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Mar 9, 2009 07:17 AM


Philly chowhound coming to DC/VA area and looking for a good BYOB in the DC/VA area. We are staying in Old Town and have access to a car. We are open for any suggestions, but nothing Indian. Thank you.

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  1. VA does not allow BYOB in restaurants.

    1. Just so you know, DC isn't as well known for their BYOB least not at the same level as Philly. I personally have never brought my own wine to a restaurant, so I'm not sure which ones are good with this. But I would always check first to see how much the corking fee is, because many restaurants will have one.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Elyssa

        Thank you. We would be looking for a restaurant without a liquor license (like the ones in Philly). I would never take a bottle to a restaurant that has a liquor license.

        1. re: BRI328

          Most white table cloth restaurants in this area have liquor/beer and wine licenses, so you might want to broaden your search. Some restaurants have special nights where they do not charge corkage. I know of at least one in upper NW DC, Le Chat Noir, that does not have a fee on Sundays.

          1. re: BRI328

            Actually, in DC ONLY restaurants with a lquor license are allowed to permit BYOB. Many places permit it, you just have to ask. Most charge a corkage fee of $15 to $25 per bottle.

            Look here


            1. re: dinwiddie

              I'm not so sure about that. I know a pizza place on upper Wisconsin where I have brought wine no problem.

              1. re: oilpatchmama

                Then they probably have a license to sell wine or they are doing it illegally.

        2. There are a number of restaurants in DC that will let you bring in bottles at very reasonable corkage. Many places do not mind if you are simply wanting to drink better wines than they like to stock. Etrusco, Sette, Hanks, Dino, just to name a few.

          What is your goal in this? Are you wanting to drink special wines?

          7 Replies
          1. re: trebiccherri

            No, in Philadelphia we have numerous restaurants which do not have a liquor license, so we bring our own. Everytime we come to the DC area we go to one of the top restaurants and have great food and wine. I was just wondering if this area has any good byob's with good food. (restaurants without a liquor license) I am not looking to bring a bottle to a restaurant that has a liquor license. Thank you.

            1. re: BRI328

              DC really isn't a BYOB-type of town. This is much more of a Philly thing (for example it's something I would seek out in Philadelphia as an experience, but wouldn't think of doing in DC).

              Maybe you can try something that DC offers that Philly doesn't--like Ethiopian cuisine or one of our many delicious mussells and frites restaurants. My personal choices would be Etete or Brasserie Beck.

              1. re: Elyssa

                We have been to Brasserie Beck which was excellent. and to Marcels. Actually, we have done most of the trendy places and will pick one of them for this visit. BlackSalt is one of our favorites.

              2. re: BRI328

                In fact, to add to the discussion, we have the exact opposite in DC - if they don't have a liquor license, you CAN'T bring a bottle of wine.

                As others have said, in VA you can't bring your own at all, and in DC you can bring your own wine if they already have a liquor license, but most places charge ~$20/bottle or more for the priviledge.

                1. re: Elyssa

                  This is the place in Dupont, right? When did it close? I've always wanted to check it out. There are very few nice Greek restaurants in DC proper.

                  1. re: Jacey

                    This wasn't a Greek place, I believe it was Italian. See:

                    The Greek restaurant is Mourayo. It is still open (and recently expanded.)

              3. I love the BYOB scene in Philly... especially Chloe and Mercato. Unfortunately, DC's laws don't allow alcohol in places that do not have a liquor license and VA doesn't allow corkage. I think these laws are remnants of the areas sleepy southern past... some nearby southern towns in MD are still completely dry. Also, DC's rents are so high that it would be impractical to have a full service white table cloth restaurant without being able to sell alcohol.
                Fortunately DC does have many unique bright spots such as the ethiopian places the people above have mentioned. Also DC has a new and very good French Brasserie scene, my favorites are Brasserie Beck on the high end and Dr Granville Moores for casual . In VA near Old Town, is the Del Ray neighborhood where you can find family owned smaller inexpensive places...we like the very casual Taqueria Pablano for their mexican specialties and margaritas.

