Thrillist isn't above reveling in the misfortune of others, which is why every time we find a new BYO restaurant, we show up with an armload of bottles to toast their tragic inability to obtain a liquor license. Our latest BYO discovery: El Cocotero, a Venezuelan restaurant in Chelsea perfect for large, boozy gatherings.
El Cocotero can manage a party of 15 or 20. Reservations aren't accepted for smaller groups, but if you have a sizeable number of friends, business associates or eerily realistic pleasure dolls, you can call ahead and lock down half the restaurant. Once seated, feel free to be shamelessly indulgent: When we went, the adjoining table had a full bar going, with beer, scotch, rum, vodka, and mixers for apple martinis (an offense that nearly sent Thrillist into a raging, sexdoll bursting fury, until we grudgingly admitted that our neighbors' audacity mitigated their flaccid choice in cocktails).
Unlike many BYOs, El Cocotero does take credit cards, which means that corporate Amex you've been using to develop "client relationships" at the Hustler Club should come in handy. The menu is loaded with inexpensive Latin comfort food, including sugary plantains and chicken-and-avocado stuffed arepas more addictive than beer-battered OxyContin. The staff is largely inattentive, but that's entirely appropriate, considering how our supposedly free-market economy is screwing them to the wall with meddlesome liquor regulations.
We can see a one-on-one date going off just fine at El Cocotero. However, that would be missing the real point of this place: that it provides an ideal setting for a lot of people to drink a lot of alcohol on the cheap, with someone else to cook, serve, and clean up the resulting devastation.