The Best BYO Restaurants in Sydney
Skip the mark-ups and BYO to these excellent Sydney establishments.
Do you enjoy a glass of wine with your dinner but find the mark-up a little hard to swallow? Perhaps you've been saving a special bottle in your cellar (okay, laundry)? Or maybe you just have an appetite for good value. Either way, who doesn't love a bit of bring-your-own? Here are Sydney's best restaurants to come armed with a bottle.
LA FAVOLA, NEWTOWN
Whether you like to play it safe with spaghetti or go crazy with casarecce, you'll find all your favourite pastas — and BYO — at new Italian diner La Favola. Located on upper King Street in Newtown, La Favola has taken over the space previously occupied by stoner-food cafe D'Munchies. Unlike your traditional flag-bearing trattorias, there are no red-checked tablecloths or baskets of breadsticks. Instead, La Favola has opted for a clean and contemporary fit-out with a simple menu: six pastas and six sauces that patrons can mix and match as they please. It's so simple that it doesn't even have a booze menu, so you're free to BYO wine. We suggest grabbing a pet-nat from P&V down the road.
CHAT THAI, HAYMARKET
Chat Thai is one of Sydney's worst kept secrets. Join the inevitable queue for sizzling satays, coconut curries and zesty salads, which hail from the steamy streets of Bangkok. With 26 syrupy and sticky sweets on the menu, there's no excuse for skipping desserts. We recommend the flash-fried dough sticks smothered in pandan custard ($6.90) and the young coconut ice-cream with sticky rice, candied palm seeds and roasted peanuts ($6.90). All five Chat Thai branches are BYO, as well as their offshoots Boon Cafe, Assamm and Samosorn.
BYO wine only — corkage $3 per person.
TWO CHAPS, MARRICKVILLE
Strolling through Marrickville, passers-by may take time to ponder the potential of what could be behind the heavy roller doors lining the quiet streets. But in the garage at 122 Chapel Street lies Two Chaps, a small cafe run primarily by two guys. While it operates as a cafe during the day, on Thursday and Friday nights the eatery stays open for their much loved vegetarian dinner. You can do the set menu for $55 a head or order a la carte — corkage is $4 per person, but if you go the set menu it's free.
BYO wine — corkage $4 or free with set menu.
IL BARETTO, SURRY HILLS
There was a time when Italian eateries punctuated much of the dining options around Sydney inner-east suburbs. Only a few notable mentions remain, with many replaced over time by the diverse offering we enjoy today. Serving up nonna's favourites since 1999, Il Baretto is in no hurry to go anywhere.
A few things come at a premium at this Italian restaurant. Space, for starters. With a densely packed dining area and handwritten menus, the restaurant has a very rustic, authentic feel. The next premium is the food. The menu has no big surprises for an Italian spot, but everything is produced perfectly. If you're with a group, at least one of you should go for the signature main dish — pappardelle with duck ragu — but there are plenty of other traditional options including porcini mushroom risotto and homemade gnocchi with pesto. One thing that doesn't come at a premium? The price. Pasta mains average out at $20. And it's of course BYO.
BYO wine — corkage $3 per person.
GOLDEN LOTUS, NEWTOWN
Fresh, nutritious food is the game at Golden Lotus, cementing it as one of the best vegan venues in the inner-west. David Nguyen's Vietnamese eatery promises the authentic flavours of Saigon without any animal products. Beyond tofu, there is a few soy meat options available across the menu of family recipes. The stir fries, dumplings and noodle soups are all fragrant and filling. And it's BYO — which is something everyone can get on board with, vegan or not vegan.
DIN TAI FUNG, CBD
Welcome to dumpling heaven. Taipei-based global chain Din Tai Fung is famous for their silky-skinned and hot-bellied xiao long bao ($10.80) as well as their shao mai parcels ($10.80) and colourful dumpling gems ($15.80). Din Tai Fung pride themselves on their strict quality control, with each disc of pastry measuring exactly 6cm, with an acceptable total weight of 4.8 – 5.2 grams. Beer and dumplings have been friends since time immemorial, so lucky it's only $2.50 per BYO bottle.
BYO wine and beer — corkage $10 per wine bottle, $2.50 per beer bottle.
