Our Eat Drink Play contributors reveal their favourite BYO restaurants.
The beauty of BYO restaurants is it doesn’t matter if you’re blowing the dust of a special vintage or grabbing a cleanskin off the shelf, BYO accommodates budgets both big and small. So, we asked the people who eat, drink and play the most – our Eat Drink Play contributors – to reveal what they believe to be the best BYO restaurants Sydney has to offer.
Ms Darlinghurst: Favourite: Vacanza Pizzeria, Surry Hills and Bronte
“Changes and modifications are politely declined unless it’s a matter of life and death”. This is what you’ll find on Vacanza Pizzeria’s website and it kind of sums them up to a tee. This authentic Italian restaurant is buzzing every night of the week, often with queues out the door. Their menu is simple with focaccia, antipasti, a buffalo mozzarella bar and salad. The main attraction is the pizza though. As for the wine list, it may be short, but who cares when they offer BYO? Corkage is $12 per bottle.
Emilie’s Favourite: Phamish Vietnamese Cafe, Darlinghurst
What could be better than sitting out in the open air, glass of your favourite wine in hand, and enjoying the sights, sounds and smells from the buzzing courtyard that is 248 Palmer Street? In this courtyard, nestled amongst Lucio’s Pizzeria, Kindness Café and Rosan Japanese Cuisine, sits Phamish Vietnamese Café. You won’t find any pho here, but they more than make up for it, with many tasty options of stir-fries, curries, noodle and rice dishes. Corkage is $4pp.
Anne’s Favourite: Two Chaps, Marrickville
I stand by my theory that some of the best places are hidden behind unassuming garage doors. Enter Two Chaps in Marrickville. Housed inside an industrial style garage, by day this joint offers artisan breads, house roasted coffee, and locally sourced organic produce which is served straight from the kitchen to your table.
Now for the twist… Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night Two Chaps keeps its doors open until 10pm to host a legendary homemade pasta and vegetarian dinner. So it’s easy to understand how Two Chaps makes it on our best BYO restaurants list. You can order the set menu for $65pp with free corkage or dine a la carte with corkage at $10 per bottle.
Iselin’s Favourite: Time for Thai, Newtown
There’s usually a waitlist for Time For Thai but it’s always worth it. This BYO restaurant is buzzing and attracts foodies from all around Sydney. It’s an intimate space but the food makes up for it. Corkage is gentle on your wallet, and the portions are more than generous. They also have venues in both Kingsford and Haymarket.
Sanjana’s Favourite: Rossopomodoro, Balmain
Siobhan’s Favourite: The Sultan’s Table, Enmore
Walk past the Sultan’s Table at any time of the day and there will be a crowd of people enjoying a platter of dips, or tucking into fresh falafel. The restaurant looks like an ordinary Turkish kebab shop from the front but walk around the back and you will discover a large area for big groups. It is the sort of place you go to please a big crowd on a tight budget; we can’t recommend the $45 per person banquet enough!
With no corkage costs, the wine can freely flow but be sure to make a reservation if you are planning to visit on the weekend. After your meal don’t miss out on the world’s best gelato right next door at Cow and Moon. Saturday night sorted.
Olivia’s Favourite: Spice Alley, Kensington Street
My favourite BYO restaurant in Sydney isn’t just a restaurant; it’s a whole alley! Spice Alley in Kensington Street has a multitude of flavours to indulge in and is the perfect place to grab a couple of dishes and a bottle of wine with friends. Try the BBQ pork buns from Hong Kong Diner, and the spicy satay chicken skewers from Alex Lee Kitchen. With no corkage fee, you’ll have a little left over to indulge in some dessert. Anita Gelato is just down the road. Pro tip: The Handpicked Wine cellar door is also in the area, so pop in for a tasting before dinner and grab a bottle to go!
Janice’s Favourite: Cairo Takeaway, Enmore
Don’t be deceived by the humble exterior of this little corner shop in Enmore. There’s a reason crowds are waiting on crates outside for a table at this Egyptian eatery. The cauliflower pocket with tahini and dukkah is a favourite if you’re getting takeaway. But it’s definitely worth the short wait for a table especially when BYO is FREE! There’s no table service here – order at the counter. The mixed meat plate ensures a colourful and delicious feed. Now you can sit back and enjoy the prime people-watching spot on buzzing Enmore Road.
