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
We realize Chicago deep-dish pizza isn’t for everyone, but you know what is? No corkage fee on wine. This Echo Park standby is one of our favorite family-run spots on the Eastside, and it’s hard not to have a great time whether you’re with friends or a low-key date. The pizzas take a while in the oven - all the more time to get through those bottles you brought.
As if eating the freshest seafood in Malibu (sorry Nobu) and staring out at the ocean wasn’t enough, Malibu Seafood is a fully BYOB restaurant. The tiny seafood shack right on PCH definitely gets swamped on the weekends, but nothing in the world beats a plate of peel-your-own-shrimp and a bottle of your favorite beer after a day of scorching yourself at Zuma.
Disclaimer: Max Karaoke is zero parts restaurant and all parts karaoke joint. But the fact that you can roll in with a 30-rack of beer and the waitstaff will simply smile is reason enough to believe magic still exists. Located in a mall in Little Tokyo, Max Karaoke gets wild fast, but this is private room karaoke, so at least the only people judging you will be your friends.
The Water Grill is one of those restaurants that basically exists for parents in town and financial people who talk loudly. But if that’s who you’re rolling in with, the downtown seafood spot somehow always gets the job done. The space is big and fancy, but after a few hours of discussing mortgage rates in Pasadena, things get extremely dull. All the more reason to be thankful for the no-corkage policy on every first bottle of wine to make it all go faster.
Mao’s Kitchen isn’t the best Chinese food in the world, but by LA standards, it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area. 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. Get the mapo tofu.
Pinches has a couple locations throughout LA, but its Sunset Strip spot is the only one that allows BYOB. Is this the best taco spot in LA? Absolutely not. But it’s still pretty good and prices are remarkably affordable 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.
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, inexpensive tacos. 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 if you figure it out.
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 excellent back patio.
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.
Who says vegans can’t have fun? The dime-sized Silver Lake staple has been dishing out food that vegans eat for a while now, but few realize it’s 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.
Sometimes you simply wake up in the morning craving a vegan Ethiopian restaurant where you can drink the alcohol of your choice, right? Right. 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 made a name for itself among the rest of the top-notch Ethiopian spots in the neighborhood.
The Best Fish Tacos in Ensenada would be talked about a lot more if it hadn’t lived two blocks from one of the best fish taco situations on the entire West coast (Ricky’s). But, alas, the tiny taco spot endures (and Ricky’s has now moved). From their quirky patio to a weekly stand-up comedy night that’s actually great, Best Fish Taco has found its niche in Los Feliz, and while it’s probably not as good as Ricky’s, it’s still a solid neighborhood taco spot. Oh, and feel free to bring any beer and wine of your choosing.
Don’t trust anyone who turns down pizza and beer. This Larchmont favorite is one of the more reliable 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 are some good 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 there anymore. The food isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s good and affordable, with a no-corkage-fee policy for you and your bottle of Cabernet.