Dine Inside with Your Dog at Seattle’s KISS Cafe (Maybe)

After our Adventureweiner Greenlake walk last week, a few of us went out to lunch. We were going to Discovery Park for an urban hike in the afternoon and we needed to grab a bite to eat in between.

I recently heard about a place in Seattle where you could eat inside with your dog – the KISS Café in Ballard. We decided to go there and check it out since it was son the way to the park.

When we got there, I was a little surprised at how small the place was. I knew another group who had planned to go there and they were much, much bigger. I couldn’t find any pictures of the inside of the place on their website but, in my head, I imagined a Denny’s sized diner. When we got there it was more the size of a Starbucks…and a small one at that.

To make room for the 8 of us, the café pushed a few small tables together. Our big table took up about a third of the seating in the place. There were a few other seats along a bar and about 5 small, 2-person tables along the front wall.

The place was clean and modern. The top half of the front wall was actually a window so most of the place was bright and cheery. Our table was tucked back into a little raised nook so it felt a little darker and dingier (although it was very clean) in comparison though. (That is why my photos are grainy)

Between us there were 11 Doxies. Anyone who has been around a group of Doxies (or really, dogs in general) knows that normally well-behaved dogs can feed off of each other and get barky. I admit I was a tad nervous about all of us going into the restaurant.

The dogs were somewhat tired from the 3-mile walk around the lake. We hardly heard a peep out of them in the first half hour we were there.

Then we learned the place serves espresso.

When espresso is made, the barista knocks the tightly-packed grounds into a disposal container. The key word here is “knock”.

The espresso guy knocked the grounds thingy against the container and the dogs thought someone was knocking. A few of the dogs started to bark. He made some not-totally-distinguishable-gesture our way but it looked like (or at least felt like) “the hand” as if to signal the dogs to shush.

We got the dogs back under control in about a minute but there were several people in line to get espresso. The guy continued to knock, knock, knock and by some miracle the dogs didn’t keep reacting and barking.

We settled back into eating and the dogs were calm again. Then one of the dogs jumped into her Mom’s lap. It was obvious that the next dog over (who was also in her Mom’s lap) was totally startled. She literally jumped and went rigid. She started to bark. She barked about 5 or 6 times pretty loudly before her Mom could calm her down.

The espresso guy rushed over to our table and said, “We love dogs but we can’t have that here. You will have to leave. No one wants to hear that.”

Things felt really awkward after that. It felt like they were sending us telepathic signals…leave, leave, leave, we can’t wait until you leave! We finished our food, paid and left. I was the last to leave and heard the espresso guy mutter something to the waitress to the effect of. “Whatever, I was just telling it like it is.”

On one hand I totally understand where the espresso guy was coming from but on the other hand I think it is a little ridiculous to allow dogs into your place and not expect some barks now and then. Even the most well-behaved dogs may bark if they are startled, feel threatened by another dog or hear a really loud noise. They clearly have a zero tolerance policy for that. Also, he could have been a little less rabid about the whole thing.

Besides the dog thing, the prices were average, the food was bland (I had what I thought was going to be a savory taco scramble), street parking is plentiful, it is right next to a spa if you want to get a massage before hand, they have a couple of flat screen TVs and you can get your beer AND espresso fix at the same place.

The bottom line is this: can you bring your dog inside to eat with you? Yes. Do I consider this place dog-friendly? No.

Would we go back? Maybe. It’s one of the only gigs in town where you can get a real meal inside with your dog (that I know of anyway). When I want to dine inside with Chester and Gretel this is one of my only choices.

I probably won’t go with anyone anymore though because I don’t want to be responsible for what their dog does. Even if it is just us with Chester and Gretel, I would still be paranoid the whole time that they would bark and we would get kicked out. Also, even though it is probably not true, I feel like the espresso guy would recognize me and be shooting me hate eyes the whole time.

So maybe the answer is no. Would I go somewhere else if I had more options? Definitely.

K.I.S.S. Café & Wine Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. says

    Great post, Jess.

    It’s amazing how many places over here in Switzerland and in Italy (and Austria) where I can go inside to eat with my mom and dad. In general, though, Mom and Dad ask first. Well, and full disclaimer, we hardly ever go out to eat in Switzerland because it is way too expensive. But I walk right into cafes.

    When I’m in States, though, Mom just puts me inside my transcontinental house and takes me right inside a restaurant. So far, there have not been any questions about why Mom is carrying a black duffle bag. I have not been noticed yet. While it would be nice to sit under the table outside my house, this is a solution that often works well.

    Keep on barking, I say! We’re doggies!

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  2. says

    Wow! What a double standard! How unfortunate. They obviously want just the customer with the quiet old lab who lays at his parents feet or the in and out hipster. Who knew dog owners were social with other humans (and their pups)?!?

    The mention of knocking takes me back to my espresso making days back when I was in school…*shudder*
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    • AdventureJess says

      I think you hit the nail on the head! That is exactly how it felt….like being allowed to bring your dog was a gimmick to get more people and their money but they didn’t really want the dogs in there (or at least they did as long as there were absolutely no disruptions). I mean I think it is reasonable to have a limit but our dogs were not what I would consider to be excessive and were not constantly making noise.