Serving exceptional Malaysian hawker food, Mamak is famous for its feather-light, flaky roti canai, which is theatrically folded and flipped out front to the delight of onlookers. Use your roti to mop up tangy fish curry with okra ($17) and spicy samba tiger prawns ($19), or wrap it around charcoal satay ($9) and Malaysian-style fried chicken ($14). You can even order sweet roti ($8) filled with sliced banana or pandan and coconut, topped with ice-cream. Try a clean-finishing craft brew like James Squire Fifty Lashes, which will complement the fiery, feisty flavours.
BYO wine and beer — corkage $2 per person.
KEPOS STREET KITCHEN, REDFERN
We're not advocating a bottle of burgundy with breakfast (well, maybe on a weekend) but there's nothing stopping you from making a toast with your toast at this all-day cafe. Kepos Street Kitchen is a charming corner cafe in Redfern that boasts a Middle Eastern-inspired menu. Here you can feast upon Tel Aviv falafel with green tahini ($14) and duck bastilla cigars, nuts, cinnamon, kharoub molasses ($16), and who can honestly say no to salted caramel churros ($15)?
BYO wine only — corkage $8 per person.
THE SULTAN'S TABLE, ENMORE
This Turkish delight in Enmore serves mezze fit for a king. Come for the delicious suckling lamb ($20), sizzling adana kebab grilled over charcoal ($14) and authentic wood-fired pide. Start the meal with an assortment of dips in a rainbow of flavours ($22), which includes parsley, jajik (garlic), chilli, beetroot, carrot, spinach, humous and baba ganoush, accompanied by a slab of oven-baked Turkish bread. Finish with a strong, aromatic Turkish coffee and a syrupy baklava ($3) or head next door for arguably the world's best gelato at Cow and Moon.
BYO wine and beer — free corkage!
NEW SHANGHAI, CHATSWOOD
New Shanghai's pan-fried pork buns have attained a certain level of notoriety in Sydney. These puffy dumplings with lovely burnished bottoms are served alongside Shanghai classics including braised garlic eggplant ($15.80), drunken chicken ($8.80) and shallot pancake ($6.80), which make a good match for a bottle of crisp, dry white. The dark woods, deep reds and warm lighting will have you back in 1930s Shanghai, while at the front window, dumplings are handmade with mesmerising precision and speed.
BYO wine only — corkage $3 per person.
HELLO AUNTIE, MARRICKVILLE
If you're a Marrickville local, you might know Auntie. She has a small shopfront on Illawarra Road and, should you come across it, it's well worth heading inside to say hello. Prime time to do this is on Wednesday nights when the restaurant adopts a BYO wine policy. Head here for a cheap mid-week eat to try their pho dac biet ($15.50): a large bowl filled to the brim with house-made wagyu meatballs, thinly-sliced black Angus beef, braised brisket, a torched beef short rib and rice noodles swimming in broth. Do it.
BYO wine Wednesday nights only — $3 corkage per person.
CHIOSCO BY ORMEGGIO, MOSMAN
Located side-by-side on a Mosman jetty, Chiosco is mere metres from the water's edge, with spectacular 300-degree views of luxury yachts and sparkling sea. While parent restaurant Ormeggio is a fine-dining affair, Chiosco (which is Italian for 'kiosk') has adopted a casual approach, serving Italian street food and takeaway with a 'barefoot and BYO' ethos. With cheaper prices and executive chef Alessandro Pavoni at the helm, it's a good excuse to go a little overboard. Bring a bottle of champagne or a six-pack of golden ales with you.
BYO wine only — $12 corkage per bottle.
This stalwart of Sydney's luxury dining scene marries the Japanese philosophy of natural, seasonal flavours with French culinary expertise. The ten-course degustation has been updated with new offerings, including the grilled shio koji toothfish with pea and green garlic; however, the one dish that never changes is the impeccable confit of petuna ocean trout, which is renowned the world over. Not exactly the most budget-conscious evening out, but with matching wines rounding out at $110 per person, you may save yourself a few extra dollars.
BYO wine only — corkage $30 for the first bottle, $45 each bottle after.
CHACO BAR, DARLINGHURST
Yakitori and BYO — is there really anything else we need to say? How about ramen? Yep, all three of these very great concepts come together at Darlinghurst's Chaco Bar. If you could eat things on sticks all day (and couldn't we all), you might want to bring your own bottle of wine. The corkage is steep at $15 per bottle, but it's worth it for this ramen (which is only served on Monday nights and for lunch Wednesday to Saturday).
BYO wine only — $15 corkage per bottle.
By Erina Starkey and the Concrete Playground team.
Published on March 21, 2016 by Erina Starkey