BYOB spots in NYC that don't suck are restaurant unicorns. Compared to cities like Chicago and Philly, New York has extremely few options where you can bring your own booze, and even fewer with food you'd actually want to eat.
But the need to drink on the cheap is an important one, so we've put together this list of places where you can show up with your own bottle and be welcomed. Are these restaurants some of the best NYC has to offer? For the most part, no. But are they are places we can actually recommend if BYO is your priority.
Read on, booze hounds.
So you want to BYOB, but you also need gluten-free and vegan options? Such a place exists, and it's a French spot called Le Village. We don't really understand why you'd go to a French place and proceed to avoid bread and cheese, but to each his own.
This is not your average greasy drunken noodles spot. Lui's has an impressive menu of somewhat rare Thai dishes you've probably never heard of, and they're all worth trying. Save your go-to Pad Thai order for Seamless and head to Lui's for an actually-authentic and interesting Thai experience, with the added benefit of BYOB.
Piccola Strada is the definition of a mom and pop. The space is about the size of a walk-in closet, and thanks to the owners' constant presence, you feel like you're in your grandma's living room eating the food she made just for you. The Italian eats are very solid, and if that kind of intimacy and lack of showiness is your thing, you'll love Piccola Strada.
The Bao13 St. Marks Pl.
Not only is The Bao one of the rare BYOB spots that doesn't look like an eight year old could have decorated it, but it's also home to some of the city's best soup dumplings. Sit down at the big wood communal table looking out over St. Marks, get your group lots of dumplings and noodles, and you're in for BYOB happiness.
Kuma Inn113 Ludlow St.
We'll get right to it: Kuma Inn is not our favorite restaurant. But it's a staple on the Lower East Side thanks to being one of the only BYOB joints in the area. It's a small plates place, so as long as you don't come too hungry and you bring enough alcohol to keep your buzz on, you'll be fine. Get the pork shumai and the tuna tartare.
Tartine253 W. 11th St.
In theory you could bring a date to any of these places, but the only BYOB spot we would wholeheartedly recommend you bring a date to is Tartine. It's cute, it's quaint, it's in the heart of the West Village, and the food is very good. Tartine is also a power brunch move. Croque Monsieur + BYOB mimosas = dream team.
Ever had Puerto Rican food? Casa Adela is an excellent choice for your initiation. This isn't just any Puerto Rican food, it's Adela's Puerto Rican Food - the 79-year-old grandma has been serving her famous rotisserie chicken, rice, and beans at this location since 1976.
Gaia Italian Cafe is not about good vibes or great service. It is about seriously tasty Italian comfort food (panini, pasta, meatballs) at seriously cheap prices, served to you by Gaia herself in a basement level shop you would never know about unless you knew about it. Now you know. (Be warned: this spot closes very early Tuesday-Friday, because Gaia does what Gaia wants. Come on Saturdays when it's open till 10pm.)
You go to Panna II for two reasons and two reasons alone: BYOB, and what is almost certainly the craziest restaurant decor in all of NYC. Every square inch of this place is covered in foil, mirrors, flashing lights, chili peppers, and giant globes. It might not be the greatest Indian food ever, but clearly their decor-before-food approach is working - this place has lasted for 25 years.
Hot melted cheese. On everything. And BYOB. That's pretty much all you need to know.
Tasty, fresh, well-executed Turkish food in a comfortable environment. There is, however, a corkage limit to one bottle per couple. Translation: you're going to need a magnum.
Sometimes you just need some cheap, satisfying Mexican food. Sometimes you just need a beer. These primal needs can both be satisfied at Ponche Taqueria. There isn't much ambiance to speak of, but there are brick walls, which is enough for most people.
Wondee Siam792 9th Ave.
The best Thai restaurant in Hell's Kitchen also happens to be BYOB. Which means Wondee Siam isn't just a godsend for people stuck in their offices in Midtown, but also for people who want to get an inexpensive meal and an inexpensive buzz near Terminal 5.
There are more than a few BYOB sushi spots in NYC, but Poke is one actually worth knowing about. The sushi is fresh, the rolls are tasty, and instead of paying $13 for an average glass of white wine, you can bring your own bottle. The only issue? People of the Upper East Side know about it - expect a wait.
It's surprising that more neighborhood restaurant owners haven't caught on to the fact that BYOB instantly and very certainly makes all neighborhood restaurants precisely 16.5x more appealing. Especially neighborhood restaurants that already have very good, very authentic food. Om is an UES Indian spot that gets it right on both counts.
Lucali575 Henry St.
How do you go about making arguably the best pizza in Brooklyn an even better experience? BYOB. The road to sitting down to a table at Lucali isn't an easy one, but picking up a bottle along the way only adds to the gleeful anticipation of the meal. And once you finally do get a seat, the rewards are endless.