LDNGuide

The 17 Best BYOB Restaurants In London

BYOB restaurants that are actually good.
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photo credit: Giulia Verdinelli

BYOB—four letters that send a shiver down the spine of any Londoner who has paid £15 for a small glass of house wine. Usually eating out is about being provided for, but for the broke and the fussy, bringing your own bottle to a restaurant is the way forward. London has quite a few BYOB restaurants worth getting involved in—from homely Italian spots with daily changing menus, to a Persian deli with a platter that’s bigger than your impending hangover.

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No Corkage

photo credit: Aleksandra Boruch

Balkan

Sydenham

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBCasual Weeknight DinnerCatching Up With MatesCheap EatsDining SoloLunch
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There is something about Mystic Burek, a Balkan spot in Sydenham, that makes you feel like Shania Twain has just drawled, “let’s go girls”. The gaggle of warm staff who sing along to the pop anthems playlist, the hulking slices of excellent burek served on silver trays with pink parchment, and the granny-core aesthetic are all designed to make you feel like the hot slice you’ve just been served. Grab a bottle of wine from 161 Food+Drink next door and settle in.


Singburi isn’t just the best restaurant in Leytonstone nor the best Thai restaurant in London, it’s one of the best restaurants in the city, full stop. There’s an ever-changing blackboard menu of dishes like moo krob, chilli ribs, and steamed mussels—but their classic garlic, chilli, and Thai basil-infused clams are a repeat offender. But everything here is sensational. It’s BYOB and cash-only, and this little spot is perpetually lively with the constant noise of friends settling down drinks in hand, and the reluctant sounds of other groups settling up.


Yada's is a Kurdish restaurant on Rye Lane making mezze, shawarmas, and sandwiches that will impress and satisfy anyone. The falafel is too fluffy and herbaceous to resist, and the chicken so tender it would be disrespectful to turn it down. Even when your head says no, your stomach will be saying yes. There are a dozen or so tables big and small, and a BYOB policy that’s happily embraced every night of the week in this convivial, laid-back dining room.


A no-brainer Vietnamese spot with two restaurants bookending Kingsland Road, BúnBúnBún makes bowls of food we’ll never not wolf down. Their bún salads are an obvious choice and bún chả Hà Nội (pork sausage patties, grilled strips of lemongrass pork, and a crunchy, splintering spring roll) is another standout dish. The money you’ve saved on booze makes it worth getting the whole fried sea bass in ginger chilli dressing too.


Patogh’s big special bread—roughly the size of a sombrero—is some of the best around. There are just a couple of tables out front and a dozen or so squeezed in inside this stalwart Persian cafe close to Edgware Road station. And it’s an absolute spot for anyone looking for a long lunch or dinner alongside enormous flatbreads, juicy kebab, and a bottle of your favourite wine from home.


Ask anyone from north London about a decent BYOB restaurant and Anime e Cuore, in varying degrees of pronunciation, is likely to be said several times. This homely Italian spot is a perfect BYOB spot for a celebration or family get-together. But it’s cash-only and can only seat 22 people, so book in advance. The menu changes daily, but expect pasta with sauces you’ll want to drink up.


photo credit: Karolina Wiercigroch

If you’re looking for a kind of last-minute BYOB group dinner spot, then Mangal 1 in Dalston is one of your best bets. This Turkish restaurant has become synonymous with good times and the therapeutic chiming of blue bags from the offie. As is the case with many Turkish restaurants, it’s delicious for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Just try not to fill up on flatbread and grilled onion salad.


Of all of London’s BYOB restaurants, Tayyabs is perhaps the most famous. This enormous Whitechapel institution once sent some of their famous Punjabi lamb chops into space. Because, why not? That’s the sort of thing you can tell your group while queuing outside, because this place gets very popular. It’s the ultimate, buzzy lamb chop night, and the food is everything you want it to be. There’s even a wine shop next door for when you can’t be bothered to schlep across London with your Echo Falls.


Every Londoner claims to have ‘the best shop in the world’ down the road from them. Mainly because that’s the shop most reachable when in dire need of a Rubicon mango. For those close to Persepolis in Peckham, they’re actually right. A Persian deli cum cafe, this BYOB spot serves fantastic mezze at fantastic prices. Their ‘tasting menu’—a series of seemingly unlimited vegetarian courses—is the best move. Although any mezze and dessert combo is a winner.


Indian Veg is the all-you-can-eat-buffet that you’ve always dreamed of: freshly made, tasty, with an unlimited supply of onion bhajis. It’s one of Islington’s best spots for a very tasty and very good-value Indian meal, with as much or as little booze as you like. The room is pretty basic and it isn’t enormous, so it’s best for ones or twos.


A BYOB, cash-only spot that suits groups and solo diners alike is a bit of a rarity, but it exists in Andu Café. This vegan Ethiopian cafe in Dalston serves platters of six vegan dishes alongside injera or rice, and that’s it. It’s a tasty and straightforward meal, full of spiced stews and delicious sauces. There’s no other choice to make here, aside from what you’re bringing to drink.


If the queue at Tayyabs is longer than your group chat after an evening of questionable decisions, then Lahore Kebab House is where you want to go. Its canteen-like space in Whitechapel was built for big groups of hungry friends and family. The Punjabi menu covers a lot of ground—from korma to karahi gosht—but the skinny sizzling lamb chops rubbed in a moreish curried marinade are a favourite off the grill, along with gently spiced pieces of mutton tikka.


Corkage

This family-run Kurdish spot’s priority is making you feel good—through a chat at the till, a bit of baklava as you struggle through a deadline, and all the excellent food coming out of the kitchen. The menu is full of things that’ll make you go lovey-dovey for fresh ingredients, like mezze, sujuk burgers, seven-spice shawarma, and lentil falafels. And just like coming home after a long time, they’ll let you bring your favourite drinks too, for a small fee. Paying a visit to Nandine in Camberwell is a foolproof pick-me-up method.


Sager + Wilde is a wine bar and restaurant a few minutes from Bethnal Green station. Housed in an old railway arch, there’s a cosy ambience courtesy of flickering candles, a secluded mezzanine upstairs, and alfresco dining out on the terrace. The Italian food’s good, and so is the wine—even if it’s the special-ish bottle you were gifted last Christmas—and the pasta dishes are a highlight. Head here for a relaxed session with friends fuelled by your favourite bottles from home. The corkage fee is £10 on Mondays and £20 for the rest of the week.


At Guanabana in Camden, the quick version of their corkage policy is: weekdays are cheapest and there's a higher charge for wine than beer. But although you'll pay less corkage on a Monday, it's really worth coming to this Caribbean spot on a Sunday for the spicy, tender jerk beef roast with crispy potatoes, sweet plantain, and a huge yorkshire pudding. Settle in among a jungle of hanging plants for nap-inducing comfort food.


photo credit: Jake Missing

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Going to Chez Bruce is a little like going back in time via Clapham. There are twinkly, charming, suited staff who serve you warm bread. There are couples holding hands across the crisp, white tablecloths. There are baked alaskas being served all over the humming dining room. The doe-eyed dates and anniversaries probably have something to do with the lobster raviolo the size of a tennis ball at the charming French restaurant—but the BYOB option is a great bonus.


Although there’s a small corkage charge at Xi’an Impression, it’s worth it for the drop-on-one-knee food they serve here. Specifically those cold noodles. Bang opposite the Arsenal stadium, this Chinese restaurant is a place to bring your own booze and friends. Just not too many of the latter. Firstly because it’s not too roomy, and secondly you don’t want too many people to catch on. This place becomes a go-to, fast, and we still want to be able to cop a table.


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