If you’re a regular reader, you know I like to complain about the Manhattanization of our menu pricing here in Brooklyn. As the local restaurant scene continues to boom, it seems to become harder and harder to find an affordable meal. Plenty of great meals, yes, but with the new normal being checks that come out to $50 per person, we’re always looking for ways to cut corners, one of them being the borough’s few great BYOB restaurants. Especially at an upscale eatery, the ability to bring your own bottle can make the difference between a reasonable check and an outrageous one, which is the reason why these four spots will always be among my favorite standbys since they allow outside alcohol and don’t charge corkage fees for wine. Thanks to reader Cliff Fisch for requesting this story–ask and ye shall receive!
1. Kaz An Nou
The area around Barclays Center is adding generic, mediocre restaurants at a frenetic pace, but this is one that still feels like a secret neighborhood gem. The dark, French bistro atmosphere is paired with an inventive menu influenced by the Caribbean isle of Guadeloupe, where the chef and owner Sebastian Aubert hails from. Dishes like duck confit with mango jerk sauce and lime-poached tilapia over coconut rice are all $20 or less, so paired with your own bottle of wine, that’s about as cheap as you’re gonna get for cuisine this refined. Bonus: The airy back patio has just one long picnic table: a perfect private spot for a birthday dinner, especially since you can bring your own booze and avoid the whole “who had drinks, who didn’t” check-splitting fiasco.
Where to get your own booze: Grab a French wine from the large selection at no-frills Gary’s Wine and Liquor, 80 St. Mark’s Avenue (on Flatbush) or grab a six-pack at the bodega around the corner on Dean Street.
53 6th Ave. (near Dean Street), 718-938-3235
2. Umi Nom
Filipino-Thai chef King Phojanakong’s Asian small plates may seem a bit out of place along this otherwise downscale stretch of DeKalb in Clinton Hill, but he’s drawn a following for dishes like coconut-basil-green-curry salmon and pig’s ear/snout tacos. Umi Nom’s non-alcoholic drinks–mango nectar, guava juice, young coconut water–are tasty enough that you might not even need the booze, but a few cold beers can certainly pair well with the supremely spicy fare.
Where to get your own booze: Fill up a growler beforehand at Bed Stuy Beer Works, worth the short jaunt for very affordable pours of brews like Flying Dog Pumpkin Ale and Barrier Bulkhead Red.
433 Dekalb Ave. (near Classon Avenue), 718-789-8806
For my money, this Carroll Gardens mainstay is still one of Brooklyn’s best pizzerias–even if it almost certainly has the longest wait. But the hours-long experience of waiting for these thin-crust, blackened slices of heaven can be a little much for even the sturdiest pizza-lover. Their meaty pies pair so well with a bold Italian red that in the past Lucali has had to warn patrons not to bring too much wine.
Where to get your own booze: Old Brooklyn Wine & Liquor Company, four blocks away, is a great neighborhood wine shop. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of wait time to walk there and back.
575 Henry St. (near Carroll Street), 718-858-4086
4. Bistro Petit
This French-East Asian mashup in South Williasmburg is seriously committed to being BYOB (they perplexingly don’t even serve tap water), so you may want to bring a bottle of Poland Spring along with your pinot. However, the innovative fare makes up for any quirks, with stellar dishes like Korean beef bourguignon, kimchi bouillabaisse and fresh cinnamon beignets to finish.
Where to get your own booze: Challenge the knowledgeable sales folk at Nini’s Wine Cellar by asking for something that pairs well with kimchi and seafood.
774 Driggs Ave. (corner of S. 3rd Street), 718-782-2582