It all began back in 1983 when Judy Wicks, social activist and original founder, opened White Dog Cafe in University City, Philadelphia located in three connecting Victorian brownstones. White Dog Cafe quickly became a local favorite known for its environmental sustainability and community engagement. As a pioneer of the farm to table movement, Judy’s vision was about supporting the surrounding communities and growing the local economy that includes farmers, cheese mongers, fisherman, brewers, artisans and bakers. Over the years these partners have grown along with White Dog Cafe.The majority of their ingredients are purchased from local farms, located no more than fifty miles from the restaurants.
The charming brownstones in University City were completely renovated providing a variety of dining rooms with whimsical dog decor, fixtures and stunning artwork. Dine in the vibrant Living Room with the famous “Blue Dog” painting, the casual and airy Porch with reclaimed wood and bird houses, the noble Parlor, intimate Tea Room with plush seating, or the Oak Room with a massive marble table for ten or the Den with it’s wall lined dogs. Downstairs is the Wine Cellar featuring a wall of wine barrels, hanging cork screws and regal dog portraits, perfect for private parties.
In 2009, Marty Grims bought White Dog Cafe to continue the legacy, adding culinary inspiration and service commitment creating a new compelling restaurant model. A second location opened in Wayne in 2010, to support the needs of a growing Main Line, and in May of 2015, a third location opened in Haverford, PA. Each location’s warmth and welcoming décor boosts a love of dogs that is both artistic and playful. Executive Chef Zach Grainda drives the culinary creativity and sustainable business practices, while Tamas Szene oversees the service and daily operations. Together, the team is proud to provide neighborhoods and guests a unique dining experience that is fresh and delicious served by professional staff in a warm and inviting setting!
One of our favorite parts of the dining experience was of course the atmosphere. The decor at every White Dog is unique and unlike anything you’d find in other restaurants. The dog-loving theme doesn’t just stop with the design. Start off your meal sipping on a Pawmagromit Cocktail with Faber Citrus Vodka, Pama Pomegranate Liqueur, Cointreau, pink grapefruit, pomegranate, and lime or perhaps you’d prefer the Copperhound Cocktail mixed with Singe Barrel Jefferson’s Bourbon, Dolin Sweet Vermouth, Bitter Truth Allspice Dram, blood orange, and Angostura. If you’re looking for a mocktail they’ve got those too! We love the cheeky names of the Jazzy Momma made with pink grapefruit, pomegranate, orange, lemon, and soda or the Fast Machine which is perfect on a chilly day with warm apple cider, caramelized sugar, lime, and rosemary.
The menu at White Dog is seasonal and only features the best ingredients from local farms including pasture fed animals, humanely treated livestock, and fish and seafood that is harvested through sustainable suppliers. The menu incorporates organic items when available from farms using sustainable farming practices. Even the wine list features a selection grown and produced from American vineyards. Local craft beer and artisan distilled spirits are also offered from the bar. And to top it all off, the restaurants use renewable energy, LED lighting and practice sustainable initiatives that are environmentally friendly.
We couldn’t begind the meal without ordering some of the fresh and delightful Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with sesame soy emulsion, avocado salsa, and True Leaf micro cilantro. The Spanish Octopus was perfectly tender, served with fingerling potatoes, crispy octopus, olives, roasted red peppers, pearl onion petals, and flavorful espelette aioli. For a vegetarian starter we absolutely loved the flavors in the Crispy Cauliflower served with house made yellow curry, yogurt, and crispy chick peas.
Other favorites are the Smoked Salmon Latkes with local abundance smoked salmon, house made tater tots, dill creme fraiche, chopped egg yolk, and caviar. The local favorite soup is no doubt the Kennett Square Mushroom Soup topped with white truffle oil, crème fraîche, and snipped chives. Stop by for lunch and grab the Green Meadow Farm Double Cheddar Burger topped with smoked bacon mayo, bibb lettuce, grilled red onion, on brioche with a side of Truffle Parmesan Fries. Load up your burger with a cage-free farm egg, 1732 Meats Thick Cut Bacon, Kennett Square Mushrooms, or Spicy Epic Pickles.
For our dinner we tried the healthy Verlasso Salmon with baby spinach, smoked bacon, beets, orange segments, and baby carrots. The tender Braised Short Rib was very satisfying served with sweet potato puree, brasied kale, fried shallots, and a red wine reduction. Although, our favorite pick of the night may have been the Spicy Lamb Bolognese, available in a small or large portion, with handmade rigatoni, wilted spinach, and topped with a rich and decadent Basil Whipped Ricotta. Don’t forget to try a side order of the cheesy Lobster Mac and Cheese or crispy House Made Tater Tots too.
Dessert could not be complete at White Dog without getting the Cookie Jar! This adorable ceramic dog cookie jar is filled to the brim with freshly baked assorted cookies, and served with a mason jar of ice cold milk. What more could you want from such a classic dessert? We also enjoyed the Banana’s Foster served in a cast iron skillet this warm brown butter cake is drizzled with caramelized bananas and warm toffee sauce.
For over 33 years, White Dog University City has been a destination in the heart of University of Pennsylvania’s campus for dining, libations and celebrations. Now with 3 locations, everyone can enjoy the White Dog. Grab a seat at the bar from 4:00 – 6:00 pm Monday – Friday with $5 cocktails, wine and select beer and a specially priced menu. Dine everyday at the bar for lunch before 2:30 pm and get a 10% discount off your total check! Wine down on Mondays when all bottles of wine are half-priced during dinner with the purchase on an entree. And get delivery right to your door with Caviar to enjoy your meal in the comfort of your home.