Food & Drink

An Every-Neighborhood Guide to Philly's Best BYOBs

Published On 08/21/2013 Published On 08/21/2013
Cheers with beer and wine
Tetra Images - Jamie Grill/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

The best thing about living in Philly has to be the abundance of BYOBs, right? Just ask your NYC friends how much drinks cost at dinner and laugh heartily as you saunter away while they mumble something about having some restaurants where they can bring their own still-overpriced booze. With too many to list, here are our picks for the best BYOBs in each neighborhood.

Sabrina's Cafe

Art Museum/Fairmount

Figs (address and info)

2501 Meredith St
This neighborhood bistro's menu is full of Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a Moroccan flair.

Zorba’s Tavern (address and info)

2230 Fairmount Ave
Bring a date or friend and try the grilled samplers for two -- choose from lamb, a fisherman’s feast, or a mixed meat platter from the grill.

Sabrina’s Cafe (address and info)

1804 Callowhill St
Bring your own drinks for a comforting and classic breakfast, lunch, or dinner at Sabrina’s Fairmount location.

Doma (address and info)

1822 Callowhill St
Sushi or bibimbap? Pick from the Japanese or Korean menus (or both) at Doma.

Little Fish

Bella Vista

Bibou (address and Info)

1009 S 8th St
Amazing service, ambiance, and French food. Stop at the ATM beforehand -- Bibou is cash only.

Little Fish (address and Info)

746 S 6th St
Great place for a date -- seasonal, seafood-focused menu in an intimate, 22-seat dining room.

Monsu (address and Info)

901 Christian St
Sicilian cash-only BYO in the heart of the Italian Market.

Paloma (address and Info)

763 S 8th St
Classic French techniques meet Mexican flavors from Chef Adán Saavedra.

Taqueria La Veracruzana (address and info)

908 Washington Ave
Toss back a few cervezas with tasty Mexican food at this casual BYO.

Dim Sum Garden

Chinatown

Dim Sum Garden (address and Info)

1020 Race St
The original Dim Sum Garden, in a new location, is known for soup dumplings, steamed buns, and other Chinese and Taiwanese dim sum.

Nine Ting (address and info)

926 Race St
All you can eat hot pot and Korean BBQ AND you can bring in your booze -- need we say more?

Terakawa Ramen (address and info)

204 N 9th St
In one of the city's best places to get ramen, you can also bring your own booze. Make it a big ol' Asahi.

Laurel Restaurant BYOB

East Passyunk

Laurel (address and Info)

1617 E Passyunk Ave
Come for the seven-course tasting menu from Top Chef alum Nick Elmi; stay to finish the bottle of wine you brought.

Noord (address and Info)

1046 E Tasker St
No need to go dutch at Noord -- the East Passyunk BYO offers reasonably-priced and delicious takes on traditional Nordic/Dutch cuisine.

Will (address and Info)

1911 E Passyunk
Just go. Food from a chef who spent time at the French Laundry and Alinea, it'll be one of the best meals you’ll have in the city.


Kensington/Fishtown

Stock (address and Info)

308 E Girard Ave
Upscale Vietnamese dishes like green papaya salad, khao poon, and some damn good pho.

Helm (address and Info)

1305 N 5th St
Oh look, our favorite new restaurant of 2015 also is a BYOB... maybe you should go, if you haven't already?

trycaviar.com

Manayunk/East Falls

Han Dynasty (address and info)

4536 Main St
Lucky for the folks of Manayunk, Han Dynasty is BYO -- and you’ll probably need a few bottles to counter the effects of Han Chiang's spicy Szechuan food.

Smiley’s Cafe (address and info)

110 Cotton St
Low key spot for gyros, shawarma, and falafel.


Northern Liberties

Pura Vida (address and info)

527 Fairmount Ave
Pan-Latin/Cuban food and house-made margarita mix -- it’s up to you to bring the tequila.

Suppa (address and info)

1040 N American St
The menu has everything from pierogies to fried chicken. Plus, Suppa makes its own tater tots.

Dimtri’s (address and info)

944 N 2nd St
One of two locations in the city serving straightforward Greek food at affordable prices.

26 North BYOB

Old City

26 North (address and Info)

26 N 3rd St
Newly opened from Chef Mike Stollenwerk (formerly of Little Fish), the seafood-heavy restaurant is quickly becoming one of the most popular restaurants in Old City.

