Chicago’s culinary landscape is filled with diverse flavors and dining experiences, and there’s a hidden gem waiting for those who appreciate both good food and their favorite bottle of wine. In our guide to the Best BYOB Restaurants in Windy City, we’ll lead you to establishments that not only serve up exquisite dishes but also invite you to bring your own bottle of wine to enhance your dining experience. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just looking for a unique night out, these restaurants offer the perfect blend of ambiance and gastronomy. So, grab your favorite bottle, head to one of these BYOB spots, and prepare to savor the best of Chicago’s culinary delights in your own style.
Smoque BBQ is nestled in the Old Irving Park neighborhood and has been serving mouth-watering BBQ dishes since 2006. An easy jump off the I-90/94 interchange, and with easy access from the CTA Blue Line and the NW Metra, the Smoque menu features a variety of smoked meats, including brisket, pulled pork, chicken, and Texas sausage. They offer dine-in and takeout service at their original location, and they now have satellite operations in the Loop and at the Revival Food Hall on South Clark Street and East Adams Avenue. All locations are BYOB.
Tango Sur is an Argentinian steakhouse and restaurant with an expansive menu that might leave you feeling like you have to try one of everything. That’s because the food has a robust Argentinian influence and a lot of diversity. For instance, the authentic empanadas con Carne, cheese, and spinach are mouth-watering and have the right balance of flavors that you feel you might be in Argentina, not three blocks from Wrigley Field. But, with a turn of the page on the menu, you’ll see that there’s also a wealth of Italian-inspired dishes like traditional cannelloni, ravioli, and a baked eggplant dish called Berenjena. Though that’s just the Spanish word for eggplant, the dish is similar to a lasagna, with layers of eggplant, spinach, provolone, parmesan, and ricotta, all topped with a delicious tomato cream sauce. Bring your own beverages and enjoy this menu that has something for everyone.
The Gonzales family emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1980, arriving on a shrimp boat with dreams of opening a family business. Their restaurant’s name alludes to the ninety-mile journey they undertook, and though they’re more than a thousand miles from Mariel Harbor, once you take a bite of one of their authentic Cuban dishes, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were back on the island. With three locations in Roscoe Village, Logan Square, and Downtown at River West, you’re never too far from a 90-mile authentic. Cuban sandwich or a plate of classic frijoles con Arroz. Bring a couple of adult beverages and enjoy a fun and casual atmosphere and a bit of the essence of Cuban cuisine and culture.
The historical texts of Chilam Balam are a set of historical references, compiling the events of more than ten centuries of life on the Yucatan Peninsula of Southern Mexico. So, when you step through the doors of the restaurant of the same name, it’s no surprise that you might feel as if you’re under the spell of the ‘Jaguar Priest.’ With a laid-back approach to food, and a family-style atmosphere where sharing plates is encouraged, Chilam Balam offers a local and sustainable environment to enjoy a taste of authentic Mexican food. The guacamole is chunky and delicious, but the crunchy tostadas are perhaps the real star. They also offer fried burrata, grilled pork ribs, stuffed chicken flautas with pickled cabbage, beef brisket, roasted pork belly, and empanadas al Pasteur. There’s something for everyone on the main menu, and they offer some tasty desserts as well as a non-alcoholic drink menu. If you’re in the mood for Mexican food, consider bringing along a couple of cold drinks and enjoying everything Chilam Balam has to offer. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Chilam Balam has been featured on CNBC, Chicago Now, and even in the Trib, all with glowing reviews.
Coast Sushi has three locations, all serving up the same sampling of authentic and inspired sushi dishes with a flair for the dramatic. The Bucktown location on Damen Avenue is a BYOB restaurant, but their Evanston location offers full bar service. So, whatever sort of night you’re in the mood for, the folks at Coast Sushi have you covered. Unfortunately, their other popular location in Southloop has been forced to close. Thankfully, the other two locations are still offering top sushi dishes with an eye toward blending traditional flavors with innovative techniques and presentations that are sure to please sushi lovers and the uninitiated, as well. Their menu is expansive, and their ingredients are fresh. It all comes together in a relaxed environment. Just be aware that Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights can be pretty lively!
Goosefoot is a decidedly upscale restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood. The sophisticated menu offers a modern twist on many classic dishes. The disciplined techniques of classic French cooking combined with local artisan farmers create a menu that is difficult to rival. The restaurant is BYOB, but there is a $10 corkage fee per person unless the wine you purchased is from their sister store, Goosefoot Food and Wine. Then, the corkage fee is waived. The only menu option is a 12-course tasting menu that costs $185. So, this is not a casual restaurant. It does verge on the pretentious, but if you’re looking for a culinary experience, the Chef and Owner Chris Nugent has you covered. His career spans multiple restaurants where he has received accolades like ‘Number One Food For Chicago,’ ‘Four Stars,’ and the AAA ‘Four Diamond Award.’
