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Best Philadelphia BYOB Restaurants

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Audrey Claire on Rittenhouse Square offers the best of the best.

Here are my selections for the best BYOBs in the Philadelphia metro area:

10. Ernesto’s – 1521 Spruce St. Ste 101, Philadelphia, PA 19102
I once took a date here on a weeknight and we were the only patrons in the entire restaurant, which was surprising given the appetizing Mediterranean fare and romantic, creme-curtained, dimly-lit atmosphere. If being able to actually hear what your date is saying to you is your thing, Ernesto’s is the B.Y.O.B. for you. 
 
9. Lolita – 106 S. 13th St. Philadelphia, PA 19107

Probably the best B.Y.O.B. to take your favorite nymphet, Lolita specializes in modernized Mexican cuisine with house specialties like grilled salmon with applewood-smoked bacon, chipotle-garlic grilled beef tenderloin and soft corn tortillas with orange-glazed pork. As sexy as food gets. 

8. Umai Umai – 533 N. 22nd St. at Brandywine St. Philadelphia, PA 19130
This place features some of the most unique sushi in Philly (try the Eternal Sunshine, Ping Pong, or Godzilla rolls!), as well as impeccable service, situated in the laid back Fairmount/Art Museum district. May I recommend the oyster shooters?

 

7. La Fontana Della Citta – 1701 Spruce St. Philadelphia, PA 19103 (b/w Latimer and Spruce St.)

For top-notch Italian victuals served by authentic Europeans, with great outdoor seating, this place is one of the best B.Y.O.B.s in Rittenhouse. Bottle of red? A bottle of white?  Perhaps a PBR pounder suits your appetite?

6. La Viola – 253 S. 16th St. Philadelphia, PA 19102

You can probably tell I enjoy Italian food, but outside of New York City, Philly offers probably the best cibo anywhere in the US. La Viola provides inexpensive, delicious Italian specialties, served with white tablecloth, candlelit class all the way. I recommend hitting up Monk’s Belgium emporium right across the street beforehand to whet your appetite on the finest selection of suds in the city.

5. Effie’s – 1127 Pine St. Philadelphia, PA 19107

Effie’s on Pine Street will “get you to the Greek.”

For earthy, Greek-oriented fare, on what is probably the best street in Philadelphia, Effie’s is friendly, authentic and full of zest.

4. El Azteca Uno – 714 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA 19106

Turquoise accents and colorful Aztec deco add some serious Mexican mojo to this friendly taqueria. Perfect for young people looking to get down on some inexpensive tacos, burritos, quesadillas and tamales in every possible permutation, running grande on portions. Bring your own tequila and your server will gladly mix it into a pitcher of margaritas for you.

 

3. Terrace Street Bistro – 3989 Terrace Street Philadelphia, PA 19128

While it serves beer on Thursdays and Sundays (and free Mimosas on Sundays), I had to include this gem which offers some of the best value in Manyunk ($35 per person for a 4-course, 5-star meal). Located in the Roxborough/Manyunk section of the city, the ambiance is snug but endearing.

2. La Collina – 37 Ashland Ave. Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1801

As one of the classiest B.Y.O.s in Philly (it’s located just off the Belmont Hills exit of 76), La Collina is the perfect spot for that special romantic date . It’s old-fashioned Italiano in every way. Menu is expensive, however, so bring your c-card.

1. Audrey Claire – 276 S. 20th St., Philadelphia, PA 19103

Probably the polar opposite of Ernesto’s, Audrey Claire is always bustling, especially in summer, where its open-window, elbow-to-elbow atmosphere makes you feel as if you’re dining with family.  Their mussels are the best in the city, and most of their meat and seafood dishes offer great value for your dollar.

* I would like to send a well-deserved shout out to the soon to be betrothed, Ron-Ron the Chef (a.k.a. Lawyer Ron, a.k.a. Captain Ron), for his help in compiling this list.