These Philadelphia restaurants may not have a liquor license, but they’re certainly not lacking in quality food. While some might miss having a bartender available to mix up a cocktail, many welcome the savings that a good BYOB offers. Here, you know that your money will go toward the food instead of a bill inflated by marked-up alcohol. Stop by the liquor store to pick up your drink of choice and visit the top BYOBs the city has to offer.
276 S. 20th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Located on a corner in Rittenhouse Square, Audrey Claire is a wonderful restaurant to visit when the weather is nice. With huge French windows that open onto the street and a number of tables outside, you can enjoy a bit of fresh air along with your meal. The menu features Mediterranean dishes with Israeli couscous, lamb, hummus, flatbreads and grilled whole fish specials. The small, open kitchen design allows guests to get a peek at the preparation that goes into the plates. Reservations are recommended to minimize your wait time at this cash-only BYOB favorite.
1009 S. 8th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
A large front window and sunny yellow walls keep this renovated row home feeling light and cheerful despite its small size. The South Philly spot serves rustic French cuisine with a menu featuring just five appetizers and five entrees that are available a la carte Wednesday through Saturday. The selection changes regularly, but favorites include the foie gras, braised pig foot and escargot. Visit on Sunday for the four-course dinner (with choices) priced at $45 per person. Reservations are required at this cash-only restaurant, so be sure to visit the website to check for available times.
795 S. 3rd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
944 N. 2nd St.
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Dmitri’s specializes in Mediterranean cuisine with a focus on Greek dishes and fresh seafood. Highlights include the sautéed mussels, turkey meatballs, shrimp pil pil, grilled octopus, sizzled cheese and the whole fish specials. Start out with the Mediterranean platter to try the delicious hummus, pita, olives and other bites meant for sharing. With two locations, you’ll want to check the menus online to make sure the spot you’re visiting serves your favorite dishes. While both locations operate on a no-reservation policy, the 2nd Street spot offers outside seating and accepts VISA and Mastercard.
Heirloom Fine American Cookery
8705 Germantown Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19118
With the addition of his recent Paris Bistro and Jazz Café, Chef Al Paris is slowly taking over Chestnut Hill, and with restaurants as good as his, one can hardly complain. Heirloom is conveniently located next to the Wine & Spirits in the Top of the Hill Plaza, with parking just a few steps away. The menu features sophisticated dishes inspired by classic American comfort foods. With its cozy atmosphere inside and covered tables outside, Heirloom is the perfect spot for dinner (offered nightly except Monday) or Sunday brunch while enjoying a day in charming Chestnut Hill. The menu changes seasonally, so be sure to come by often to try the newest dishes.
1617 E. Passyunk Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Chef Nicholas Elmi of Laurel is the most recent winner of “Top Chef.” Elmi joins Chef Kevin Sbraga as the second Philadelphia winner on the popular Bravo show. At his intimate 22-seat South Philly BYOB, Elmi is able to showcase his talents, serving intricate French American cuisine. The a la carte menu is available Tuesday through Thursday with four courses suggested. Highlights include the New Jersey scallop that is hand-torn into smaller chunks, and the Albacore tuna, which has been praised as perhaps the best raw tuna dish in the city. On Friday and Saturdays, Laurel serves a seven-course tasting menu priced at $75 per person.
402 Wood St.
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Radicchio is a bit of a hidden gem tucked away in Old City. But for those in the know, it’s a favorite. Start your meal with the fresh buffalo mozzarella topped with chopped tomato, grilled zucchini and a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil. While there are plenty of pasta dishes and classic entrees such as veal Milanese, this rustic Italian spot is probably best known for its whole fish specials. Eliminating the need to filet the fish for yourself, these meals are presented and served tableside and are available for individuals or split for two people.
Michelle Hein is the social media editor for a women’s fashion company in Bucks County by day and a self-proclaimed food and drink fanatic by night and weekend. She enjoys attending wine classes, trying new recipes in the kitchen and going to old favorites and new restaurants alike in the Bucks County and Philadelphia area. If the writing gig doesn’t pan out, she constantly dreams of owning her own bakery…perhaps connected to the restaurant/bar that her lawyer fiance would love to open.
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