Guide to the best BYO restaurants in Melbourne

Dec 09, 2022

While I’m a Sydney local, there will always be a special place in my heart for Melbourne. Whether I’m in town on business to visit one of my favourite non-alcoholic wine makers, or for pleasure, I always feel at home in Melbs. 

People dinning at Mamak BYO restaurant in Melbourne

But when it comes to eating out in Melbourne, the non-alcoholic wine options are a little disappointing. Yes, things are definitely improving, but it’s still unusual to find a restaurant offering decent non-alcoholic wine or mocktails. 

Thankfully, there is an easy fix. BYO restaurants mean that I can enjoy a nice meal with a bottle of non-alcoholic wine or even a non-alcoholic beer. BYO restaurants are a great option for non-drinkers, whether you’re committed to mindful drinking or just challenging yourself to an alcohol-free month. 

There are probably hundreds of BYO restaurants Melbourne wide, and I’d love to visit them all. But to keep things simple for you, I’ve put together a guide to the best BYO restaurants Melbourne has to offer along with my top picks for the best non-alcoholic wine to take with you. 

The Waiters Restaurant

An icon among BYO restaurants, The Waiters Restaurant, sometimes called the Waiters Club, has been owned by the Sabbadini family since the 70s. It’s simple and unpretentious with big hearty serves of traditional Italian food. 

Eat 

It’s got to be the Ricotta ravioli with freshly made tomato sauce. 

Drink 

Pasta and non-alcoholic wine make a great pairing. I suggest a non-alcoholic red wine with a full body such as Next Destination 2018 Barossa Valley Shiraz

Good to know

BYO is wine only, so leave your non-alcoholic beer and RTD drinks at home. Corkage is free. 

Location 

20 Meyers Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Sosta Cucina

This is one of the BYO Italian restaurants Melbourne locals don’t want you to know about. Perfect for date night, it has a romantic atmosphere with crisp white tablecloths and plenty of candlelight. With a seasonal menu featuring both traditional and contemporary Italian food, Sosta Cucina is very much a fine dining experience. 

Eat

Make a night of it with the five-course or seven-course degustation menu

Drink 

A special restaurant calls for a special wine — or two. A non-alcoholic red wine such as Two Hoots Non-Alc Cabernet Sauvignon and perhaps a non-alcoholic sparkling wine such as Next Destination 2021 Langhorne Creek Blanc de Blanc

Good to know

Sosta Cucina gets busy, so it’s worth booking a table. Corkage is $20 per bottle. 

Location 

12 Errol St, North Melbourne VIC 3051.

Shanghai Village

Possibly the biggest dumping restaurant in Melbourne, Shanghai Village is a cheerful and bustling BYO restaurant perfect for a quick bite. It’s also great value with plates of 15 dumplings for under $10 making it one of the best value BYO restaurants in the CBD. 

Eat 

While there are lots of Shanghai-style Chinese dishes on offer, for me, it’s got to be dumplings. They come steamed or fried with a huge array of fillings. 

Drink 

Dumplings call for a non-alcoholic white wine with a full flavour such as a non-alcoholic chardonnay. My pick is the Next Destination 2018 McLaren Vale Chardonnay

Good to know

Shanghai Village tends to get very busy, so it’s worth booking a table. There is a corkage fee of $6 per person

Location 

112 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000.

France-Soir

As far as Melbourne BYO restaurants go, this one is a well-kept secret. That’s not to say no one has heard of France-Soir, with its Parisian ambience and rustic French food, it's iconic. The secret is that it’s BYO for lunch. 

Eat 

The French Onion Soup which is served with thickly sliced French bread is a must. 

Drink 

A French restaurant calls for a European-style non-alcoholic wine. I suggest Next Destination 2018 King Valley Rosé, which is a premium non-alcoholic rosé

Good to know

As this is one of the best BYO restaurants Melbourne has to offer, it’s usually busy. Booking is recommended. BYO is available with no corkage fee, but don’t forget that it’s limited to lunchtimes, excluding Fridays. 

