The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 BYOBs

Keep Houston Press Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

This is the second week in a row that I've [inadvertently] reviewed a terrific restaurant that also happens to encourage BYOB. Banana Leaf -- the subject of last week's cafe review -- offers Malaysian and Singaporean food with a fantastic $0 corkage fee. And Lucio's BYOB -- the subject of this week's cafe review -- is so encouraging of your party bringing their own bottles of wine that "BYOB" is in the very name of the restaurant.

Spoiler alert time: After I visited Lucio's three times, it's rocketed to the top of my personal list of favorite BYOB establishments in town, for reasons which are expounded upon below. But there are also plenty of other great spots around town for you to post up with a few bottles of wine or a six-pack of beer -- especially great for those nights when you want to enjoy something special from your own private collection with friends or for when you just want to split a cheap bottle of wine over dinner.

10. Collina's

It's not about the food at Collina's; it's about sharing bottles of inexpensive wine among friends over checkered tablecloth Italian in a laid-back environment where your kids won't be shunned by other diners for being a bit too loud or rowdy. Collina's isn't for everyone, but those who like it love it.

9. Cafe Pita +

Cafe Pita's new space -- greatly expanded from its old location a few doors down -- offers even more of an incentive to stay and relax over a bottle of interesting Old World wine to pair with its Bosnian cuisine. Meats like lamb, cevapcici and pljeskavice beg for fun pairing options, so go nuts and break out the big wines.

8. Himalaya

On the other hand, the super-spicy Indian and Pakistani food at Himalaya wants to be partnered with some big, bold beers like hoppy IPAs or even some sours -- yes, sours. Of course, you can always keep it simple with a six-pack of pilsner to pair with your chicken chargha or gola kabab.

7. Pizaro's Pizza

The only reason Pizaro's isn't higher on the list is its bare-bones dining room, which can be sort of uncomfortable and uninviting for those who like to linger. But I have faith that -- in time -- the dining room could eventually match the breathtakingly perfect pizzas that are coming out of the oven here.

6. Just Dinner

Break out the Barbaresco -- this "teeny tiny" BYOB in Montrose offers a small but smart menu of Italian classics like lasagna all'amatriciana and spaghetti with Sunday gravy in a charming, romantic setting. It's perfect for surprising a first date (only if you really, really like them) or celebrating special occasions with big, beautiful bottles of wine.

5. Jonathan's the Rub

Seafood and steaks are the name of Jonathan Levine's game, which makes it fun to bring out the big guns to pair with his New England scallops over grits, spice-rubbed steaks or incredible Black Angus ground beef burgers. Plus, with an expanded patio, there's more room to spread out and relax than ever.

4. Banana Leaf

What do you pair with Malaysian food? Whatever you'd pair with Indian, Chinese, Thai or Singaporean food. In short, Banana Leaf offers a fun challenge to those who like making odd pairings and -- like most places on this list -- its $0 corkage fee encourages you to go crazy.

3. Vieng Thai

Houston's best Thai restaurant, hands down, is also Houston's most informal. You already feel like you're eating in someone's living room here, so it's only natural to crack open some cans of beers while you bury your face in Massamun curry or pad see ew. Like Himalaya, much of Vieng Thai's food is ultra-hot and begs for an IPA to match the heat or a lager to cool it off.

2. Pampa Grill

Dining without a bottle of wine on your table here frankly isn't an option. Everywhere you look during a crowded dinner service at this family-run Argentinean restaurant in far west Houston, the South American expats at the surrounding tables are enjoying bottles of Chilean and Argentinean wines like Malbecs or Tempranillos with their enormous parrilladas of meat. You should, too.

1. Lucio's BYOB

Unlike most BYOBs, Lucio's actually has a wine list. It's short and well-edited, but the real allure here is bringing in your own to pair with chef Brett Maesch's clean menu of New American dishes such as a chili-and-hibiscus-glazed whole branzino or a smoked duck breast with roasted baby beets and Napa cabbage in an apple-hickory consommé. The waiters know exactly how to care for and pour your wine (well worth the $5 corkage fee) and it gives the impression that you're dining in a much fancier establishment than the relaxed dining room and Los Angeles-style patio would imply.

Follow Eating Our Words on Facebook and on Twitter @EatingOurWords

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.


Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.