As we enter spring break season, which is more or less the unofficial launch to the summer travel season, perhaps it’s time to forgo the pet sitter and bring your pup along on your travels. Here are a few of the hottest, locally owned, pup-friendly joints in popular Southern cities that welcome patrons and pups alike. All offer great food, impeccable service, fine drinks and, obviously, the best company ever.

Chez Lulu

1909 Cahaba Road, Birmingham, AL 35223 • (205) 870-7011
Hours: Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The Magic City has become increasingly respected over the last two decades for its emerging culinary scene, and fortunately, a good number of hot spots have kept canines in mind at suppertime. One winner is Chez Lulu. The charming French cafe, which has its own bakery — Continental Bakery — located next door to the bistro, is all about local. From the art on the walls to the produce, it’s all carefully hand selected, featuring fresh soups, tarts, dips, spreads and sandwiches on rustic, hearth-baked bread. Oh, the luscious aromas wafting from the bakery will drive you insane! Chez Lulu also revolves around regular local customers and their special furry friends. Fortunately, they’re more than happy to serve you and Fido when the desire for an amazing meal in cozy surroundings strikes. Two paws up!

Warmer weather means you and your pooch can enjoy some dining al fresco at Chez Lulu in Birmingham, AL.

Warmer weather means you and your pooch can enjoy some dining al fresco at Chez Lulu in Birmingham, AL. Image: BringFido.com

Hare of the Dog

1958 E. Seventh St., Charlotte, NC 28204 • (704) 347-1918
Hours: Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 12 a.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Okay, the Queen City treats its dogs like kings. Especially at Hare of the Dog, an uber-casual venue, specifically designed for the canines and music lovers in your life. Pooches have leash-free access to doggy pools, chilled bowls of water, tables — you name it, the bar belongs to them. Hours are a bit loose, so call before you go (and when you call, you’ll probably get someone at Jack’s restaurant since Hare of the Dog doesn’t have a number yet — yep, it’s that cool and casual). As for food, you can order from three nearby restaurants, but honestly, what more do you need than a casual hang with your best pal, a cold brew, friends and good tunes? Don’t miss this one.

Grab a seat anywhere at Hare of the Dog. Image: Facebook

Grab a seat anywhere at Charlotte, NC’s Hare of the Dog. Image: Facebook

The Village Idiot

307 W. Short St., Lexington, KY 40507 • (859) 252-0099
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

It’s not every day you come across an 1825 post office that has been reincarnated into a gastropub with unique locally sourced treats, including duck and waffles, pulled pork mac and cheese, chickpea curry butternut squash, kale and green beans. Oh, and dogs are more than welcome. Fresh silver bowls of cool water and friendly servers greet your furry friend, and the environment lends itself to conversation with your neighbors. Who knows? You or your pup might just leave with a new friend.

Come for the pet-friendliness, stay for the amazing menu! Image: Village Idiot

Come for the pet-friendliness, stay for the amazing menu! Image: Village Idiot

4th & Swift

621 North Ave. NE, B-100, Atlanta, GA 30308 • (678) 904-0160
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. 

Snag a seat on the patio of 4th & Swift, and your pet with a seasoned palate can happily join. At 4th & Swift, owner/chef Jay Swift brings Southern farm-to-table fare to this popular destination in the Old Fourth Ward area of town. Peruse the seasonal menus or select from the craft bar or a la carte menus — everything is fresh, either from the on-site garden or sourced locally and regionally from food purveyors and micro-farms.

Some of the finest plates in the city, on a gorgeous dog-friendly patio. Welcome to $th & Swift. (Image: 4th & Swift)

Enjoy a fresh, seasonal meal at 4th & Swift in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward, where pets are welcome on the patio. Image: 4th & Swift

Molly Malone’s Irish Pub

933 Baxter Ave., Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 473-1222
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 4 a.m.

Louisville loves its horses, bourbon, Southern fare and good times, but they also love their dogs, and there are lots of places to eat out with your pet. That healthy respect for all things four-legged, good parties and great bites makes Derby City a mecca for a hungry, friendly, party crowd. And we can think of no better place than Molly Malone’s to enjoy a night out with your pup. Stop by for brunch, lunch or dinner, or just enjoy a libation on the patio and soak up the springtime sun!

Grab a pint with your pooch at Molly Malone's in Louisville, KY. Image: Facebook

Grab a pint with your pooch at Molly Malone’s in Louisville, KY. Image: Facebook

A nice view on a shady patio ... perfect! Image: Facebook

A nice view on a shady patio … perfect! Image: Facebook

Fido

1812 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN 37212 • (615) 777-3436
Hours: Every day, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Much like Louisville, Nashville is a super-dog-friendly town, but we would be remiss if we left Fido off this list of pet-friendly dining options. The popular, longtime coffee shop, located in the bustling area that is Hillsboro Village, is actually housed in a former pet store. With the original pet store’s sign still standing watch over the hip coffee shop and restaurant, Fido features a fabulously diverse food and beverage menu, most of which is locally sourced, and the pet-friendly sidewalk seating is ideal for people watching and panting on a warm spring day.

As you can see, the menu at Fido plays off the origins of the building in which it's located ... a former pet store. Image: Fido

As you can see, the menu at Fido plays off the origins of the building in which it’s located … a former pet store in Nashville, TN. Image: Fido

When dining al fresco at Fido, there's no shortage of people watching and activity to ogle. Image: Fido

When dining al fresco at Fido, there’s no shortage of people watching and activity to ogle. Image: Fido

Poogan’s Porch

72 Queen St., Charleston, SC 29401 • (843) 577-2337
Hours: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Charleston, South Carolina’s oldest city — and one of the nation’s most charming — has a well-deserved reputation for excellent cuisine, storied dining venues and that one-of-a-kind casual, yet formal, feel. That’s just what Poogan’s Porch offers diners. This beautifully restored Victorian house, tucked away on Queen Street, is one of Charleston’s oldest and most revered eating establishments, serving a mouthwatering selection of Low Country cuisine. In true dog-loving form, the restaurant’s owners named their neighborhood spot after Poogan, a friendly, Southern stray pooch that claimed the home and greeted guests on “his” porch. What could be more welcoming for you and your dog than a sweet sniff, wag and smile on Poogan’s Porch? Add a glass or two of wine from the restaurant’s 1,500-bottle wine cellar. Now THAT’S hospitality as it should be.

Bring your pooch to Poogan's Porch in Charleston, SC. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Via Tsuji

Bring your pooch to Poogan’s Porch in Charleston, SC. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Via Tsuji

Pay homage to the original Poogan. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Via Tsuji

Pay homage to the original Poogan, after whom the restaurant is named. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Via Tsuji

Belford’s Savannah Seafood and Steaks

315 W. Saint Julian St., Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 233-2626
Hours: Monday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Have a hankering for a little surf and turf? You know Rover does! Be it lunch, dinner or brunch, you and your best friend will be drooling over the magnificent steaks, giant crab cakes and flaky biscuits. Or how about some She Crab soup, fried green tomatoes or other traditional, delicious Southern fare? Belford’s has it. Crab Benedict? Check! Shrimp, greens and grits? Coming up! Located in a beautiful, old, brick building in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District, you can expect formal/casual, old school with a new twist, tradition basted in new ideas … all in all, you’re just going to feel right at home on the patio with your best friend resting by your feet and nibbling on a little piece of steak you “accidentally” dropped. Good times. Yes, good times indeed.

Belford's is a pet-friendly establishment in Savannah, GA. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Andrew Miller

Belford’s is a pet-friendly establishment in Savannah, GA. Image via Flickr Creative Commons/Andrew Miller

When in the South, if you have your pup in tow, head to one of these great options for some quality time together over dinner and a drink. And if you want even more pet-friendly dining and travel options, this site is a great resource. Safe travels, and cheers!