Uwishunu’s Guide To Philadelphia BYOBs — Next Up: University City

BYOBs are pretty unique to Philadelphia, enabling diners to bring along their own wine or beer to enjoy with dinner. (Photo by R. Kennedy for GPTMC)

This is the third in a series of posts that rounds up our top picks for “Bring Your Own Bottle” restaurants, or BYOBs, in Philadelphia, categorized by neighborhood.

Our BYOB guide gets even better with our next installment of BYOB restaurants in University City.

With Center City dominating the Italian BYOB scene, University City’s BYOBs tend to offer a wider variety of authentic ethnic cuisine along with a laid-back atmosphere and some great deals.

Note: Many BYOBs are cash-only. Some may charge a corkage fee. Also, don’t forget to give restaurants a heads up if you plan on going with a large group.

Check out our guide to popular University City BYOBs, below:

Ajia Restaurant & Sushi Bar: Located right in between Penn’s and Drexel’s campuses is Ajia. Bring your own bottle (or even a keg) and a group of friends and enjoy an entree or two. Or, the hungry souls can go for the all-you-can-eat sushi option.

Aksum: Check out Aksum Cafe for some modern Mediterranean fare. Located on Baltimore Avenue in West Philadelphia, the cafe is a nice walk from University City. Bonus: they also offer a plentiful hookah menu.

Beijing: For a BYOB that’s a stone’s throw away from Penn’s famous Quadrangle, check out Beijing. Serving fast and affordable Chinese cuisine, it’s the perfect spot for an on-campus meal. They also serve many different kinds of bubble tea, for those interested in a non-alcoholic alternative.

Desi Village: Desi Village on Baltimore Avenue is all about the spices. Serving both vegetarian and non-vegetarian Indian specialties, this West Philly spot makes for a great meal.

Ethio Cafe and Restaurant: Bring your own to this three-year-old Ethiopian spot on 45th and Chestnut Streets.

Gold Standard Cafe: You can’t miss Gold Standard Cafe while walking down Baltimore Avenue. With both indoor and outdoor seating, this cafe serves great cafe bites and coffee and is also a BYOB.

Honest Tom’s Taco Shop: Once a food truck and now settled into its West Philly brick-and-mortar location, Honest Tom’s Taco Shop serves their famous, well, tacos as well as nachos and burritos. Bonus: you can pick up any BYOB needs right around the corner at The Bottle Shop at Local 44.

Kabobeesh: This authentic Indian barbecue joint fires up its grills for a mean lamb chop and chicken karahi. The BYOB option at Kabobeesh is just a perk.

Kaffa Crossing: The family-owned Kaffa Crossing in West Philly believes in fair trade and bringing visitors a taste of unique Ethiopian flavors. There are plenty of vegetarian options available at this charming cafe as well.

Kilimandjaro You’re invited to bring your own bottles of wine to pair with Kilimandjaro’s African cuisine

Koreana: For quick and affordable traditional Korean dishes, stop by Koreana in University City. The laid-back atmosphere is a great place to take a study break or have some favorites like the bi bim bap.

Lemon Grass: Contributing to the range of delicious ethnic BYOBs in University City, Lemon Grass on Lancaster Avenue specializes in tasty Thai, with lunch available during the week as well.

Marigold Kitchen: Nestled on a quiet, tree-lined block of Victorian houses in the Spruce Hill section of University City, this innovative American BYOB delivers every time.

Mizu: This little sushi joint on 40th Street, Mizu, is a BYOB with great specialty rolls and specials. Try the Smart Roll for the most bang for your buck.

Read on for more of our University City picks.

Nan: For an interesting fusion of cuisines, try Nan on 40th Street for Thai-French food. You’ll see escargot and Pad Thai alongside each other on this unique menu but it’s guaranteed to be delicious.

Pho and Cafe Saigon: Another great quick stop for a BYOB and authentic Vietnamese food is Pho and Cafe Saigon. You’ll be surprised at the service; a piping hot bowl of pho will be sitting in front of you before you even finish your first glass of wine.

Il Rimedio: Opened at the former location of Rx, Il Rimedio adds a modern flair to Italian cooking. Bring a great wine pairing and enjoy the seasonal Northern Italian menu.

Sitar Indian Cuisine: Check out Sitar Indian Cuisine on 38th Street for a deliciously spiced meal. There’s an all-you-can-eat buffet option with bottomless cups of mango juice. Yes, please!

Tampopo: Asian fusion gets a quick (and awesome) spin at order-at-the-counter spot in West Philly. Bring a wine, beer or whatever you please to help you wash down Tampopo’s delicious bi bim bap or the large bento boxes. Bonus: it’s also, like Honest Tom’s above, down the street from The Bottle Shop at Local 44.

Vientiane: Baltimore Avenue becomes a hub for delicious Laotian and Thai cuisine with Vientiane. Bring some wine and friends for a laid-back dinner and casual dinner.

What are your favorite BYOB spots? Let us know in the comments.

PreviouslyUwishunu’s Guide To Philadelphia BYOBs — First Up: Center City West Of Broad Street Edition

Uwishunu’s Guide To Philadelphia BYOBs — Next Up: Center City East Of Broad Street Edition


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  1. Yoi guys forgot Won’s on 40th between Locust and Walnut. Arguably much better Chinese food than Bejing, it’s never crowded, and the staff could not be friendlier!

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