If anyone understands the pleasure of selecting a special wine to pair with great food, it is a sommelier. We asked some of Dallas' best where they like to BYOB when off duty, including what they order and what they're drinking with it.
Before we get to the results (which included First Chinese BBQ, but we've already covered that), a few words on etiquette. If you want to bring a bottle to a restaurant, particularly one that sells wine, first ask if it's OK. One quick rule of thumb: If the restaurant sells spirits, Texas law forbids BYOB.
Once you have a green light, be courteous about demands on time (no decanting during a busy night, for example). Don't bring an ordinary supermarket bottle. Offer the server a taste. And if possible, buy at least one bottle from the list.
On tipping, estimate what your wine is worth and tip 20 percent -- unless it's an insanely expensive rare bottle. If you're bringing one of those, we assume you were planning to tip well anyway.
20 Feet Seafood Joint
This East Dallas seafood spot is the somm favorite: Owners Marc Cassel and Suzan Fries worked in legendary Dallas restaurants such as the Green Room and Baby Routh, and here they allow wine or spirits with zero corkage. They even provide glassware.
Master sommelier James Tidwell orders the Mexican shrimp cocktail and the seared salmon, and drinks chablis, dry riesling or vinho verde, while Leslie Hartman from the French Room is going for a lobster roll and french fries with sambal aioli, paired with Champagne or a bright, salty white such as aligoté or muscadet. Jennifer Uygur of Macellaio is bringing Crémant d'Alsace, cava or a crisp, clean Italian or French rosé to have with "crispety fried shrimp, fish and chips, and fried clams."
1160 Peavy Road, Dallas. 972-707-7442. 20-feet.com.
Petra and the Beast
Misti Norris' eccentric East Dallas restaurant is where the somms geek out over adventurous chalkboard menus and zero corkage. "There are usually other wine-savvy folks bringing their A game, or at least their B game," says Aaron Benson of Fauna. "I like to trade tastes with neighbors." Recently he shared 2008 Niepoort Batuta from Portugal's Douro region, a spicy, savory partner to charcuterie and offal.
Hartman also brings her "weird, sommy wines" to match with Norris' complex dishes: Hunter Valley Semillon, orange wine, poulsard, Portuguese red blends. For Cameron Cronin of Homewood, the ideal pairing is the deliciously hipster 2016 Ochota Barrels I Am the Owl natural syrah from Adelaide Hills with charcuterie.
601 N. Haskell Ave., Dallas. 318-935-0906. petraandthebeast.com.
Koryo Kalbi Korean BBQ
Andrew Schawel, Bullion's beverage director, heads to this K-town spot where $10 per bottle corkage lets him pair Champagne, German riesling, cru Beaujolais and Rioja with the acid, spice and smoke of seafood pancakes, steak tartare and kalbi short ribs.
2560 Royal Lane, Dallas. 972-406-0087.
This tiny Italian spot is a BYOB magnet, with zero corkage but a $3 per glass charge (so bring your own!). "If the weather is nice, this is where everyone wants to be seen," Hartman says. "Eat pasta and drink all of the Italian wines: Chianti, Etna Rosso, Barolo, lambrusco." Even if you mostly see high-end California cabernet on everyone else's table.
1400 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth. 817-332-0250.
Babe's Chicken Dinner House
Finally, Benson named a runner-up that sounds pretty irresistible: the Carrollton location of one of the region's favorite fried chicken purveyors, "with large groups and lots of Champagne!"
1006 W. Main St., Carrollton. 972-245-7773. babeschicken.com.