4 Valley BYOBs
Although Pennsylvania has made some strides in terms of alcohol regulations—beer and wine at supermarkets!—it’s still a costly endeavor for a restaurant to obtain a liquor license. As a result, BYOBs have a special following here, encouraging a loyal cadre of diners who specifically seek out eateries that allow them bring their own. The appeal is multifaceted, as it can be more economical, but many folks just prefer to tote their favorite liquids to dinner. Here are four Valley favorites, but there are far, far more.
Tre Scalini, an old-world, old-school Italian dining experience, is a hidden gem. Robyn and Santo Ingarao run a warm, cozy dinner-only spot in an old Colonial home with a handful of tables and a strong following. It’s not a red-and-white checkered tablecloth kind of place; you’ll find polished dishes that suggest a fresh, more continental experience. Tre Scalini, which opened in 2006, also happens to be the rare fine-dining locale (“smart casual” is the dress code) that doesn’t have a liquor license. Reservations are a necessity on the weekends. Insiders like the barbecued octopus, marinated in olive oil and seasoned with mint, lemon zest and oregano.
221 E. Broad St., Bethlehem | 610.419.1619 | trescalini.net
Jasmine Japanese and Thai Restaurant
Jasmine is one those wildly popular, pan-Asian hybrid restaurants with Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes, meaning there’s a surfeit of choices, including sushi and hibachi. Since many of these places don’t have liquor licenses, Jasmine allows guests to bring their favorite beer or wine to pair with sushi, sashimi or curry. Jasmine’s flavorful fare and extensive, specialty sushi roll list set it apart (people love the surf and turf roll). On the weekend, Jasmine becomes lively and loaded with locals and college students alike, and does a robust takeout business with a 30-minute wait for food, standard. For dinner and a show, opt to sit on the hibachi side. The entire menu is available there too, even if you’re the only person in your party who wants sushi. If you prefer the dining room,
hibachi can be brought out there, too.
1855 Sullivan Trl., Easton | 610.438.8811 | jasminesushiandthai.com
El Paisano Taqueria
This bright, vivid spot run by Miguel and Virginia Sosa earns raves for its fresh, hearty portions of homemade Mexican fare at affordable prices. Case in point: The priciest item is $11 for a steak dish. Sip on cerveza or vino with some homemade tortilla chips and pico de gallo to get started. Tacos, tortas and tostadas can all be served with a wide variety of meat selections, from pork, steak and chicken to chorizo, al pastor (marinated pork with pineapple), lengua (cow tongue) and tripa (cow tripe, or stomach). The Sosas’ homemade hot sauce brings the heat, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
22 E. Union Blvd., Bethlehem | 610.694.9326 | ElPaisanoTaqueria.bethlehem
Switchback isn’t the average pizza joint. It’s located next to train tracks and uses an enormous Italian wood oven. The owners, Marguerite Viola and Andrew Foreman, source locally for seasonal ingredients to top their Neapolitan-style pies (along with the good stuff, San Marzano tomatoes). Switchback also happens to be located in a craft beverage paradise, within paces of Funk Brewing Company, Yergey Nano-Brewery and Triple Sun Spirits. This proximity benefits everyone, as you’ll often see its food offered at these other locations. Viola says they keep growlers (and half growlers) on hand for folks who come in and don’t know there are breweries nearby. The opposite is also true. “I’ve had lots of customers tell me they come to Emmaus to do a walking brewery tour and stop in to get pizza at some point during the day,” she says.
525 Jubilee St., Emmaus | 610.928.0641 | switchbackpizza.com
Tips & Tricks
Call ahead and ask what the BYOB policy is, whether there’s a limit to how much alcohol you can bring, and if there’s a corkage fee, which typically covers pouring, mixers and chilling beverages, where appropriate.
Chill your beverage beforehand and transport it in an insulated wine or beer bag with a leakproof, resealable cap, in case of any leftovers.
Sign your name. If your wine bottle is sitting in a communal ice bucket, put your initials on the bottle so you know it’s yours.
Unless you know the menu ahead of time or don’t particularly care if your beverage will elegantly pair with the food, stick with wines and beers that go with everything.
Expect to pour your own wine (especially if there’s no corkage fee), but leave the bottle and tip well.