byo restaurants

Are There Byo Restaurants In Melbourne?

Going out for a meal in Melbourne is often a celebration in itself. We're ludicrously spoiled for choice, with a huge variety of cuisines hiding in every nook, cranny and alleyway of this glorious city. Unfortunately, buying drinks out on the town can sometimes cost you as much as a meal — sometimes much more, depending on how extravagant you're feeling.

Please don't panic, good people of Melbourne. We hear your budgetary woes, and so do some of Melbourne's restaurants. Whether you are trying to save a few bucks on beers or you've had a particular drop reserved for a special occasion, here are some of Melbourne's finest establishments where you can bring your beverages.

When someone suggests a BYO for dinner, the benchmark is already set for a good evening out. It means a meal of fun, ease and atmosphere, so it’s little wonder why Melburnians love it. Thankfully, delicious BYO restaurants in Melbourne are aplenty, with the city’s dining out scene brimming with options.

We’ve put together a list of Melbourne’s best BYOs, and you’ll see that diversity is a strength. Easily rivalling Sydney’s BYO scene, locals usually find whatever cuisine they’re searching for in Melbourne.

From Malaysian and Thai to Japanese and Chinese, you’ll also find a few Middle Eastern and Italian gems. Take note that most policies are for wine only, but there’s a few with beer included.

15 BYO restaurants in Melbourne

Have a top-shelf bottle of wine you want to crack open at dinner? Skip the restaurant mark-up and settle on the many eateries around town that allow diners to bring their bottle, whether you're feeling like vino or beer.

Whether your budget is a little (make that ‘a lot’) tighter than you’d like, or you’ve been saving that special bottle of something for just the right occasion – there’s nothing like a top-shelf BYO dining experience. 

But sometimes, it can be a little tricky to know where you’re allowed to turn up vino in hand. Here at Sitchu, we’ve done the legwork for you. So sit back, and raise a glass to Melbourne’s best BYO restaurants.

byo restaurants (2)

Mankoushe

Lebanese BYO in Brunswick

Two brothers from Beirut are charming locals with their family-run restaurant, Mankoushe. The vibe is laid-back, ingredients are locally sourced, and Lebanese-style pizzas reign supreme. With such a combo, it’s little wonder why it is one of our favourite Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne.

  • Corkage $7 for wine, $1 per beer bottle__323 Lygon Street, Brunswick East, Melbourne 3057

Jinda Thai

Thai BYO in Abbotsford

Serving some of the best Thai cuisines in Melbourne, Jinda Thai Restaurant is family-run, and all dishes follow their grandmother’s recipes. Trust us. Food is seriously legit here. Furthermore, the large and industrial space is modern and has a great vibe for group dining. This is a place to feast, with your chosen bottle of wine, of course.

  • Corkage $3 per person 1-7 Ferguson Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne 3067

Paris Go Bistro

French BYO in Carlton

Bringing a slice of France to Carlton, Paris Go Bistro is a neighbourhood gem. From fresh oysters and homemade rabbit terrine to confit duck and beef bourguignon, the food is authentic and one of our French favourites in Melbourne. They also have a great French wine list, but varieties by the glass are $14. With $13 corkage per bottle, you do the math!

  • Corkage $13 for wine116 Rathdowne Street, Carlton, Melbourne 3053

Ferdinand

BYO Pizzeria in Northcote

Wine and wood-fired pizza is a match made in heaven, especially when it’s BYO. Ferdinand ticks all the boxes and in superb style, if we may say so. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas are truly authentic with top-quality toppings – think pancetta with ricotta and truffle oil or mozzarella with gorgonzola and deep-fried eggplant. The homemade pasta is also delicious!

  • For corkage cost, enquire with Ferdinand__98-100 High Street, Northcote, Melbourne 3070

D.O.C. Espresso

Italian BYO in Carlton

Beyond Ferdinand, other hotspots for artisan pizza are the three D.O.C Pizza & Mozzarella Bars. However, our personal favourite in the D.O.C. The group is D.O.C. Espresso which serves fresh handmade pasta. 

