Finding a place for a bite to eat or a quick drink when you’ve got the dog with you is a lot easier than it used to be, and a lot more diverse too.
Hong Kong isn’t the greatest city in the world for pets, particularly dogs, but people are people and we want our furred companions with us — and we’ll find ways to make it work. For tenants, landlords will either say yes or no to pets in a property, and owners’ committees will make purchasers clear. Cats offer a different set of challenges, but getting Snowball some exercise isn’t one of them. Dogs, however, need room to frolic, and when most of the SAR’s green spaces ban even its human residents from the grass, Fido’s options are limited.
But the situation isn’t hopeless. There are pockets scattered around the city that are good options for pet-owners — as well as places to stop for a bite or plan Sunday brunches that includes the dog. Happy Valley and Island South are the most popular destinations for families with pets, though Western district and Island East are gaining traction with each new renewal and creative development choice. Room28 in Sheung Wan is a strong choice for Italian dining and entertaining, with its large, leafy terrace and space for over 100 guests for private functions. In Sai Ying Pun, The Flying Pig Bistro is a cool, art-heavy space that unsurprisingly specialises in pork, and the Opendoor Cafe & Courtyard boasts a dog menu (puppuccino for now) in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gem near the overpass to Sun Yat Sen Park.
Room28 in Sheung Wan
At the other end of the island, Quarry Bay is the best of all worlds: a place to stop before or after Taikoo Shing’s Sunday market or a trek on nearby Mount Parker Trail. Dogs are most welcome on the terrace. Of course there’s always the Central stalwart that is Staunton’s Wine Bar, on the escalator, which has long been a favourite for people-watching, brunch and casual evening drinks. And staff supply water bowls for thirsty canines.
Kowloon is, in some ways, even more urban than Hong Kong, but a few pet gardens in Yau Tsim Mong district and parks in Kowloon City have made pet ownership more feasible. For anyone looking for a post-walk meal, the new food hub in Tsim Sha Tsui East, on Mody Road, has a slew of hip, international restaurants with harbour views from their patios — and lots of space for dogs. Among the best choices for family outings is London House, the second Gordon Ramsay outlet in Hong Kong, which features all day dining. Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant is a sporty spot for German fare, and Spasso serves Italian on its terrace for the full al fresco treatment.
Of course, the New Territories and the outlying islands — Sai Kung, Lamma, Lantau — are, still, the best bets for pet owners looking for a place to relax after Fido’s daily runs and lazy Sundays in the fresh air. Discovery Bay — DB — has been nicknamed ‘dogs and babies’ for good reason. The plaza is a hotspot for leash-free roaming while owners enjoy a snack from its cafés, and the restaurants are just as welcoming. McSorley’s, which also has a kids’ menu and plenty of sports on the monitors, and the massive Zak’s and its international menu, lead the pack.
One of Hong Kong’s most famous weekend hangouts for all creatures great and small is Ben’s Back Beach Bar in Shek O. Ben’s has music, beer, and best of all a beach for dogs to splash around in. Barbeque space is also available for DIYers. Similarly, Bathers Beach Restaurant in Lower Cheung Sha Village on Lantau serves great seafood lunches, and over at Mavericks at Pui O Beach, the only thing better than the pub grub at the self-described ‘surf café’ is the feeling of sand under your feet. Or your paws as the case may be.