Sure, the L.A. dining scene is teeming with restaurants offering exceptional wines and craft beer from across the globe. But after adding libations to the bill, prices can soar into the stratosphere, turning an ordinary night out into a wallet-sapping affair. Luckily, there are a handful of eateries across our fine city that embrace the time-honored tradition of BYOB (that's bring your own beer for you neophytes). The practice extends to wine as well.
It's hardly practical and not always legal for restaurants to allow customers to bring their own. Here are 10 restaurants that have a BYOB-friendly permit — no corkage fee required.
10. It’s Pho
Anchoring a busy Hollywood shopping plaza at the corner of Yucca and Cahuenga, It’s Pho offers a fusion of Vietnamese and Thai flavors. Pair pad thai with Vietnamese hot wings. Or have pho alongside papaya pok pok — a salad of shredded fruit and green beans that’s equal parts spicy and sweet. It all goes great with a large, cheap bottle of Singha Thai Lager from the Yucca Market next door. 1821 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 380-7998; itspho.com.
9. A Food Affair
What would a French meal be without wine? This intimate outpost on the outskirts of Beverly Hills isn't about to let you answer that question. Waiving all corkage fees, it invites diners to create their own pairings. No Two-Buck Chuck can possibly stand up against this menu of beef bourguignon and duck leg confit. Bring the good stuff. 1515 S. Robertson Blvd., West L.A.; (310) 557-9795; afoodaffair.com.
8. Pinches Tacos
With its flamboyant pink facade and obnoxious fluorescent marquee, it’s easy to dismiss Pinches as a touristy gimmick. But overstuffed, grilled burritos with juicy carne asada on an outdoor patio is difficult to dis, particularly when paired with a six-pack of Coronas from the Liquor Locker across the street. 8200 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 650-0614; pinchestacos.com.
7. Las Islitas No. 1
Fresh seafood ceviche and cheap fish tacos are more than enough to gain followers in this town. Bring a six-pack and the friendly staff will even provide the ice bucket, free of charge. 5875 Hooper Ave., Florence; (323) 234-8007.
6. LA Hwaluh
On the outskirts of Koreatown is this no-frills kitchen with mostly Japanese fare. Although regulars rave about the uni rice bowl overflowing with fresh seaweed and sesame oil–laced urchin, diners can also go for traditional Korean seafood stews paired with soju, the latter easily procured from the handful of liquor stores within a one-block radius. 2707 W. Eighth St., Westlake; (213) 387-8589.
5. The Backyard at 4518
With its charming outdoor patio, the Backyard is well worth a visit to East Hollywood. It's not like they had to bribe you with complimentary BYOB, although that doesn't hurt. Occupying a large space, the restaurant is ideal for group gatherings. Thicker-crusted pizza and hearty servings of pasta and wood oven–baked chicken are built to share. Come prepared with a few bottles of vino. 4518 Hollywood Blvd., East Hollywood; (323) 644-9760.
4. Tofu and Noodles
This Koreatown BYOB offers dishes for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Reasonably priced stir-fried tofu, spicy seafood kalguksu and, of course, mounds of kimchi beg for a cold glass of soju. You won’t hear any objections from the kitchen staff. 3068 W. Eighth St., Koreatown; (213) 915-0256.
3. Hu’s Szechwan
Hu’s Szechwan delivers on the spicy promise of its namesake cuisine. Don’t expect anything fancy, just expect flavor — and a small bill. Plates top off at around $12 at dinner (even cheaper at lunch), and that six-pack of Tsingtao will keep a typical meal at less than $20 for food and drink. 10450 National Blvd., Palms; (310) 837-0252; husrestaurant.com.
With far too many authentic Thai specialties to name here, Prael stands out in a neighborhood renowned for ethnic authenticity. Word to the wise: Pork neck barbecue with chile dipping sauce was made to pair with a cold glass of Chang Classic lager, a popular Southeast Asian beer that can be found at any number of Thai Town’s abundant markets. 4620 Melrose Ave., East Hollywood; (323) 663-7122, praelthai.com.
If you can secure the invite, make sure to bring a bottle of something singularly unique to chef Craig Thornton's ultra-exclusive underground tasting in downtown L.A.. For a seat at the table at this donation-only, nine-course extravaganza, you'll first need to join a mailing list. After receiving notification of an upcoming dinner, you respond, promptly, with a short blurb defending your right to attend. Since it's technically not even a restaurant, diners are encouraged to arrive with their own booze in tow. Stepping into what many locals consider one of the city's best dining experiences, expect some dismissive scowls if you show up with low-brow booze. wolvesmouth.com.