London’s Best BYOB Restaurants
Just Opened London’s ‘Best Of’ series covers a combination of recently opened venues and established London favourites, to make sure you get the full lowdown on where to spend your time and hard-earned cash.
London’s BYOB restaurants can be a minefield. Some of them are catch-all curry houses for the classic Lads’ Night Out. Some of them are a little special. They’re especially worth a visit after Christmas, when someone in your party is inevitably off the sauce and none of you can afford a decent bottle between you because January payday is nowhere near. Fancy bottle from your own personal wine cellar or a cheap one you grabbed from the offy? When the food is this good, we’re not judging. Here are our favourite BYOB restaurants in London.
Food by Feast
You might well recognise the name Livvy Potts. She’s baker of some of London’s best doughnuts. She’s also one half of Food by Feast (the other half is food writer Kate Young). Together they started the excellent TV Dinners supperclub, theming meals around our favourite TV shows. They began with Friends and The West Wing, and last month there was a Hamilton night. This year they’re continuing the theme and starting a new series soon – Four Seasons – with feasts that showcase seasonal British produce. You get a cocktail on arrival but the booze for the rest of the night is down to you.
Food by Feast, secret location in East London
It’s hard to avoid listing Tayyabs on every Best Of list in London. You’ve all stood in the queue, willing people to finish their dinner. Dry meat, lamb chops; you know the delicious, will-queue-for-hours drill. It’s BYOB and all the better for it. Cheap beer and ordering way too much food is very much the ticket here. If you can’t bear the long queue, nearby Needoo Grill and Lahore Kebab House are both BYOB too.
Tayyabs, 83–89 Fieldgate Street, E1 1JU
There’s an odd moment at the weekends when Brixton Village Market switches shifts. Everything closes for an hour, everyone vanishes, and then at 6pm it all reopens. This switchover is the best time to visit Kosarn. It’s the only time you won’t have to queue for their delicious and fiery Thai food. It’s cheap, it’s no frills (seriously, not a single one), and it’s delicious. As you’ve probably guessed, there’s no corkage fee.
KaoSarn, Brixton Village Market, 96 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8PR
Monday night isn’t so popular for a fancy dinner out but we say that excellent steak is a good idea any night of the week. That’s why after a rubbish Monday at work you should book a table at Hawksmoor and making the most of the £5 corkage fee at all of their restaurants. Smaller sister restaurant chain Foxlow offer the same Monday deals, so take your pick.
Hawksmoor, various London locations. The newest is their Borough Market branch at 16 Winchester Walk, SE1 9AQ
Hix Oyster and Chop House
Having a particularly terrible Monday? We’re pretty sure that can be solved with wine and oysters. Hix follows the Hawksmoor plan to make your Mondays better and there’s no corkage fee at all on bottles of wine. Sneak off to the loo in your dreary meeting and book a table for immediately after work.
Hix Oyster and Chop House, 36–37 Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BN
Mangal 1 (and Mangal 2)
The Mangals are confusing. Mangal 1 is BYOB, and they’ve very much put their stamp on it with an assortment of cheap and perfectly grilled meats. However, Mangal 2 (around the corner) is a fully licensed restaurant, and the two are not linked in any way. The restaurants are a little competitive and people often mix the two up and then get annoyed that Mangal 2 isn’t happy with them bringing their booze in. No one wins here, so Mangal 2 have met their customers in the middle. If you order a starter and a main you can BYOB. Don’t bring your own Coke to mix with your vodka, though. They sell that.
Mangal 1, 10 Arcola Street, E8 2DJ
Mangal 2, 4 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BH
Little Georgia Hackney
We’ve sung the praises of Little Georgia in our Islington guide, but it’s a fully-licensed restaurant. However, the original Hackney branch is BYOB and there’s no corkage fee. If you need us, we’ll very likely be in there eating all of the cheesy bread and drinking a bottle of Baileys that we found behind the back of the Christmas tree.
Little Georgia, 87 Goldsmiths Row, E2 8QR
Italian food doesn’t often get a look-in when it comes to BYOB, but Fulham’s Pappa Ciccia is the exception to the bag-of-clanking-bottles rule. They charge £4.50 per person rather than per bottle, but only if you book in advance and for tables of up to eight. Wine and beers only, too, so no Flaming Sambucas with your pizza, guys. Sorry.
Pappa Ciccia, 105 Munster Road, SW6 5RQ
If you’re with a group of friends, the BYOC concept works surprisingly well. It’s not a cheap night out: you pay £30 per person for a two hour slot and you supply the booze. Depending on how quickly you drink, they’ll aim to serve your table five cocktails (you all drink the same). If you’ve found yourself with a large supply of gin or vodka, pay them a visit. Do bear in mind that you can’t take an open bottle so if you’re going on elsewhere you could be left with half a bottle of gin in your bag. Under no circumstances should you take that weird bottle of spirit you bought back from your holiday in Tenerife five years ago. It almost certainly tastes like battery acid.
BYOC, 11–13 Camden High Street, NW1 7JE; 19 Bevis Marks, EC3A 7JA
Featured image: Hawksmoor