You know what they say: “You can’t have LA without BYOB." Ok, nobody says that. You’d think that with a town as social, warm, and patio-oriented as LA, it’d be pretty easy to roll up with some friends and a six-pack of beer to a favorite restaurant and have yourself a night. But you’d be dead wrong.
This town is absolutely terrified of BYOB. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Very quietly, a small group of great restaurants keep the BYOB tradition alive and reap the obvious benefits. Nobody in their right mind would turn down the chance to bring their own booze to a restaurant. Here are the 15 best places in LA to do just that.
the byob spots
Subpar Chinese food in LA proper is pretty much the norm, but that doesn’t mean a few gems haven’t snuck through the cracks. Mao’s Kitchen is one of the most criminally overlooked Chinese restaurants in the city, serving very solid and slightly adventurous street food. The original Venice Beach location is open till 3am on the weekends and is an all-out party. You rolling in with a pack of your favorite beer and some friends only helps the cause.
Pinches has a couple locations throughout LA, but its Sunset Strip location is the only one that allows BYOB. And that’s smart, because you’re on the Sunset Strip. Pinches has good tacos at affordable prices, especially considering what part of town you’re in. The vibe is always festive but casual, making it a perfect jumping off point for a night out in Weho.
Bandera has built a loyal following for delivering crowd-friendly favorites in an upscale environment on the Westside. And their no-corkage-fee policy only makes Bandera even more appealing. No, do not roll into Bandera with a 30-rack of Natty. Do, however, bring your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy at this popular Brentwood go-to.
In the crowded Beverly Grove scene, Escuela’s small space tends to get overlooked. But the cool, casual Mexican spot is still cranking out some fantastic tacos at affordable prices. They’ve expanded the menu now to include a full-service brunch on the weekends and a chicken tinga burrito we can’t get enough of. Oh, and it’s BYOB. Which might help you solve the mystery of those unsettling shoes hanging from the ceiling. Let us know of any theories.
Cha Cha Chicken might very well be the best BYOB restaurant in LA. The casual, walk-up Caribbean cafe right off the beach in Santa Monica provides the type of scene you wish LA bought into more. Roll in with some friends and a case of beer on a sunny Saturday afternoon, order jerk chicken from the counter, and get buzzed on that lush back patio. Nothing difficult about that.
It’s amazing that some people still don’t know that LA’s best music venue (by a mile) is BYOB. But you do now. It’s wine and beer only, but if you’re trying to sneak tequila into an LA Philharmonic show, you clearly don’t need a BYOB guide to tell you what to do. Pack a picnic basket full of your favorite wine and snacks, and go enjoy one of the best nights you can have in this city.
Chego! resides in the ever-changing and still very bizarre Far East Plaza in Chinatown. And while Chego! itself isn’t more than a walk-up food counter, it’s the picnic tables outside that possess the very secret BYOB policy. So order a spicy bowl from the Roy Choi original, snag some beer from the liquor sore around the corner, and enjoy a lovely and weird experience only Chinatown can provide.
Wait. The best tacos in LA are BYOB? Correct. The East LA taco empire has very quickly climbed up the LA taco ranks, and drinking hotspot it is not. But being able to wash down a taco sampler platter with your favorite beer is always a good idea.
Who says vegans can’t have fun? The dime-sized Silver Lake staple has been dishing out top-rate vegan food to local Eastsiders for a while now, but few realize it’s very much BYOB. There are only a few tables at this sidewalk cafe, but if you can snag one, a bottle (or two) of wine during dinner never hurt anyone.
This bright little Highland Park restaurant has become a go-to over the last few years for dishing out solid Vietnamese-fusion comfort food to the masses. Our move at breakfast is always the pork confit or the curry pot pies later in the day. Either way, we’re bringing the booze of our liking.
Sometimes all you want is a vegan Ethiopian restaurant where you can drink the alcohol of your choice. Luckily, LA is home to Rahel, a fantastic joint in the heart of Little Ethiopia that also happens to be BYOB. With a delicious and dirt cheap all-you-can-eat buffet in the afternoons as well, Rahel has easily distinguished itself among all the top-notch Ethiopian spots in the neighborhood.
The Best Fish Taco in Ensenada would be talked about a lot more if it wasn’t a few blocks from one of the best fish taco situations on the entire West Coast (Ricky’s). But, alas, the tiny taco spot endures. From their quirky patio to the high-profile weekly comedy night, Best Fish Taco has indeed found its niche in the Los Feliz community. And its casual BYOB policy is just one more reason to make it a mainstay in your life.
Don’t trust anyone who turns down pizza and beer. The Larchmont favorite is one of the best pizza-by-the-slice spots in the city, and its BYOB policy is just a little icing on the cake. While pretty much any pizza is good here, the power move is the clam and garlic pie. And your previously purchased booze of course.
So you’ve probably heard there are some good new restaurants downtown? Cool. There’s some great old ones, too. Not to say Colori Kitchen is some historic time capsule, but this casual, family-run Italian joint in the heart of DTLA is the kind of place you just don’t find down there anymore. The food is delicious and affordable, with a no corkage fee policy for you and your bottle of Cabernet.
Long before La Brea became a thing (aka, before Sugarfish moved in), Tinga established itself as the casual taco spot the area needed. As the big-name restaurants started to roll in, Tinga’s profile began to go down a bit, but we’re happy to report that the same modern space and solid Mexican food remains. So pick up some Modelo and go wash down those excellent Cochinita nachos.