The Best BYOBs In Philly

Our guide to the 20 best restaurants where you can BYOB in Philly.
The Best BYOBs In Philly image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo

When Cady Heron in Mean Girls said “the limit does not exist,” we’re pretty sure she was talking about BYOBs in Philly. There are so many that it might be hard to figure out which ones you should use for a casual date night and which ones get a little rowdier, making them perfect for a birthday where your best friends bring you a bottle of your favorite red. So we put together a guide of our 16 favorite spots just to help you out. You'll find Thai restaurants, one of Philly's best sushi spots, and so much more.


photo credit: GAB BONGHI


Bella Vista

$$$$Perfect For:Small PlatesVegetariansDining SoloCasual Weeknight DinnerFirst/Early in the Game DatesDate Night


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If you hear someone complaining about being bored of their restaurant routine in Philly these days, send them to Mawn and just smile smugly. This BYOB Cambodian noodle house only has 10 or so tables inside, so while you can walk in without a reservation, we wouldn’t recommend it. Mawn serves unforgettable Southeast Asian dishes, including soft-shell shrimp, khao soi with punchy pickled greens, juicy whole fish, and marinated, citrus-y ribeye skewers.

Philly's sushi omakase options are expanding by the hour, but this BYOB near Headhouse Square has been around for years. Bring a bottle of sake to pair with their $148 omakase. All the raw fish is stellar, whether you’re eating scallop from Hokkaido, toro topped with caviar, or sweet shrimp. And each meal ends with a bowl of uni and high-quality fish.

A neon-lit pig above the kitchen. A communal beer fridge if you forget to BYOB. A caesar salad variation we can only describe as "bangin." This is what you're in for when you come to eat Filipino food at Tabachoy. The space is small and usually quite booked. Make a reservation beforehand and follow your nose (or just our advice) to dishes like unbreaded fried chicken with a soy vinegar sauce, pancit bihon that perfectly balances heat and citrus, and a very good ube sundae.

Passyunk Square's El Chingon is an all-day Mexican cafe and BYOB restaurant. It's a plant-filled corner spot perfect for grabbing coffee and conchas before work or sharing a bunch of tacos and tostados on a casual date night. The whole menu is worth exploring, but the real specialty here are the Pueblan-style cemita sandwiches. We can't stop thinking about the Clásica, which comes stacked with crisp fried chicken, avocado, chipotle peppers, and stringy, salty quesillo cheese, all on housemade rolls.

This modern American spot in Filter Square is intimate—they only have 20-ish seats, including a bar area that's reserved for walk-ins. The small menu of seasonal seafood and produce is full of surprises. Get here for the marinated mussels in miso chili oil and a brown butter tart we’ll forever be fantasizing about. Almost every dish costs less than $30, so it’s a reasonable choice for a group. You can and should order the entire menu. What a feeling.

If you’re in the mood for fantastic seafood, Little Fish in Queen Village is the BYOB for you. It’s a small corner shop with a menu that’s made up of mostly sea creatures, like oysters with pink peppercorn mignonette, scallop toast that gets spice from a chili oil drizzle, and seared king salmon with an earthy cognac thyme cream. The open kitchen takes up a good portion of the dining room, so it feels like you’re part of a test kitchen—where everything you’re eating is coming straight from the chef’s mind (or the sea) and onto your plate.

This tiny Filipino BYOB is one of the only places in the city serving a kamayan feast. For $40 per person, you'll get a crispy whole fried fish, lemony chicken inasal, jasmine rice, a few other proteins and soy-drenched vegetables. It's a ton of food, and therefore a good option for a group.

Pera Turkish Cusine in Northern Liberties is a place where almost every dish is made to be shared. While it feels like 75% of restaurants tell us that, it’s actually true here—meaning you should bring a group of friends and order a bunch of dishes. Fill your long table with tabouli, silky hummus, and a juicy lamb shank with some smoked eggplant while looking out at the always busy 2nd Street. Always end your night with Pera’s flaky baklava that’s oozing with honey, even if your friends brought a bottle of moscato.

This casual Northern Liberties vegan restaurant makes seasonal American food that's exciting for people who eat meat regularly and people who don't. Think sweet corn gnocchi, a really good faux caesar, and maitake mushrooms with heirloom polenta. There's a BYOB policy and an orange-lit, plant-filled room that's sexy in a greenhouse sort of way. Bring a bottle and someone you want to make out with. Well, maybe save the making out until after you've departed from your banquette.

There are a few things that surprise us every time we end up at Stina. One is that, even though they have great brick-oven pies, pizza really isn’t the focus here—this place serves some of the best Mediterranean food in town. The other thing is how long we can sit inside and think about the important things in life: our upcoming nap and the next show to binge. When you’re here, go for the merguez—a canoe-shaped Turkish flatbread that has a soft dough that holds a perfect mix of spicy lamb sausage and mozzarella. Plus, with most of the menu costing under $20, your entree will probably be less expensive than the bottle of wine you’re bringing. 

