Dog-Friendly Dining in Florida
Florida has a doggone good selection of restaurants that welcome your furry friends.
Story by Ginger Warder
It’s not surprising that Florida—known as the Sunshine State thanks to its more than 230 days of great weather every year—has a plethora of restaurants with outdoor patios and porches where your pooch is welcome to join you for a meal. From funky Key West and cosmopolitan Miami to historic St. Augustine and laid-back St. Petersburg, you’ll find everything from beach bars to award-winning haute cuisine.
Frankly, more restaurants are dog-friendly than the few that aren’t, whether you’re in the middle of downtown in a large city, on a beautiful white sand beach, or in the middle of the countryside surrounded by orange groves. You’ll find that menus feature a lot more than peel-and-eat shrimp or fabulous grouper sandwiches—not that those aren’t great options! Whet your appetite with these suggestions.
Key West: Dining to Crow About
Blue Heaven is one of the most iconic and eclectic restaurants in Key West, and if your pooch is not bothered by free-roaming roosters and cats, you’ll both enjoy dining alfresco in the off-beat, art-laden courtyard. Seafood entrees like shrimp and grits or scallops Provençale are rave worthy, as is the key lime pie. Note that the entire town of Key West is filled with roaming roosters and kitties so be sure to keep a firm grip on your pal at all times.
Palm Beach: For Foodies with Fidos
Award-winning French Chef Daniel Boulud welcomes refined canines on the patio of Café Boulud, located in the historic Brazilian Court Hotel, just steps from the posh boutiques on Worth Avenue. Enjoy classic French dishes from foie gras torchon to Dover sole meuniere and duck a l’orange. The café serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, and offers a prix-fixe early bird special Sunday to Thursday. Ooh-la-la!
Miami: La Vida Loca For Four-legged Visitors
The Doggie Bag Café turns the tables on humans, serving only canine cuisine. Well, if you sit up and beg, they might give you a cup of coffee, but this popular Saturday brunch spot is all about things like pupp-a-roni pizzas, wild Alaskan salmon sliders, and mutt-loaf TV dinners. Chef Laly and friends also sponsor and cater Miami’s most prestigious paw-centric events like the Canine Film Festival, and are currently filming a canine cooking show with celebrity four-legged judges. For conventional people food, locals love breakfast and brunch at Maxine’s Bistro & Bar at the Catalina Hotel & Beach Club.
St. Petersburg: Beer and Baseball with your BFF (best furry friend)
Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill—located in downtown St. Pete just across from Tropicana Field—is the hangout for pre- and post-game partying when the MLB Tampa Rays are in town, or for watching just about any type of sporting event since Ferg’s boasts more than 100 televisions. This place has a full bar with a variety of bottled and craft beers plus great bar food, including the best wings in town. Dogs are welcome on the sprawling covered party deck and in a small fenced seating area and dog-park adjacent to it, the best option for pooches uncomfortable in crowds. If you take in a game at the Trop, you can use the underground tunnel from the stadium that comes out right behind the bar!
St. Augustine: Hip and Historic
St. Augustine is the oldest city in America, known for its Spanish architecture, historic 17th century fort, and Atlantic Ocean beaches. Savor the Old World European flavor in the historic district and sample the sea-to-fork flavors at a local eatery on St. George Street, the Florida Cracker Café. This is the place to grab quintessential coastal favorites like a grouper sandwich, fried gator bites, or conch fritters. Dogs are welcome on the garden patio.
Orlando: The Dog and The Mouse
While it may be home to a famous theme park’s cartoon mouse, Orlando caters to its four-legged visitors as well. Located in the hip downtown Thornton Park neighborhood near Lake Eola Park, Dexter’s has been a local favorite for more than two decades. Think casual contemporary American cuisine paired with an impressive wine and craft beer list. The daily café menu features seasonal ingredients thus changes frequently, but you can count on a great burger (beef and lamb), Cuban sandwich, salad, or unique creations like Blackened Salmon tacos. The outdoor seating is street-side so it’s best for dogs that are well-socialized and not afraid of foot or car traffic.
Plan a Trip
Of course, when traveling with your pooch you need pet-friendly lodging options. We’ve got you covered:
The Chesterfield Hotel
A member of the Red Carnation family, this historic hotel is legendary for its afternoon tea as well as its welcoming attitude toward four-legged visitors. Hotel services include a pet welcome amenity, gourmet pet room service menu, loaner leashes, and dog walking, dog sitting and grooming services that can be arranged upon request. There’s a one-time $90 pet fee.
Loews Miami Beach
The Loews Loves Pets program at Miami Beach provides V.I.P. (very important pet) service including water bowls, treats, a gourmet room service menu, dog-walking route map, and more for a one-time cleaning fee of $50 and no size limits for up to two pets per room.
Loews Portofino Bay
Loews Loves Pets! You and your pooch will feel like you’re in Italy at this sprawling property with its array of restaurants, bars, and shops. Dogs are welcomed with a personalized pet tag, bowl, and special treat. Pet owners get a brochure detailing the pet room service menu, dog walking routes, and local pet services. A one-time $100 fee applies.
The Margaritaville Key West Resort & Marina
In the heart of Old Town just steps from Mallory Square and the nightly sunset celebration and one block from Duval Street, this resort welcomes up to two dogs per room for an additional $75 per night.
St. Francis Inn
Find an Old World ambience at the St. Francis Inn, located in the heart of the historic district. Make reservations in advance in order to snag one of the pet-friendly rooms. Pets up to 45 pounds are welcome in designated rooms with an additional $20 per night fee.
Tradewinds Island Grand Resort
Located on the gorgeous white sugar sand of St. Pete Beach, this resort has its own small dog park and play zone, a Paw Court Bistro pet room service menu, dog walking paths, dog-friendly hammocks, and a loaner accessory center with leashes, bowls, and toys. There’s an 80-pound weight limit and a $30 per night pet fee. For your pal, nearby Fort DeSoto Park offers a huge dog park and dog beach; it’s a ten-minute drive from the resort.