Chloe (address and info)

232 Arch St
Great food and even better service in this small BYO on a quiet stretch of Arch St.

Kisso (address and info)

205 N 4th S
Inventive sushi for those nights when you want something better than the standard sushi takeout.

La Locanda Del Ghiottone (address and info)

130 N 3rd St
Come for hearty portions of traditional Italian fare and the best mushroom crepes in the city.

Russet

Rittenhouse

Russet (address and info)

1521 Spruce St
Farm-to-table food in an old brownstone across from the Kimmel Center.

Audrey Claire (address and info)

276 S 20th St
Just good, clean food.

Melograno (address and info)

2012 Sansom St
If you’ve lived in Philly for more than a year, you’ve probably already been here. Go again.

Pumpkin (address and info)

1713 South St
Seasonal menu using local ingredients.

Mercato BYOB

Washington Square West

Mercato (address and info)

1216 Spruce St
With so many good options on the menu, we recommend the four-course tasting menu.

Effie’s (address and info)

1127 Pine St
Solid Greek food at reasonable prices.

Giorgio On Pine (address and info)

1328 Pine St
Gluten-free, friendly, and casual eatery serving Italian classics.

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Before moving to Philly, Dan McKay’s idea of BYOB was bringing a flask to dinner and sneaking drinks while the waiter wasn’t looking -- how times have changed... Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @dannypageviews

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1. Figs 2501 Meredith St, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Fairmountart Museum)

This intimate, cash-only BYOB serves Mediterranean fare with Moroccan-inspired twists (but don’t worry, it’s not too spicy). Located near the Art Museum, this spot is great for any occasion but especially for brunch before a relaxing day out. Try the grilled swordfish, for sure. Prices are fair and service is excellent.

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2. Zorba's Tavern 2230 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Fairmountart Museum)

The Greek tavern serves authentic cuisine in a welcoming, homey atmosphere that is owned and operated by three generations of Greeks. Old-country painting decorate the walls, and it’s not uncommon to hear the service speaking in native tongue. The menu offers delicious, classic entrees that are generously portioned and reasonably priced.

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3. Sabrina's Cafe 1804 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Fairmountart Museum)

With locations all over Philly (Italian Market, Universal City, Wynnewood, Collingwood), Sabrina's is known most of all for their creative, comfort food brunch concoctions. You must try the overstuffed French toast, made with marshmallows, sweet cream, and cinnamon dough. Everything on the menu is made with fresh ingredients in ways you’ve never tasted before.

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4. Doma Sushi 1822 Callowhill St, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Fairmountart Museum)

Doma serves Japanese and Korean-inspired fare, and its BYOB policy ensures you a delicious but affordable meal. The restaurant offers an extensive menu with the options to specialize your plate or choose something non-sushi. With a modern decor and lively ambiance, this spot is great for casual or special nights out.

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5. Bibou 1009 S 8th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (Italian Marketbella Vista)

Bibou offers a prix fixe menu only, meaning that for $100 per guest, you’ll be served a generous seven-course meal that includes mussel & beet consomme, Icelandic cod with mustard greens, bone marrow aside fingerling potato, and lamb strip loin with artichoke and black rice. And that’s only half of what you’re treated to. The night’s price is competitive with other upper end kitchens. Bibou’s is great for intimate dates or a treat for a loved one.

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6. Little Fish 746 S 6th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (Italian Marketbella Vista)

Like you in your new athletically fitted tan pleated chinos, Little Fish's menu is sporting a Spring look. Menu items include oysters splashed with shallots and sherry vinegar, scallops in foie gras, octopus with artichoke and Meyer lemon, and jerk cobia with coconut rice. Nom.

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7. Monsu 901 Christian St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (Italian Marketbella Vista)

Monsu is a cash-only Sicilian restaurant smack dab in the heart of Philly’s historic Italian Market. The seasonal separate brunch and dinner menus feature fresh, local ingredients. Diners can order from the menu a la carte and gluten free options are available. Because of its intimate size and popular location, reservations are strongly recommended.

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8. Paloma 763 E 8th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Philadelphia)

After 10 strong years on Castor Ave, the chef/lawyer couple behind Paloma transformed the interior of the former Mezzaluna into an elegant dining room. The room is decorated with folk and classical Mexican artwork, and white linen-topped tables raise the standard. Food offerings are a retouched menu of their haute French-Mexican cuisine both visually and tastefully impressive, prepared mildly and optionally served with a spicy house sauce.

