BYOB Dos and Don’ts

Tips for the discerning diner.

I love to eat out. But I’m no foodie. So thank goodness I have the well-informed folks at the Town Dish to keep me filled in on all the latest culinary news and gossip. That way, I can at least pretend to know what I’m talking about.

I have no doubt that Town Dish president Mary Bigham and editor-in-chief Amy Strauss know what they’re talking about, especially when it comes to the area’s unprecedented surplus of excellent BYOBs. It’s why we turned over our dining coverage to the Dish more than two years ago. And it’s why they’re again in charge of what’s become a signature cover story. 

This time around, we kept it simple, naming the “50 Best BYOBs” in the area (page 52). No rankings—just our favorites in alphabetical order. 

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If one of your top spots didn’t make the cut, I want to hear about it. Depending on the response I get, a readers’ choice section could be a real possibility in a subsequent issue. And to further enhance the BYOB experience, I asked Bigham and Strauss to compile a list of dos and don’ts. Some of them may strike you as fairly obvious, others maybe not so much. A glass for the chef? You bet.

Do: Plan ahead. Check with the restaurant about its BYOB policies and corkage fees. Consider the cuisine when picking the right bottle to complement your meal.

Do: Tip for bottle service. Corkage fees go to the house, so remember to tip your server for bottle service (15 percent minimum).

Do: Shop local. Support area wineries, breweries and distilleries by stocking up on your favorites for your next BYOB experience.

Do: Offer a taste to your server-. You might even want to send a glass to the chef to acknowledge his or her efforts.

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Do: Designate a driver. Never drink and drive.

Don’t: Complain about corkage fees. Typically, they range from $2 to $5 per person, or $10 to $25 a bottle. This fee covers opening bottles, providing mixers and glassware, and chilling.

Don’t: Always expect a high-end experience. Mix it up. Take along tequila to your favorite Mexican joint, or fill a growler, and pair it with pizza. 

Don’t: Underestimate your thirst. If you’re enjoying a multicourse dinner, be sure to cart an adequate amount of imbibables. Don’t, however, confuse a BYOB with a bar and camp out all night.

Don’t: Assume you can’t BYOB. Some high-end restaurants with a liquor license offer a BYOB night. If you partake, bring a special bottle that’s not on the wine list.   

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Don’t: Have an open container. Put a lid on it.

Happy toting.



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