The som dtum menu might kick in at 11am, but come nightfall this Thai-Aussie cafe strips back its menu to focus on Isaan cooking, complementing the spicy salads with heat, funk and fermented pork. But how to complement it on the drinks front? Follow the lead from their clipped list and look to fresh rosés, citrusy rieslings or reds with some spice around a soft centre.
Shop 1, 425 Pitt Street, Haymarket, 02 9281 2114, booncafe.com
Boon Cafe in Haymarket. Photo: Wolter Peeters
Chiosco by Ormeggio
If Ormeggio is the neat older sibling, Chiosco is the relaxed younger brother, the barefoot one who throws together a summery caprese salad with tomato and nectarine as readily as fries up a mozzarella in carrozza to eat by the water. And while he has great taste in wine, he also lets you bring your own. Keep it casual, or make like the locals and push the boat out.
The Jetty, d'Albora Marina, Spit Road, Mosman, 02 9046 7333, chiosco.com.au
Chiosco by Ormeggio in Mosman. Photo: Michele Mossop
Don't Tell Aunty
Rajat Parr's wine list at Melbourne chef Jessi Singh's Sydney outpost is worth taking seriously, but with a menu that takes a decidedly non-traditional approach to Indian cooking (see the naan stuffed with blue cheese or Colonel Tso's cauliflower) and corkage at $20 a bottle, why not bring something a little more left of centre? Just save room for a rosewater lassi.
Shop 1, 414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, 02 9331 5399, donttellaunty.com.au
Emma's Snack Bar
Emma's puts good times at the top of the menu. It starts with plates made for sharing – think lamb-strewn hummus, salty pickles and fresh, crunchy fattoush – then backs all this up with house wine, smashable beers and arak by the half-bottle. But with corkage $5 a head, there's never been a better time to swing past P&V Wine + Liquor Merchants and pick up something skinsy to up the ante.
59 Liberty Street, Enmore, 02 9550 3458, emmassnackbar.com.au
With corkage just $2 a head, it's worth sending someone to the local cellar while you wait for the queue to move at this Malaysian institution. It might be something light and white to balance the richness of buttery roti and spicy dhal, or something with more heft to play off the heat and funk of the sambal and belacan propping up the menu.
15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, 02 9211 1668, mamak.com.au
Moxhe walks a line between being a local's haunt and a special-occasion restaurant, but on Wednesdays it leans to the former, with the offer of BYO propping up Helen Diab's admirable list. If anything, it's a chance to crack out that top-tier Chablis you've been saving, then focus on the seafood as the set menu unfolds before you.
65B Macpherson Street, Bronte, 02 8937 0886, moxhe.com.au
Moxhe restaurant in Bronte. Photo: Edwina Pickles
Sang by Mabasa
Sang's appeal extends from its pared-back design and intimacy to a menu that explores the breadth of Korean cooking. And while there's a sharp drinks list (think Kloud beer or Hallasan soju), with $6 corkage for wine why not bring something fresh to carry you through a set menu that might include pipis stir-fried in gochujang and standout sweet-spicy fried chicken?
98 Fitzroy Street, Surry Hills, 02 9331 5175, sangbymabasa.com.au
Korean fried chicken at Sang by Mabasa Photo: Wolter Peeters
"No Ham e Pineapple" read the rules on the wall at this Balmain standby, which takes a thoroughly traditional approach to its exceptional pizzas. Thankfully, they're flexible enough to allow you to bring a bottle, and the corkage is fair at $10. It's dealer's choice on this front, but with a wine list that digs deep into Italy, consider breaking from the script with something local.
360 Darling Street, Balmain, 02 9555 5924, rossopomodoro.com.au
This seaside favourite has a wine list that is admirably local to match its setting, but BYO brings wider scope to those long lunches overlooking Bondi. Cast your eyes around the room and you'll spy more than a few linen-clad regulars with killer bottles on ice, either because it's their birthday or because, you know, it's Sunday. Have something you've been cellaring for a while? Drink it here.
270 Campbell Parade, North Bondi, 02 9365 4924, seansbondi.com
With the charcoal grills firing and so many pages to flick through on the food front, the option to BYO takes some of the pressure off at this celebrated izakaya. Sure, kick off with a Kirin, but then crack a bottle of whatever bottle you fancy pairing with hits from the robata, be it tsukune, okra, thigh skewers or wagyu tri tip.
101 Ramsay Street, Haberfield, 02 8057 2780, torijin.com.au