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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Dog-friendly Bar

The Santa Susana Cantina was built in the late 1800's. It started as a stagecoach stop - it still has horse hitches in the front, became a church in the early 1900's and then, was turned into a bar in 1932 and has been one ever since. Funny transition but, it makes a great bar.

The Cantina is in Simi Valley, set in the hills of a canyon. It is in a somewhat rural setting for Los Angeles which, after seeing the picture on their homepage, might not always be ideal.

It is a casual, friendly place. There is an inside area where you can eat and drink at the counter, some old school entertainment like pin ball machines, a pool table and darts. The outside area has a large set-up of tables, a stage and dance floor and lights strung from the trees around and on the patio. And they love dogs.

Honey and I went with our friend Marc on Saturday night, showing up around 6:00. It's very early but that's when they teach line dancing and I wanted to try it. When we walked in, PJ Stover a country singer and the Cantina manager, immediately came over to say hi to Honey -- and periodically visited her throughout the evening. Other people would walk by and kneel down to spend some time with her. They were very impressed that Honey would just lie there with all the noise and people around. I didn't want to tell them Honey has no problem just lying there when the action doesn't involve her - it's either playtime, edible or she's asleep.

So, what did interest her was the big buffet they had over to the side. There were large, covered chafing dishes with everything from salmon in a lemon sauce, to sausages, marinated vegetables, salads and tortollini. There is a very large barbeque grill where they make ribs, vegetables, chicken. For one buffet price, you are allowed to pile as much as you want onto a dinner plate. A quick tip from my first try: I recommend saving the rolls for last. They take up a lot of room and could just as easily sit on top of the food. But Marc, Honey and I had a good meal off one plate so, even though I'm a plate-loading amateur, I show promise.

The dancing was really fun. Mike, the teacher is very clear and patient. His girlfriend, who's also very good, hangs out toward the back of the dance floor so you have someone to follow no matter which way you are facing - you do the dance in all four directions. I only learned one, very simple step but that's okay. Even that was fun to do and I like watching others out there. People start putting personal touches on moves, shaking their hips out a little more, extra kicks, whatever it takes to make it their own.

In case you're wondering - no, Honey didn't learn the dance. I know there is a Musical Dog Sport Association (MDSA) for people and dogs to work out dances together. I've gotta say - their clip of "Carolyn and Rookie" dancing the Olivia Newton-John/John Travolta Grease dance is really amazing. (If you haven't seen it, you can download it off this page)

So I'll be getting right on that as soon as we've tightened up Honey's sit and stay.



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