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Cocktail Culture

GoNOLA Top 5: New Orleans Restaurants to BYOB

Some diners choose restaurants based on their wine, beer, or cocktail lists and others pick the ones with the best corkage deals – like these New Orleans restaurants to BYOB.

It’s no secret that in New Orleans, we happen to enjoy a good libation – especially alongside a good meal. But there are times when the two do not go hand-in-hand, and sometimes, especially for your wallet, that can be a good thing. Sure, it’s great to have hand-crafted cocktails delivered to your table, or a list of fine wines to choose from upon your arrival, but there’s also something really fun about bringing a bottle of wine (or a six-pack of beer) of your own choosing along with you.

For those of us watching our spending, BYOB can really keep costs down. And for the true wine or beer aficionado, it allows for complete creative control of exactly what varietal, vintage or type of brew to sip on during dinner. Plus it’s fun to mix and match everyone’s different selections. And while some restaurants do have corkage fees, chances are you can still get out of there for less than you would if you were bound to a wine list.

1. Magasin

Everything about Magasin is cool. The crowd is young and undeniably hip, the space itself is airy and modern, and most importantly, the food is outstanding (and cheap!). It’s won the rave reviews of newcomers and long time lovers of Vietnamese cuisine, both of whom flock to the café in droves for everything from pho to banh mi, all of which comes in so many varieties that there truly is something for everyone. Be prepared for a wait, but know that the line does usually move pretty quickly. Added bonus? On really beautiful nights, the dining room spills into a back patio – perfect for sitting back and sippin’ that wine you grabbed along the way. Magasin is located at 4201 Magazine St. and can be reached at 504-896-7611.

Corkage Fee: NONE!

Nearest Place to Grab a Bottle: Breaux Mart (3233 Magazine St.) or Martin’s Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., open until 7 p.m.)

2. EAT

Nestled back in a quieter corner of the Quarter, EAT is as delicious as it is darling. Their menu features a nice selection of local New Orleans favorites, including barbecue shrimp, red beans and gumbo. It’s bright and cheerful, with huge windows for people watching. It’s also a personal favorite brunch spot – you bring the Champagne, and they’ll provide the orange juice for mimosas. EAT is located at 900 Dumaine St. and can be reached at 504-522-7222.

Corkage Fee: Free for the first bottle or six pack and $15 for each additional bottle/six pack after that.

Nearest Place to Grab a Bottle: Rouses Market, 701 Royal Street.

3. Baru Bistro and Tapas

This Uptown tapas spot is as perfect for a night out with the girls as it is for a quiet, romantic dinner date. With its bright colors and warm lighting, it feels like you’ve wandered into the perfect mixture of Caribbean Island meets NOLA funk. Their ceviche is to die for, as is the guacabello, but my absolute favorite are the ostras – plump Gulf oysters, battered in cornmeal and fried, served with caramelized onions and aioli. Baru is located at 3700 Magazine St. and can be reached at 504-895-2225.

Corkage Fee: $8 per bottle

Nearest Place to Grab a Bottle: Breaux Mart (3233 Magazine St.) or Martin’s Wine Cellar (3500 Magazine St., open until 7 p.m.)

4. Lola’s

When New Orleanians are craving paella, there’s only one place that can truly hit the spot – Lola’s. Lola’s sits along a particularly lively stretch of Esplanade Avenue in Mid-City, and the restaurant exudes all the warmth and groove of the neighborhood it’s nestled in. Each meal begins with bread and their house-made garlic butter – which is as addictive as it is, well, garlicy – but in a very good way. The paella comes in various sizes – perfect for sharing. They also do offer their own wine and beer list, plus sangria, but they are more than happy to accommodate BYOB – so don’t be shy! Lola’s is located at 3312 Esplanade Ave. and can be reached at 504-488-6946.

Corkage Fee: $5 for a regular bottle, $7 for a large bottle and $0.50 per bottle of beer

Nearest Place to Grab a Bottle: Swirl Wines – 3143 Ponce de Leon St., 504-304-0635 (open ‘til around 8 p.m. most days, but that can vary. Call ahead to double check!)

5. Lebanon’s Café

Hands down one of my favorite spots for Middle Eastern cuisine – and it’s conveniently located along the streetcar line (just take the St. Charles line all the way up to Carrollton Avenue and Jeanette Street). It’s super casual, but truly delicious. I swear I have dreams about the sautéed vegetable plate – which features a medley of sautéed veggies covered in feta and mozzarella cheese, then finished off in the oven for a melty, cheesy masterpiece so delectable that even your most devout meat-eater would shun his gyro for. Lebanon’s is located at 1500 S. Carrollton and can be reached at 504-862-6200.

Corkage Fee: NONE!

Nearest Place to Grab a Bottle: This one is a little trickier – there’s no liquor or grocery store super close. I would suggest grabbing a bottle closer to where your launch pad is.

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