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9. Taqueria La Veracruzana 908 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147

Taqueria La Veracruzana is a Mexican (duh) BYOB with a casual ambiance that’s great for family outings and other group events. The extensive menu has everything you could want from a Mex joint, and it’s all done well in sizable portions. Try the delicious Al Pastor (pork and pineapple) for a surprising mix for thick and sweet food.

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10. Dim Sum Garden 1020 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Located on an obscure corner in Center City, Dim Sum Garden is a diamond in the rough. Its kitchen is dedicated to handmade food that far exceeds than its humble setting. Dim Sum Garden makes all its own noodles, hand-rolling and cleaver-slicing the dough into chewy, thick strands. Try the skewered shrimp, crisp with seasoning but soft inside.

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11. Nine Ting 926 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Nine Ting offers several all-you-can-eat options: hot pot ($21.99 per person), barbecue ($26.99) or go for broke and do both ($31.99). Put this place on the calendar— you can eat for free on your birthday! Just make sure to bring your idea, or suddenly it’d be everybody’s birthday every week, the food’s that good.

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12. Terakawa Ramen 204 N 9th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Terakawa Ramenis is serving up delicious Kyushu Ramen from the Kumamoto Prefecture. The Japan-inspired ambiance feels authentic, as if you were actually across the sea. The casual environment is great for groups or one-on-ones, and you can tell the service cares about providing you with the best dining experience. Try the curry chicken cutlet that’s seasoned to perfection and served with rice and a small salad.

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13. Laurel 1617 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (South Philadelphia)

This Passyunk restaurant offers only one thing: a seven course tasting menu. The style is French-American fusion at this intimate spot, which is also BYOB -- so at least you'll save some money there, because the tasting menu ain't cheap, but it's damn good.

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14. Noord 1046 E Tasker St, Philadelphia, PA 19148 (South Philadelphia)

Slinging delicious Dutch eats in South Philly, Noord's got uniquely-named menu items like waterzoois (seafood platters), bitterballen (meatballs), and, uh, burgers (burgers).

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15. Will BYOB 1911 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147 (South Philadelphia)

From a chef who somehow escaped Levittown (well, the nice part of Levittown -- yes, there's a nice part!) to work at some of the best restos nationally (Alinea, French Laundry) and locally (Blackfish, Pumpkin, Lacroix) comes Will BYOB, a cozy, 30-seat French fine dine-ery with a menu inspired by the seasons.

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16. Stock 308 E Girard Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19125 (Fishtown)

Stock serves Vietnamese cuisine of high quality—grass-fed beef make up hearty broths. Vegetarian options are available like maitake and shiitake mushroom soup, complete with coconut milk, crushed peanuts, and Thai chilies. Vegan options are available, too. Definitely try the banh mi— it’s some of the best in the city.

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17. Helm 1305 N 5th St, Philadelphia, PA 19122 (Kensington)

Having just opened in March, Helm debuted at number 10 on Philadelphia Magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2016, and are already planning their second restaurant. The blackboard menu is ever-changing thanks to Helm’s promise to use only fresh, local and seasonal ingredients in their New American dishes. The BYOB policy adds to its relaxed, fun atmosphere.

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18. Han Dynasty 4356 Main St, Philadelphia, PA 19127 (Manayunk)

This Szechuan place is loved by Manayunk and East Falls locals because of their BYOB policy and delicious spicy food. There are a few locations all over Philly, so you are never too far from some of the city's best fare. We believe that out of all the dining options in Manayunk, Han Dynasty is one of the best.

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19. Smiley's Cafe 110 Cotton St, Philadelphia, PA 19127 (Manayunk)

The menu at this cozyl Manayunk eatery is dominated by a number of classic Mediterranean dishes -- like falafel, gyros, and shawarma. And although the food is incredible at Smiley's, what puts this place on the map is its BYOB status. Be sure to enjoy a creative platter, a side of baba ghajouj, and your favorite brew.s

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20. Pura Vida 527 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19123 (Nolibs)

Soak up the good life at Philly's Pura Vida restaurant. Latin American flavor and flair is what's on the menu here at this Callowhill fusion spot. Not only is Pura Vida a friendly and wam spot to dine out, it's also BYOB. So bring your own tequila and dig in on complex and satisfying plates. We especially love their vegetarian chorizo!