These BYO restaurant’s didn’t quite make it onto our contributor’s guide, but are nonetheless certainly worthy of inclusion.
Chinese Noodle Restaurant
Those in the know will tell you, ‘look for the vines!’. Situated in the heart of hungry-student land in Haymarket, Chinese Noodle Restaurant is renowned for its eclectic interior, and of course, their world class handmade dumplings, stir fries, noodle dishes – all of which are hand made to order. What might be lacking in customer service is completely made up for in the delicious menu, teamed with the option of BYO and no corkage fee. If you know you know!
You’ve probably seen the long line snaking outside this popular Haymarket eatery. It comes with good reason, with Mamak dishing up mouth watering and affordable authentic Malaysian cuisine. On the menu, you’ll find everything from roti to aromatic curries, satay and stir-fried noodles. The cherry on the metaphorical cake is the fact you can BYO, with no corkage fee.
You can also find Mamak in Chatswood.
Fatima’s Lebanese Restaurant goes back to delicious basics, with hummus (arguably some of the best in Sydney), kafta, lady fingers, cabbage rolls, vine leaves and so much more. Make sure you come hungry, as the dishes are generously portioned as well as being very affordable. Bring along your favourite bottle of wine, and relish in no corkage fees!
Spice I Am, Surry Hills
This Surry Hills institution is well known for its spice-laden and aromatic Thai menu, as well as being one the best BYO restaurants in Sydney. With BYO and no corkage fee, team your favourite tipple with crispy pork belly, Massaman curry, Pad Thai…this list goes on. Our top pick is the spicy pad kee mao, perfectly matched with a crisp white wine to soften the heat! It’s important to keep in mind though that they don’t take reservations, so make sure you plan ahead to avoid waiting too long for a table.
While you might typically associate BYO with cheap and cheerful restaurants, Otto in Woolloomooloo is proving that you can bring your favourite vino along to a fine dining restaurant. Groups of 8 people or more are able to opt for the super luxe BYO group share menu. Served family style in the centre of the table, the menu is $119pp plus the optional BYO wine and champagne charge of $30pp, making it the ultimate BYO experience for special occasions.
Bar Reggio, Darlinghurst
A rare find in Sydney is a restaurant that offers BYO for beer and spirits as well as wine. This is just one of the many reasons we love the iconic Bar Reggio. For only $2.50 a person, you can enjoy your favourite BYO gin and soda with your authentic Italian meal. With generous portion sizes and dishes made for sharing, it may just be one of the best spots in Sydney for a celebratory but affordable birthday dinner with friends.
Don’t Tell Aunty, Surry Hills
You are destined to have a good time at Don’t Tell Aunty, the regional Indian restaurant that doesn’t play by the rule book. The food is exquisite, the atmosphere is fun, and you can BYO wine for $10 per bottle. Be sure to try the ‘Unauthentic Butter Chicken’ made without butter, ghee or oil but managing to cram in the lush flavour we know and love. For an extra boozy affair, be sure to check out their bottomless brunch from $79 per person, with the option to upgrade to bottomless margaritas for an extra $20 per person.
Emma’s Snack Bar, Enmore
Ideal for a pre-show feast before heading to Enmore Theatre down the road, Emma’s Snack Bar is a must-visit, BYO’ing or not. The casual eatery is highly rated, serving up delicious Lebanese dishes such as kebabs, shawarma and dips. You can BYO wine for $5 per person, and the dishes are reasonably priced, so you won’t break the bank.
Golden Lotus, Newtown
For a vegan feast to pair with your BYO drinks, Golden Lotus in Newtown is your spot. The Vietnamese neighbourhood eatery serves authentic dishes from Saigon, minus the meat and animal products. Wine corkage is just $3 per head, and beer corkage is $1.50 per head, making it the ideal spot for a midweek catchup or after work bite.
Frequently asked questions:
What is the best Italian restaurant in Sydney that does BYO?
Bar Reggio in Darlinghurst offers BYO wine, beer and spirits for just $2.50 per person. Other favourites include Vacanza in Surry Hills and Rossopomodoro in Balmain.
What is the best Thai BYO restaurant in Sydney?
Spice I Am in Surry Hills is perfect for a delicious and affordable BYO Thai meal, as well as Time for Thai in Newtown.