Until a couple of years ago, almost all wine stores in the great state of Pennsylvania were government-owned shops called “Fine Wine & Good Spirits.” While that meant you knew exactly where to find your $6 bottles of prosecco, there was almost no access to stuff from organic producers and smaller vineyards.
Fortunately, we no longer have to purchase our alcohol solely from the state, and we finally have a bunch of interesting wine stores popping up around the city. This guide tells you about those shops and the best places to grab dinner nearby.
You might not think you’d find a decent bottle shop inside of a supermarket, but that’s exactly where Richmond Bottle Shop is located - it’s essentially just a part of the liquor section at IGA. Pick up a bottle or two from the selection they curated with the Wine School of Philadelphia, and then walk a few blocks down Girard to Sarvida. This Filipino BYOB in Fishtown, from the same people behind Perla, is pretty tiny - there are just a few tables overlooking an open kitchen. The menu is small but excellent, with dishes like calves liver bistek and beef tendon chicharron. The best thing here, though, is the whole chicken - you’ll have to work with the rest of your table to pull it apart, but after a few glasses of wine, that shouldn’t be too tough.
The Bottle Shop is pretty close to all of the East Passyunk BYOBs, which makes it a pretty popular place. It has a large selection of bottles - both beer and wine - that you can drink there, take out, or even get delivered to wherever you’re having dinner. So if you and your date show up to June BYOB expecting the other to have brought the wine, you can make a quick call up the street and have a bottle delivered right to your table. While you’re waiting for your delivery, order some French small plates to share, like the crab cavatelli or arctic char tartare.
If you’ve spent some time on Frankford Avenue, you’ve probably at least noticed, if not checked out, Fishtown Social. The wine bar has a bunch of interesting bottles on the menu, as well as a couple of things to eat, like an enormous meat and cheese board. Most people don’t know they also have a bottle shop around the side of their wine bar too. After picking out something to drink, head to the best BYOB nearby - Cadence. Not only is this the best restaurant in Fishtown, but it’s also one of the best in the whole city. Get the $65 four-course menu, which comes with the option to choose between a couple of dishes for each course. Everything’s great, just make sure you order the incredible Alina duck if it’s available (they only make a certain amount of it each night).
Pumpkin BYOB should already be at the top of your list for date-night spots. It’s dark, filled with two-tops, and generally pretty quiet. Plus, the menu has shareable dishes that change with the seasons so every meal is a little bit different. If you happen to stop at an ATM on the way, since Pumpkin is cash-only, you might as well grab some bottles across the street at Jet Wine Bar too. Even though it’s primarily a bar, they also sell all of their bottles separately too.
After a long day of work, sometimes you just want to split a bottle of wine with a person you like and eat some reasonably-priced food. That’s why we love Kanella Grill. For around $30 a person, you can get a family-style Greek feast, with kebabs, hummus, and dolmades spread out in baskets across your table. And right down the street is Tria Cafe, a wine bar that also sells any bottle that’s on their menu.
If you’ve gone to Di Bruno Bros. to get what you need for a charcuterie tray, you may have noticed they have a pretty great wine selection as well. This grocery store won’t be quite as cheap as your local state-sponsored liquor store, but at least there’ll be some variety instead of a bunch of screw-tops from the only “chateau” in Virginia. Once you’ve picked out a couple of Italian reds, walk a few blocks over to Melograno and pair your bottle with some wild boar pappardelle. The Rittenhouse BYOB is a rare place that works for both date night and a big-group dinner, and the menu is full of pastas, Roman pinsas, and bigger dishes like calamari stew and a huge, 20-ounce steak.
After hitting Tiny’s Bottle Shop in Port Richmond for some grenache, head down the street to Tacconelli’s. It’s one of our favorite pizza shops in the entire city, but you should know that it’s almost always crowded, so we recommend that you reserve your dough ahead of time. If that seems ridiculous, then you’ve never had a slice of pizza here. The crust is crispy and so thin that it can’t hold more than two toppings, and the slices fold in half so perfectly it’s like they have a perforated edge right down the middle. The pizza pairs perfectly with any of the natural wines available at Tiny’s.
A lot of omakase-only spots have long lists of expensive wine and sake bottles that just end up adding ridiculous amounts of money to your already-high check. But since Sakana’s a BYOB, you should bring in your own stuff, which you can pick up from Bloomsday Cafe right down the street. During the day, it’s a coffee shop with pastries and other small bites, but it also doubles as a bottle shop that only sells natural wines. If you order the $59, 10-course omakase, you’ll get to pair your wine with things like firefly squid with green peppers salsa and uni with seared foie gras.