  3. says

    The next time I gets out to Seattle (it may be a while; I live in North Carolinas), I think I will find this place and go in and bark and bark and bark until they kicks me out. Then I will pee on my way out. Because how you can has a dog restaurant with no barking? Especially when peoples are knocking all over the place!
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  4. says

    That all seems kinda counterproductive on their part. Either you allow dogs and all they bring to the table ,so to speak, or you don’t. At least you have a semi dog friendly place their. I don’t think we have any around here.
    The knocking thing cracked me up, Roxy and Torrey bark and run to the door every time the door bell rings on TV.
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    • AdventureJess says

      The knocking thing just surprised us. It’s not the guys fault but if I had known it was coming I could have headed Chester and Gretel off at the pass and they probably wouldn’t have barked.

      Still…we ARE lucky that are even places like that around here. Technically, the Health Department doesn’t allow dogs in places that prepare food. They look the other way though if the place has an otherwise stellar inspection record.

  5. says

    I was all excited to hear of a place that allows Dogs inside, cos we haven’t found any around here and sometimes Mum thinks it gets too cold here to eat outside!!

    I was sad to hear you got kicked out though :( I think I might have barked too if I was startled or if I heard what I thought was someone knocking on the door, cos that’s what I do to make sure Mum knows there’s someone there – I see it as my job as a Dog! :)

    Better luck next time :)

    Your pal Snoopy :)
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  6. says

    Exactly! What about screaming kids? Would they be intolerable, too? I am still amazed you are finding eating establishments in the US which allow dogs inside at all. Perhaps the espresso guy was the outlier – sounds like the waitress may not have agreed with him.
    Eleven doxies with eight people – what a great party!
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  7. Ceri says

    My human and I recommend The Leary Traveler. They aren’t put out by a few yips inside or out and their back porch in warm months is great for dogs, but they totally let me watch football with her inside too during the chilly months eventhough sometimes there are other dogs that make me cower and then yip at me.

  8. says

    that would be so frustrating! I’m assuming the place advertises that it is dog friendly. If I saw that sign outside a place I intend to have lunch, I would not be surprised or alarmed to find dogs inside when I went to eat, and I would also not be surprised if it has a bit of barking added to the other noises of a busy restaurant. You guys had 8 people. 8 people eating and paying for food. It isn’t like one person with a dozen doxies came in and ordered ‘water, just a water’.
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    • AdventureJess says

      No…we did order more than water :) That’s funny though.

      Just to clear something up though…there are no signs outside of these types of places advertising “Got dog? Heck, come on in…all of ya”.

      They coudln’t advertise like that. It is against the health department code to have dogs in there. Those that do allow dogs usually justify it with something like “hey, the law says service animals are allowed. The law also says we can’t ask…so how were we supposed to know.” Basically, everyone involved turns a blind eye. If asked by the health department, the restaurants would probably claim that they don’t allow anything but service dogs.

      It’s is kind of like having a desk job. Everyone knows that you sneak a look at your email or facebook from time to time but you NEVER actually admit it.

      That being said, you clearly know where dogs are allowed and where they are not. It is word of mouth and you can find some stuff on the internet. I have heard of some restaurants actually having a subtle sign inside telling you that your dogs are welcome. I didn’t see one of those at KISS cafe but they had their own dogs behind the counter and there were other dogs in there. Also, I called a few days prior and got a verbal confirmation that dogs were allowed inside.

  9. says

    I hate it when you get excited about the potential of a new place and then the reality turns out to be so far short of what you were expecting! I’m not sure I’d want to go back after being treated like that, either. I guess I could be happy with a drive through rather than feel like I was intruding or unwanted.
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  10. says

    So sad and wrong at the same time. They really should not advertise that it is fine to dine with your pups. There are not many places such as this so when you stumble upon one, you think you may have hit the jackpot (I know I would think that!). What a disappointment for it to not be so and to feel unwelcome. Not cool.
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    • AdventureJess says

      Well, I wouldn’t use the word “advertise”. There are no signs or ads saying “we’re dog friendly”. However, it is known in the dog community that they are and when I called them to confirm (because this was a new one I hadn’t heard of before) they said, “yes, your dog is welcome.” We sure didn’t feel very welcome.

  11. OlyS says

    With all due respect…11 doxies in a small place? I think your expectations were a little high. As to the repeated knocking sound. Restaurants are noisy places.

    • AdventureJess says

      Maybe so. First, I didn’t know it was that small when we went. Second, I have seen 30 dogs crammed into Norm’s (another local place you can dine inside with your dog) with to negative “too many dogs in one place” effect (even though there was a lot of noise there too). Like I said, knowing what I know now I won’t go back there. However, my disappointment was not with the fact there was noise or the dogs barked. It was with the fact that the waiter was so rude about the whole thing and made us feel very uncomfortable. His perrogative but, coming from someone who has worked in the customer service industry for several years, his delivery could use some work.

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