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The Best Philly BYOB Restaurants to Quench Your Thirst



While the idea of toting one’s own wine, beer or liquor to a restaurant might strike some as unusual, in Philadelphia it’s not just commonplace, it’s exciting. To get around prohibitively expensive liquor licenses, many restaurateurs choose to simply open as BYOB’s, and locals know those are often the spots to get the best food and most delicious ambiance. Many BYOB’s require reservations, cash, and in some cases, a vintage bottle whose price tag raises envious eyebrows at surrounding tables. Since this idea has proven quite popular among restaurant proprietors as well as patrons, there are no shortage of places. Select an establishment that is also into using the best local products and ingredients, herbs and meats to enhance your meal, such as those at Jaxon BYOB or Will BYOB. Or visit a hotspot just outside the city limits for something a little different and well worth the minimal travel time such as Blackfish. All serve up delicious food offerings in a wide variety of cuisines and styles, which frees patrons to pick the one they're in the mood for at that time. Then the only thing left is to head to the store or the wine cellar to find the perfect accompaniment to the evening's possibilities. We make no promises that task will be easy, but we're sure it'll be enjoyable.


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Dine cheek to cheek at Philadelphia's own little slice of the West Village, Audrey Claire, a Mediterranean BYOB, one of the city's favorites. Between the South-of-France simplicity, Israeli couscous, mezze, grilled fish served head to tail, and the olive oils of those rustic lands, you'll feel like you've taken the grand tour. Our intimate, open-air restaurant offers a rare opportunity to experience the theatrics of a small kitchen. Get up close and personal at the rustic chef's counter to observe the food being prepared. Throughout spring to early autumn, our cafe windows are wide open, displaying signature arrangements of sunflowers and bowls of crisp Granny Smith apples, and our outdoor tables line the street. Rittenhouse Square neighborhood flair, simplistic atmosphere and innovative fare are just a few of the features that have made us one of Philadelphia's mainstay restaurants.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: Small but mighty, this gem has been a fixture in the city for over 20 years.

Local Expert tip: Remember that this restaurant is cash only, so bring both your billfold and bubbly to the table.

Read more about Audrey Claire →


9
East Falls


Visitors and regulars agree that this restaurant delivers when it comes to delicious Italian food. Located in East Falls, it has a distinctly neighborhood feel, while still being able to compete with Center City eateries quite well. Reserve your seat and enjoy sampling such dishes as tagliatelle bolognese, spaghetti with clams, Franco's saltimbocca, chicken battuta or eggplant rollatini. Follow that up with a great dessert treat and the beverage of your choice and you have a meal with remembering. It's cozy and quite romantic, too, so don't hesitate to take your sweetie for lunch or dinner or to celebrate a special occasion.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: When it comes to great little places you want to talk about but yet don't want everyone to flock to your spot, this is it.

Sharon's expert tip: Surprise yourself with a visit to this cozy and romantic eatery where you'll also want to ask about the occasional cooking classes they run.

Read more about Fiorino →


8
South Street


This quaint Philadelphia restaurant is really just part of a larger enterprise including a cafe and a market. The restaurant utilizes fresh local ingredients (resulting in a menu that changes daily) and manages to retain an elegant rusticity mirroring its fresh-from-the-farm dishes. While the menu is subject to frequent updates, diners can expect dishes including Maine scallops in a lemon sauce, sea bream with a cauliflower puree, and pan-roasted Lancaster chicken served with stir-fried greens among other delicious options. Located in Rittenhouse Square, this place is also close to shopping, luxury hotels and pleasant scenery, making your dinner choice perfect for an entire evening out.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: When a fresh choice in American cuisine is your preference, Pumpkin fits the bill nicely. A BYOB options makes your meal uniquely enjoyable.

Sharon's expert tip: The five-course Sunday dinner option is not to be missed.

Read more about Pumpkin →


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Seasonal, fresh ingredients abound at this Bella Vista gem. The menu changes frequently but you can catch up on the latest offerings via the updated chalkboard menu. Pair the seafood selection that most interests you with the BYOB option of your choice for a great meal that's not a repeat of things you've tasted and dismissed before. Selections here include such options as Ora King Salmon with bbq mustard, corn, porcini and farro; Monkfish accompanied by maitake, yukon, fermented pepper, pork belly, and perilla will make your mouth water. Combine these with a starter or delicious dessert for a meal you'll swear was delivered by little sea fairies.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: Cozy, creative and a culinary delight combine to make this little seafood spot a must-try for Philly diners.

Sharon's expert tip: Don't sweat the wine you bring. There's a dish to compliment just about any choice you make at this pretty seafood spot.

Read more about Little Fish →




In the emerging Loft District, a pizza joint joins older sisters Cafe Lift and Prohibition Taproom to bring wood-fired whole pizzas and slices, salads, soups, desserts and espressos to a tattooed crowd of neighborhood dwellers and curious outsiders. They listen to classic rock and drink craft beer out of growlers purchased at the bar on the street as they munch obscure Neapolitan 'za topped with shaved brussels sprouts, taleggio, speck, and scallions and finished with a balsamic reduction. Reservations not accepted; the "b" at this BYOB should be a growler filled with craft beer chosen from Prohibition Taproom's rotating taps

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: A BYOB option at an Italian joint with an elevated level of classic dishes, this place welcomes your beer, your wine and your appetite.

