It may be a sea of flannel shirts and facial hair in these two Philly neighborhoods, but it’s also a BYOB-er’s dream. Read on for the top spots to bring-your-own-booze in rapidly growing Fishtown and Northern Liberties. – Chelsea Karnash
The brainchild of a man so pizza-obsessed he has a slice of it tattooed on his back, Fishtown’s Pizza Brain is more than your average pie shop. It’s also the nation’s first “pizza museum” and boasts what the Guinness Book of World Records has declared the largest collection of pizza-centric memorabilia. Plus, the restaurant operates alongside Little Baby’s Ice Cream, that of the super-weird-yet-oddly-intriguing internet ads gone viral, and serves up something called “The Frankford Taco,” a cheesy slice of pizza pie topped with pizza ice cream. You can get delivery, but why would you want to? Grab a bottle of vino or a six pack of beer and enjoy your pizza in-house, alongside pizza-themed art exhibits and comics starring – what else? – pizza.
Philadelphia’s original spot for upscale Indian food is still going strong; there are now six locations, including this one in Northern Liberties. And though the restaurant now bills itself as “Indo-Chinese,” it remains a favorite for its array of both vegetarian and carnivore-friendly dishes, chewy naan bread and spicy curries. Service can be equally slow and blunt, but you’ll overlook that after you’ve opened your wine and settled in for a plate full of creamy butter chicken — extra onion chutney, please!
If you’ve never had Portuguese food before, Koo Zee Doo is a great place to start. Named for the Portuguese word for “cooked” as well as for the traditional dish cozido á Portuguesa, this charming BYOB in NoLibs serves cuisine made from simple ingredients that deliver big on flavor. Choose the $50 tasting menu and enjoy a leisurely meal interspersed with plenty of BYO wine, or go casual and try a few appetizers paired with a craft brew. One tip: Portions are family-size (read: huge), so order accordingly.
With sauces so good they inspire plate-licking, it’s hard to find fault with Ekta, an Indian restaurant that’s a step up from typical takeout. Sure, the prices reflect that, but virtually everything on the menu is delicious – try the Mango Chicken or the saag paneer and sop it all up with an order of garlic naan…just don’t breathe on anyone for the rest of the night. If you also bring a bottle of your favorite booze, you’ll be signing up to join Ekta’s legions of fans before you see the bottom of the glass.
This is the second outpost of Philly’s much-touted Thai eatery Circles, but luckily, the tried-and-true menu is mostly the same. With fresh ingredients as well as multiple spice levels that actually deliver, you can’t go wrong with anything that exits Chef Boonphaya’s kitchen. The modern, comfortable dining room and friendly staff don’t hurt, either.
Rejoice: South Philly’s glorious brunch spot has opened a second location in Northern Liberties! Whether it’s kegs and eggs you crave or a plate piled high with pancakes and a few mimosas, Honey’s will satisfy and stuff you to the gills. And speaking of mimosas, for a fun twist on the traditional breakfast cocktail, replace Honey’s fresh-squeezed OJ with their (also fresh-squeezed) grapefruit juice – fantastic!