Can’t say that I’ve ever done a restaurant review before, but as the saying goes, there’s a first for everything. Lucky for us, Orange County has a lot of different dog friendly places to eat, so I’m sure this will be the first of many restaurant reviews you’ll see on here. I’m by no means a food connoisseur, in fact, the main reason I wanted to post this was not to rate the food, but to bring attention to the dog friendly eateries that are scattered throughout the county.
So the first place I want to review is an outdoor restaurant called Park Bench Cafe, located in Huntington Beach, in the Huntington Beach Central Park. This small, all outdoor, restaurant is a local favorite of mine, in fact, it’s one I make a point to go to once a month because it’s so delicious. The cafe itself is located off of Goldenwest St. right after you past Slater Ave., you’ll know your in the right place when you see a small parking lot(often full on weekend mornings), with a bunch of dogs, and this building…
If you’re visiting for the first time, I recommend trying out breakfast first. The portions are large, the food is always consistent, and service is great. The breakfast items are nothing out of the ordinary, but the recipes are delicious and the execution is always consistent. A few things I recommend, no that’s not a strong enough word, a few things you need to try are:
- The cinnamon roll(big enough to be split by 2-4 people)
- If your a fan of eggs benedict, try the park benedict, you won’t be disappointed
- Feeling like it’s a pancake day? Try the banana nut pancakes, sooo goood
- Want to go a little south of the border? Try either the chorizo burrito or the the original burrito with home fries ($.75 extra)
- Speaking of home fries, make sure you get these as your side, seriously, get these as your side, you won’t go home hungry, I promise
I’ve been here more times than I can remember and have never been disappointed with anything I’ve ordered. I’ve also invited multiple friends and family to partake in the deliciousness with me, and they have all left with a full stomach and a smile on their face. As for the lunch, I have tried it a few times and it’s just as delicious, but the breakfast is just so good, it’s hard to restrain myself long enough when I know, in the back of my mind, I’m missing out on their breakfast.
“OK I get it, the food is good, but why are you talking about this on a dog blog?”
Great question observant reader, the reason I chose the Park Bench Cafe for this food review, is because this place not only serves great food, but is also all about catering to your 4-legged friend too! Because this restaurant is all outdoors, every table is dog friendly. Not only that, but they provide water bowls you can bring to your table, and of course, a doggie menu to make sure everyone in the family is well taken care of and leaves happy.
As you can see, the menu is not quite as large as the humans, but there’s enough of a selection to satisfy even the pickiest dogs.
“So the have good food and are dog friendly, so what makes them special?”
Answer: Location, Location, Location
You get to eat in the middle of Huntington Central Park. As you’re eating, you’ll be able to enjoy the breeze and watch for wildlife, in fact I often see bird watchers with their huge and expensive cameras camping out near by to try and spot and capture some of the rare birds of Orange County that call this area home. So if you fancy yourself an amateur bird watcher, now you have two reasons to go.
Now I don’t want to over sell the outdoors part, this is not Yellowstone, or even Big Bear, but for the middle of Orange County, it’s definitely peaceful, and because it’s so close to the beach, the weather is usually pleasant. Also, on my most recent visits, I’ve noticed that the drought has had a noticeable effect on the amount of wildlife in the area. The once large lake, viewable from the Cafe, is all but gone, and with it went a lot of the water fowl and other wildlife that called the water home. However, there’s good news on the horizon, if the upcoming El Niño is anything close to as powerful as they say it will be, by next Spring, the area should be back to its pre-drought splendor. But even without as much water, this is far better than a patio seat at another restaurant where the closest thing you have to peaceful scenery is either look at the street, or the parking lot.
If you have time before or after you eat, take a walk along some of the paths that run through the park, it’s a great way to either work up an appetite, or to help the food you just ate, work its way through your system. (They have public bathrooms in the park in case it works it’s way out a little too quickly)
If you want to make a half day trip of it, the Huntington Dog Park is only a block away on the other side of Huntington Central Park. If your dog tends to get impatient and bored sitting next to you while you enjoy your food, have them run around for an hour or so before breakfast, this will usually keep them from acting up as you eat.
For a full day trip, after breakfast, continue all the way to the end of Goldenwest St. and like magic, you’ll find the ocean, and more importantly, the Huntington Dog Beach.
TIP: Park Bench Cafe is a popular place, especially for weekend breakfast, so during peak breakfast and brunch hours, make sure you plan on getting there 30 minutes prior to when you actually want to eat. I would say on average, it takes about 15-20 minutes to be seated for weekend brunch, but like every restaurant, the wait times will vary every time you go. They don’t take reservations, so you’ll have to put your name in and wait, but on the plus side, they give you one of those vibrating discs to alert you when your name is called. This way you can wander around the park while you and your dog wait to be seated. The disc will also let you know if you get out of range by producing a unique vibration, so you’ll never have to worry about missing you reservation when your name is called.
Overall, this place is a great way to get some good food, spend some time with your dog, and enjoy all that Huntington Central Park has to offer. Just writing this review makes me want to go this weekend, so maybe I’ll see you there!
BONUS: If you sign up for their VIP Customer Club, they’ll send you coupons and discounts on food every once in a while which will only add to your enjoyment of this place. Happy Eating!