Ernie can often be found sniffing out the best dog-friendly places in our home town of Southend-on-Sea. Here are a few of our favourites in and around the Essex seaside town:
Utopia Coffee Lounge, Unit 2, The Royals, High Street, Southend-on-Sea (07788 717563): This quirky coffee shop is THE place to go in Southend for a cuppa and enormous portions of homemade cake. The staff welcome dogs (we always go for a table upstairs) and humans will love the retro decor, too. Think mismatched furniture, crocheted throws and an eclectic choice of books. Our favourite.
Oak Tree Bistro, 75 Leigh Road, Leigh-on-Sea (01702 471435): Open seven days a week, this lovely bistro serves up brilliant veggie and vegan food. Dogs are very welcome, both inside the restaurant and in the cute garden area outside. Be sure to book a table as the restaurant is very popular. The owners also run the Acorn Veggie Deli (see below).
Mawson’s, 781 Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2PP (01702 601781): If real ale is your thing, head to Mawson’s – Southend’s first micropub. Many locals pop in with their dogs during the week – but pets are not allowed on Fridays and Saturdays. The pub is linked to George’s Brewery in Great Wakering and always has at least eight cask ales on offer, as well as artisan brews, craft ciders and bottled beer.
The Crafty Half, 1376 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2UH (07879 438982): This off-licence-turned-bar is a relatively new addition to the Southend scene but stocks an amazing selection of craft beer and ale – both from Essex and further afield. The staff love dogs and if it’s not too busy, they might even let your four-legged friend scamp around off-lead. Awesome!
Clifford’s Barber Shop, Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2PU (01702 463932): Guys, do you need your hair cut or beard trimmed? Head to Clifford’s for a bit of a manly pamper. Owner Nickiey is super dog-friendly and even has a stash of Bonios tucked away as a treat for visiting pups. Resident doggo Stella loves making new four-legged friends, too, and is always up for a play.
Sara’s Tea Garden, 64 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EP (01702 477315): Set among the cobbled streets of Old Leigh, this traditional tea garden has a separate doggy menu and if you pick up a Loyalty Card, you can redeem stamps for sausages. Make sure you snap a picture of your pup and upload it to the cafe’s Doggy Gallery for the chance to win a monthly prize. Ernie’s on there – can you find him?
West Road Tap, 2 West Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9DA (01702 330647): This quirky little micropub and bottle shop has a great range of brews from cask, keg, can and bottle. There are ciders and local wines too, which are well worth sniffing out. Dogs can expect a lot of fuss from the other drinkers at the bar which, interestingly, used to be a public convenience! Look out for the tap takeovers and cool summer events.
Ye Olde Smack, 7 High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2EN (01702 476765): Humans are almost outnumbered by dogs at this pub, especially at weekends. In fact, if you drink in here and don’t have a four-legged friend in tow, you’ll look seriously out of place. Dogs are everywhere at “the Smack”, which makes for a really friendly, laid-back vibe. Bag an outdoor table overlooking the River Thames if you can.
ATTIC, 48 Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2ES (01702 468321): This nautical-themed tea room is right on the seafront, past the arcades and attractions. Staffed by people with special needs, the cafe’s name is an abbreviation of “All The Tea In China” but they do a mean coffee too (and lovely, locally-sourced breakfasts). Dogs are welcome – as long as they get on with resident dachshund diva, Miss Bassey!
The Castle Inn, 181 Little Wakering Road, Little Wakering, SS3 0JW (01702 216521): Recently refurbished, this traditional village pub allows dogs in the bar area and snug, but not in the main restaurant. The Castle serves pub classics such as liver and bacon and steak and ale pie and there’s also a decent beer garden, where you’ll find the Dough Boys cooking up fresh wood-fired pizza.
Molo Lounge, 195-197 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1LL (01702 342915): This quirky chain moved in to Southend in 2017 and has since become a big hit with dog owners. Fuss from staff is guaranteed and there are plenty of water bowls behind the bar. The menu is impressive, whether you visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and there are often special deals to be had. Great veggie and vegan options, too.
The Acorn Veggie Deli, 11-13 Leigh Hill, Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2GD (01702 719752): A wonderful deli packed to the rafters with veggie and vegan products that you won’t find anywhere else locally. Light lunches, cakes and coffees are served daily by a husband and wife team and their friendly staff. Dogs are welcome and staff will happily provide water bowls for thirsty pups.
The Exchange, Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2PW (01702 447070): Our local watering hole. Dogs are allowed in the bar and on the outside decking but not the raised restaurant area – although I would definitely recommend trying the food here. Water bowls are provided and staff are always pleased to see well-behaved hounds pop in for a pint.