When it comes to a BYOB restaurant scene, Philadelphia is a real corker.
With more than 230 bring your own bottle eateries around town, diners can save big bucks – and drink their favorite vintages without paying a restaurant mark-up. Sticker shocked by the high price of liquor licenses, more chefs, like Ian Moroney, who owns the 28-seat Pumpkin on South Street, opt to do what they do best. “I got into this business to cook, not run a bar. BYOB works for us, and our customers love it.” Moroney, like most BYOB owners, doesn’t charge a corkage fee, another reason to wine and dine, Philadelphia style.
Three to Try …
Mercato: Chef Mackenzie Hilton infuses the slow cooking of Old World Italy with a bold take on new Italian American cuisine at this airy cash only BYOB. Large floor-to-ceiling windows open out onto a lively street scene. 1216 Spruce St, (215) 985.BYOB
Pumpkin: Artful New American cuisine, locally sourced produce and a great deal on Sundays: five courses for $35, including dishes like seared scallops over lentils spiked with a beet vinaigrette and braised branzino with fennel, preserved lemons and olive tapenade. 1713 South St. (215) 545-4448
Kanella: Cyprus meets Greece at Kanella’s table, where chef/owner Konstantinos Pitsillides coaxes wonderful flavors out of slowly braised rabbit with butter beans and the daily whole fish, simply roasted with seasonal greens. Or come for the Cyprus breakfast, eggs fried in olive oil with tangy houlami cheese. 1001 Spruce St. (215) 922-1773
BYOB Bits: Reservation policies vary, so call ahead. Ask in advance about credits cards – cash only is not uncommon. And if you don’t have your favorite Super Tuscan handy, not to worry, here’s an interactive map of the city by neighborhood, complete with the locations of the nearest liquor store.