Compared to cities like Chicago and Philly, New York doesn’t have a ton of restaurants where you can bring your own booze. But the need to drink on the cheap is an important one, so we’ve put together this list of 17 places where you can show up with your own bottle and be welcomed. Pick a spot, then read a book on wine and figure out what you should pair with your food.
How do you make eating the best pizza in NYC an even better experience? Add a BYOB policy. The road to sitting down at Lucali isn’t exactly an easy one (waits can stretch up to four hours), but at least that gives you more than enough time to pick up a bottle or two. And once you finally do get a seat, you can hang out at your candlelit table, open whatever you brought, and enjoy some truly excellent pizza with a side of calzone.
This is a seafood market that happens to have a grill and a bunch of tables where you can sit and eat. Here’s how it works: you walk up to a display of seafood, choose what you want, hand it to the staff, and tell them how you’d like it cooked (grilled, fried, baked, etc.). It’s a fun spot, you’ll spend less than you do on seafood elsewhere, and you’ll still be thinking about your meal several hours after you get home. Be aware, however, that you might have to wait for your table - people like this place.
If you want to bring a date to a BYOB spot, try Tartine. It’s a little French bistro in the West Village, with a menu of things like escargot, tuna tartare, and steak au poivre. It’s exactly the kind of place you imagined you’d find when you were a 12-year-old person dreaming about the West Village, and it’s also a great brunch option.
BK Jani serves one of our favorite burgers in NYC. It’s a big patty on a soft bun with a slice of tomato and some mint chutney, and it’s something everyone should eat at least once. So bring a friend or two, pick up some beer, and grab a table at this little counter-service spot in Bushwick. In addition to the burger, get some lamb chops and a seekh kabab roll.
Do you want to eat a whole roast duck and some Dungeness crab while you drink your own wine? Of course you do. So go to Wu’s Wonton King. This is a Chinese restaurant at the lower end of the LES, and it has a big dining room with some huge tables that can fit you and every single friend you actually want to hang out with (i.e. about 10 people). There are also lazy susans in the middle of each table, which makes sharing both food and wine pretty easy.
Los Hermanos is part tortilla factory and part restaurant, and due to its inexpensive prices and Bushwick location, it attracts a lot of people who look like they don’t remember the ’90s. Order at the counter up front, then get a little table in the back and enjoy whatever beer or wine you brought along. The tacos are the main thing here, and we especially like the chorizo and spicy pork versions. Since it’s a factory, you can watch people making the (very good) tortillas they serve, too.
At Gaia Italian Cafe, you can get some seriously good Italian food (served to you by Gaia herself), and pretty much everything costs less than $15. This place is in a basement-level space on Houston Street, and most of your friends probably don’t know about it. Just be aware that it closes at 8pm Tuesday-Thursday, and you have to make a reservation if you want to eat dinner here. So do that on a Saturday, when it’s open until 11pm.
Tanoshi is just a tiny room with brick walls and a 12-person counter that’s fairly worn down. But the sushi here is exceptional. The only option is an omakase (which costs $95-$99, depending on the nightly selection of fish), and it comes with big pieces of things like black sable and Scottish trout. While it definitely isn’t cheap, you can at least partially make up for that by bringing your own wine or sake. Pretty much everyone will have a bottle in front of them when you come here, and this place even provides ice buckets to keep everything chilled.
Spicy Village is a little Chinese spot on the LES that’s known for its Big Tray Chicken. That is, unsurprisingly, a big tray of chicken (with various vegetabIes), and you should share it with one other person. There’s a per-person minimum if you want to BYOB, so supplement the chicken with a few sides like the beef and pork pancakes. This is a great spot for a relatively inexpensive weeknight meal - just keep in mind that it’s cash only.
East Village restaurants often get as full as a brand new can of Pringles. But Lui’s is a relatively calm little spot on 4th Street, and you can get some solid Thai food here last-minute. The little space with brick walls and little flowers on every table is charming, so it’s perfect for a casual weeknight meal when you’re trying not to spend a ton of money.
At Peking Duck House, they carve your duck tableside, and you should get one for roughly every two or three people you have at your table. To supplement, get some pork dumplings and the dish called Seafood Triple Delight that comes with a huge portion of shrimp, fish, and scallops. This place is perfect for anything from a birthday to a coworker’s going-away party - just remember to A) order the duck and B) bring a sufficient amount of wine.
Nicandra’s is a tiny spot in Bushwick with brick walls, a few small tables, and a big list of housemade pastas. It’s an impressive lineup with everything from squid ink pappardelle with shrimp and ’nduja to ricotta agnolotti with caramel almonds. Almost all of the pastas are less than $20, and there are some small plates like octopus and burrata, too. It’s a great spot for a date, especially considering you can save money by bringing your own wine, then spend that money on additional wine at a nearby bar after dinner.
Every square inch of Panna II is covered in foil, mirrors, flashing lights, plastic chili peppers, and giant globes. And that’s one of the reasons why you come here. Another reason is the fact that it’s BYOB. As for the food, it gets the job done. You probably aren’t going to text all of your relatives to tell them about your meal the minute you leave - but you might text your friends a picture that has several hundred lights in the background.
Sigiri is a tiny Sri Lankan restaurant up a set of stairs in the East Village. It’s a little cramped inside, but the food is great, and the portions are pretty big. Get the crab fried rice or the string hopper kotthu, which is a large mound of rice noodles with stir-fried meat and vegetables. This is a perfect spot for a casual meal with one other person, especially when you’re in the mood to BYO.
Need a place to grab some food before a show at Terminal 5? Or a weeknight dinner after you leave your office in Midtown? That’s what Wondee Siam is for. It’s a Thai spot in Hell’s Kitchen that’s a good place to sit down with a friend, eat some crispy pork, and drink whatever you bought on the walk over/found on your desk.
Queens Comfort is open all day, but it’s mostly known for its brunch. This place gets packed on weekend afternoons (you’ll even see a bouncer out front), and they don’t take reservations. But it’s worth a wait if you want to eat some Oreo French toast or some cornflake-crusted chicken and waffles in a fun space full of old toys and vintage movie memorabilia. (You do.)
If you need a fun group spot that’s also BYOB, try 99 Favor Taste - a hot pot chain with locations in the East Village, Flushing, the Lower East Side, and Sunset Park. In addition to hot pot, there’s also a barbecue option, and there’s a great selection of meat, vegetables, and dipping sauces. Plus, it’s all-you-can-eat, and hot pot is only $22.99 per person.