The Reckoner!

BYOBs. Better than regular restaurants?

I live in Philadelphia.  Philadelphia loves food.  Philadelphia is great at food.  

Yes, everyone is familiar with the cheap food in Philadelphia's wheelhouse -- the cheesesteaks, the pulled pork, the hoagies, the Italian sausage.  We kick ass with things on a roll in this town.  But this town also does fine dining, and it does it extraordinarily well.  With elan, dare I say.  Mercato.  Le Virtu.  Distrito.  Osteria.  Melograno.  And best of all, thanks to the absurd, Quaker-choked liquor laws of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is rife with the magic of the BYOB.

That's Bring Your Own Booze!  You stop at the state store, you buy whatever wine strikes your fancy (or at least the one with the most tasteful label), and you bring everything you need.

At this point, I think I'm actually disappointed when a restaurant actually has a liquor license.  That means that instead of buying a bottle of wine from a massive selection for $11, you'll be paying $18 for two glasses of wine off of a small list.  I realize that restaurants with liquor licenses tend to make most of their money off of the booze, but I'd just as soon have every restaurant be BYOB, because I'm a tightwad and because BYOBs have nothing to offer you besides food, so the food tends to be great.

What about you, fair Reckonaut?  Do you actually prefer a restaurant to be BYOB as opposed to having a standard liquor license?  Or does not having a selection of liquor on the menu kill your buzz?

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Reckoning Comments!

In California, I found myself astonished to walk into a diner and find a liquor license.  A diner!  With a liquor license!

In Virginia, I walk into a convenience store and wham!  There's beer!  Right here!  In the Wawa!

This is what a Pennsylvania upbringing does to you.  Alcohol actually being available in places that aren't special alcohol-buying-places with their arcane customs and protocols leaves you gobsmacked.

Here in Louisiana, the land of drive-thru daiquiris and open container laws, it never occurred to me that there might be fine dining establishments without liquor licenses.  That sounds like absolute heaven.  I long ago discovered that I could afford to eat almost anywhere on a fairly regular basis if I resisted the siren call of the specialty cocktail menu.  I have failed miserably in this effort.

Gosh that's a really tough call.  On the one hand, you certainly save money bringing your own wine.  But, on the other hand, it's great when a really good sommelier is able to match up your meal with the perfect bottle (or at least something better than the cheap bottle of Bob Mondavi's finest you probably were going to bring along). 

Since I know what the restaurant actually pays for the wine, it drives me nuts to pay their mark up. I love BYOB.

If fact all non bar restaurants should offer BYOB, the only thing they need is a small added amount to their insurance policy. Very cheap.

Since restaurants make most of their money on the liquor, they have to have great culinary offerings if they do not. I'm pro BYOB. I get to have a decent wine since I chose it, and awesome food to enjoy.It's a win-win for both establishment and patron.

Agree with Kathy 100% on this question. A BYOB is making its profit solely on the quality of it culinary skills. It has got to offer good food, or its out of business.. Will opt for the BYOB everytime. Hence, when we eat in Philadelphia, we love La Viola. Wonderful food, and we can enjoy our glass or two of wine without feeling ripped off since it is a BYOB.

Even a lot of places with a license will often let you bring something and pay the cork fee.  I prefer to be able to bring a good wine.

The Reckoner!