”

6.  Old Homestead Steak House, New York, New York
A meat lover’s paradise, this classic (and, yes, old) Manhattan steakhouse is situated – where else? – in New York City’s hip Meatpacking District. With weather-permitting outdoor seating, you and your pet will be conflicted as to the real appeal of this location: the smell of your perfectly cooked steak or the sight of perfectly coiffed people strolling by. The warm staff at this carnivores’ paradise provide superb service and lots of cool water for your pet upon request.

7.  Solbar at Solage Calistoga, Calistoga, California
Another favorite of the Johnsons and their faithful dog is Solbar at the Solage Resort in Calistoga, which serves up seasonal California cuisine. She says, “The servers will bring your pet freshly baked dog cookies and a bowl of water as soon as you are seated at their outdoor terrace.”

8.  Savore, New York, New York
Yvonne Conza, founder of Woof Patrol, an organization that celebrates dogs and helps fight for pet-owners’ rights, says her pup Pomo’s favorite restaurant is Soho’s much-heralded Savore, where owner Paolo Alavian serves up outstanding customer service with his authentic regional Italian cuisine. Conza says, “Paolo—who’s even remembered my dog’s favorite table— often asks diners their dogs’ names and will try to guess the breeds while silently signaling to his staff to bring water for pets.  Savore also enables diners to order mini portions of chicken and tomatoes for their four-legged friends.”

9.  Paggi House, Austin, Texas
This Austin gem prides itself on being pet-friendly. A historic Austin landmark dating back to the 1840s, Paggi House serves up innovative American fare inside and on its outdoor lounge. The friendly staff provides pets with water in champagne buckets and ample attention. Austin diner Christine Harmel, who frequents Paggi House with her dog Dax says, “I’ve met plenty of people by bringing my dog to dinner with me!” Another diner/food blogger told us they recently celebrated their dog’s seventh birthday at Paggi House.

10.  Café Milano, Washington, D.C.
You may think power lunches over pups when you think of Café Milano, but this Italian restaurant welcomes pets on its patio. Known for stellar service, sublime Italian dishes, pizzas, and an impressive wine list, Café Milano is recommended by Modern Dog magazine as a top location for your pooch to rub elbows (or noses!) with the pets of the capital’s most powerful and beautiful people.