Dog Days

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Five pup-approved patios to enjoy this summer.

Summer is for relaxing on patios, ordering small bites and cocktails, and enjoying quality time with your friends — of both the two- and four-legged varieties. Across Reno-Tahoe, owners of quite a few restaurants, bars, and breweries allow dogs to join your fun. It may take extra permitting and planning, but for these pup-loving proprietors, it’s worth it. So grab your best leash (and best manners), and head out to one of these establishments for a doggone good time.

Pignic Pub & Patio, Reno

Just a short stroll from the Riverwalk in Downtown Reno, Pignic Pub & Patio is a hotspot for humans and hounds. Outside the converted 1916 craftsman home, sit alongside an edible garden, including grapevines and a peach tree, while sipping on one of 28 draft beers (nearly 20 of which are local). A side patio features a community table and an array of grills and smokers for those who want to bring in their own meats, while the nearby raised deck is another ideal location for enjoying the signature frozen Pignic Punch or Campfire Sour (featuring Frey Ranch Bottled-in-Bond Straight Rye Whiskey in a rosemary smoked glass).

“We love dogs. I’ve always had dogs. It was natural to include them,” says Trevor Leppek, owner of Pignic and a 14-year-old mini-dachshund named Annika. “She is a regular fixture at Pignic; she’s typically with me as I run errands or attend vendor meetings and our weekly staff meeting. She’s definitely well known around Reno and is a true bar dog.”

Trevor Leppek, owner of Pignic Pub & Patio in Reno, with his dog, Annika. Photos by Olga Miller

If your pup isn’t already enamored by the lively atmosphere at Pignic, the eclectic food menu, with some meat-heavy entrées, should do the trick. Smoked wings take a trip to the deep fryer before a roll in a secret rub. A double smash burger gets the local treatment with brioche buns from Reno’s own Rounds Bakery, a special meat blend from Ponderosa Meat & Provision in Reno, and house-made thousand island dressing.

“I’m a huge fan of our Cubano ala Plancha. I’ve had a few around town, and even though I’m a bit biased, I think ours is one of the best,” Leppek says. “It’s a classic Cubano with mojo pulled pork, sliced ham, Swiss cheese, mustard, pickles, and a little twist with pickled red onions.”

With its edible landscaping in full bloom, a “chill neighborhood bar vibe,” and top-notch happy hour deals, Pignic is the perfect spot to relax with your furry friend.

The Hangar Taproom & Bottle Shop, South Lake Tahoe

Come for the nearly 100 draft and canned beers at The Hangar, but stay for the 1.5-acre property running alongside the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe.

“I think one thing that sets our space apart from other places around the lake is we have a pretty natural outdoor Tahoe environment,” says Nate Riffle, owner of The Hangar. “It’s like sitting in your backyard with your friends or in a massive park, and you have the ability to drink a beer and not get a fine.”

Though the one-acre turfed area with lawn games, picnic tables, and (often) live music is now reserved just for two-legged patrons, The Hangar’s adjoining patio remains a much-loved hangout for “yappy hour.”

“We are very dog friendly, and at any given time there are six to 12 dogs on the patio almost daily,” notes Riffle, who has two terrier-mix pooches, Scotch and Olive, which he says both resemble Baxter in the movie Anchorman.

Under towering pines, with your canine companion by your side, choose from a huge selection of hard-to-find beers from small breweries in Sacramento, the Bay Area, Santa Cruz, and beyond.

“We sell only [beers from] small, independent craft breweries, so nothing that’s been purchased by any large conglomerate,” Riffle explains. “We work on acquiring brands that don’t have [major] distribution and are not available anywhere else.”

Owners Nate and Nicole Riffle and their two terrier mix pooches, Scotch and Olive, soak up the sun at The Hangar in South Lake Tahoe. Photo by Olga Miller

Most days a food truck is parked on the property, serving up an array of cuisines, from carne asada tacos (Sombreros Mexican Restaurant) to vegan tapas (Betty’s Balls, Tapas and Catering). We know what Scotch and Olive would pick.

RMU, Truckee

Gear shop meets craft cocktail bar and eatery at Rocky Mountain Underground in Truckee’s historic Kruger-White House — and dogs are invited to the party.

A self-described “mountain culture company,” RMU started with a ski press in a basement in Summit County, Colo., and has since progressed to include product lines of skis, mountain bike equipment, packs, apparel, and other gear. Truckee is the third location for RMU’s “concept store,” which combines retail with food and drinks.

RMU general manager Robby Burleson enjoys bringing his companion, Mia, to work. Photo courtesy of Burleson

“We have a multi-level, dog-friendly outdoor patio with a carriage house bar,” says Robby Burleson, general manager and best bud to German shepherd Mia, an RMU regular.

