New York BYOB Guide

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The cost of dining in NYC is difficult to rationalize. There are few “deals” to be had on the food, as shown by the paucity of restaurant week options and still fewer for dinner or on busy days of the week. One place diners can find reprieve is in restaurants that provide corkage options or BYOB. 

For a restaurant whose wine list is not curated, it is almost always better bringing a bottle. For the average fancy restaurant, a $50 corkage is median. Even at that viscerally high corkage fee, corkage will likely provide for a better quality wine when the wine is purchased at normal retail prices. 

The exceptions are restaurants that have spectacular and curated wine lists which a forthcoming article will certainly highlight. The exceptions to this rule are victims of their own success and will not be included in this list. 

For this list, we find extremely satisfying restaurants that offer corkage at rock bottom prices for restaurants in their category. Most of them charge next to nothing at all. Corkage prices are expected to increase as restaurants become more popular, fancier, move closer to city centre, become less Asian, and as the day of the week becomes busier. So for the two Chinese restaurants we recommend, we had many to choose from. Sushi restaurants also often good corkage policies, but Tanoshi is special because it is serious Omakase. 

For corkage above $20, we included three of NYC’s best restaurants that incidentally also have great wine lists: Upland, St Anselm and Gramercy Tavern. These restaurants’ superb corkage policies are hindered only by the fact that you can drink very well under $100 from the list. We also included Bohemian, where the food is amazing but we would recommend bringing wine yourself since the list is quite short (apparently they don’t have enough space to store it).

On the other side of the spectrum, no way should you pay $150 at L’Atelier  de Joël Robuchon (the highest price tag we’re aware of other than Per Se also at $150), where they have 1990’s Napa for less than $100. For some restaurants like Contra ($55), Estela (60), Momofuku Ko (60), the wine list is such a big deal that I can’t really imagine using corkage.

Finally, here’s a list of restaurants where I like the food and would probably use the corkage policy to supplement the wine list:

  • Ippudo NY ($20)

  • Ivan Ramen (20)

  • Juliana’s (25)

  • Marta (25) - but probably not because the wine list here is great though limited to Italian and Champagne

  • L’Artusi (40)

  • Tori Shin (40)

  • King (45) - the wine list here is good and mark up is not high but fairly short, changes frequently, and isn’t online

  • Jungsik (50)

  • Marea (65)

  • Nakazawa (75)

  • Carbone (85) - I love this restaurant; the wines are not cheap