Perhaps the first thing that you should know about Mutts Canine Cantina, which will open its Fort Worth location near the Shops at Clearfork on Thursday, is that unlike a lot of dog parks, it comes with a membership fee.
But then, this isn’t an ordinary dog park. The first clue is that “Cantina” part of the name.
Like most dog parks, Mutts has an area for large dogs (over 30 pounds) and small dogs. Small dogs are allowed in the large-dog area but not vice versa.
But the off-leash dog-park area is adjacent to a bar that sells beer, wine and a small menu of cocktails. There are HDTVs near the bar in case you want to check in on the score of whatever game you’re missing while your dog is out cavorting. There are more Adirondack chairs for human seating and more water dishes for canine drinking than you’ll find at just about any other dog park. And trees. Right now they’re still young but eventually they’ll provide a lot of shade, which is in short supply at some dog parks.
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And the are “Bark Rangers,” park employees who will refill water bowls and do the cleanup for you. Yes, that cleanup.
The Fort Worth Mutts is between the Shops at Clearfork and the Trinity Trails; if you’re coming from Chisholm Trail Parkway, take the Edwards Ranch Road exit, drive past the Shops at Clearfork to a traffic circle and take the Clearkfork Main Street exit from the circle. Mutts is about a half-mile down on the left.
The entry side serves food as well as drinks, as well as a couple of dog-only treats, everything served on a patio where dogs remain on leashes. During a preview on Tuesday, we sampled the “Mutts Original Chicken Sandwich” ($6.95) a fried, brined chicken breast served with cheese, three pickles (Mutts is very precise about this), and a “secret” Szechuan-peppercorn sauce that has a mild and appealing spiciness without being palate-blowing. The sandwich is served on a bun that’s grilled wrong-side out, giving the bread a texture similar to the bread on a grilled-cheese sandwich.
That sauce was also a component in the fried pickles ($3.95), where it had more heat. In fact, at first we thought we were sampling fried jalapeños. A Mutts Burger ($8.95) was pretty old-school: a 6-ounce patty, American cheese, lettuce, tomato and pickle (note the lack of onion, which for some people will be a plus) and “Mutts” sauce. Sandwiches don’t come with fries, but the crinkle-cut fries — nicely crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and well-seasoned with sea salt and black pepper — are worth the extra $3.50.
Breakfast tacos (including a crinkle fries, egg and cheese one that’s also $3.50) are available on weekends. For vegetarians (but not vegans) there’s a hot pickles & cheese sandwich ($5.95) that, frankly, sounds pretty good.
There are also a couple of dog-only treats, including a “pupsicle” ($3.95), described as “a frozen doggie delicacy from Revolution Artisan Pops with beef broth, peanut butter and an edible bone.” After a few cautious licks, my dog Oliver, um, wolfed it down. Dude, it’s $3.50. Try to savor it a little.
Drinks include a “Barkarita” ($8; bet you can’t guess what that’s modeled after), a frozen lemonade (with a Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka kick) and more. Shakes (including an alcoholic bourbon shake) and non-alcoholic drinks are also available.
Day passes ($8.95) are available as well as monthly ($16.95) and annual ($150) memberships. On opening weekend, customers can get the first month for $8.95.
Mutts’ Fort Worth grand opening will be from 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday at 5317 Clearfork Main St.; on Thursday and Friday, there will be all day “Yappy Hours” with discounts on draft beer and frozen cocktails. Several events are scheduled through October, including Barktoberfest on Oct. 7, a Trick or Trot after-party on Oct. 13, and a “Howl-o-Ween” costume contest on Oct. 21 (for more details, go here).
Regular dog-park hours for members are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. The Cantina is open from 3 to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-10 p.m. Friday, and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday (the kitchen closes at 9 p..m. daily). Winter hours, beginning Nov. 6, will be 3 to 8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, noon-8 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
The dog park is always open 6 a.m.-10 p.m., but the restaurant and bar close when the temperature is 40 degrees or lower, or when the rain chances are 40 percent or higher. For more information, visit https://muttscantina.com/fort-worth or @muttscantinaftworth on Facebook.