Seriously though, BYOB is good for a restaurant and its consumers, particularly when a well-considered corkage fee is charged in exchange for gracious service and good stemware. By bringing your own bottle you can elevate your experience at many restaurants, please your own palate and save some coin while you’re at it. The restaurant, on the other hand, gets a couple of covers that typically indulge themselves off the menu and some free cash for hosting these bon vivants. The only challenge is finding the right restaurant!
Check out these great choices for almost every occasion, and tell us about your favorite BYOBs in your city!
Entertaining the Underlings
When you have to take a group of professionals out, but can’t spend too much money, or want to teach them a thing or two about wine, finding a BYOB option can be the perfect solution. Since this is still a professional event, you’ll want to keep it classy, but it’s probably also a bonding moment so having fun is essential.
Keens Chop House in Midtown is not only a New York institution (since 1885), it’s also a mighty fine steakhouse with some of the best lamb in town (their signature mutton chops). The classic steakhouse menu includes old time favorites such as oysters, shrimp cocktail and crab cakes, but the real attraction here are steaks and chops, though lobster, fish and chicken all grace the menu.
Corkage at Keens is $20 a bottle for any wine that is not on their list. Calling ahead is recommended. Keens also has banquet rooms available for your private events.
Keens Chop House
72 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
Dining on One’s Own
Being in a new city and on your own can be intimidating, but hitting up a BYOB restaurant can cure that. Not only will you find your scene if you choose wisely, but you’ll also have something to share, besides your scintillating personality.
The best way to track down the BYOB scene is to look for great restaurants that have zero corkage nights. These are sure to bring out wine lovers and sharers in droves, and Lyon Bouchon Moderne’s Monday nights are no exception.
The classic bistro décor oozes casual conviviality and the menu, a veritable smorgasbord of French-influenced cuisine from around the world, is both exotic and comforting at the same time. A perfect place to explore unfamiliar wines and introduce neighboring tables to great new pairings.
Lyon Bouchon Moderne
118 Greenwich Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Impressing the Boss
Sometimes you have to pull out all the stops, even if you can’t afford all those stops. So what can you do? BYOB - I see you’re catching on. Many great restaurants know that their clients, affluent and knowledgeable as they are, probably keep a few bottles in the cellar, so it’s not surprising that many allow corkage, with limitations and predictably high fees, of course.
There are many great restaurants in New York City, but the ones that have been getting all the buzz about having the best food must be Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm has been on a tear, with cuisine that seems to be moving farther ahead of the pursuing pack with each passing season. Dining at Eleven Madison Park is a bit of a game, you order main ingredients rather than whole dishes, imbuing each meal with whimsy and surprise that many haven’t felt since those glorious days of childhood!
Yes, this does make food and wine aspiring a challenge, but if you stick to some of the great, adaptable wines you should be safe. Just pack along some great Chablis and Riesling, and a pair of mature Premier Cru Burgundies and you’ll be fine! Just keep it under four bottles, which will cost you $35 each. Once you hit five bottles you’ll get hit with an additional $250 sommelier charge, though that does buy you impeccable service. On second thought, make that three bottles of Burgundy!
Eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Bringing a Date
A lot of people might see taking a date to a BYOB restaurant as tacky. If you’re busting out the two-buck Chuck, it is. If you’ve put some time and effort into selecting the ideal wines for the evening, it sure as hell isn’t, and it saves you the hassle and potential pitfalls of perusing the wine list.
Choosing this restaurant is really a tough call to make. There are many ways to a woman’s heart; great food, romantic décor, spending a lot of money. Did I just say that? One of my favorite ways to win a woman over is to talk to her. Yes, with my mouth, not texting, so a quiet space is priority number one and that is a precious commodity here in New York City.
La Grenouille fits the bill and in fact rolls up every imaginable way to win a woman’s (or man’s) heart in a smartly tailored space! The menu is classic French cuisine, superbly executed, and deserves to be paired with some top-notch wines. I would be partial to a nice vintage Champagne (this is a date, after all) and older Cote Rotie here, though a nice Pinot Noir would be splendid, particularly with the fine aged cheese available at the end of your meal. Corkage is $50 a bottle, so make those wine purchases count!
3 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022
Saving a Buck
Sometimes you’re not in the mood for a fancy meal or a big ticket. This is actually one of the great opportunities to BYOB, since there are so many affordable and interesting restaurants in New York that allow BYOB to augment their poorly tended wine lists. Many of the great ethnic restaurants are BYOB-friendly, though sometimes you do get what you pay for.
If you’re looking to save a buck, I would assume you’re willing to travel a bit to do so and in this travel, you will be well-rewarded. In Queens, one of New York’s so called outer boroughs, lies one of the great restaurants of New York City: SriPraPhai.
This purveyor of killer Thai food is an easy walk from the Long Island Railroad’s Woodside station. The menu is your typical Thai menu, but the quality of the food is a revelation. Fragrant, light, deftly spiced, it’s simply amazing. Dishes like these scream out for your favorite off-dry whites like Riesling and Chenin Blanc, and you can pop as many as you want for $10 a bottle. How’s that for saving a buck?
64-13 39th Avenue
Woodside, NY 11377
Celebrating the Big Deal
So you want to celebrate in New York City, but want to bring your own wine. I like the way you roll. For me, celebrating means three things: splurging with friends in a special place, so we’re looking for a restaurant that is both at the top of their game and able to host an increasingly boisterous table until wee hours of the night.
While Beacon may not be the most expensive restaurant in town, it is special. Their wood-fired grill handles the brunt of the culinary load and it shows. I love the smoky essence the oven lends to the menu and if you plan ahead you can snag a great table upstairs away from crowds you’re going to disturb.
There is plenty to love on Beacon’s menu, but the stars really are the wood grilled steaks and the sumptuous wood-roasted seafood. Now's the time to break out some creamy California Chardonnays and a couple of bottles of your finest Bordeaux. For $35 a bottle, you’ll be ensured great service and good glassware.
25 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019