                5 Replies
                1. re: keithdcil

                  Thanks Keith! We have been to Brasserie Beck which was excellent. As I told
                  Elyssa above.. we will go back to some of our favorite spots in the city.... Central, Komi, Black Salt, Al La Lucia, Montmarte, Cafe Milano etc...

                  1. re: BRI328

                    Bri, Philadephians are lucky to have BYOBs. I didn't catch Elyssas comments below the jump, when I answered earlier. Listen to her, she is usually spot on. Also look at Corduroy in DC and Eve in Old Town, they might become a new favorites.

                    1. re: keithdcil

                      Yes, we are lucky. We been to Rest. Eve, but I was not impressed. I will add Corduroy to our list.

                      1. re: keithdcil

                        I 2nd Corduroy. The food is delicious.

                      2. re: BRI328

                        I'm from the Philadelphia area and really miss the BYOB's!! It truly makes Philly special (and a bit cheaper at times!) Luckily my sister still lives there so I still get my fill from time to time.
                        Didn't see CityZen mentioned...I would definitely put it on your short's fantastic.

                    2. FYI - DC corkage fee is capped BY LAW at $25.00.It is hard to come by ,very few of the city restaurants offer BYOB.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: lcool

                        Any many still ignore the cap...

                        1. re: DanielK

                          TURN THEM IN ....DC has a fax hot line for license issues and regulation.They really want the general public to play.With parking hassles etc they really do want the public to come into the city AND SPEND MONEY.When more than 95% of the wine on DC lists EXCEEDS 3x retail and the service for same is 75% lame high corkage fees are an outrage/preposterous.
                          A list at lunch yesterday ;retail with tax a $21.00 bottle :-by the glass,light 5 oz pour
                          (5 pours per bottle) $12.00. 5 x $12.00 = $60.00 on the wine list same wine was...
                          $62.00 and they wonder why the $$$ per cover are down by 20% or more.The patrons
                          that can't do the math are at home ?broke,those that can,don't spend stupidly.

                        2. re: lcool

                          It is true that the law in DC caps corkage at $25, and most, not all restaurants, come in at that range or less (some places are even free on certain nights.) It is not true that very few of the city restaurants offer corkage, I can think of over 30 that I have been to and know of at least 20 more that I have not gone to. Last I heard from my wine geek friends, the list was over 100. I've been going to restaurants in DC and taking wine with me for over 25 years. I don't always take a bottle with me, but often I do, and I've always been welcome. I've come to know many of the chefs, sommeliers, and managers at these restaurants and have shared many a bottle with them. Admittedly, many are higher end places, but not all are.

                          Just off hand places I can think of that offer corkage (and where I've taken wine) are Palena, Dino, New Heights, Lavandeau, DC Coast, Circle Bistro, Equinox, Chef Geoff's, Caucus Room, Adero, Zyatinya, Zola, Brasserie Beck, 15 Ria, 701, Alero, B. Smiths, Bardeo, Bistro Bis, Firefly, Corduroy, Bistro d'Oc, Marcel's, Bistro du Coin, Bobby Van's, Charlie Palmer, I Ricchi, Johnny's Half Shell, Oceanaire, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Kinkead's, Le Paradou, Meiwah, Morton's, Olives, Pesce, Petits Plats, Proof, Sesto Senso, Sushi-Ko, Taberna del Alabardero, Jaleo, TenPenh, Neyla, The Oval Room, Tosca, Black Salt, and more that I can't think of at the moment.

                          1. re: dinwiddie

                            I can triple the list easily,with caveats.Many restict the day of the week and # of bottles no matter how large the party.Equally as many want more than $25.00.I have not had problems with corkage and or wine service.But we always enquire in advance.Even if the chef or owner is a friend.However I do hear plenty of "stories" weekly about the
                            foibles,restrictions and pricing in DC.Toss Md into the mix and it is even messier.