This upscale Colonia Roma Norte eatery has gone to the dogs
By Lorraine Orlandi Original Print Publication: March, 2007
Hizashi peers down his regal, wet nose as the camera bulb flashes. Today the champion Siberian Husky is starring in his own birthday celebration, a classy production at a small, swank cafe on an gentrifying block in Roma Norte.
Make a wish: Hizashi savors his birthday cake.
Hizashi conducts himself with a dignity befitting his Old World bloodline… until the cake arrives. It is shaped like a giant dog bone, and the ostrich liver biscuit on top sends Hizashi’s practiced poise flying out the window. He shoves his face into the mashed potato and lamb’s liver icing.
Welcome to the Bow-Wow Deli. People are warmly accepted here, but dogs are catered to with love. Inspired by similar establishments in Japan, the Bow-Wow may be the surest sign yet that this developing nation of more than 100 million people (and countless dogs) has one paw firmly in the First World.
The decor is understated chic, with a whiff of Paris Hilton. Whimsical displays hold $1000 peso hand-woven collars imported from Germany and rhinestone-covered leash grips. The menu offers gourmet coffee, green tea and, for fourlegged foodies, those homemade ostrich liver biscuits.
On a typical afternoon some patrons smoke and gossip and sip lattes. Others pant and drool and lick the floor. All are valued customers for owner Miki Nikai, a 36-year-old dog lover from Nara, Japan.
“I want people without doggies, people with doggies, all to share a nice atmosphere,” says Nikai, who greets all customers with a shy smile, and sometimes a scratch behind the ears. But no matter your pedigree, the rules apply: no leash, no service. Fighting and excessive barking are prohibited.
Mexican society is changing, and that is true for dogs as well. If Birthday pooch Hizashi exemplifies a class of canine that is increasingly popular here, then his master, 22-year-old Adriana Alvarez, represents a new breed of pet owner. Especially in a nation where dogs have traditionally subsisted on leftover tortillas. Once a week, Hizashi eats raw tuna or salmon with his dry croquettes.
Alvarez, a university student in graphic design, made place cards for Hizashi’s party guests. And there was the $150 peso lamb and vegetable cake. Seems like a lot of luxury for a dog, but Alvarez has no doubt her pet is worth it.
“He helps keep me in contact with nature, with my equilibrium,” she says, her dark sweater bristling with white dog hair. “This city is stressful. I brush him, we play, and I forget everything. We are very good friends.”