They keep things authentic but with a contemporary twist, and it’s some of the best pasta in Melbourne. Start with a signature DOP cheese board and then feast on Umbria pork shoulder penne, Tuscany porcini pappardelle and Trentino radicchio gnocchi.

  • Corkage $10 for wine__326 Lygon Street, Carlton, Melbourne 3053

Amici

Italian BYO in West Melbourne

If D.O.C. does modern Italian in Melbourne, Amiconi does old-school Italian in Melbourne. It’s been around since the 1950s and has stayed within the same family the entire time. 

They specialise in traditional southern Italian cuisine, so think seafood linguini marinara from Campania and traditional sweet cannolis from Sicily. 

As with any down-to-earth restaurant run by Italians, genuine hospitality and welcoming service are in abundance!

  • For corkage cost, enquire with Amiconi__356 Victoria Street, West Melbourne, Melbourne 3003

Isshin

Japanese BYOs in Forest Hill & Lilydale

Bringing all-you-can-eat Japanese to the suburbs, meals at Isshin are a steal. For $40.95, guests at their Forest Hill and Lilydale restaurants can feast during a two-hour buffet session in which you “order as you go”. 

All the dishes are made fresh, unlike most buffets, and the quality is high. If two hours of non-stop gyoza, tempura, sushi, sashimi and teppanyaki – plus BYO wine – sounds like you, check them out!

  • Corkage $2.50 per person, wine only locations in Forest Hill and Lilydale

I Love Dumplings

Chinese BYOs in Kensington, Richmond & St Kilda

Not much beats a restaurant that does dumplings and BYO. Melburnians love the combo, so it's a good thing I Love Dumplings is a triple threat with branches in KensingtonRichmond & St Kilda

Their handmade dumplings are some of the best in Melbourne, and the diversity is delicious – think Sichuan-style wontons, steamed prawn har gow and pan-fried gluten-free pork dumplings.

  • Corkage $3 per person, wine only__Locations in Kensington, Richmond & St Kilda

HuTong Dumpling Bar

Chinese BYO in the CBD

Beyond I Love Dumplings, the varieties at HuTong are also stellar and slightly fancier. They’ve got numbers like mushroom prawn dumplings with diced water chestnuts and xiao long bao soup dumplings. 

But we especially love HuTong for their authentic Sichuan and Shanghainese specialities. Come here and feast on crispy, fragrant duck, sweet vinegar pork ribs, tofu with minced pork and Sichuan pepper or whole barramundi in bean sauce.

Start with the xiao long bao – or xiao long bao, as the HuTong menu phonetically insists on calling them. The Shanghainese soup dumplings with their pork and soup filling deserve their reputation: saddle up your spoon with threads of ginger and a slosh of black vinegar, nibble a hole and slurp away while trying to keep any spillage from ruining your threads (here’s a handy hint for eating at HuTong: don’t wear white). 

The XLB are excellent, although the wontons with chilli sauce are breathing down their neck for line honours. Something to do with the trademark Szechuan sizzle and a nutty scattering of sesame seeds picking up on the rich slick of sesame oil. They’re the bomb, in every sense of the word.

There’s more dumpling madness. You can go vego (the vivid green boiled spinach dumplings) or the dumpling answer to the luxe spring roll, stuffed with crab and prawn, corn, bamboo shoot, spinach and carrot. There are pan-fried pork dumplings embedded in a fine mesh of pastry. Sluice them with vinegar and chilli sauce and die happily.

There’s plenty more. Oh, so much more, the menu helpfully stamped here and there with the house specialty symbol (the scallop and eggplant clay pot in Sichuan chilli sauce is all soft-textured richness; the ma po tofu a fine example of the classic), and do beware any dish carrying the three chilli legend because it is liable to blow your head right off.

  • Corkage $4.50 for wine__4-16 Market Lane, CBD, Melbourne 3000

Afghan Gallery Restaurant

Afghani BYO in Fitzroy

Neighbourhood charm, romantic ambience and tasty Afghani food are all reasons why Afghan Gallery Restaurant is a Fitzroy favourite. The fact it’s also BYO is just a cherry on top. Winning over locals since opening in 1983, a meal here is full of authentic Middle Eastern flavours. Fill up on signature kofta meatballs and a legendary vegetarian menu!

