Philadelphia is known for its BYOB culture. Strict alcohol licensing laws in Pennsylvania make it a challenge for smaller restaurants to have bars on the premises, so you are invited to “bring your own” to the several hundred BYOB establishments in the city.
There are dozens of Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores in Philadelphia operated by the state of Pennsylvania. Specific stores designated as Premium Collection will have an even wider selection and more luxury products. In-store wine specialists have extensive training and can find you that perfect pairing at any price point. For beer, you’ll want to seek out a distributor, package store or a supermarket that sells individual bottles and six packs. There are also a number of unique breweries that offer beer to go. Some restaurants also sell bottles of wine to go. You can always check with the BYOB restaurant or hotel for the best purchasing location to meet your needs.
Bistro La Baia, 1700 Lombard Street
Conveniently located south of Rittenhouse Square, this family-owned restaurant prides itself in treating guests like family. With its Old World charm, it often becomes a home away from home for visitors. Diners consistently rave about the homemade gnocchi, grilled calamari, risotto pescatore and the pappardelle with sausage and vodka cream sauce. While a California Primitivo suits, we like the pairing of place with a sturdy Old World Italian red or crisp white.
Dos Rosas Taqueria, 7 North 3rd Street
Self-defined as a “modern Mexican taqueria” this Old City restaurant offers delicious house-made corn and flour tortillas that are stretched to order. Seasonal ingredients are the foundation of the kitchen along with some inspired combinations. You can get your guacamole laced with crab meat, ahi tuna or bacon. With prices that won’t break the bank, it can be a nice end to a day touring the historic sites and it is one of the few BYOB open for lunch as well as dinner. Bring your own tequila and purchase a pitcher of freshly squeezed margarita mixer.
Jasmine Rice, 306 South 16th Street (Rittenhouse location only)
You’ll have difficulty choosing between traditional Thai fare with a variety of curries and stir fries or signature creations such as crispy duck fried rice. Ideally, visit this restaurant with a few people for sharing dishes. The simple décor is punctuated with fragrant spices of the cuisine.
La Fontana Della Citta, 1701 Spruce Street
This extensive menu offers about five different veal dishes and even more pasta with seafood so you’ll have to try not to fill up on the antipasti. The long narrow room has high ceilings which makes it seem larger than it is and the artwork decidedly puts you in the Mediterranean. Any Italian red blend works here and given the size of the proportions you might want to consider a digestive such as Amaro!
La Nonna, 214 South Street
The size of this Roman focused menu belies the small, casual atmosphere of this neighborhood restaurant in Society Hill. Best deal on the menu is the prix-fix family-style option. Regulars recommend the octopus or artichoke appetizers and the pappardelle with wild boar ragu. A Trebbiano would do well as a white option and a Chianti seems like a natural for a red.
Melograno, 2012 Sansom
Long a staple in the city’s food scene, Melograno offers a selection from pizza Roman style to a wild boar ragu, or an opulent lamb shank. Occasionally there is even a whole fish special. If you desire something simpler, a breaded chicken breast or slow roast pork is the way to go. The restaurant is located on what is known as “comedy row” so it’s a perfect spot for dinner before hitting a show. Definitely think Prosecco here, particularly with the appetizers in mind, and depending on how many are in your party, consider buying a half bottle or two of a Sangiovese
or Pinot Grigio.
Pumpkin, 713 South Street
This intimate BYOB located in the Graduate neighborhood combines reverence for classic cuisine with gutsy intuition. Each plate is artfully presented and signature ingredients include skate and diver scallops, although the dishes vary with impeccable seasonal ingredients. This would be one BYOB where it might be worthwhile to call ahead for wine pairings. The Sunday five-course tasting menu is a favorite of regulars, but its value price makes it good introduction to new-comers.
Zio Brick Oven, 111 South 13th Street
Midtown Village is a bustling shopping district with plenty of restaurants and boutiques to choose from. This casual eatery is open until 11pm on Friday and Saturday and offers plenty of pizza, sandwiches and snack foods so you can end your shopping spree with a nosh or a meal. Perhaps a dry Lambrusco will be a bubbly end to your evening or a nice energizer before hitting some clubs.
The Philadelphia Convention & Visitors Bureau (PHLCVB) is the official tourism promotion agency for the City of Philadelphia globally and the primary sales and marketing agency for the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Updated May 29, 2018
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