Dog Menus Are Popping Up Across the Region. Here Are the Best, According to This Philly Dog
Dog critic Coconut Aranita knows what dogs want from “dog-friendly” restaurants ... because she’s a dog herself! From dog dishes to pup cups, here are the region’s best dog menus.
Look at my soft chocolate fur, my satiny ears that so fetchingly flop, and my carefully manicured paws, studiously cleaned with baby wipes after walks around Rittenhouse Square. Do I seem like the sort of dog sated by a lukewarm bowl of water that has been lapped at by a dozen other dogs? Do you honestly believe that the presence of Milk-Bones is indicative of how dog-friendly an establishment is? Such establishments are merely dog-tolerant.
Why should I be satisfied with murky water and dry biscuits of dubious provenance when Philadelphia has a plethora of options for dogs who enjoy the finer things in life? This is a city where hotels boast high thread count pillowcases upon which to curl up. Room service menus and restaurants offer farm-sourced curlicues of finely roasted bacon and wholesome meals that blend fresh vegetables with actual chicken, beef, or salmon, packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which keep my aforementioned chocolate fur glossy. A pawful of homegrown stores make homemade ice cream so scrumptious that even my human parents want to have a taste.
As the canine daughter of two Philadelphia chefs – my mother, Kiki Aranita, owns the popular restaurant-turned-Hawaiian-sauce-brand, Poi Dog, and my dad, Ari Miller, was the chef/owner of Musi – I have a finely tuned palate. Let me be your guide to the world of dog tasting menus with nary a Milk-Bone, and the best pup cups money can buy.
Best Dog Restaurant and Room Service Menus, According to Coconut
Stella of New Hope, New Hope, Pennsylvania
I sat outside on a covered deck overlooking the Delaware River on a beautiful sunny Sunday as my parents enjoyed a cocktail. I came ready to feast. The beef and barley dish is very good and for $10, it’s enormous! Enough for four of me. Our server told us that the dog dishes (beef, chicken and Jail Island salmon) are all derived from the human menu, comprising smaller cuts that don’t make it into their main dishes. My dad remarked that “this is a genius way to sell food scraps.” My ground beef appeared to be repurposed steak tartare formed into patties and was served in a dog bowl on the floor. My parents had to hold me back before I attacked it like an animal. Service was attentive and gracious – our server checked in frequently, asking “Miss, is the beef to your liking?” It most certainly was.
Urban Farmer, Center City
As an aspiring dogfluencer, I was invited to the debut of Urban Farmer’s pup menu, available on their patio and for room service in the Logan Hotel. Chef Sonny Ingui crafted one of the finest meals I have ever encountered — a “Puppertizer” of bacon and a main course of beef tenderloin bits that were so delectable that my parents both pilfered some of the thick cut bacon from my bowl.
Urban Farmer’s pup menu is ideal for those who want to bring their furry offspring for either an outdoor human beer or dinner, as it ranges from “Pupetizers” to dinner portions, and even a dessert of “Strawberry Banana ‘Ice Cream’” whipped up from frozen Greek yogurt. The ice cream is divine. The dog biscuit topping is fine. Be warned, their “Big Bark Bites” dinner portions are not chihuahua-sized, so my parents recommend a doggy bag (ha!) for leftovers of their grilled chicken breast and beef tenderloin bits (which incidentally, are also cut on the larger side), unless you happen to be either a full-grown golden retriever or a bull mastiff.
Room Service at the Loews Hotel, Midtown Village
Full disclosure: Four years ago, I modeled for the debut of this dog menu and was paid handsomely in chicken. I may have consumed too much food intended for dogs twice my size and perhaps I vomited lightly upon the pavement after said photo shoot, but the meals were so delectable, they were tempting even after I regurgitated them! The Loews offers menus for dogs and my nemeses (cats) for in-room dining (only service animals are allowed in the restaurant itself), and the dog menu includes beef tenderloin with eggs and rice and chicken with carrots.
Room Service at the The Four Seasons Philadelphia, Center City
“All meals are cooked and prepared in the same kitchen as the rest of our in-room dining menu and created with as much love,” says the Four Seasons’ public relations team. I might venture that my meals should be cooked with more love, but equal love is acceptable. The room service menu is eye-wateringly expensive, but I have to say, the knifework on all the dishes is marvelous. The small pieces of vegetables and proteins are considerately easy to chew for my tiny jaws. I couldn’t possibly eat the entire menu, so my friend Nacho helped me critique the dishes.
