Yard Bar a dog-friendly hangout in North Austin

Austin sure loves its pets — to the point that we now want their happy hour experience to be as good as ours.

The Blue Cat Cafe, where felines will roam while you interact with them, is slated to open later this fall. For dogs now, though, there’s Yard Bar. This outdoor canine equivalent has recently opened on Burnet Road with a large and small dog park and an adjoining bar peddling a good-sized selection of craft beers. A dining area is also part of the sprawling space, although it’s on the other side of a chain-link fence to keep the dogs away from the food.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Yard Bar offers the best of both worlds for dog and beer lovers: a place for you to enjoy happy hour while your canine plays with other dogs.

Photo by Arianna Auber / American-Statesman. Yard Bar offers the best of both worlds for dog and beer lovers: a place for you to enjoy happy hour while your canine plays with other dogs.

Walk up from the parking lot with your dog and you’ll hear the happy yaps of playing pups well before you actually see them. (Your dog’s barks will probably join the cacophony.) The larger dog park is available to dogs of all sizes, but if you’ve got a small dog that might not do so well with the bigger ones, they’ve got a little play area right next door.

That one was far less crowded on a recent evening, when a variety of mutts pranced about the big dog park, exploring the large wood-chipped space (and each other) that provides them plenty of water, toys and supervision by watchful Yard Bar employees. Dog owners sat at picnic tables and chairs along the perimeter of the park, some with cans or cups of beers, and chatted as their dogs ran wide circles around them and the park. The canines have tennis balls to catch, obstacles courses to play with and even a fire hydrant at the entrance. (You can guess what that’s for, right?)

Although Yard Bar has only recently opened, it’s already attracted plenty of visitors of both the four-legged and two-legged variety. Lindsay Seiberling and her two friends stopped by for the first time that evening with their two dogs, and she said they planned to return.

“I like that you can drink while your dogs play. That’s my favorite part,” she said while throwing a tennis ball for Riley, a golden retriever.

She and her friends were drinking Real Ale beers and an Austin Eastciders cider, but those are far from the only brews you can order.

The bar offers a large selection of beers from all over the U.S. in both cans or bottles and on draft, as well as a smaller selection of wines and cocktails. Beer options currently include everything from Big Bend Terlingua Gold to Revolver Blood & Honey to the Santa Fe Java Stout. Or, if you prefer spirits, there’s the Blue Lacy with bourbon, blueberry, basil, lemon juice and rhubarb bitters or the Catahoula Mama with reposado tequila, lime juice, agave nectar and cayenne pepper.

Of course, at Yard Bar giving the dogs as much fun as possible is really the main focus. But not too much fun — in case they get overly rowdy or confrontational, the “bark rangers” who prowl the park are ready to put a stop to any fights. The dogs were all on good behavior the evening I was there, so hopefully that’s not a big problem on other nights.

You can visit with a daily pass of $5, or you can sign your dog up for a monthly fee or annual membership of $15 and $150, respectively. (Humans can go for free.) And today, National Dog Day, seems like a particularly fitting time to visit. The hours of the dog park are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; the hours of the restaurant are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Yard Bar is located at 6700 Burnet Rd.

For more information, including the rules of the park, visit yardbar.com.


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