BYOB isn’t just for mom and pop corner eateries anymore. “Bring your own bottle” has become an increasingly popular method for Philadelphia restaurateurs to bypass the prohibitive cost of purchasing a wine & liquor license. From tiny, ethnic hidden gems to buzz-worthy four-star bistros, here are some of Philadelphia’s best BYOBs.
On the corner of Third and Fairmont streets in Northern Liberties, Jaxon offers farm-to-table American fare on both small and large plates. The atmosphere is quaint and easy, with indoor and outdoor seating available. Check out the grilled octopus, served on a luxurious bed of taramosalata. Pure indulgence! The stone sea bass with haricot vert and spring pesto is simply sublime, as well. They do accept reservations and credit cards.
701 North Third Street
Khmer Kitchen is a family-owned gem near Penn’s Landing that serves up reasonably-priced and completely authentic Cambodian dishes. They recently expanded, but still come early. This cash-only café doesn’t take reservations and seating is limited.
Start with the Bok La-Hong, a papaya salad with fresh tomatoes and basil—oh so spicy. Then try their signature dish, Prah-hok Kahteeh, caramelized ground pork simmered with coconut cream and prah hok fish paste served with raw veggies for dipping. After a visit to Khmer Kitchen, Cambodian food will surely be a new favorite.
700 S 6th Street, Philadelphia
The name means “my way” in Italian. Their way certainly works—bold, vibrant flavors of Italy served in an intimate, down-to-earth atmosphere. The menu changes frequently. A la carte ordering is available, but the best bet is the menu Turista, a four-course meal for only $40, very possibly the best tasting menu value in the city. On Sugo Sunday, diners enjoy a traditional Italian-American supper served up family style. Antipasti followed by luscious pasta and authentic meatballs and sausages.
Modo Mio is cash-only and has an ATM on site. And if you forget to BYO, there’s a wine shop right across the street!
161 W Girard Avenue, Philadelphia
Bibou is an intimate, thirty-seat French BYOB located in Bella Vista. Chef Pierre Calmels wields his magic in the back, while his wife Charlotte charms the front. They offer a prix fixe menu only—seven heavenly courses for 100 dollars. Before visiting, check online for reasonably priced wine suggestions that match the weekly menu. Reservations are a must at this cash-only foodie destination.
1009 S 8th Street, Philadelphia
Sazon Restaurant and Café
In Northern Liberties, Sazon offers authentic home-style Venezuelan cuisine in a cozy atmosphere. Chef Judith Suzarra-Campbell’s family recipes have been passed down for generations and are celebrations of simple and fresh ingredients. The food is excellent, but the real show stoppers are the gourmet drinking chocolates. The “Orgasmo” will leave you crying for more—dark chocolate infused with peanut butter, banana, Venezuelan rum, and espresso topped with homemade banana cream. Whoa. Sazon is cash only.
941 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia