When a friend of mine bought a puppy and asked me if I knew which Canberra cafes and pubs were happy to have dogs, I looked at her blankly and said "Good question!". So my hunt for dog friendly venues began. Not just dog friendly, but genuinely dog friendly. Although most cafes and pubs will tolerate your pooch under the table in the outside area (the law doesn't permit them indoors), some establishments lay out the welcome mat and actually encourage dogs and their owners. With doggie treats on the menu and water bowls at the ready, these venues are a precious place for dog owners to relax with their canine companion.
This is just a selection of what we have found around Canberra - where is your local favourite?
Can I come too? Source: Wilbur's Café Bar Facebook
Wilbur's Café Bar in Hackett loves dogs so much that the owners named the establishment after their own pet dog Wilbur. Opened in 2010, this popular local café and bar has a good sized outdoor area in which to dine with your dog and relax over a good meal. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Wednesday to Sunday), there is an extensive menu to choose from while pooches can have a well-earned nap. Wilbur's welcome dogs "big and small" and they can also bring their friends - especially the adorable ones.
Resident pets Wilbur and Eddie. Source: Wilbur's Cafe Bar Facebook
The Old Canberra Inn is a dog friendly pub in Lyneham, which has three outside beer gardens in which to sit and enjoy the historical ambience and live music. The owners welcome all sized dogs and they also have their own friendly black doggie happily mooching around the property, finding all the sunny spots to nap in. The pub also provide water bowls so they can enjoy a drink on a hot day, while you're enjoying yours.
Old Canberra Inn - find a sunny spot in the beer garden and relax
Other north side options include The District at Crace, George Harcourt Inn at Gold Creek Village (with the doggie area on the grassy hill above the beer garden and all dogs to be leashed), Ricardo's Café and Patisserie (on the playground side of the plastic zip down window flaps in winter) - just to name a few. With so many cafes and pubs with outside dining areas, most will accommodate you and your doggie companion.
Ivy and The Fox is a beautiful café located inside the historical Old Canberra House, built over a century ago. It has a spacious outside dining area on the grass and they don't just accept dogs on their premises, they actually encourage it. They will also bring out a water bowl and anything else you need while you enjoy your time out in the sun. After your juice, smoothie or coffee, why not take a stroll down to Lake Burley Griffin nearby to continue your walk along the scenic peninsula.
Doms is a small food outlet on Lake Burley Griffin, located under the International Flag Display on Queen Elizabeth Terrace. This outlet has a dozen outside tables and chairs in which to sit with your pooch and take in the views of Lake Burley Griffin, lapping metres from your feet. This casual food outlet is an ideal place to stop when walking along the lakes foreshore to stop for a coffee and a rest midway along your route. Although they don't offer water bowls, it is accepted that this casual food outlet welcomes everyone in their outdoor public space.
The Deck at Regatta Point is a café and functions venue with 180 degree views of Lake Burley Griffin. As they have such a large outdoor deck dining area, they are happy for people to bring their dogs whilst out walking along the lake and Commonwealth Park nearby. Another café that encourages dog patronage, they will bring your dog water if they need it, so you can all relax and enjoy the scenery from this unique vantage point overlooking the water.
Močan & Green Grout is another great option for a dog friendly café, located in the NewActon Precinct just minutes from the CBD. I have often walked past this café and seen people with blankets over their legs in winter months, snuggled up with their dogs in the sun. When I contacted them to confirm their dog friendly status, they gave a resounding "Certainly! Bring him in!". There are outdoor tables down the side of the café and chairs also out in the sun.
Canberra City has a wide variety of cafes and pubs that would welcome dogs and their owners. Why not try any of the eateries on Lonsdale street in Braddon which all have outside seating areas along the roadside, as well as pubs and cafes in the Civic. For something more casual, why not visit The Hamlet Food Trucks, the food trucks at Westside Acton Park or Snapper on the Lake fish and chips - just to name a few.
At the Yarralumla Galley and Oaks Brasserie they welcome dogs so much that there is a dog friendly garden to sit in and they even have dog treats in their menu. Choose between pasta with sausage/chicken and dog biscuits for $5.00. For the people in the group there is a wide variety of choices on the menu and cakes to enjoy with a pot of tea. This leafy area of Weston Park is a peaceful and quaint place to stop after running around the dog park nearby.
Outside dog area at Yarralumla Gallery and Oaks Brasserie
Local Press is a popular café on the Kingston Foreshore, getting a name for itself for beautifully fresh and healthy breakfast and lunch fare. They also welcomes dogs to their outside area and provide a water bowl for dogs if owners wish to stop after a walk along the lakes edge. Every café and pub along the Kingston Foreshore has outside seating areas, which are sure to welcome your pooches.
If you are driving over the border to Queanbeyan, Riverbank of Queanbeyan also has outdoor seating and doggie treats on the menu. In terms of events, each year the Living Green Festival has a designated dog café, Carson's Café, which is popular eatery at the October festival.
It doesn't matter where you go in Canberra you will see people walking their dogs, visiting dog parks, buying doggie treats at the markets and enjoying a coffee or beer with their dog by their side. Although this list just touches on a number of particularly dog friendly places, you will be hard pressed to find a café or pub in Canberra that wouldn't welcome you in with your best friend. It was only a few that I contacted, that didn't make this list, that stipulated they were welcome as long as they were well behaved, didn't bark and remain leashed- so if you aren't sure perhaps call first to check.
With this list of the friendlier ones in hand, my friend and her new puppy are off on a new adventure together every weekend. It is the start of a beautiful friendship - putting a smile on both their faces.
You could also add Thumper and Miss Bunny (formally Roasted) at Gold Creek Village to your list of dog friendly cafes. Not only do pooches get a bowl of water and a dog biscuit (if owners are so inclined) but also lots of attention from the owners if they are not too busy. Check out the collection of doggie patron photos too!