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21. Suppa 1040 N American St Unit 1101, Philadelphia, PA 19123

This BYOB spot offers a diverse menu with pickings like pierogies and fried chicken, and even homemade tater tots. The menu is constantly changing and features rotating specials, and the atmosphere is played up with Trivial pursuit and mad libs at the table.

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22. Di Mitri's 795 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147-3326 (Society Hillqueen Village)

A Mediterranean locale in friendly Queen Village, Dmitri's is a solid Philly neighborhood grub hub. Specializing in the kind of food you wish your grandma made, you'll feel right at home in this checkerboard covered dining room that's just the right kind of quaint. Order up from a selection of Pan-Med fare, like pastas, hummus apps, and grilled seafood specials.

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23. 26 North 26 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Seafood master Mike Stollenwerk brings full lunch and dinner menus of artful seafood plates to Old City with 26 North. Don't count out the lamb and vegetarian plates either, as every plate brings the same level of quality. The restaurant’s spacious floor and high celling provide a touch of elegance, which is a quirky contrast to its BYOB policy.

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24. Chloe 232 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Innovative new American dishes are served at this quaint spot located on a quiet stretch of Arch street. Expect memorable selections like shrimp and andouille etouffee over grilled corn bread or jerk shrimp with black bean farro cake and cabbage slaw. The restaurant is BYOB, so do as the chefs do and be imaginative with your wine pairings.

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25. Kisso Sushi Bar 205 N 4th St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

For sushi that can better be described as edible art, head to Kisso, located in the heart of Old City. This BYOB venue has been serving inventive options since 1997, from Red Snapper Carpaccio to "hot dog maki". The rolls are fresh and, while interesting, are not overly done or too heavily sauced.

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26. La Locanda Del Ghiottone Restaurant 130 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106

Offering hearty italian fare in an intimate, brick-walled space, Locanda is the mom-and-pop spot to beat all Italian mom-and-pop spots. Come for the BYOB option, but stay for the mushroom crepes, considered the best in town.

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27. Russet 1521 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19102 (Rittenhouse)

Run by a husband-and-wife duo, this charming spot serves seasonal and local American dishes within a subtle brownstone location. The space feels like you're having dinner in a friend's classy yet rustic home, and the BYOB policy never hurts. Check their website for wine recommendations based on their current menu offerings.

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28. Audrey Claire 276 S 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Audrey Claire is a Mediterranean BYOB in Philly, serving up eats that span from Spanish grilled fish to Israeli couscous.

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29. Melograno 2012 Sansom St, Philadelphia, PA 19103

A staple in the Philly food scene, Il Melograno offers authentic Italian food within a no-frills, cozy environment. The place is BYOB, so bring a bottle of red to pair with selections like pasta made with wild boar ragu' and a classic cacio e pepe sprinkled with freshly cracked black pepper.

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30. Pumpkin 1713 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19146 (South Street)

Pumpkin is a longstanding BYOB escape on South Street for elegant dishes that are updated regularly. The space is intimate and rustic with distressed barn-plank walls and tin accents above, but the thoughtful dishes are contemporary and plated as such: duck egg with farrow is secured in a nest of maitake mushrooms and butternut squash, while a disc of pig head torchon gets balanced on a mound of cranberry beans and cabbage over a dramatic smudge of black garlic. Dim-lighting during the evenings make the mood just right for a romantic one-on-one (this pumpkin won’t turn into a carriage though, lovers).

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31. Mercato 1216 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (Midtown Village)

Mercato is a cash-only BYOB Italian joint in Philadelphia serving up fresh-made market favorites from Italy, as well as bold Italian-American fare. Entrees change on a weekly or monthly basis to incorporate the freshest ingredients of the moment. Mercato offers both indoor and outdoor dining, both of which have great ambiance.

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32. Effie's Restaurant 1127 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

Offering authentic Greek food in a cozy and casual atmosphere, Effie's pleases with classics like their lamb souvlaki plate, made with rice, tzatziki, and the vegetable of the day, or mediterranean pasta. Best of all, the menu is reasonably priced, and BYOB to boot.

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33. Giorgio on Pine 1328 Pine St, Philadelphia, PA 19107

This rustic Italian trattoria in Washington Square West supplies a variety of gluten-free eats among other Italian classics, like a prosciutto platter, veal melanzane, and gnocchi tossed in house made, 12-hour braised beef ragout. Giorgio on Pine is also BYOB, so guests can enjoy the traditional cuisine with their favorite bottle of wine.

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