The first thing I noticed about Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar’s new Arlington location, scheduled to open Wednesday in Arlington Highlands, was the patio — or, more accurately, the patio noise.
The newest location of the dog-friendly chain is in a repurposed former Men’s Wearhouse that faces Interstate 20, so there is a lot of traffic noise on the patio, which is where dogs are allowed.
Staff at the restaurant say that they’re working on this and that eventually the patio will be enclosed (or at least mostly enclosed) to cut down on the traffic sounds. (Lazy Dog’s first Tarrant location, which opened in early 2017 in Euless, has a rustic enclosed patio that shelters dogs and their humans from Texas 121 traffic noise).
Diners with dogs were still hanging out on the patio at a soft-opening preview last week in Arlington, and the patio there is only going to improve. Inside, things were running smoothly and surprisingly fast. I was there solo, and even though I had an excellent server, a tag-team strategy mean that a battery of other servers made sure my iced-tea glass was filled and that plates were taken away quickly after I was finished.
If you’re not immediately familiar with Lazy Dog, the California-based chain was founded about 15 years ago by Chris Simms, who is also its CEO. “We’re really a restaurant that’s focused on scratch cooking, innovative cuisine and a great bar program,” Simms told the Star-Telegram in 2017. “We’ve found that the dog-friendly atmosphere is a complement to the restaurant as opposed to the only thing we focus on.”
Simms said that when he started the restaurants, the concept of dog-friendly patios wasn’t that common, and his organization worked with California and Los Angeles officials to get dogs allowed onto patios.
The vibe: Well, it’s dog-friendly, but dogs are not allowed inside (there are, however, several nice dog photos and paintings, as well as a couple of metal sculptures), where Lazy Dog goes for a rustic, mountain-lodge look. One booth in the Arlington location is surrounded by birch-tree trunks. A fireplace helped light up one area of the large dining room. A busy bar anchored one wall; an open kitchen dominated the wall across from it.
The food: Lazy Dog has a large and eclectic menu of starters, small plates, salads, soups, sandwiches (the dog may be lazy, but the cooks can’t be), burgers, pizzas, bowls, meat/chicken/fish dishes and desserts, along with seasonal items such as a PB&J burger that I wish I’d tried ($13.50; half-pound beef patty, candied bacon, Havarti, peanut butter, grape jelly, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle — the latter four seeming a little extraneous once you’ve got PB&J in action), roasted winter vegetables ($6.95), butternut squash soup, spaghetti squash & “beetballs” ($13.95). It may be named for a carnivore, but Lazy Dog does pretty well by vegetarians on the season menu.
I kept things simple with the All-American burger ($11.75; two grilled quarter-pound beef patties, American cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles and “bark and bite” sauce) and fries. The “bark and bite” sauce was recommended by my server after I told her that I was looking for something spicy, but the sauce has more bark than bite. A house-made chipotle BBQ sauce did the trick better. The burger was good, if a little mushy on the bottom bun; the requested medium came almost medium rare, unusual because most restaurants we’ve run into tend to cook our medium requests past the point of medium. Fries were good but not transcendent.
One of the seasonal items is a dessert: an apple-huckleberry open-face pie ($7.95), “served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.” A small-shovel-size scoop. Did I mention that I was solo? Ate as much of this as I could but, as big as my appetite is, this is meant for two people. Or for one person to eat three-quarters of it, which is what I did. Not bad, but at a media preview of the Euless Lazy Dog last year, I got to sample both the butter cake ($7.50) and the Simms Family S’more (which adds peanut butter and crushed peanuts to the usual marshmallow-chocolate-graham cracker components; $7.50) and I’d return to them given another chance.
A small menu for dogs is also available, but only on the patio.
The verdict: Although it doesn’t come with a dog park like the recently opened Mutts Canine Cantina in Fort Worth does, Lazy Dog does offer a place to hang out with your four-legged buddies — and the staff intends to make the dog-friendliness better. But humans win out here with a larger menu and bigger accommodations. And lots of dog photos.