Schwa is situated on the outskirts of Wicker Park. You’re forgiven if you haven’t ever noticed it along Nashland Avenue, but if you’ve been to the Comedy Clubhouse next door, you’ve probably smelled the savory aromas of Schwa’s menu. Head Chef and owner Michael Carlson has worked under some of the most critically acclaimed chefs in the world, and his career has taken him across the oceans to places like Imola, Italy, and Bray in the United Kingdom. Now he brings his unique flair to Schwa, where the menu is simple but refined and stunningly presented. For instance, the Wagyu steak dish includes fermented black garlic, smoked onion, and huckleberry. This isn’t exactly a laidback restaurant, but its storefront entrance and lack of pretentiousness bring a down-to-earth feeling to what is a high-end dining experience.
Bayan Ko sits on the corner of Montrose Avenue and North Honore Street, just a few blocks to the east of Welles Park. They offer a fusion menu, blending the best of Filipino and Cuban cuisine into a cohesive and exciting dining experience. Among all the restaurants I’ve ever enjoyed eating in, this is one of the most unique. The inspiration comes from the owners’ heritage. She’s Cuban, he’s Filipino, and the food on offer is the best of both worlds, served in a casual and friendly environment that’s accessible to all visitors of the Ravenswood neighborhood. Whatever you’re in the mood for, this BYOB restaurant has it. I strongly recommend trying the country pork ribs with adobo, soy egg, and ginger scallion, and the Ssig Nigiri, a dish with pork ear and jowls met, in a black vinegar sauce served with a quail egg. If those choices are a little bit too exotic for you, consider the ropa vieja or the beef empanadas. If you’re a seafood lover, the Prince Edward Island mussels with lemongrass, coconut, white wine, and a touch of mint are not to be missed.
Han is a simple BYOB sushi restaurant with the option for a prix fixe dining experience or a full sushi menu. Their guiding principle is the concept of ‘Good food, good mood.’ They’ve been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand award, and their customers in the Bridgeport neighborhood know about this hidden gem. If you want to experience their simple but elegant and refined menu, consider stopping by. They offer takeout, but don’t do delivery. There is also a 5$ corkage fee to keep in mind.
Sultan’s Market has three locations to choose from. You can find them in Wicker Park on West North Avenue, in Lincoln Park on North Clark Street, and at their newest location on North California Avenue in Logan Square. Whichever location you choose, you’ll be able to choose from a menu including the best of traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. You really can’t go wrong with any choice on the menu, from the baked zatter bread to the homemade hummus and massive variety of entrees and sandwiches. And they must be doing something right because they have recently won three local Chicago awards: Best Falafel, Best Bang for Your Buck, and Best Middle Eastern Restaurant. If you can’t make up your mind what to order, try the meat combo featuring both lamb and chicken Shawerman, kefta kabob, and a side of garlic and tahini sauce.
Get out your papers before arriving at Tanuki Sushi and Grill. You’re not welcome if you don’t comply with their strict COVID19 vaccine mandate. Even little kids will need proof of their vaccine status. But once you’ve made it past the checkpoint, you can enjoy their expansive lunch or dinner menu, featuring traditional Korean food and some other Asian flavors, as well. Perhaps their best offerings are from the signature maki menu, featuring wild dishes with equally wild names. For instance, try the ‘Sex on the North Beach’ with crab meat, avocado, masago, tako, spicy mayo, and scallions topped with super white tuna and salmon seared with honey mustard, raspberry, and sumiso sauce. That’s quite a mouthful to say, but even more of one to eat!
Toro Sushi is sandwiched between the Lake View East and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, not far from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. They offer an eclectic variety of sushi rolls, and they’re a favorite stop for visitors to the nearby Sheffield Campus of DePaul University and Presence St. Joseph Hospital. They offer fine dining in a casual atmosphere, but their menu is packed with choices that range from high-end to kid-friendly, with plenty of options for any eater. For example, they offer vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, with a variety of Japanese, Pan-Asian, and Chinese influences.
Big & Little’s has three separate locations, so you can enjoy their decadent menu whether you’re on the North Side, over in Wicker Park, or up by Wrigley Field in Lake View. With a fast-food pace and casual atmosphere, but also a dedication to serving top-drawer gourmet foods, you can visit any location and expect to enjoy massive flavors. Whatever you choose, you won’t go home hungry. Big & Littles is known for its massive portions and generous pricing.
Since 1990, Irazu has been serving the best of Costa Rican cuisine in the Bucktown neighborhood. If you’re already a fan, you’ll know that the biggest problem at this restaurant is that they’re closed Sunday through Tuesday. So, if you’re ready to devour their Casado (the national dish of Costa Rica, featuring sweet plantains, cabbage salad, and a choice of meat or veggies), empanadas, or the tilapia taco platter, you have to plan your visit for a night that they’re open! You can also place a takeout order anytime with their 24/7 ordering menu and schedule your pickup for when the restaurant is open. They also offer private dining for groups of 20-30.