Location 

11 Toorak Rd, South Yarra VIC 3141.

Mamak

The original Mamak is one of my favourite BYO restaurants in Sydney. So when I’m in Melbourne, the Lonsdale St restaurant is always a safe bet. With a reputation for the best Malaysian cuisine expect bold spicy flavours and traditional street food. 

Eat

Mamak has become famous for sweet roti — in particular, the tall cones of crisp, sweet roti with a side of vanilla ice cream is my personal favourite. 

Drink 

Nothing beats a crisp, refreshing non-alcoholic beer with a spicy meal. I think a Heaps Normal Quiet XPA is the best non-alcoholic beer for this BYO restaurant. 

Good to know

Mamak doesn’t take bookings, so be prepared to queue for a table. I guarantee it’s worth the wait. Corkage is $4 per person. 

Location 

366 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Cafe Southall

Cafe Southall has been serving cuisine in St Kilda since 2017, but chef and owner Ravnish Gandhi has a lifetime of experience, as he grew up helping his parents with their acclaimed Indian restaurant, Bombay by Night, in London. Cafe Southall is one of the best BYO Indian restaurants Melbourne has to offer. 

Eat 

I can’t go past a classic dish like Saag Paneer made with homemade cheese or a veggie curry like a Kadai Aloo Baingan or Gobi with eggplant or cauliflower and potato. 

Drink 

An aromatic non-alcoholic wine such as a non-alcoholic Pinot Grigio will pair well with spicy food. For me, it’s got to be the 1920 Wines Non-Alcoholic Pinot Grigio, which is made in Australia in the Italian style. 

Good to know 

BYO is limited to bottled table wine so leave your non-alcoholic beer and RTD drinks at home. A small corkage fee of $12 per bottle will be added to your bill. 

Location 

2/120-124 Carlisle St, St Kilda VIC 3182.

Ling Nan

Although Chinese diner, Ling Nan, has recently opened a new restaurant, it has had a presence in Melbourne for decades and is considered a Chinatown institution. With a ‘no-frills’ reputation, the service at Ling Nan is a little brusque, but the food is sensational, making it one of the best BYO restaurants for Chinese food. 

Eat 

If you’re keen on fresh seafood, ask the staff for a recommendation — there are plenty of live tanks to choose from. Whatever you do, save room for a crispy Chinese doughnut. 

Drink 

I like a non-alcoholic white wine with my Chinese food, particularly something with cleansing acidity such as a non-alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc. My personal favourite is the 1920 Wines Non-Alcoholic Sauvignon Blanc

Good to know 

Ling Nan is a busy restaurant with a high turnover of customers, so don’t expect to linger at the end of your meal. They are open until 2 am though — so if you’re a night owl, it’s worth knowing about this place. A corkage fee of $3 per person applies. 

Location 

207 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000.

Sushi Hotaru

If you’re looking for BYO Japanese restaurants, Melbourne has a few. I love Sushi Hotaru because I really enjoy the sushi train experience. Sushi Hotaru is a cute little place with friendly staff and great service. 

Eat 

The beauty of a sushi train is being able to see what takes your fancy, but I usually reach for a seaweed salad and vegetable tempura. 

Drink 

A Japanese meal calls for a Japanese drink. I recommend a Naked Life Yuzu Sake Non-Alcoholic Cocktail. RTD drinks come in cans, so they are perfect for taking to BYO restaurants

Good to know

Sushi Hotaru does not take bookings, so be prepared to queue for a place. There is a corkage fee of $4.50 per person. 

Location 

118/200 Midcity Arcade, Melbourne VIC 3000.

I hope that you’ll find this guide to Melbourne’s best BYO restaurants and the best non-alcoholic wine to take to them useful. If you’re wondering where to buy non-alcoholic wine, look no further — you can get all the non-alcoholic wine from this guide right here at Sans Drinks!

I’d love to follow your culinary adventures, so if you’re visiting any Melbourne BYO restaurants with a bottle of non-alcoholic wine, please tag me on Instagram. Likewise, if you know any good BYO restaurants Melbourne locals have been keeping on the down low, please let me in on the secret! 

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