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Need recommendations for Philly BYO dinner crawl

Three friends and I are planning on doing a restaurant crawl of four or five of the city's best BYO options. I would appreciate recommendations.

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  1. Search and you will find all the recs. Matyson, Pif, Radicchio and Branzino top my list.

    1. The concept of restaurant crawl somehow makes me think of small bites places, rather than the top destination places. I was thinking, from posts I've read here, Amada, Bar Ferdinand, Tria, Trio in Fairmount and similar places I haven't been to, but would love to sample.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Bashful3

        Of those places, only Trio is a BYO.

        Gayle is BYO for the entire month of January, but reservations are going fast.

      2. Great, keep 'em coming. Which of these places would be best to end the tour over some dessert wine? We'd prefer to walk to all of them (we want to work off the food between each course), so if they're within three or four miles, that would be preferable.

        1. Have you been to any Philly BYOB's? I have a feeling that you are not picturing things the way they are.

          Most of the better and more popular BYOB's are fully booked on weekend evenings; some are fully booked during the week. People make a reservation and come for a full meal.

          It might work if you go during the week, maybe at an off hour, and restrict your choices to the few places doing small plates. Maybe if you explain what you're doing on the phone, when you're making your reservation, these places would cooperate.

          A BYOB is a restaurant that doesn't have liquor service; it is not a pub or a bar without liquor.

          Be sure to let us know that this all comes out. It's certainly a novel idea. For us, if we have a reservation at a good place like Matyson (or many others) we want to savor every course.

          Good luck!

          2 Replies
          1. re: sylviag

            Yeah, I was thinking about this and I'm not sure what the original poster intends to do. Any BYO worth going to will be a place that you sit down for a full meal. If you plan on having just one course at each place, they're going to be a bit miffed at you. If that's your plan, you will definitely want to stick to places that serve small plates, but most of those are not BYO. Also, you can't really take a bottle of wine to a place, drink a glass with your appetizer or whatever, then take the bottle with you to the next place. Perhaps if Benjamin could explain exactly what it is he's planning to do..

            1. re: Buckethead

              I agree with Buckethead and SylviaG. BYOBs basically make their money off of food. Regular restaurants tend to mark up their liquor and wine so much that they don't need to have as high a mark-up on the food. A lot of byobs are smaller places and aren't really going to appreciate someone coming in and just ordering one course. I think the original poster would do better at a place with small plates but those tend to have liquor licenses.

          2. Thanks for all your feedback. Logistically, our original plan sounds like it will be tougher than I anticipated. What if we ate at the bar of some of the best BYOB spots, instead of taking up valuable table space? Don't tell me: they're BYOB, so the interiors don't feature bars; or, the bars will be too crowded for all four of us.

            Or, what if we limited the trip to a lunch and dinner (or early and late dinner) at the two best BYOB spots in town. Which places, then, would you suggest? If there are a number of great places that have a low-corkage fee (i.e. $5 or $10), then feel free to recommend them too.


            2 Replies
            1. re: Benjamin68

              I am not familiar with every byob but the ones I am familiar with don't have bars. With the exception of one on the Main Line, the byobs I have been to don't charge corkage fees. Matyson on 19th Street is very good and you could do a late lunch there. Again I have a basic problem with your overall idea because these places tend to be small and are dependent on their revenue from food. One thing you could do is go to Matyson for a lunch and then go to a wine bar - Tria is a good one nearby - to try something else some wines and snack type items.

              1. re: Benjamin68

                I've been to a great many BYOs in the city and have never been charged a corkage fee, so that won't limit your options at all.

              2. Here's an idea that might approximate what you had in mind without doing too much harm to the pocketbook of the BYOB.

                Start out with Tria at 18th and Sansom Streets. Tria specializes in wine, beer and cheese. Since they serve liquor, you won't be able to bring your own, but its small plates and a couple of glasses of wine would make a good first course.

                For the entree, try Matyson or one of the many Italian BYOBs near Rittenhouse Square. (I hear that one of my favorites, La Viola, just expanded across 16th Street while keeping its old place too.) Wrap up the evening with dessert at Capogiro (locations at 20th and Sansom and at 13th and Sansom) or at Naked Chocolate (13th and Walnut). Enjoy!

                1. >For the entree, try Matyson or one of the many Italian BYOBs near Rittenhouse Square. (I hear that one of my favorites, La Viola, just expanded across 16th Street while keeping its old place too.) Wrap up the evening with dessert at Capogiro (locations at 20th and Sansom and at 13th and Sansom) or at Naked Chocolate (13th and Walnut). Enjoy! <

                  And miss out on Matyson's Cocoanut Custard Pie? I can't recommend that! <g>

                  Capogrio is good but the p;ie wins IMHO.

                  Steve R

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: SteveR

                    If you like lemon, nothing beats Matyson's lemon tart!

                  2. Thank you, everyone, for all your help.

                    1. also, i don't know if i could *start* with tria. maybe it's just me, but i go in there with the intent of a lil snack before dinner, and before i know it i've ordered half the menu. food AND wine. to prevent this from happening, i now *end* my evening with tria!

                      the st urban's hof riesling is a great sipping wine for starters. and i think i recall very much liking the connundrum (sp?) white wine with the dessert grilled cheese (mascarpone + caramel on a panini). a little slice of heaven.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: rabidog

                        Again, I know this is an old post, but rabidog, the wine you are referring to was probably Caymus Conundrum. Very good stuff.

                        1. re: Decker

                          yep, that's absolutely it!! in the last year and a half i've had no success finding it in PA (the state store by my work out in chesterbrook claims to sell it, however it's never there!). i stock up when i go out of the state by car, and then save it for special occasions. :)

                          invino: it would be worthwhile to look up more recent threads if you're interested in the BYO scene. my fave 3 right now, in this order: modo mio, matyson, chloe.

                          1. re: rabidog

                            Thanks, rabid. I'm definitely watching the Philly boards and even created a post: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/524969 .

                            I was just kind of curious if a byo crawl was even possible. Seemed kind of strange, given the was I'm assuming byo places work. I wanted to know how the OP's experience turned out.

                            Thanks for the tips. We've been leaning towards Matyson, but there's not much in the way of veggie-friendly food, so who knows?

                      2. I know this is an old post, but Benjamin, what did you end up doing?

                        I'm heading to Philly soon and curious about the whole BYO dealie.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          Don't forget that Le Bar Lyonnais (downstairs of Le Bec-Fin) and Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel are both BYOB on Monday evenings.

                        2. Bindi! we were just there and it is the freshest most lovely Indian food I have had in a very very long time. It recently got a great review in the Inkwaster. I was suprised at the crisp flavors and the service was lovely too. You can bring hard liquor and they make a menu of special mixes for it. We just brought a bottle of wine.