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Lisa's Picks: Dog-Friendly Restaurants Perfect for Training Your Pup

Fun Dog-Friendly Food Spots in Northwest Indiana

Hello, fellow dog lovers! I'm Lisa, The Traveling Dog Trainer, and I'm excited to share some of my favorite dog-friendly food spots from this summer with you. As a local dog trainer in the Northwest Indiana region, I've had the pleasure of discovering some fantastic places to enjoy some food with our pet dog companions.

Whether you're a resident or just passing through, these spots are worth a visit!

1. Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk - Portage

Shoutout: Without a doubt, my favorite spot to take my dog is Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk. Whether it's picking up a pulled pork sandwich from the new beach concession, called Smoke on the Water, or bringing your own lunch for a picnic at one of the tables -- or on the beach itself -- this place has it all. This beach and concession are dog-friendly and offers breathtaking views of Lake Michigan, with plenty of opportunities for you and your dog to walk around on the pier, hike, or simply watch and enjoy the outdoors.

--Please note that an Indiana Dunes Pass is required for parking. Located next to US Steel. This is one of my favorite beaches on Lake Michigan, as well as a top lunch spot with my dogs.

2. Chesterton Brewery - Chesterton

Shoutout: Chesterton Brewery offers a secluded yet welcoming patio, making it a great place to dine with your dog. This is a good place if you are new at taking your dog out in public. While it isn't exactly quiet without distractions here, it's good to ensure your dog's first dinner outing is not overwhelmingly busy - the first few times, like downtown Valparaiso atmospheres can be during the Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. This neutral environment at Chesterton Brewery is good for desensitizing our dogs. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff at this brewery create the perfect setting for enjoying delicious food and drinks with your pup outside.

3. Lakeshore Coffee and Specialties - Michigan City

Shoutout: Lakeshore Coffee and Specialties is a delightful breakfast and coffee spot. With comfortable outdoor seating and a friendly atmosphere, it's a great place to start your day with your pup. I recommend them as a breakfast or brunch stop before going to the beach or hiking with your dog. Plus, this cute and delicious coffee shop offers frappes and is conveniently located walking distance to the Michigan City outlet mall. It feels very different than the rest of Indiana, and very dog friendly. It's a more advanced distraction work environment.

4. Bridges Waterside Grill - Michigan City

Experience a unique dining atmosphere with your furry friend at Bridges Waterside Grill in Michigan City. This dog-friendly restaurant offers a small touristy vibe and a spacious waterfront patio for outdoor dining. I recommend this place for a lunch or dinner with your dog - it isn't too loud, and the restaurant is located on a quiet part of the water. This is excellent for those looking for more mild distraction work conditioning with their dog.

5. Goblin and the Grocer - Beverly Shores

Shoutout: Goblin and the Grocer offers a spacious patio and serves authentic German cuisine. The unique, homestyle outdoor area provides a cozy setting for you and your dog to enjoy a meal together. I highly recommend this spot for a memorable dining experience with your pup. I will definitely be taking clients back here! This is a more moderate-advanced distraction level lunch or dinner choice with your dog.

6. Matey's Restaurant and Bar - Michigan City

Shoutout: Matey's Restaurant and Bar feels like a slice of Florida in Indiana. With multiple deck levels for outdoor seating, it's a perfect place for people-watching while your pups relax by your side. They even host dog nights on Thursdays, so you can enjoy the company of fellow dog lovers. This is definitely a highly distracting environment and a good goal restaurant to build your dog up for.

7. Flamingo Restaurant - Gary

Shoutout: If you're looking for a unique Florida vibe and an outdoor patio experience, Flamingo Restaurant is a great choice. Located close to Dunes Hiking trails, it's the perfect spot to unwind after a day of adventure with your dog on the trails! I feel this is a good spot for all levels of distraction work training. It isn't too busy but is very close to the water and another touristy, patio-style restaurant.

8. Lincoln Flats - Downtown Valparaiso

Shoutout: Lincoln Flats is located at the quieter end of downtown Valparaiso, making it an ideal spot for those introducing their dogs to downtown dining. It offers a more peaceful environment, perfect for practicing focus and relaxation with your pup. Your dog will love the smells and watching the many people walking by the busy downtown streets.

9. Radius - Downtown Valparaiso

Shoutout: For a central downtown experience, Radius is the place to be. Their patio provides an excellent opportunity for practicing distraction work with your dog while enjoying the buzz of downtown. Don't forget to stop by Hungry Hound boutique nearby for some doggy treats and toys. I only recommend this for dinner for those pups who have already mastered high levels of distraction work training already.

10. Fluid Coffee Roasters - Downtown Valparaiso

Start your Saturday with a cup of coffee at Fluid Coffee Roasters in downtown Valparaiso. Their cozy patio is perfect for your pup to watch other dogs and people walk by. I personally enjoy coming here for a coffee and walking over to the Farmer's Market - or any other event that is happening at Central Park Plaza in downtown Valparaiso! It's definitely a lively downtown most days and times of the week. There is always something to do with your dog in downtown!

11. Culver's - Valparaiso

Shoutout: This one is for a quicker or more casual bite! Culver's is a quick and easy stop for delicious burgers and desserts. With plenty of outdoor seating, it's a dog-friendly chain restaurant that offers a convenient spot to grab a bite with your pup.

These are just a few of the fantastic dog-friendly spots I've had the pleasure of exploring with my own dogs and clients' furry companions. Keep in mind that there are many more gems to discover in the area, and I'm always on the lookout for new adventures!

I hope you get a chance to explore these wonderful places with your furry friends. And if you have any other great dog-friendly recommendations in Northwest Indiana or beyond, please share them with our community.

Here's to many more adventures with our dogs in this beautiful region! 🐾🍂

- Lisa, The Traveling Dog Trainer

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