  • Corkage $3 for wine327 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, Melbourne 3068

Mamak

Malaysian BYO in the CBD

Inspired by the hawker stalls of Malaysia, Mamak is a bustling hotspot in the CBD that serves authentic street food. Originally from Sydney, this award-winning restaurant group is all about food that’s finger-looking good and bold in flavour. 

Expect fluffy roti (sweet and savoury), charcoal-grilled satay skewers, sambal stir-fries and tangy curries. There are no reservations, and it’s always popular, so expect a line.

  • Corkage $3 per person, for wine and beer__366 Lonsdale Street, CBD, Melbourne 3000

Jim’s Greek Tavern

Greek BYO in Collingwood

Leading the pack as Melbourne’s most lively BYO restaurant, Jim’s Greek Tavern has been around for decades. 

Dysfunction is all part of the dining experience when visiting this Collingwood restaurant as there’s no menu, and the atmosphere is something else. Bustling is an understatement; perhaps boisterous is more fitting as for the authentic Greek food – simply perfection.

The frenetic service at Jim’s is part of its charm, as is the absence of a menu. Without much pricing guidance, prepare to pay anywhere from $50 to $70 per person for the banquet, with ala carte dishes ranging from $10 for entrees to $30 for meat mains. 

A waiter casually strolls up to us and reels off a list of dishes: “Dips, saganaki, calamari, gyros, Greek salad…” to which we nod in affirmation. Experience has taught us that grilled tiger prawns are a must, so we tack that onto the list as well. 

Big groups are encouraged to get the banquet, but small groups can pick and choose what they want from the waiters’ suggestions. House wine is available, but it’s best to BYO, especially when corkage is free.

The star of the meal arrives first: a medley of dips – taramasalata, tzatziki and baba ganoush – accompanied by olives, stewed carrots and beans, and diced bits of boiled, tender octopus dressed in olive oil, parsley and lemon juice, with a basket of crusty bread for mopping up anything that remains.

A wedge of lemon-seasoned saganaki that is served alongside is springy yet sturdy. The sizable tiger prawns are plump and chargrilled to a gently smoky effect; we want more, but at $6 a pop, they’re not cheap. 

And we were powerless to resist ordering a mountainous plate of rotisserie-cooked lamb. As expected, it’s rich and pleasantly salty, but also way too much food at this point. No matter, waitstaff are ready with takeaway containers for the tables that never reach the finish line.

Surprisingly, vegetarians are well catered for with lightly battered slivers of deep-fried zucchini, thick chunks of beetroot doused in a vinegary dressing, moreish butter beans braised in olive oil and, of course, the quintessential Greek salad with feta, olives and tomatoes. 

It may be into its 37th year of operating, but Jim’s hasn’t lost any of its initial appeals. Hordes of people continue to cram themselves into the restaurant to commemorate special occasions; even on the weekend of the apocalyptic #Melbournestorm, Jim’s is packed to the rafters with loud groups of families and friends; some of the Greek, most of them not. 

Diners who have reserved tables from 6.30 pm to 8 pm often overstay their welcome, much to the chagrin of the second raft of diners, but the latter cohort is allowed to stay past curfew.

  • Free corkage__32 Johnson Street, Collingwood, Melbourne 3066

Horn Please

Indian BYO in Fitzroy

There are standard Indian BYOs in Melbourne, and then there’s Horn Please. This hip restaurant sets itself apart thanks to contemporary Indian cuisine. It utilises authentic flavours and traditional cooking, but in thoughtful and creative ways. 

The menu changes regularly, depending on fresh and in season, but expect dishes like blue vein naan, crab Tikki croquettes, and goat masala stewed in the marrow. The homemade Indian ice cream is a must-try!

  • Corkage $10 for wine (maximum two bottles)167 St Georges Road, Fitzroy North, Melbourne 3068

Supper Inn

  • Restaurants
  • Melbourne
  • price 1 of 4

The Supper Inn has provided Melbourne revellers with cheap and delicious Chinese food at all hours for the past 20 years. Not much has changed over the years, and for that, we’ll always remain loyal and head straight to the Supper Inn when we’ve got the late-night munchies.

