BYO Lunch Spots to Hit With Your Colleagues When the Boss Isn't Paying

Celebrate making it through another week with your team — and an excellent bottle of wine or beer — at these wallet-friendly eateries.
Jordan Kretchmer
Published on February 28, 2020

BYO Lunch Spots to Hit With Your Colleagues When the Boss Isn't Paying

Celebrate making it through another week with your team — and an excellent bottle of wine or beer — at these wallet-friendly eateries.

It's the end of the week, and you're ready to send it off with a lush lunch with your workmates. A dilemma arises — some members of the team are flush with cash while others are struggling to make it to payday. And, unless it's a special occasion, chances are your boss's company card won't be making an appearance.

There is a solution: hit a friendly (and affordable) spot that caters to groups and is BYO. We've done the hard work for you and found a bunch of dining options that let you bring your own beverages. That way you and your colleagues can concentrate on choosing a vino or six-pack to suit all budgets, and take solace in the fact that when the bill hits the table, the damage won't too bad.

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    Sea Bay Restaurant

    This simple-yet-delicious Chinese diner in the depths of the CBD has long been a reliable lunch spot for groups. The city location means it’s easy to get to, and the sprawling menu of dumplings, stir fries and hand-pulled noodle dishes means there is likely to be something each one of your colleagues will like. It’s worth noting this is a busy lunch spot, so try to call ahead or book online before you check it out. Both BWS Haymarket and Darlinghurst are just short walks away from Sea Bay, so plan a stop off on your way here to grab a nice dry, fresh white to go with your soy and spice-laden dumplings.

    Need some inspiration? Pick up a bottle of The Magic Box Chardonnay.

    Image: Trent van der Jagt

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    Metre-long wood-fired pizza should be all the explanation you need as to why you should visit Via Napoli. But then there are also the ever-friendly, enthusiastic servers (most of whom are Italian), the delicious ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers, the flashy, gold-tiled pizza ovens and meatballs drenched in ragu.

    But back to that one-metre pizza — the edible promenade enables you to select three different pizza types — think classic Diavola with fior di latte, hot salami and olives or the Chiara with burrata, prosciutto and truffle oil — before it’s baked in the roaring hot woodfired oven. It’ll land on your table with a molten centre and blackened, blistered bready edges. Of course, pizza tastes even better when you have a good wine to go with it — and, thankfully, you can BYO here with a $10 corkage fee.

    Pick up a bottle of Torresella Pinot Grigio Rosé.

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    This Haymarket bolthole specialises in its namesake dish: slow-cooked hot bowls of Lanzhou-style handmade noodles served with beef, chilli and veggies. Alongside bowls of hearty, meaty noodles, Mr Chen also does plenty of Chinese staples including mapo tofu, sweet and sour pork and tom yum fried rice. The show-stopping deal here though is the dumplings — visit during ‘dumpling happy hour’ for a serious steal, with 30-cent dumplings available every single day from 5–10pm (a worthy excuse to shift the team lunch to dinner instead, we think you’ll agree). You can choose from pork and chive, pork and cabbage, pork and prawn and a vegetarian option. So round up your workmates, grab some drinks en route (it’s free BYO) and make a night of it.

    Pick up a six-pack of Atomic Beer Project Pale Ale.


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    Whether it’s the entrancing hand dance from chefs rolling out huge puffy balls of roti dough, visible from the window, or the scent of slow-cooked chicken curry that lures you in, Mamak is a Sydney staple worth seeking out. The Haymarket Malaysian restaurant regularly has snaking queues out the front, thanks to its signature dishes, like folds of buttery-soft roti; meaty skewers of satay slathered in rich peanut sauce; and nasi lemak, replete with coconut rice, spicy sambal, peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber and boiled egg. The other reason Mamak is so popular? It’s cheap, cheap, cheap. The legendary roti canai, which is served with two curry dips and sambal, will set you back just $8. Hot tip: get a mate to wait in line while you pop down to BWS Haymarket to buy some beverages, as Mamak allows BYO and charges just $3 corkage per person.

    Pick up a six-pack of Wayward Brewing Co Pilsner.

    Image: Alana Dimou.

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    Steaming towers of dumpling baskets are the perfect sharing option, making Din Tai Fung a great place to round up your colleagues for an easy-going lunch. Whether you’re a xiao long bao fan or a pan-fried seafood pot sticker fiend, there are nine different dumpling options to please everyone, alongside ten different fried rice dishes and a whopping 32 different noodle options. The number of dishes to choose from is half of what makes Din Tai Fung so great (even if you don’t often stray far from the famed 18-fold dumplings). The other half is that it’s BYO wine and beer at $10 or $2.50 per bottle respectively, so you can farewell the working week in style.

    Pick up a six-pack of Stone & Wood Pacific Ale.

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    This family-owned corner restaurant has been dishing out pizzas and pastas to Sydneysiders for 28 years. The menu is made up of Australian-inflected Italian plates, which are both nostalgic and tasty, like the Palmer Street pizza topped with pineapple, pepperoni, onion, chilli and mushrooms; king prawn linguine with oodles of chilli and garlic; or crumbed lamb cutlets with rosemary sauce. Meat and seafood underpin much of the menu here, whether it’s veal scallopini served in eight different styles or a big bowl of chilli mussels. And, not only is it all super affordable, but all pizzas and pastas come in at $20 or under — and you can BYO beer and wine. Plus, if your work crew consists of ten or more people, jump on one of the set menus (for $34 or $42pp), which includes garlic bread, bruschetta, salads and a mixed selection of pizza and pasta.

    Pick up a bottle of Noble Fellows Pinot Gris.

    Image: Letícia Almeida.

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    This Parramatta staple has been dishing out bowls of noodle soup since 1992. Along with its signature beef pho, you’ll find other Vietnamese favourites including bún bò huê (pho’s spicier cousin) and bún thįt nuóng, a cold rice vermicelli noodle bowl topped with grilled pork, fresh perilla leaves, basil, mint and pickled salad. Any of these dishes will go down with a crisp, dry rosé or chilled red wine, so make sure you make the most of Pho Pasteur’s BYO option. The Parra hot spot is also a great inclusive lunch spot, making it easy for your colleagues with varying dietary preferences, with gluten-free noodle bowls and vegan rice paper rolls on offer.

    Pick up a bottle of Rambling Roses Pinot Noir.

    Image: Kitti Gould.

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Top image: Letícia Almeida.

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