Chef Noah Gumustekin whipped up a seared Ora King Salmon with broccolini and quinoa. It was listed on the menu as a poached Ora King Salmon with broccoli, but I didn’t mind much. When the dish arrived, I chased every kernel. Nacho took a sniff and a bite, and actually cried with joy before he inhaled his portion. My mother tried it too and said that it was akin to one of the protein-rich, gluten-free meals she whips up for one of her private athlete clients. I believe this was a compliment. My favorite was the “Beef Filet Mignon with Asparagus” that came with a surprise, unlisted potato. Though the cut may not have been filet mignon, it was delicious. (Why would you serve me filet mignon anyway? I barely chew.) The “Steamed Amish Chicken with Jasmine Rice and Steamed Carrots” didn’t have the pizzazz of the beef, and the carrots were not steamed (thank goodness, I prefer a crunchy carrot) but I am proud to report that after sharing this one, Nacho and I are both members of the clean plate club.
Coconut’s Favorite Dog Ice Cream Parlors
These come in a range of “dog friendliness.” Sure, you have nice places like Weckerly’s who will give pups a serving a whipped cream in a cup or a kids’ size vanilla, and then you have ice cream shops dedicated to my ilk.
Salty Paws, Rittenhouse
Be still, my tiny chihuahua heart! There are actual pup cup sizes! Ice creams come in small, medium and large cups. I was too amped up from my walk to the Rittenhouse location to consume my pumpkin and goat cheese ice cream with turkey sprinkles in store (yes! There are tables and chairs for human handlers), but I scarfed it down at home. My treat set my mother back a fairly reasonable $7.67, including tip.
Igloo, Graduate Hospital
One of my favorite summertime treats is when I walk over to Igloo and indulge in either a peanut-butter or Greek yogurt Pup Cup (benefits of probiotics plus joy) while sitting on a little chair and listening to musicians perform at the Grays Ferry Triangle. It is the best. And the pup cups are only $1.49! They’re served with a dog biscuit, which I could do without.
The Bent Spoon, Princeton, New Jersey
Indeed, the Bent Spoon is a little far afield in Princeton, New Jersey – though this longtime establishment has the hearts of many a Philadelphian. They peddle vet-approved puppy ice creams made of people-grade ingredients, pre-packed half-pints in “Hannah Banana” and “Hazel Nutty” flavors. They donate 100 percent of the proceeds from those flavors to a rotating group of shelters.
Milk Jawn, East Passyunk
Co-owner Amy Wilson says, “we have one flavor: peanut butter, banana and yogurt.” And what a flavor it is! They sell about 10 to 15 pup cups per day, which to me is patently absurd. This ice cream is so delicious and nutritious they should be selling hundreds per day!
On Coconut’s Radar
Rittenhouse Hotel, Rittenhouse
If my editor would like to continue this venture of me reviewing dog menus, I propose a weekend at the luxurious Rittenhouse Hotel so I can kick back and enjoy their extensive and cleverly named offerings like “Mutt’loaf” (turkey meatloaf) and “Mutt-za Balls” (organic chicken and brown rice balls). For now, I must simply drool over the menu.
Bark Social, Manayunk
With locations in Bethesda, Baltimore and, most recently, Manayunk, this social club has an extensive dog treat menu (including Beef Trachea! Yum!) with pup-sicles and pup ice cream.
Pet Friendly Dog Bakery, Manayunk
This Manayunk spot sells delightful treats like pupcakes, homemade biscuits, and what looks like a hot dog but doesn’t smell like a hot dog (and is whipped up with chickpea flour, peanut butter and banana – yes, I know, bananas are treats for dogs because although they’re high in potassium, they have high sugar content).
Craft Hall, Northern Liberties
Craft Hall in Northern Liberties encompasses Unleashed: Bark & Beer, which is a combination dog park and beer garden. They serve a “Dogua Fresca,” a custom dog “cocktail” added to water dishes. They also have blueberry, pineapple, watermelon, and veggie smoothie options — and each of have seeds and rinds removed (choking and barfing hazards) before they’re blended with coconut water.