BYO: $3 per person for beer and wine

There’s something to be said for constancy in the restaurant world. These days they arrive in a flash of social media glory and disappear almost as quickly, but Supper Inn will broach little in the way of social media. It doesn’t go in for such newfangled things, and anyway, the décor and lighting aren't exactly social media-friendly. 

Instead, it built its reputation the old-fashioned way with just plain straight-up excellent Cantonese food with a 2.30 am closing time that means it’s a magnet for the city’s hospo crowd looking for a post-work feed that won’t break the bank.

The menu is long. As in really, really long, but anyone who’s been a couple of times will know which dishes to beeline for. Congee with chicken, flecked with ginger. The Pacific oysters in an aromatic soy-stock lake. 

A whole steamed flounder and sizzling chilli quail. The hotpot with pork and oil-soaked, garlicky eggplant with salted fish used like seasoning, and the roasted suckling pig with the sweetest meat and skin like chewy, salty toffee.

That it’s all delivered with service that ranges from smiley to hostage situation, in surroundings that fondly channel the days when timber panelling was de rigueur – well, that makes it even more memorable and deserving of its Celestial Avenue address. 

Dainty Sichuan Food

  • Restaurants
  • South Yarra
  • price 1 of 4

This South Yarra treasure is where the chilli is hot, and the Sichuan pepper is tinglingly, numbingly fresh. And while none of the food is what you’d call dainty, it’s certainly way up there with the best Sichuan we’ve ever had the pleasure of burning our mouths on. It’s cheap, too.

BYO: $2 per person

Can you think of a nameless appropriate for a Sichuan restaurant? Punch in the Mouth, or Kick in the Nuts Sichuan might be more apt for this South Yarra treasure, where the chilli is hot, and the Sichuan pepper is tinglingly, numbingly fresh. And while none of the food is what you’d call dainty, it’s certainly way up there with the best Sichuan we’ve ever had the pleasure of burning our mouths on. It’s cheap, too.

Head upstairs for a hotpot or stay in the sunny downstairs dining room for thin slices of pancetta-like Chinese-style cured pork belly, then move onto crisp-fried fingers of fish-fragrant eggplant doused in so much chilli that is merely breathing near it is painful. 

And to triple your burning pleasure, order thin slices of lamb encrusted in cumin and laced with chilli.

Dainty Sichuan’s light, fluffy house-made pork buns are a must, filled with pieces of sweet, fragrant pork that are slightly dried and cured covered in sweet gloop.

While the restaurant is cash only, there’s an ATM in the foyer, along with a statue of a very happy fat Chinese guy with his T-shirt up eating a bowl of soup. You’ll want to hop along nice and early if you’re heading here for lunch – the kitchen shuts up for the day at 2 pm.

byo restaurants

FAQs About Melbourne Restaurants

For many restaurants selling alcohol at a marked-up price is an important part of making a profit. When customers bring their wine to the restaurant, it reduces their profit margin. So, restaurants charge corkage as a fee for BYO. This covers the cost of using stemware, keeping the bottle cool and the service of the waiting staff.

Restaurants set their corkage rates, and there are no standard guidelines. It may vary from a charge per person (whether they drink the wine or not) or per bottle. With rates varying from $1.50 per person to as high as $50 per bottle, you must ask about corkage rates when making a reservation at the restaurant.

Byo is usually wine only, no spirits or beer. Most make it pretty obvious from the menus outside, but if not, stick your head in the door and ask.

The cost of BYO and full liquor licences varies among states and territories. In Victoria, restaurants and bars pay $429.50 to apply for a full licence and $230.80 for a BYO licence. In NSW, it costs $700 to apply for a full liquor licence, but a liquor licence is not required to operate a BYO restaurant.

In NSW, a liquor licence is not required for a BYO restaurant. However, the operator must still have in place the required planning approvals issued by the local consent authority that match the business model of the restaurant and comply with its terms.

Byo is not permitted in major restaurants in big cities, but many suburban and provincial restaurants encourage byo. They will charge you a corkage fee of AUD2 - AUD15 per bottle or person.

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