Sharon's expert tip: Try the saut�ed shrimp over polenta with gorgonzola sauce and be prepared for a bit of noise, as reviewers state it can get a bit loud.

Read more about Melograno →


Will BYOB
Photo courtesy of Will BYOB


Ingredients foraged from nearby farmers markets dictate the ever-changing menu at this crowded 30-seat East Passyunk BYOB. Here, chef/owner Chris Kearse uses modern gadgets and techniques to prepare new takes on sumptuously-plated French-inspired dishes. This cozy cafe features an earthy feel and a menu to go along with it. He works with the season, the local ingredients he has, and the things he's good at to come up with fare that is inspiring and tasty, creative and delicious. Reservations are recommended here, and white or red wines will work, though a light Viognier, Riesling, or Pinot Noir may work best.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: The future comes to Philly in the form of Will's gadgetry and modernistic techniques.

Sharon's expert tip: The third Thursday of each month, Chef Chris Kearse curates a tasting menu around one seasonal ingredient.

Read more about Will BYOB →




The buzz built for months before this teensy Northern European BYOB opened on East Passyunk, and Chicago chef/owner Joncarl Lachman's house-smoked fish and anise-based sauces certainly don't disappoint now that it's operating and working to please patrons night after night. Lachman adds warmth to his rustic cold-weather seaside dishes by personally greeting guests. Come in and sample this Dutch cuisine and enjoy the white-tableclothed experience, and frequently house-made selections along with your favorite bottle. Reservations are recommended, along with a rich Alsatian or Burgundian white wine to bring out the flavors of your entree best. 1046 Tasker St., 267-909-9704, noordphilly.com

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: Newcomer Joncarl Lachman brings arctic seafood and sauces to Noord in East Passyunk.

Sharon's expert tip: Though seafood dominates the menu, land-lubbers and vegetarians can find solace in dishes like a lamb burger and roasted acorn squash.

Read more about Noord Eetcafe →




This Northern Liberties gem puts it focus on fresh, high quality seasonal ingredients that are sourced locally whenever possible. Open for brunch on Sundays and dinner every night except Tuesdays, this eatery impresses with its extreme focus on quality and good service. With dishes like short ribs with almond/orange cake, heirloom carrots, and sunchoke chips as well as hanger Steak with romesco, fingerlings and haricot verts, your tastebuds will be impressed and your hunger satisfied. Paired with the wine or beer of your choice and a dessert and you've got all you need for a great meal.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: With rave reviews from customers and fresh, local ingredients making up their food choices, you can't go wrong here.

Sharon's expert tip: Fans rave about the octopus here, so don't leave without sampling it.

Read more about Jaxon BYOB →


Sate Kampar
Photo courtesy of Sharon Rigney


This Malaysian restaurant specializes in just what the name implies: sate. Sate is a traditional southeastern Asian dish of seasoned, skewered, grilled meat, served with a sauce. The food is cooked over coconut shell charcoal in the open kitchen here, and served in a simple, yet cozy and warm environment. Patrons an eat in the dining area, or in the window area overlooking the street. It is a BYOB, and aims to deliver an authentic, healthy dining experience remnant of the chef's homeland. Choose from pork, beef, chicken or tofu dishes as well as other Malaysian favorites like nasi lemak bungkus, nasi ulam, mee hoon goreng bungkus as well as shareable plates that will tempt your palate and those of your guests.

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: New to the neighborhood, this gem is clean, cozy, satisfying and a little out-of-the-box, making it a great diversion from the same-old thing.

Sharon's expert tip: Be sure to investigate their tasting menu where you can try delicious sate selections in front of the open kitchen.

Read more about Sate Kampar →




Philadelphia's top dining critic bestows rare top honors on the 30-seat BYOB "bistro" that elevates French peasant food into fine-dining art. Chef/owner Pierre Calmels boasts an impeccable French culinary pedigree, and his wife, Charlotte, is revered for her graciousness at the front-of-the-house of this East Passyunk staple. This family-run small establishment is great when you want to feel cozy and well-taken-care-of in a setting that's akin to a friend's kitchen. Remember to hit up the ATM before arriving, however, as this spot is cash-only. Reservations recommended, as is a cult bottle of French red worth showing off. 1009 S. 8th St., 215-965-8290, biboubyobcom

Recommended for BYOB Restaurants because: With a gracious front-of-house to match the finesse delivered by the kitchen, Bibou has arisen as arguably the best French restaurant in Philadelphia.

Sharon's expert tip: Go Sunday for a four-course, $45 prix-fixe dinner, and remember the restaurant is cash only.

Read more about Bibou →


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Meet Sharon Rigney

Sharon is a native to the Philadelphia area, but loves to wander from its familiar borders. She has traveled to more than 30 countries, trekked five continents, ventured out with family,...  More About Sharon

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