From the patio with your pooch, admire the preserved Victorian details of the Kruger-White House, built in 1874, while savoring a maple walnut old fashioned or a lavender zen, with lavender, lemon, vodka, and hemp soda. The menu features elevated bar eats such as smoked brisket croquettes, smash burgers, spicy chipotle-honey Brussels sprouts, and blistered shishito peppers with Meyer lemon aioli.

With a goal of supporting one to two nonprofit events a month, Burleson says patrons can expect to see fundraisers and adoption days for the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.

Piazza, Carson City

Who said dogs and upscale cuisine don’t mix? Inspired by their travels in Spain and Italy, owners Mark and Jenny Lopiccolo opened Piazza in Carson City with the hope of capturing the same high-quality fare they sampled while exploring Europe’s cobblestone streets.

Beneath white umbrellas, dine al fresco with Fido on Piazza’s patio, which opens up to the bustle of Bob McFadden Plaza. Share a large charcuterie board or a classic four-cheese fondue before ordering a steady stream of small plates: Piazza lamb pops served with a whiskey peach glaze, a Basque-inspired sourdough flatbread with chorizo and Manchego, and escargot with gorgonzola, apples, and grapes, to name a few.

“A lot of us are really dog people, so we are excited when we get furry friends to visit us,” says Robin Shriver, food and beverage manager. Shriver’s golden retriever mix, Charlie, can confirm that the scraps coming off the table are indeed worth the wait.

Complimentary treats are available for dogs who visit the patio at Carson City’s Piazza. Photo courtesy of Piazza

A well-curated wine list features a mix of imported and regional wines (a bottle of Barbera from Lava Cap Winery in the Sierra Foothills is a must-try), while the craft cocktail menu shifts with the seasons.

“One of our new cocktails is a spicy watermelon margarita. It has a little bit of Tabasco in it for a kick, and it’s also served with a spicy salt rim,” Shriver says.

As for the pups, complimentary treats are available if the European cured meats aren’t falling off the table quickly enough — and a post-dinner visit to the plaza’s splash pad just might be in order.

Tunnel Creek Café, Incline Village

After a hike to Monkey Rock or along the Tahoe East Shore Trail with your best trail bud, head to Tunnel Creek Café in Incline Village for a relaxing meal in the restaurant’s dog-friendly outdoor space, featuring a dozen picnic tables, umbrellas, and views of the lake and surrounding forest.

New owners Chad Burns and Evan Roa took over in April and tweaked the menu to include more from-scratch items, but they made sure to leave local favorites, including the Swedish oatmeal pancakes. tuck into the shakshuka (a North African and Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce), the veggie sandwich with miso-roasted eggplant as the star, or a Reuben with made-in-house corned beef.

Your furry dining companion will surely appreciate a bite of the newly added Hoss burger, a nod to the Ponderosa Ranch, the now-closed Western theme park made famous by the 1960s television series Bonanza. Tunnel Creek Café sits on the park’s former site. Wash down the patty — topped with Gouda, grilled onions, house pickles, and a special sauce — with a (Sparks-based) Revision Disco Ninja Northeast-style Hazy IPA (or one of the seven other beers on tap).

“The outdoor space is huge. The trails are right there, the beach is right there, so we want to be very dog friendly,” says Roa, who also is the owner of Kingston, a 15-year-old golden retriever-husky mix whose claim to fame is a weeklong, self-guided journey from Incline to Reno. “We found him 38 miles away,” Roa adds with a laugh.

Claire McArthur is a freelance writer whose favorite lunch companions are her two dogs: a well-mannered English shepherd named Daisy and a goofball border collie-husky called Huckleberry.

Other dog-friendly establishments around Reno-Tahoe
(When and where dogs are allowed may vary by location)

CARSON CITY
The Fox Brewpub Foxbrewpub.com

NORTH LAKE TAHOE/TRUCKEE
Austin’s Restaurant, Incline Village Austinstahoe.com
Jake’s on the Lake, Tahoe City (only during lunch) Jakestahoe.com
Old Town Tap, Truckee Oldtowntaptruckee.com
Spindleshanks, Kings Beach Spindleshankstahoe.com

RENO
The Brewer’s Cabinet Thebrewerscabinet.com
The Eddy (only during daytime) Theeddyreno.com
The Stone House Café Stonehousecafereno.com
Wild River Grille Wildrivergrille.com

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
Lake Tahoe AleWorX Laketahoealeworx.com
MacDuff’s Pub Find MacDuffs Pub Tahoe on Facebook
South Lake Brewing Co. Southlakebeer.com

SPARKS
Great Basin Brewing Co. Greatbasinbrewingco.com/brewpubs/sparks

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