By Robyn Johnson
You have to take the dog for a walk anyway, right? Why not stop in at your friendly neighborhood dog bar along the way? A few local bars make a point of catering to the canine crowd; here are some places where your (well-behaved) pet is welcome.
With its motto of “Sit. Stay. Drink.” and Smurf-esque French bulldog logo, Stray Bar flaunts its fur-buddy friendliness, and the bartenders always make sure to keep the dog-treat and water bowls filled. People amenities include a darts room, a TV (usually tuned to a sports game), a jukebox with a healthy cross section, and a few ample leather couches. The crowd tends toward the unpretentious and neighborly, so if you happen to see a grizzled fellow totter on by, greet him with a raised glass and a pat on the head — that’s Camden “the drunken sailor,” the owner’s beloved pooch, just making his usual rounds. Some rules to keep in mind: keep your pup on a leash and off the couches, no doggie roughhousing, and, of course, if you don’t clean up any mess your furry friend should make, you will be summarily ejected and banned. Also, for crowd and animal safety, don’t bring your four-legged pal on Fridays and Saturdays or during special events.
309 Cortland, SF. (415) 821-9263, www.straybarsf.com. Happy hour: $2–$3 beers, daily, 4–7 p.m.
If you and your dog are of a more dive-bar-patronizing persuasion, trot on over to Lucky 13. The consistently top-rated jukebox is loaded with classic punk, metal, and rockabilly tunes, and the two of you can rock out over complimentary doggie treats and cheap beers from the extensive microbrewery selection. (People treats usually range from free popcorn to cheese Goldfish.) Other fun bits include a pool table, a photo booth, and, best of all, an outdoor patio to give your dog a stretch and a breather — as long as you don’t mind sharing the air with smokers. Although pups can wander off their leashes, the basic tenets of responsible pet ownership still apply. Don’t let your dog act in any way that would, if you were to do the same, get you tossed out or arrested.
2140 Market, SF. (415) 487-1313. Happy hour: $1 off well drinks, 50¢ off beer, daily, 4–8 p.m.
If, on the other hand, you are both creatures of finer tastes, seeking a more elegant excursion, take a walk to the Fireside Bar. At this modern-minded and cozy lounge, the purple walls and dark leather furniture strive for a chic ambience, and sofas are set up around — you might have guessed — a fireplace. It’s a lot like drinking in someone’s classy living room — someone who doesn’t mind your bringing over the dog. The bartenders also seem to be phenomenally friendly, and the eclectic jukebox plays everything from Flogging Molly to jazz. Dogs must always be on a leash, and water bowls are set out in case it gets a little too toasty.
603 Irving, SF. (415) 731-6433. Happy hour: $4 well drinks, 50¢ off beer and wine, daily, 1–7 p.m.
It’s games galore at the Albatross Pub, the cheerful and spacious bar that describe its atmosphere as the “guts of an old wooden pirate ship.” Besides a pool table and a darts shooting gallery, Berkeley’s oldest pub boasts 17 types of board games to tickle patrons’ competitive spirit. Be wary, though: Connect Four always gets nabbed first. Yarr. If gaming doesn’t set your heart aflame, you can occupy yourself listening to the live music sets and sorting, or drinking your way, through the decent selection of Scotches, bourbons, whiskeys, and Belgian-style beers. One buck gets you an unlimited pass to the popcorn machine. Dogs must be on leashes and at the tables, so don’t sidle up to the bar with your furry companion in tow. And here’s one of the most important rules: dogs must be out by 8 p.m. Consider the Albatross the perfect place to stop by for a sip or two on your pup’s evening constitutional.
1822 San Pablo, Berkeley. (510) 843-2473, www.albatrosspub.com. Happy hour: 50¢ off pints, $2 off pitchers, free popcorn, and discounted pool, Wed.–Sat., 6–8 p.m.
Homestead’s a lot like other Mission joints — cheap strong drinks, $2 Tecates, and a hipsterish crowd peppered with some normal folks (although according to Yelpers, an unusual number of attractive people seem to congregate here, so use that tip for whatever you will). The bevy of topless pinups hung on the walls sets the bar apart, as does the gorgeous Victorian decor, holdovers from and nods to the establishment of the first bar on the site in 1905. You can also look forward to free peanuts. The rules for dog patrons are on par with the ones at Lucky 13. Dogs can wander around without a leash, but don’t be an irresponsible a-hole pet owner. Treats and water bowls are available.
2301 Folsom, SF. (415) 282-4663, www.myspace.com/thehomesteadsf. Happy hour: $1 off drinks, Mon.–Wed. and Fri., 3–6 p.m.