February 10, 2015 | Ronna Dewey, Dish Works
Savvy diners in West Chester know that visiting one of our downtown restaurants that allow you to bring your own wine, spirits or beer is a sure way to enjoy an outstanding meal while remaining budget-conscious. Grab a growler of beer for some casual pizza, bring along margarita mixings for Mexican fare or break out that special bottle of wine and pay a visit to one of these downtown West Chester eateries.
Couch Tomato Café
Brand new to West Chester, Couch Tomato Café offers a menu that reflects owners Craig Mosmen and Michael Cassano’s passion for serving locally sourced, organic ingredients from their kitchen. Feel free to bring in your favorite bottles of wine or beer and dig into one of their signature salads or gourmet New York-style pizzas. When the weather gets warm, check out the outdoor rooftop deck that overlooks bustling West Gay Street to get a birds-eye view of all the action while relaxing in the environmentally friendly garden. 31 W. Gay St.; 484-887-0241; TheCouchTomato.com.
Owners Pietro and Antonella Belfiore hail from northern Italy and bring authentic food and rustic charm to West Chester with i-Pasta. Start off your meal with a warm bowl of minestrone soup or an appetizer of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella. The star of the menu is the house-made pastas and sauces. The diner simply chooses from the large variety of pasta shapes and pairs it with one of i-Pasta’s meat, vegetable, seafood or cheese-based sauces. There is never a corkage fee, and they even serve complimentary wine on Wednesdays. 134 E. Gay St.; 484-887-0760; i-pasta.net.
If you are looking for an affordable, fun spot for a night out with friends, La Mamba should be at the top of your list. Enjoy authentic Mexican dishes like quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas and burritos in the festively decorated dining room, or grab a table outside during the nicer weather. La Mamba’s menu also features many vegetarian dishes. Bring along a bottle of tequila and all the fixings for a margarita, or ask the staff to blend you up a virgin frozen drink and add your own liquor. 39 W. Gay St.; 610-344-7784.
For a truly unique dining experience in West Chester, pay a visit to Olive Branch for their tapas-style menu. The small plates are all made to order and arrive to your table as they are prepared. The dishes are meant for sharing, so order two to three per person in your party and have a feast. For a special treat, try the 7- or 9-course chef’s tasting and have the ultimate tapas experience. The fig and prosciutto flatbread and lobster mac and cheese are menu highlights. There is a very fair corkage fee of $5 per three bottles of wine. 142 W. Gay St.; 610-431-7141; OliveBranchwc.net.
Spice Indian Thai Bistro
Spice Indian Thai Bistro brings together the exciting tastes of two cultures in one restaurant. With a focus on authentic flavors, Spice expertly presents the cuisine of both India and Thailand in a contemporary setting. Dishes are prepared to order based on each diner’s personal taste and spice preferences. Authentic clay oven specialties like shrimp tandoori are slowly cooked in the tandoor oven, which brings out all of the delicate flavors of the dish. Get lost in a big bowl of drunken noodles, served with chicken, beef or shrimp. Try Spice’s daily lunch buffet to get a taste of the best of their menu. 113 W. Market St.; 610-431-0113; SpiceBYOB.com.
Star of India
Star of India’s savory, aromatic masalas, vindaloos and curries will take you on a trip to India via West Chester. The menu is reasonably priced and the atmosphere is simple, warm and inviting. Start your tour of India with the crowd-pleasing mulligatawny soup, and don’t forget an order of garlic naan.There are plenty of menu options for vegetarians as well as meat-eaters. 155 W. Gay St.; 610-429-0125.
Here’s a great eatery that offers diners a creative fusion of Lebanese and Italian cuisine in a cozy, two-story restaurant. As a family-run business, owners Margherita and Joseph take great pride in offering a health-conscious and vegetarian-friendly menu utilizing mostly locally produced, organic products. Don’t worry if you are a meat-eater—you’ll leave satisfied, too. Be sure to try the kibbi platter (lean ground lamb with cracked wheat, onions and spices, layered with caramelized onions and pine nuts, then baked) and the stuffed grape leaves. 150 W. Gay St.; 610-431-7074; TheMedWCPA.com.
Where to Buy Your Wine and Beer in Downtown West Chester
Get fresh beer straight from the tap at Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (3 W. Gay St.) and fill a growler to-go with one of their award-winning brews. If you want a variety of craft beers to take to dinner, venture over to Side Bar & Restaurant (10 E. Gay St.) and grab a few single bottles from their extensive list. Wine-lovers, head straight to Kreutz Creek Winery’s tasting room (44 E. Gay St.) for a tasting and to purchase a bottle or two for dinner. For some reverse BYOB fun, order takeout from one of West Chester’s many restaurants, bring it into Kreutz Creek and listen to live music from 6–9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Always remember to close up any unfinished bottles of beer, wine and liquor as you leave a BYOB restaurant and store them in the trunk if you are driving home. Please enjoy responsibly.
PARKING TIP —> Your best options for parking in downtown West Chester are the centrally located municipal parking garages. Park as long as you want and have no fear of getting an overtime parking ticket. Go to the Parking Tab for details. Download the updated downtown parking map. The Justice Center Garage is free after 5 p.m. and on weekends.