Compared to cities like Chicago and Philly, New York doesn’t have a ton of restaurants where you can bring your own booze. But the need to drink on the cheap is an important one, so we’ve put together this list of places where you can show up with your own bottle and be welcomed. Pick a spot, then read a book on wine and figure out what you should pair with your food.
photo credit: Alex Staniloff
It took a few hundred years, but this city finally has the Cajun spot it deserves. Kjun is a casual place with colored beads on every table, like a fun dinner party on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras. Bring your own beer (or wine) to compliment all the amazing Korean-inspired mashups here. The most interesting one is the jjajangmyun, with fermented black bean sauce and crispy fried oysters. Even without the Korean influence, Kjun would still be the best Cajun restaurant in the city—those touches just happen to make the already great dishes even better.
photo credit: Kalye Bistro
You can order any dish at this Filipino restaurant in Woodside and want to get each one again during your next visit. That’s rare. Start with the crispy lumpia, then get a sizzling platter of crunchy and creamy milkfish sisig and a huge portion of deep fried pork knuckles with thick crackly skin. Finish with some halo halo that comes with ube ice cream. Bring a few friends so you can try a bunch of different things at this casual BYOB spot while you listen to a playlist of karaoke versions of pop songs.
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photo credit: David A. Lee
Imagine paying a friend to host a party where you get to schmooze with new people and eat dishes like fish pepper soup and mushroom suya. That’s basically what’s happening at Dept. Of Culture. This fantastic Bed-Stuy restaurant makes you feel like you’re at an apartment hang where you can get a $97 four-course meal inspired by the owner’s upbringing in Nigeria. Most guests are seated at a communal table. Just as you would for any dinner party, bring some of your favorite bottles from home and feel free to share.
Come to this iconic Puerto Rican restaurant in Alphabet City for crispy-skinned rotisserie chicken, beans and rice, and fresh avocado salad. Opened by the late Adela Vargas in 1976, this family-run place still feels as homey as ever. If you want to supplement your rotisserie chicken with something else, try the garlicky mofongo or a couple of alcapurrias. Before you head over, grab a bottle from your wine cellar (you have one of those, right?), and don’t forget to bring cash—they don’t accept credit cards.
photo credit: Kenny Yang
Tomoe Sushi, which closed in 2021 after almost 40 years in business, has been resurrected as Tomo21 Sushi. The menu hasn’t changed and you’ll still walk out feeling like you somehow underpaid for the amount of sushi you got. (Tomoe’s signature long-and-thick portions of fish have remained, so each piece feels like a two-for-one deal.) You’ll also save a few extra dollars on drinks since you can bring your own alcohol. Tomo21 is perfect for when you’re in the mood for sushi that’s better than your go-to Seamless spot.
How do you make eating the best pizza in NYC an even better experience? Add a BYOB policy. The road to sitting down at Lucali isn’t exactly an easy one (waits can stretch up to four hours), but at least that gives you more than enough time to pick up a bottle or two. Once you finally do get a seat, you can hang out at your candlelit table, open whatever you brought, and enjoy some truly excellent pizza with a side of calzone.
Astoria Seafood is a seafood market that happens to have a grill and a bunch of tables where you can sit and eat. Here’s how it works: You walk up to a display of seafood, choose what you want, hand it to the staff, and tell them how you’d like it cooked (grilled, fried, baked, etc.). This is a fun spot, you’ll spend less than you do on seafood elsewhere, and you’ll still be thinking about your meal several hours after you get home. Be aware, however, that you might have to wait for your table. (People like this place.)
photo credit: Kate Previte
BK Jani serves one of our favorite burgers in NYC. It has a big patty on a soft bun with a slice of tomato and some mint chutney, and it’s something everyone should eat at least once. So bring a friend or two, pick up some beer, and grab a table (maybe on the back patio) at this counter-service spot in Williamsburg. In addition to the burger, get some lamb chops and a chicken roll.
Do you want to eat a whole roast duck and some Dungeness crab while you drink your own wine? Of course you do. So go to Wu’s Wonton King. This is a Cantonese restaurant at the lower end of the LES, and it has a big dining room with some huge tables that can fit you and every single friend you actually want to hang out with (i.e. about 10 people). There are also lazy susans in the middle of each table, which makes sharing both food and wine pretty easy.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Not only is this Chinatown place BYOB, but it’s also useful to know about if you’re a vegetarian or you keep kosher. All of the dishes here are vegetable-based, including a bunch of dim sum options and some good spring rolls and vegan versions of chicken that won’t make non-vegetarians feel inspired to tweet something rude.
This UES sushi is one of the best excuses to take advantage of the newish 72nd Street Q station. As soon as you sit down, you’ll be asked if you need glassware—this place is BYOB, and that’s a big part of why we like it. For $105-$109, you get a small starter, miso soup, 10 pieces of nigiri, tuna maki, and a spicy salmon handroll. The rice here is (intentionally) looser than most places, so you should eat with your hands, or you’ll probably make a mess.
Spicy Village is a little Chinese spot on the LES that’s known for its Big Tray Chicken. That dish is, unsurprisingly, a big tray of chicken (with various vegetabIes), and you should share it with at least one other person. There’s a per-person minimum if you want to BYOB, so supplement the chicken with a few sides like the beef and pork pancakes. This is a great spot for a relatively inexpensive weeknight meal, but keep in mind that it’s cash only.
Every square inch of Panna II is covered in foil, mirrors, flashing lights, plastic chili peppers, and giant globes. And that’s one of the reasons why you come here. Another reason is the fact that it’s BYOB. As for the food, it gets the job done. You probably aren’t going to text all of your relatives to tell them about your meal the minute you leave, but you might text your friends a picture that has several hundred lights in the background.
photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Sigiri is a tiny Sri Lankan restaurant up a set of stairs in the East Village. It’s a little cramped inside, but the food is great, and the portions are pretty big. Get the crab fried rice or the string hopper kotthu, which consists of a large mound of rice noodles with stir-fried meat and vegetables. This is a perfect spot for a casual meal with one other person, especially when you’re in the mood to BYOB.
Need a place to grab some food before a show at Terminal 5? Or a weeknight dinner after you leave your office in Midtown? That’s what Wondee Siam is for. This is a Thai spot in Hell’s Kitchen that’s a good place to sit down with a friend, eat some crispy pork, and drink whatever you bought on the walk over/found on your desk.