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City Living

Philadelphia BYOB: Now That's Brotherly Love

The joy of 'bringing your own.' hide caption

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If you're like me, you might think that having a cocktail with dinner is a nice way to complement a meal, and set a relaxing tone at the table. Can you imagine, then, how relaxing things could get if the dinner table held a full honkin' bottle of tequila? Now try to picture a city full of restaurants that encourage just such a scene.

That's the situation I found myself in during a recent visit to Philadelphia, where BYOB is a common motto at many of the city's small, and reliably good, restaurants. There's even a map of them. When I asked what's up with the BYOB style, many people said liquor licenses were too hard to get/too expensive for many new restaurants. But city laws let people bring their own booze.

So, they do. And, at a cozy yet stylish spot called Lolita, we did, too. Here was the drill: we got on the 30-minute wait list for a table. We walked around some — and visited the liquor store around the corner, where a bottle of tequila was procured.
At Lolita, the waiter ran through their different fresh margarita mixes for the night. We picked blood orange-mint-lime, at $13. Our server brought the pitcher and two salted glasses of ice to the table, where our bottle awaited. He poured about a quarter of the booze into the pitcher and withdrew.

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We tried it — and it was great. But, we agreed, it needed just a bit more of the good stuff. Which, conveniently, was right at hand.