by Joshua M Bernstein - 90 Reviews - 13 List
When feasting at New York restaurants, it's not that salad, appetizer or slice of chocolate cake that'll burst your budget. Instead, the culprit is sweet, sweet booze. Markups of 300 percent on a bottle of wine or beer can turn a casual dinner into a money-bleeding affair. The penny-pinching solution? Patronize restaurants that permit you to bring your own beer or wine. From Indian eateries in the East Village to classy Caribbean restaurants in Prospect Heights, dining and drinking has never been so affordable with our list of BYOB restaurants in New York. (Photo: Lucali by scaredy_kat on Flickr)
Updated: September 01, 2010
Ordering is easy at Lucali, a onetime candy shop turned top-notch pizzeria. The menu only counts two items: thin-crust pies (select from your favorite toppings) and ricotta-crammed calzones as long and thick as the wine bottles you're allowed to bring in--or beer, if that floats your boat. Since the Carroll Gardens restaurant fills up quickly, arrive by 6pm to ensure fast seating. Bonus tip: If you like celeb sightings, Jay-Z and Beyonce have been known to nosh on Lucali's pies.
Yes, Chao sits in the distant reaches of Elmhurst, Queens, but if you survive the rigors of subway travel, your reward will be some of NYC's finest Thai cookery. In a narrow room decorated with pink stuffed animals, you'll sup on five-alarm curries, slippery broad noodles studded with shrimp and great tureens of lemongrass-accented tom yum goong soup. To combat the chili heat, bring in a six-pack of your favorite beer (a piney, bitter IPA should do the trick).
Dining at Chinatown's subterranean Wo Hop is like entering an earlier era when egg foo young and chow mein were cutting-edge cuisine. This is not a bad thing. Since 1938, Wo Hop has trafficked in comforting fare such as wonton soup and heaping portions of roast pork. The restaurant is open 24 hours, meaning it's a perfect post-bar stop--and because it's a BYOB restaurant, you might be tempted to tip back one last drink.
A few doors down from a police precinct you'll find this homey restaurant specializing in affordable, elegant French-Caribbean cuisine. Smoky, spicy jerk chicken gets paired with a goat cheese-honey-tarragon sauce, while escargot is served with zippy curried butter and fat burgers are finished with avocado salsa. What could make it better? It's a BYOB restaurant. The waitstaff will even store your beverages in a fridge `til you're thirsty.
Milon might be the East Village's tackiest Indian restaurant. In this upstairs room the size of a subway car, tables are jammed cheek to jowl, and chili-pepper lights are strung willy-nilly. But no one complains about the sardine seating, thanks to cheap, serviceable curries, buttery parathas stuffed with spinach and a BYOB policy that makes dinner a rollicking, well-lubricated affair. If it's your birthday, the servers will crank up a rollicking song on the stereo and the whole restaurant will sing along.