Back in 1983 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. The newly expanded brownstone also includes the Parlor Bar and the Study and the intimate Solarium downstairs. Chefs Zach Grainda and Greg Maloney’s menus change seasonally reflecting the finest ingredients available.
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. 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 about the dining experience at White Dog University City is the new renovations. The decor at every White Dog is unique and unlike anything you’d find in other restaurants. Another big draw for us about this restaurant is that with a seasonal menu there is always a few new dishes, along with old favorites on the menu. White Dog works with local farms including pasture fed animals, humanely treated livestock, plus fish and seafood that is harvested through sustainable suppliers. The menu incorporates organic items when available. 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 behind the meal without ordering some of the fresh and delightful Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with sesame soy emulsion, avocado salsa, and True Leaf micro cilantro. This dish is served on the menu year round, but particularly refreshing during warm weather. The Crab Fritters are new to the menu made with Super Lump Crab Meat, fried into a light pillow served a top sweet chili glaze, and pickled jalapenos. We also couldn’t resist trying the new Carnitas Mac & Cheese. This indulgent dish features braised pork carnitas, Carolina BBQ Sauce, chilies, and smoked Gouda cheese sauce.
The year-round favorite soup at White Dog is the Kennett Square Mushroom Soup topped with white truffle oil, crème fraîche, and snipped chives. This season they’ve also added a Potato & Ramp Soup with matchstick potatoes and the Pea Salad with spring peas, petite greens, crispy prosciutto, crostini, ricotta salata, and lemon vinaigrette.
On the Entree side of the menu we love the year-round staples like the Verlasso Salmon and 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. This season the salmon entree is being served with English peas, fingerling potatoes, leeks, fennel, Thai basil, and a lemongrass curry beurre blanc sauce. Our favorite new dish was by far the Grilled Island Spiced Jumbo Shrimp with trio of Spring Peas and shaved button mushroom salad, tossed in a bright and fiery coconut red Thai curry sauce. The Locust Point Chicken was also filled with some nice light flavors from the Madeira Chicken Jus over crushed fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, and Kennett Square mushrooms.
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 Peanut Butter Chocolate Torte and Bread Pudding.
For over 34 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 Cafe. Grab a seat at the bar from 4:00 – 6:00 pm from Monday – Friday for Happy Hour specials including $5 cocktails, wine and select beer and a specially priced menu. 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.