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We Had Pups Review The Secret Dog Menus At Local Restaurants

Cali and Ender were our dog food critics for the day (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
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While it's already pretty exciting for humans to order off secret menus (Animal Style burgers for life!), we got giddy when we caught wind that some restaurants offer secret menus for dogs.

I recruited two of my friend's dogs to be LAist food critics for a day. I considered it an endorsement if they gobbled up the food, and that it was just plain pawful if they walked away from the dish. No animals were harmed in the making of this blog post: I brought my friend along to make sure she was fine with the secret dog menu items her pets would be trying.

The two doggie critics, Cali and Ender, have different interests in food. Cali is a three-year-old, mixed-breed dog (we're not sure what she is, really), who has a more refined palate than Ender. Cali loves everything, including fruits and veggies. Ender is a two-year-old maltipoo who's more interested in meaty treats. On a regular basis, they eat pretty healthily: all-natural Blue Buffalo kibble mixed with Blue Buffalo wet food.

Here are the places we tried:

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Starbucks' Puppuccino is seriously a tall cup full of whipped cream (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)

It's hard to resist a drink with a great pun, like Starbucks' Puppuccino. I called a Starbucks in Alhambra to see if they carried the "drink," but the barista there told me that not all of their coffee shops carry it (including theirs), mostly because their cash registers don't have a specific button to ring Puppuccinos up, so some employees just don't do it. However, I tried my luck with a drive-thru in West Covina, and lo and behold, I was able to order a Puppucino.

The barista looked in the back seat of my car, saw two dogs, and then handed me two tall cups full of whipped cream. He said it was free, which piqued my interest solely based on the price point. But I worried that giving these dogs whole cupfuls of fatty and sweet dairy cream would wreak havoc on their stomachs later. (I wasn't interested in cleaning any mess they'd make in the car afterwards either.) Some dogs with sensitive stomachs just aren't able to eat that much dairy and sugar.

Ender giving the Starbucks Puppuccino a lick and Cali sniffing it out (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
Cali and Ender both sniffed the Puppuccinos and went for a lick. They wanted more, though I only gave them a taste. I wouldn't suggest giving a Puppuccino to a dog all the time, but in this case, a lick didn't do them any harm.

Since not all the Starbucks locations serve Puppuccinos, make sure to call ahead of time if you have your heart set on getting it for your dog. For a list of Starbucks locations, visit their website here.

The In-N-Out unseasoned meat patty you can order for dogs, and yes, those are stray pieces of melted cheese that came with it (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)

We stopped by an In-N-Out because we heard about an item called the "Puppy Patty." We went to the one in Alhambra, but you can basically get it at any In-N-Out location. When I tried to order it as a Puppy Patty, the In-N-Out cashier told me that although people sometimes order it by that name, it's really just a hamburger meat patty with no seasoning, and that humans can order it for themselves as well. I was tempted to order one for myself.

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The three-inch wide, grilled patty arrived on top of a wax sheet of paper in In-N-Out's signature dine-in-car brown box. Visually, it wasn't impressive, but then again, I did order just a meat patty. What could I expect? Plus, it was relatively cheap at only $0.93, including taxes. While we were waiting for our food to be prepared in the drive-thru line, the dogs ran back and forth in the backseat of the car sniffing the scent of grilled beef wafting through the car windows. I split the patty in two and had the dogs take turns eating it. They gobbled it up and didn't leave anything behind.

We had the dogs take turns eating the In-N-Out unseasoned meat patty. Ender seemed to love it. (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
I broke off a piece of the patty to taste it myself because I was hungry and have no shame. It wasn't seasoned just like the clerk said, but it was a little greasy, which probably isn't great for dogs. As dog owners already know, oily or fatty foods can give dogs stomachaches or diarrhea. However, moderation is key, and this seemed like a once-in-awhile sort of treat, especially if you hit up In-N-Out on a road trip and don't have the heart to not share your burger with your pups. If I were to get it again, I would pat down the grease before giving it to the dogs.

For a list of In-N-Out locations, visit their website here.

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar's Chicken and Rice dish (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar was my favorite chain restaurant to visit in this list, mostly because the waiters were extremely accommodating to dogs but also because they offered healthier food choices for the pups. They have a sweet menu and drinks list for humans, so I got to sip on a Coconut Mojito under an umbrella in the outdoor patio. This human critic can't complain.

You, too, can enjoy a Coconut Mojito cocktail at Lazy Dog while your dog eats from a secret menu (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
I went to the location in West Covina, but they have others in Torrance, Cerritos and Thousand Oaks (as well as others in Orange County and San Diego), that have outdoor patios for dogs and offer secret dog menus. We sat outside, and there were other dogs with their owners near us at other tables. Our waitress came by and brought over two complimentary bowls of water for the dogs. I asked my waitress if they had a dog menu, and she came back with one.

The menu had a few ground rules for the dogs: canines must always be kept on a leash, need to stay on the floor and not sit on your lap or in a chair, and aren't allowed to bark, beg or bite. Fair enough. It seemed like all the dogs in the patio were just as chill as Cali and Ender that day. Lazy dog, indeed.

Their food menu titled "Bone Appetit" offered a few items for dogs: plain brown rice for $1.95, a grilled chicken and brown rice plate for $4.95, and a grilled hamburger patty and brown rice plate for $4.95. None of the dishes have any seasoning, which is good for dogs since they're usually on bland diets. I ordered the chicken and rice dish. The grilled chicken wasn't oily at all and was cut up into tiny chunks. The plate came out perfectly warm, not piping hot.

Ender and Cali were loving Lazy Dog Cafe's grilled chicken and brown rice dish, but were more fans of the chicken (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
Cali and Ender both loved the chicken chunks and finished those off quickly. Since the chicken was on one side of the plate and the rice on the other, I tried mixing the chicken and rice together so they'd eat everything, but that didn't really work. They mostly went for the good stuff and left some of the rice behind. I can't blame them—I'd do the same.

For a list of Lazy Dog Cafe locations, visit their website here.

Sprinkles' Doggie Cupcake (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)

Sprinkles doesn't leave pups out when it comes to their cupcakes. At all of their locations, they serve "Doggie Cupcakes" for $2.50 each. (However, sometimes they sell out, so you may want to call the location you're going to before you head off.) They're tiny cupcakes that fit in the palm of your hand, and have an adorable orange bone candy resting on top of the hardened yogurt frosting. The cake batter is made of honey, whole wheat flour, egg and vanilla.

We made Cali work for this Doggie Cupcake from Sprinkles. She had to "stay" for a few seconds before we let her nosh on it. (Photo by Jean Trinh/LAist)
I split up the cupcake for the dogs to try. While Cali gobbled it all up, Ender—who, remind you, is into meatier stuff—took one whiff of it and walked away uninterested. Cupcakes just aren't for everyone.

For a list of Sprinkles locations, visit their website here.

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