Lazy Dog, the latest tenant in a West Boca restaurant corridor that also includes Lynora’s and BurgerFi, already swelled with diners on its opening night Wednesday, attracted in part by an aggressive social media campaign and ribbon-cutting earlier in the day. As restaurant openings go, this one was pointedly swift: The “soft opening” was only the previous day. By Wednesday, management invited the local media. Imagine if a Broadway play opened after just one preview performance.
It helps that this isn’t Lazy Dog’s first rodeo. The largely west coast chain, headquartered in California, already has more than two dozen locations, with décor and menus inspired by the founder’s memories of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The West Boca spot is the first Florida location, and its design mirrors the typical Lazy Dog look, with lots of rustic, reclaimed wood and framed photographs of blissful dogs posing in nature.
The most striking design element is clutch of giant logs suspended from the lobby ceiling like the sword of Damocles. The Boca Raton location also showcases a pair of sculptures by a local artist—a metal horse and a dog constructed from upcycled material: tools, gears, compasses, coils. I’ve never been to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but the look of the place would fit snugly into David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, Washington.
The menu, with its novella-like size, aims for Cheesecake Factory-style comprehensiveness. Rooted in artisanal American dishes with tendrils reaching toward Italian, Cajun, Mexican and Asian fusion, Lazy Dog doesn’t reinvent culinary wheels so much as refine them, elevating familiar dishes through novel additions. The roasted Brussels sprouts, for instance, arrived studded with capers and Romano cheese and resting on crispy croutons that added a pleasing crunch. The queso dip, constructed from a mix of pimento, jack, cheddar and queso blanco, included pickled jalapenos and cilantro black beans for a more unusual mélange of flavors than usually goes into this dish.
The drink menu, too, is defined by these subtle supplements, as present in the delectable pineapple mojito, served with chunks of pineapples skewered and dusted with a distinctly, but not overly, spicy Tajine sauce. For desserts, do not overlook the humbly described but absolutely decadent butter cake, with vanilla bean ice cream topping the warm cake and strawberry compote for a study in sweet contrasts.
Lazy Dog’s previous locations proved particularly resilient during the pandemic, launching Jolene’s Pizza Pop-Up, a concept within the restaurant that specializes in pizza that can be pulled apart and enjoyed like breadsticks, and especially its TV Dinners: complete takeout meals cooked in-house and served on retro divided aluminum trays from the golden days of Stouffers and cathode ray televisions. It’s comfort food to the max, when Americans most needed it, and I expect this creative solution will be with us long after the crisis is history.
Lazy Dog also brews a handful of its own beers, and enthusiasts can sign up for a Beer Club membership that includes special Beer Kits with eight craft selections and branded glasses, priority seating and other perks. It’s just one of the ways Lazy Dog seems like a replacement of sorts for the late Brewzzi, a capacious and casual concept that also brewed its own beer and served globetrotting cuisine with a twist. Let’s hope this one has a much longer shelf life.
Lazy Dog Restaurant and Bar is at 9636 Glades Road, Boca Raton. Call 561/489-5607 or visit lazydogrestaurants.com.