Right near the Argyle station on the CTA’s Redline, Sun Wah offers the best Hong Kong-style BBQ. Accessible by foot, bus, car, bike, or train, this is a restaurant with high-end cuisine served in a down-to-earth setting. With an award from the James Beard Foundation on their resume, as well as a visit from Guy Fieri, it’s fair to say that Sun Wah is one of Chicago’s best BYOB restaurants, with something to appeal to everyone.
Since 1980 Cho Sun Ok restaurant has been serving authentic Korean food to the residents of and visitors to Chicago’s trendy Lincoln Square neighborhood. Visitors are encouraged to BYOB, and the traditional Korean menu is accessible to all eaters. With easy access from the Brown Line and available street parking, it’s no wonder this restaurant is packed every time I stop in for a bowl of steaming Mul NaengMyeon. Even if some of the more exotic menu items aren’t your cup of tea, they have something for everyone. If there is a knock on Cho Sun Ok, it has nothing to do with the food. Their website is barely functional. However, all you really need to know is the address. Don’t hesitate to sample their menu.
Visitors to Alegrias Seafood rave about the family-friendly setting, the casual atmosphere, and (of course) the delicious seafood served with a traditional Mexican flare. No one leaves hungry, thanks to large portion sizes and affordable prices on dishes like the red snapper fish platter, shrimp in a tangy Diabla BBQ sauce, and fried tilapia. But don’t wander in and expect a fine dining experience. Instead, this is a place driven by the goal of delivering the best seafood in Chicago to every customer’s plate. They must be doing something right. Their mega seafood trays have almost 200,000 likes on Facebook!
The Angry Crab is usually open every day of the week, offering a comprehensive menu of seafood with a Cajun flair. Their original Lincoln Avenue location has spawned two satellites, one on Milwaukee Avenue and a smaller ‘Crab & Go’ location in Melrose Park. Food is served in a fast-paced and fun environment, and BYO beer and wine are welcome. They don’t allow you to bring in any non-alcoholic beverages or spirits, but you won’t miss anything if you just focus on the food. Plus, for dine-in eaters, they offer bottomless fountain drinks. Be sure to check with their attentive staff for the catch of the day.
BarTucci prides itself on bringing homemade Italian food to its clientele with a modern twist. They offer a complete traditional menu with fresh pasta, Osso Bucco, risottos, and antipasti. Alongside those staples of Italian eating, they offer a plant-based menu that helps them cater to vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diets. This is a fast-paced and busy restaurant, so reservations are strongly recommended.
Caro Mio is about two blocks from the Western stop on the Brown Line, in the center of the Ravenswood neighborhood. With ample street parking an elegant, but casual ambiance, and BYOB sensibilities, this is a perfect restaurant for a late business dinner or a romantic night out with someone special. They don’t charge a corking fee, and they offer a range of foods that are affordable and delicious. Even the simplest menu items, like the garlic bread featuring whole cloves soaked in extra virgin olive oil, are exceptional for their attention to detail. Try the agnolotti Rossini for a decadent taste of prosciutto and peas with half-moon pasta stuffed with ricotta cheese.
Nori has three locations, so you can enjoy their creative menu whether you’re in Lakeview, Wicker Park, or Edgewater. Distinctive sushi, signature Maki, hot noodles, and unique desserts fill out the menu at all three spots. The menus vary slightly by location, but you should be able to find my favorite, Takoyaki, at all three. The crispy puffs of fish are coated in a light, sweet sauce and sesame seeds. Even if you don’t like octopus, give them a try! Each of the Nori restaurants is located near a major transit stop. Nori Edgewater is near the Loyola CTA Red Line stop. Nori Wicker Park is two blocks southeast of the Damen CTA Brown Line stop. The Lakeview restaurant is right next to the Diversey CTA stop on the Brown Line. So, it’s always easy to get your fix.
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When it comes to local restaurant recommendations, we pride ourselves on being a reliable and trustworthy resource. Our suggestions are not just based on our personal experiences, ensuring a more authentic and well-rounded perspective, but also on extensive online research. We diligently searched the internet and reviewed 5 credible sites and blogs, including Theinfatuation.com and Chicago.eater.com.
We compiled all the findings in one location and sorted them by the frequency of mentions to ensure you receive top-notch recommendations. We strive to present you with a curated list of establishments that truly stand out, allowing you to enjoy the best dining experiences possible.
Interested in the sources we consulted? Check out the list of all 5 sites we referenced below this paragraph, offering transparency and an opportunity for our readers to explore further. Our commitment is to deliver trustworthy and unparalleled recommendations, helping you make informed decisions on your culinary journeys.