Enjoying a glass of wine with dinner instantly creates a sense of occasion, but the markup can sometimes make you immediately regret said occasion. Luckily, several San Diego restaurants offer free corkage nights either all of the time or on select days of the week. Want to find out where you can bring your own wine (or in some cases, beer) from home and pay $0 for the privilege? Good! Because that’s what’s about to happen.
When you’re going: Monday
The next time you’ve got a raging case of “The Mondays,” head to this lively bar/restaurant for a bacon jam-topped cheeseburger with insanely delicious truffle fries and several glasses of your favorite wine. If you’d rather not cart in your own vino, it also offers $10 off bottles every Monday from 3-10pm. Either way, you’re going to leave a lot happier.
Del Mar and Bankers Hill
When you’re going: Sunday
This busy duo of Italian restaurants lets diners skip paying the corkage fee on Sundays, with one small catch: you’ll have to buy your bottle at the on-site wine shop. Prices are reasonable, so it’s still a pretty sweet deal.
When you’re going: Sunday or Monday
A glass of wine sounds pretty perfect with a big hunk of charbroiled meat. Luckily, this Chicago-inspired temple of beef understands that, and graciously waives corkage fees two days of the week. (It also offers half-price bottles on Tuesday and Wednesday.)
When you’re going: Wednesday
Every hump day evening, you can carry in a bottle of wine from home to enjoy with meaty entrees like grilled pork chops or pan-roasted catch of the day at this cozy California restaurant in the north end of Pacific Beach. Need a bottle of wine? Bird Rock Fine Wine is a mile away. Problem solved.
When you’re going: Whenever you feel like it
PB Fish Shop is already affordable for a fun night out, with only a handful of items priced over $15, but factor in the $0 corkage fee on wine and it’s really a winner. FYI: this deal applies only to the location in Pacific Beach; you’ll pay a modest $5 fee if you bring your own wine to the Encinitas location.
When you’re going: Anytime
You’ll find over 100 craft and local brews on tap here, but there’s zero vino, so you’re free to bring your own, with no corkage fee. Now, the only question that remains is what pairs well with a peanut butter, jelly, and bacon-topped burger? (Probably shiraz, right?)
When you’re going: Anytime
Downtown’s swanky new seafood restaurant puts a major emphasis on adult grape juice (the wine list is 11 pages long, and you’ll find bottles everywhere), but it's still generous enough to waive the corkage fee for bottles you bring from home, anytime.
When you’re going: Anytime
Great news for anyone craving a plate of Jungle Fries (thick-cut fries topped with seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, and African salsa) -- or any other menu item, for that matter: you can bring a bottle of wine or beer along and pay no corkage fee any day of the week. A bottle of Tusker (from Kenya) is a great choice if you’re leaning towards beer.
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1. Leroy's Kitchen + Lounge1015 Orange Ave, San Diego
2. Cucina Enoteca2730 Via de La Valle, Del Mar
3. CUCINA urbana505 Laurel St, San Diego
4. Butcher Shop Steakhouse5255 Kearny Villa Rd, San Diego
5. Table 926926 Turquoise St, San Diego
6. PB Fish Shop1775 Garnet Ave, San Diego
7. Slater's 50/50 Liberty Station2750 Dewey Rd, San Diego
8. Water Grill615 J St, San Diego
9. Flavors of East Africa2322 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego
A departure from conventional Coronado restaurants, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge is committed to serving food that changes with the seasons, part of a larger promise to keep things fresh, local, and sustainable. This means that presumably simple plates like buttermilk cornbread are intensified with bacon bits and blackened jalapeño butter, while scallops surprise with escorts of truffle-braised cabbage and roasted cauliflower. In addition to seasonal cocktails, Leroy’s Kitchen + Lounge serves red and white sangria, whose fruity profile brightens the husky, earthy flavors of the food.
This addition to Urban Kitchen’s ever-growing resto roster is a farmhouse-/equestrian-inspired Italian haven called Cucina Enoteca in Del Mar. It's one elaborate venue, with two impeccably appointed stories (pro tip: anything you see can be a hostess stand). The menu's deep, with fresh house-made pastas, pizzas, and their signature giant meatball smothered in marinara, which's best washed down with one of their Italian beers. When it's warm, hit the airy outdoor patio.
CUCINA urbana, a pizza and wine bar right off Balboa Park, is reliable for a long list of Italian classics: from short rib parpardelle to spicy shrimp Puttanesca tangled in angel hair pasta. The best time to come to the rustic-chic space, though, is during happy hour, for cheap cocktails and discounted pizzas. Doughy, sugar-powdered zeppole will leave you wanting more.
This Chicago-inspired temple of beef offers big hunks of charbroiled meet, waives corkage fees on Sundays and Mondays, and has half-price bottles on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, so you best be making some early weekday dinner plans.
After presumably building 925 tables they just couldn't get excited about, a chef just off a stint at The Cosmopolitan and his UCSD med-school-pathology-professor pops created 926, a multiple-ethnicity-influenced, "upscale casual" eat spot featuring a Spartan, wood-floored dining room with one fluorescent-backed wall o' wine, one LED-lined brick wall, and a couple of others mostly just comprised of wall.
PB Fish Shop serves up the fish of your choice in a variety of ways: fried, in tacos, on a platter, etc. And it's dog-friendly!
50/50 boasts 50 flat screens and 111 taps, but the biggest draw's a burger made from 50% Sterling Silver beef and 50% ground Mohawk bacon. Try their award-winning "Peanut Butter and Jellousy Burger", which comes with vanilla freaking ice cream.
This resto is heavy on seafood, and offers a shrimp bánh mì that you absolutely must try. Plump and juicy tempura-battered shrimp hangs with cucumber salad, daikon sprouts, pickled red onion, and sweet chili sauce on this non-traditional but totally tasty bánh mì sandwich served with house-made chips. Bonus: it also happens to be one of the most budget-friendly lunch or dinner items going.
Tiled in black and white, and outfitted with plush, red booths, it'd be hard to pindown the cuisine on offer at this North Park restaurant upon first look. But maybe that otherworldly feeling is exactly what the proprietors are trying to evoke here, where east African food is introduced to new and repeat diners in the former of Jungle fries (thick-cut fries topped with seasoned ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, and African salsa), short beef ribs in gravy, and oxtail slow cooked in African spices. You may not have known what it was at first, but the combination of salty, spicy, and herb-rubbed flavors will ensure you get familiar with them now.