Ask anyone at Penn about the social scene, and you are bound to hear “BYO” at the top of the list. Like many other colleges and universities, Penn has its frat parties, its late nights, and its local bars, but the BYO is especially prominent, in that I would venture to guess that can singularly define nearly half of the social nightlife at Penn.
For those of you who are not familiar with a BYO, it’s a modified version of BYOB, “Bring Your Own Bottle.” Simply, instead of ordering alcohol off the menu at a restaurant, you bring your own. No carding, no hassle. As long as you keep it “classy” and buy dinner, you are free to enjoy your meal with whatever wine, beer, or (if you prefer) hard liquor that you brought. Sometimes restaurants charge a bottle fee, but it’s never that much. A range of restaurants, from mom and pop shops to classy sit downs, have adopted this trend, and this article is your guide on which hot spots to flock to.
1. Banana Leaf: 1009 Arch St, Chinatown
Pros: Ok with the more rowdy of crowds, good service. Tea Do is down the street for a midnight snack attack. A change from the traditional Italian BYOs.
Cons: Big crowds are fixed price menus, and sometimes they just give you a ton of rice (aka, the food is a hit or miss).
Tip: Order the Roti Canai as an appetizer. You won’t regret it.
2. La Viola: 253 S 16th St, Rittenhouse Square
Pros: Ok with the more rowdy of groups. Affordable with good food (reviews are hit and miss).
Cons: Cash only, a really popular BYO (so always loud), bad service (mixed review for service)
Tip: Bring a big group! It’s really loud, so you want to match your man power with whoever else is in the restaurant.
3. Pumpkin, 1713 South St, Rittenhouse Square
Pros: Great food, all positive reviews, part of restaurant week
Cons: Pretty expensive, cash only
Tips: Go for a special occasion or just to treat yourself
4. Modo Mio: 161 W Girard Ave
Pros: Great food, great service, great atmosphere.
Cons: Above the college budget (more of an indulgence dinner). More for the intimate BYO than the party/group BYO, you can still bring groups nonetheless though. Cash only.
Tip: Make reservations. This little gem fills up really fast.
5. Little Fish: 746 S 6th St, Bella Vista
Pros: Great food. Great Service. All the reviews are positive.
Cons: Above the college budget. Tasting menu.
Tip: Don’t take big groups here. As for you special someone, they’ll love you forever (unless they’re allergic to seafood).
Of course, this list isn’t extensive, and there are plenty of other fan favorites and undiscovered gems out there. Some others to try: Han Dynasty, Charles Plaza, Saigon (Group BYO, within the college budget). Have a fun-filled BYO! Just remember: you’re still in public and you’re still in someone’s restaurant, so keep it classy and respectful.