The Liquor Cabinet

The best BYO restaurants in Melbourne (and what to bring)

Heading out, but have a favourite bottle you want to bring? Take your pick from these leading Melbourne BYO restaurants. Here’s where to go, and what to sip.

best byo restaurants-melbourne liquorland

All hail the BYO. Short for “bring your own”, this great Aussie tradition is drinks democracy in action. In essence, it means being able to bring your own alcoholic beverages to a restaurant – usually wine, but sometimes beer and pre-mixed spirits as well. It’s all about savings, flexibility and convenience, so head into Liquorland before you hit the town.

Mamak, Melbourne

The flaky, buttery roti prepared in the front windows at Mamak (@mamakrestaurant) by a dexterous chef draws a direct line to Malaysia, with a backing cast of fiery sambals and deeply flavoured curries. Make a meal of the six-strong roti menu, which includes the showstopper “roti tissue”, a conical tower of ultra-crisp pastry. Boasting the frenetic energy of a hawker market, this student favourite also offers rice and noodle dishes, including a nasi lemak that would pass muster in Penang.

Nearest Liquorland: Elizabeth St, 0.7km

What to bring:
 Lightly sparkling, Billson’s Creamy Soda Vodka Mixed Drink is set to be best friends with your roti, whether it swings sweet or savoury.

HuTong Dumpling Bar, Melbourne

The chefs precision-pleating dumplings behind glass – the soup-filled pork dumplings known as xiao long bao, prawn-stuffed har gao and plenty more – are a curtain-raiser for HuTong Dumpling Bar (@hutongdumplings), one of Chinatown’s best restaurants. Beyond the headline dumplings, expect fiery Sichuan food such as ma po tofu and a luscious scallop and eggplant claypot.

Nearest Liquorland: 
Melbourne Central Express, 0.9km

What to bring:
 When matching seafood, such as classic prawn dumplings, or the spiciness of Sichuan food, it’s hard to go past Deep Woods Ivory Semillon Sauvignon Blanc. Citrus-forward on the palate, this blend from WA’s celebrated Margaret River region also has a refreshing acid backbone providing structure and length.

Jinda Thai, Abbotsford

Follow your nose to this bustling warehouse where the intoxicating aromas of Thai food perfume the air – think fragrant herbs and complex spices. The wide-ranging menu at Jinda Thai (@jindamelb) offers regional specialities such as boat noodles (rich and comforting, they’re perfect for a Melbourne winter) along with all the classics: tom yum soup, fried whole fish in tamarind sauce, pad Thai and all the curries you could wish for, from a best-in-show chicken green curry to a hot-hot-hot jungle curry.

Nearest Liquorland: 
Collingwood, 1.5km

What to bring:
 Vibrant, lively and fresh, Zilzie Prosecco proves that you can match wine with Thai food’s big spices. It promises to go a treat with Jinda’s fish cakes, spring rolls and green papaya salad.

Pacific Seafood BBQ House, Richmond

There are few frills but maximum thrills at this always-buzzing Cantonese institution (Shop 8, 240 Victoria Street). Take your cues from the glossy skinned barbecued ducks hanging in the window and order the Peking duck (everyone else does). Yes, roasted meats are a thing here – a special shout-out also goes to the delectable crisp-hatted pork – but don’t ignore the live seafood tanks at the back of the room, where a worthy splash-out on mud crab with ginger and shallot noodles awaits.

Nearest Liquorland:Victoria Gardens, 1.2km

What to bring:
 Elegant and structured while delivering a zippy citrus finish, Nepenthe Ascend Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect partner for premium seafood.

france soir south yarra liquorland

France Soir, South Yarra

The very definition of the classic French bistro, France-Soir (@france_soir_restaurant) is all smoky mirrors, closely packed linen-clad tables and Gallic-accented waiters. A favourite of local celebrities, politicians and visiting rock stars, this compelling package is backed by a time-honoured menu: steak frites, freshly shucked oysters, duck confit paté, leek tart and sea perch in a saffron-stained prawn bisque. It’s free to BYO, but restricted to lunch only from Monday to Thursday. File under “oh la la”.

Nearest Liquorland: 
Prahran, 1.8km

What to bring:
 The earthy grounding of cherries and strawberries makes the Fowles Are You Game Pinot Noir a shoo-in for France Soir’s famous duck dishes, such as the half roasted duckling with orange sauce.

Jim’s Greek Tavern, Collingwood

You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve landed on the party island of Mykonos at this authentic Greek tavern (32 Johnston Street, Collingwood) where whitewashed arches and faux-ancient statues deliver a full dose of Hellenic pride. The spoken word menu covers all the bases, from dips to whole prawns and juicy lamb cutlets off the chargrill, while the twirling rotisserie gets a workout each evening. Just add an evocative soundtrack of Greek folk music and – opa!

Nearest Liquorland: Collingwood, 0.7km

What to bring:
 Get the party started with Nepenthe Elevation Sparkling Cuvee. Hailing from the Adelaide Hills, its delicate aromas of green apple and pear with notes of citrus, peach and passionfruit will do wonders with dips, saganaki and charry calamari.

The Waiters Restaurant, Melbourne

You have to know where you’re going to find Melbourne’s original laneway restaurant (pro tip: look up for the small sign hanging off the first floor) but The Waiters Restaurant (20 Meyers Place, Melbourne) is well worth the hunt. First opened as a post-knockoff Italian haunt for the city’s waiters, the beloved institution is largely unchanged – which means a nonna-approved menu of spaghetti bolognese, spaghetti carbonara, osso bucco and pan-fried chicken livers.

Nearest Liquorland: Elizabeth St, 1.3km

What to bring:
 Black pepper spice and the brightness of red berries makes Sister’s Run Shiraz an all-rounder when it comes to the Waiters Restaurant’s big, gutsy flavours.

Sushi Hotaru, Melbourne

Did someone say sushi train? Winding its way past customers perched up at the counter and booth seating, this button-cute sushi specialist (118/200 MidCity Arcade) provides a meal and a show. On the conveyor belt you’ll find top-grade dishes including salmon sushi with wasabi mayo, butter-soft scallops and – or use the digital ordering pad to summon a la carte offerings such as agedashi tofu, edamame and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake).

Nearest Liquorland: Melbourne Central Express, 0.8km

What to bring:
 A Japanese meal calls for a great Japanese-style drink, so look no further than Four Pillars Fresh Yuzu Gin & Soda. In convenient cans, this play on the G&T is zesty and bright and great with seafood.

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