It’s easy for Pumpkin to get lost in a neighborhood with Rex at The Royal, Steak 48, and Giorgio On Pine nearby. But this small South Street BYOB has been around for ages, and while the tasting menu changes often, the food is still consistently great. If there’s a crudo on the menu, make sure it ends up in front of you, but otherwise, you could pretty much close your eyes and point to anything here and it will be delicious. 

Terakawa Ramen is a small, casual spot in Chinatown that happens to be one of our favorite spots for ramen in the city. The rich broths come filled with things like roast pork belly, mushrooms, and soy egg, but there are also bigger dishes like curry platters and donburi rice bowls, as well as a long list of appetizers if for some reason you went to a ramen place but aren’t in the mood for soup. The space is on the smaller side, but it can work for a small group of your friends that spent the afternoon arguing over which wine goes best with spicy tan tan ramen.  

Amma’s South Indian Cuisine is the type of spot where, in preparation for our meal, we eat light all day just so we can fill up on specials like mutton curry with spicy onion and tomato gravy, a creamy paneer butter masala, and stacks of warm parotta. Their dining room is always packed (they don’t take reservations), and that’s because it’s one of the best Indian restaurants in the city. Come here for a fun night where you can listen to a playlist of South Asian pop and hip-hop and sip on that special bottle of chardonnay that's been sitting in your fridge unopened for months. 

Elwood is a meat-heavy, Pennsylvania-Dutch-inspired BYOB in Fishtown. Eating there kind of feels like being on a second-grade field trip to the Constitution Center or Liberty Bell, as everything on the menu, from the pierogies packed with white wine braised onions to the cheesecake tart for dessert, has a history lesson attached. Even the space itself, which has original paintings from the 1800s and antique silverware collected by the chef, makes you feel like you’re in a museum. The whole experience can feel a bit strange at first, but the food is so good that you’ll be happy you took a field trip out here.

South Philly’s L’Angolo has a simple red awning, so it kind of blends into the surrounding area. But you can’t miss the couples huddling outside of the BYOB eager to celebrate a holiday, anniversary, or Wednesday night. The rustic dining room has brick archways, murals of the Italian countryside, and dim lanterns on the wall—providing just enough light to see multiple milanese on the menu and tableside parmesan shaving. The pastas are all homemade and delicious—we love the creamy lobster ravioli—and everything on the menu is large enough to share, even though you won’t want to.

A Mano is a quintessential Philly BYOB: wood tables, simple interior, and a casual scene. What's different is the menu. There’s a three-course, $48 tasting menu, or a four-course option for $68. The dishes change seasonally, but you may see starters like beef tartare before heading to plates of rigatoni bolognese or grilled branzino with a romesco ragu. Nothing here is groundbreaking, but it’s still a dependable option when you want some solid pasta or panna cotta and Osteria is packed.

Bring some friends to this Passyunk Square Mexican spot any day of the week for dulce de leche french toast, peppery chilaquiles, omelets big enough for three, and the sounds of Luis Miguel blasting through the speakers. The colorful BYOB gets packed on the weekend and is cash-only on those days. But there’s an ATM on-site, and if you have to wait in line, the scent of sizzling peppers and cinnamon mascarpone cream will get you through. 

Whenever you’re looking for somewhere that feels expensive but isn’t, Helm in Kensington is one of your best bets. They change up the three-course tasting menu (that has around five options for each course) a lot. But you can expect dishes like tender cuts of pork over butternut squash, lamb ravioli, and a beets and smoked carrots small plate. If it all sounds great, you can always bring a big group here and make sure everyone picks a different dish so you can all sample the entire menu. 

Cafe Ynez looks like the love child of a New Jersey diner and a Mexican beachside hut: It has wood-paneled walls, turquoise booths, and strings of colorful lights hanging from the ceiling. In addition to the food, which ranges from things like $10 carnitas tacos to a $25 whole chicken, they also make all their own mixers in house. They have carafes of mango-mint margarita mix to pair with your handle of tequila, and there’s also a blueberry-thyme lemonade that you should mix with vodka to make a very inexpensive DIY cocktail.

Kanella Grill is a staple in Philly, and even though it’s changed locations a few times, their excellent and affordable Greek food keeps them busy no matter what. For around $40 a person, you can get a family-style Greek feast, with things like kebabs, hummus, and dolmades spread out in baskets across your table. During the summer, they also have a bunch of outdoor seating on the sidewalk. Roll in on a Thursday night with a date and a bottle of pinot grigio and pretend you don’t have to wake up the next morning for work.

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