Lazy Dog Café

Lazy Dog Café’, located near the Promenade mall in Temecula, is named for summers and vacations spent in Jackson Hole Wyoming by owner Chris Simms. He grew up with dogs and admired their ease and ability to relax, anytime, anywhere. The restaurant is pleasantly decorated. It is a great place to watch the game, or stop in for a drink and an appetizer before a movie at the nearby Edwards Theater. It is roomy without being cavernous. It has a warm feel because of its open floor plan.

A full-house for the soft-opening. Photo by Loren Scott

I met some friends from Taste of Temecula at Lazy Dog Café for their press and “soft-opening.” Marilyn and Loren had arrived and I was, as usual, barely on time. The always-prompt Marilyn had already ordered me a pomegranate mojito. I didn’t even try to hide my pleasure. We were so busy catching up, and looking around the attractive restaurant, we almost forgot to look at the menus. We finally decided on the Nachos Del Gringo, but out of consideration for Loren, who is a vegetarian, we had black beans instead of chili con carne on top. The black beans were so good, I would order them that way again. The chips were thin and crisp, and the toppings (cheese, sour cream, guacamole and black beans) were abundant.

Photo by Loren Scott

For lunch, our orders were as diverse as our personalities. Loren ordered Keri’s Mediterranean Pizza, with goat cheese, caramelized onions, roasted vegetables and a Balsamic vinegar drizzle. The crust was thin, and the flavors were outstanding. Marilyn had Moroccan Chicken with couscous. It was quite spicy, with a great cinnamon flavor. The couscous was a little sweet, and studded with sweetened dried cranberries. I had the Bacon-wrapped Coulotte steak, served with confetti vegetables, and a huge portion of mashed potatoes. The meat was obviously good quality, and was perfectly medium rare. The burgundy sauce was rich and beefy.

As we were finishing up, Chris asked us about our meal.

“The pizza was fantastic,” Loren told him.

A large grin split Chris’s face. “That was one of the very first things Gabriel {Caliendo, executive chef} cooked for us. It was actually part of his interview.”

It was easy to see why Caliendo was hired to create the menu for all of the Lazy Dog Cafes.

Mediterranean Pizza. Photo by Loren Scott

“Did you have the Togarashi Edamame?” Chris asked. When he saw us look at each other, he didn’t even wait for an answer. “I’ll have some sent over, they are amazing!”

He was right. The soybeans were served warm, in their shells, and had sesame seeds, and a dark brown sauce clinging to them. The sauce had so many wonderful flavors. Marilyn and I tried to name as many as we could, but when the chef came to the table, we found we missed most of them. The star of all the seasoning was the Japanese Togarashi seven-spice blend. I could see becoming horribly and embarrassingly addicted to these.

Even though we were all pleasantly full, we couldn’t seem to pass up an apple crisp. The lightly seasoned, piping hot apples were covered with sugar cookie crumbs. It had a strong buttery and vanilla flavor. Marilyn and I could not stop eating it. Loren had a couple of bites, but I think he valued having his hand attached to his arm too much to try to get more than that.

Bacon-wrapped Coulotte steak. Photo by Loren Scott

Chris and his father started lazy Dog seven years ago in Huntington Beach. In that time they have expanded to seven locations. Considering the economy, that is quite a feat. They have hit upon a winning combination, with affordable price-points, and a menu that is varied, but not overwhelming, and good service.

“Lazy Dog is a feel,” Chris said, “We wanted to create a place where you can kick-back and watch the action.”  He has done what he set out to accomplish. It is a place to linger.

We were asked, as we left, if we thought we would come back. The answer from all three of us was a resounding yes!

Photo by Loren Scott

Lazy Dog Café is located at 40754 Winchester Road Temecula CA 92591

Or you can call (951)719-1884

The hours are 11:00AM to Midnight, 7 days a week

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