A romantic date night with a fresh, seasonal menu.

Metal bars, exposed panels and chipped mirror frames contribute to the overall rustic aesthetic of this intimate American BYOB, which is suffused with candlelight and the soft glow from wire lamps. Offering a fantastic selection for this fall’s Restaurant Week, including a delicious watermelon gazpacho, flatiron steak and vegan medley, any diner is sure to find something to be excited about. I was especially pleased to find out that every dish was made with locally–grown produce like heirloom carrots from a Lancaster farm. 

Pumpkin is run by Hillary and Ian, a husband and wife team who are also the restaurant’s chef and hostess, respectively. I’d give them five stars just for doing the absolute most for the customer––going so far as to replace two courses on the already–fixed menu to accommodate my veganism.

A great place for a date night with your SO, enjoy a nice bottle of chardonnay (stolen from Zete?) as you celebrate this BYO’s 12th birthday. And if you’re looking for the pumpkin in Pumpkin, Hillary says don’t be squashed just yet because you’ll definitely see it on the daily–changing fall menu.

Price: $$$ 

RX The Farmacy 

The boozy brunch of your dreams.

While no one will object to Bagels and Banker’s before a darty, there’s something extra civilized about getting drunk on nice(ish) mimosas while enjoying a quality brunch. We’re lucky enough that this opportunity presents itself just a few blocks from campus at The Farmacy, where you can chow down on amazing food while you relax in a fresh and hip environment. I personally was looking for some carb–light dishes, so my friend and I split the S’mores French Toast and the bread basket. We waddled out an hour later, full and happy. The french toast was super rich—definitely don’t attempt this alone—but delicious. The bread selection changes daily, so make sure you check what they’re serving that day. If you’re feeling a bit more creative, flip to the backside of the menu and build your own eggs benedict. No matter what you decide to eat, order a pitcher of the juice of the day of to mix with your André (Watermelon Limeade if you’re lucky like I was) and drunch away. 

Price: $$ 

Square on Square

A BYO off the beaten path. 

My first thought when I learned of our Square on Square BYO was “$22? This better be $2 better than Ken’s.” And in terms of food, it blew Ken’s out of the water. We were given the choice of two appetizers or an entrée off of a decent Chinese menu. I thoroughly enjoyed my General Powell’s Spicy Chicken (their take on General Tso’s), which I eagerly ate with my real silverware, cloth napkin and wine glass. This, my friends, is luxury. It wasn’t the rowdy environment of Ken’s or Banana Leaf, but we made our own fun. They wouldn’t give us the aux until 8:30, but as soon as we got it, throwbacks were blasted, wine was poured and glasses were broken (oops). Overall, a nice change of scenery for a BYO and actually good food, but only if you can withstand the judgmental looks from the servers. 

Price: $$ 

Audrey Claire

A BYO for a GNO

Audrey Claire looks like a pop–up restaurant. As if the owner picked out a random corner in Center City, pointed, and said, “there’s good.” Little exists in the restaurant to make it feel like a permanent establishment––tiny space, bare walls, little decor, no hostess stand. And yet, the BYOB has existed on its little corner of 20th and Spruce streets for a little over 20 years. 

To maximize food ordered, we all got different appetizers and entrées. After starting off with complimentary bread that, “[had] a good amount of salt in it,” we split the seared halloumi with dates and fig compote ($11), the baby arugula salad with figs, berries and goat cheese ($13) and a rocket shrimp dish featured on the restaurant week menu. The halloumi was by far the best of the three, a great mix of flavors and still light enough to feel like an appropriate early fall appetizer, though serving it in a bowl made it awkward to create more bite–sized forkfuls.

For entrées, we tried the grilled salmon ($22), pappardelle pasta with portobello mushrooms ($18) and the chicken milanese ($22). The salmon is served with a light side of a cous–cous–like grain, a nice mediterranean take. The pasta is oily, not adequately mixed, but otherwise satisfying if not a little heavy for the season. And the only complaint to lodge about the milanese is that the breaded chicken is topped by a salad doused in dressing, making for some soggy eating. 

The short venture to Audrey Claire might rack up a higher tab than your usual BYO, but chances are you don’t eat that much good food at your usual BYO anyway. The price is well justified given quality of food and pleasant atmosphere, void of boat racing or drunken karaoke.

Price: $$$