Like a Nice Cabernet, Every City Wants a Sip of Philly’s BYOB Culture

Philadelphia BYOB laws

Delicious, and affordable. | Shutterstock.com

There are more than 200 BYOBs in Center City alone, some of which count among the very best restaurants in Philadelphia. They’re an essential part of the city’s dining culture, and a legit engine of neighborhood economic development. Many people, including Craig LaBan, have credited BYOBs with shaping Philly’s dining scene in a unique, patron-friendly (no 3X markups!) way.

And none of it would be possible without the state’s permissive laws on restaurant patrons bringing in alcohol. The state’s BYOB law has given restauranteurs who can’t hope to afford one of the limited number of liquor licenses a chance to open new dining establishments nonetheless.

Diners aren’t so lucky everywhere in the country. Over a dozen states, including Ohio and Wisconsin, ban BYOB policies. Last year, the city of Atlanta cracked down on them, enforcing a little-understood policy that requires any establishment with patrons providing their own liquor to buy a special license from the city. Read more »

Beyond the 50 Best Restaurants List

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What’s the most underrated part of the Philadelphia food scene?
Service. Philly has this bad reputation for being a place where service just sucks, across the board. That it’s not that servers can’t keep their thumbs out of the soup—they can barely keep their fingers out of their noses. And that’s total bullshit. Go to a place like Vetri or Noord or Fork, or even a tiny little place like Pumpkin, and tell me this city doesn’t understand great service. People will always complain about service, but anyone who’s doing it in a serious way in Philly right now is just lazy and can’t think of anything better to complain about.

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Philadelphia’s 51st Best Restaurant

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There’s something you have to understand about this year’s 50 Best Restaurants list. If a restaurant is on it at all–whether in the coveted first slot or the 50th–that restaurant is a great restaurant. It’s not like the place in the #2 spot did something wrong to wind up there that its neighbor did right. With one notable exception, you don’t really get to do anything wrong and still be on the list.

In this city, and at this time in the development of our culinary identity, the competition is so ferocious that I’d have to drop down to around the 70th or 80th position before I could name a place where something went significantly sideways during our meals. But we don’t do that. Every two years we name our fifty. We rank them, top to bottom, with a combination of science, subjectivity and debate, and put that list out there into the world to be argued over.

And then I name the city’s fifty-first-best restaurant which, this time around, is Bistrot La Minette.

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Best Restaurants of the Philadelphia Suburbs

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A recent dish at Conshohocken’s Blackfish | Photo via Blackfish

In years past, there always seemed to be a few suburban spots we could depend on to crack our list of the best restaurants in Philly—places that were worth the drive and the time it took to step outside the echo chamber of Philly’s urban restaurant scene.

This year, though, was tougher. We lost a couple places that were always solid, saw some brave, pioneering chefs looking outside the more traditional restaurant neighborhoods, and decided that while not really strong enough yet to deserve a full list of its own, the suburban scene was sufficiently interesting to stand slightly apart from the main catalog of the 50 Best Restaurants.

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50 Best Restaurants Poll: Bistrot La Minette

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This week, we’re running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now »

50 Best Restaurants Poll: Volver

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This week, we’re running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now » 

50 Best Restaurants Poll: Stateside

Stateside-Jeff-Fusco-for-Visit-Philadelphia-940Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list will be released on Sunday, December 21st in the new digital property, Philadelphia Sunday.

This week, we’ll be running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now » 

50 Best Restaurants Poll: Vernick Food + Drink

Photo by Karrisa Olsen

Vernick Food + Drink | Photo by Karrisa Olsen

Philadelphia magazine’s 50 Best Restaurants list will be released on Sunday, December 21st in the new digital property, Philadelphia Sunday.

This week, we’ll be running daily surveys, polling readers about where they believe certain restaurants will land on Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants.

Answer the poll question now, and if you aren’t already subscribed to Philadelphia Sunday, add your email address after submitting your answer and you’ll get the whole list in your email box, early Sunday morning.

Vote now » 

The Gastronaut: The Next Exit

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High-profile chefs often leave the places they made famous. But few have caused the kind of  earthquake George Sabatino did when he announced he was leaving Philly’s best restaurant.

“When I opened this place, I was literally just trying to not run out of food.”

That’s George Sabatino, the now-former chef at Stateside on East Passyunk Avenue. He’s musing about his early days there as a young first-time exec—terrified and excited, exhausted, so busy he didn’t have time to blink. When owners Stephen Slaughter and William Bonforte brought him aboard, he’d never been in charge before. He wanted to make a restaurant that his chef friends would like. He wanted to focus on small plates, charcuterie and American whiskies. Most of all, he didn’t want to embarrass himself.

“Stateside was like this huge lucky break,” he says now. “I never knew it could get so big. I’m really surprised by it all, dude. I’m just a cook, you know?”

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