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Dedicated exclusively to the Bring-Your-Own-Bottle (BYOB) landscape in Chicagoland, this indispensable purse-sized guidebook lists nearly 300 BYOBs located in and around the city and suburbs. Featuring restaurants that not only allow but encourage customers to bring their own wine, beer, or spirits, this updated edition reflects the continued growth of the BYOB trend in Chicago, as more people are learning to appreciate the savings and personal enjoyment of bringing their own bottles of wine, beer, or spirits to dinner. Handy indices listing restaurants by location and cuisine are coupled with insightful information on food-pairing guidelines, BYOB etiquette, and local liquor laws to help restaurant-goers create a perfect dining experience.
About the Author
Jean Iversen is a freelance writer and an editor who has developed more than 100 books for publishers such as Dearborn Trade and the American Bar Association. She lives in Chicago.
Read an Excerpt
Your Guide to Bring-Your-Own-Bottle Restaurants and Wine & Spirits Stores in Chicago
By Jean Iversen
BYOB Chicago, Inc.Copyright © 2010 BYOB Chicago, Inc.
All rights reserved.
BYOB Restaurants A–Z
$$$ / ***
3332 N. Broadway (Buckingham), Lakeview Italian/Brunch
Dave Jones (Tutto Pronto/Adesso in the Gold Coast) offers rustic Italian in casual, chic surroundings on a hip strip of shops, cafés, bars, and restaurants. Choose from antipasti, salads, soups, pastas, and carni e pesci. No corkage fee for beer or spirits.
(773) 868-1516, Mon–Fri 11–10, Sat 10:30–11, Sun 10:30–10 [Corkage fee][Outdoor patio]
$ / -
2534 N. Clark (Deming), Lincoln Park Hawaiian
This place has been hailed as one of President Obama's favorite eateries in Chicago. Their specialty is mixed plates — plates piled high with scoops of rice, macaroni salad, and meat (the Hawaiian version of comfort food). And yes, that's Spam on the menu; apparently it's a Hawaiian staple. There's also katsu, pulled pork, BBQ short ribs, and grilled or fried fish.
(773) 935-6828, alohaeats.com, Mon–Thurs 11–10, Fri–Sat 11–10:30, Sun 11–9 [No corkage fee]
$ / **
1825 W. Irving Park (Ravenswood), North Center Thai
Former Arun chef Rungravee Kusub sold this reliable neighborhood Thai spot, so the celeb cache is gone, but new owners haven't made any noticeable changes to the menu, cute decor, or anything else. And with a liquor store conveniently located a couple of doors down, they're not planning on getting a liquor license anytime soon, either.
(773) 929-0100, Mon–Fri 11–10, Sat 4–10, Sun 5–9 [No corkage fee]
$$$ / ***
4559 S. Halsted (46th), Back of the Yards Mexican/Brunch
Chef Eusevio Garcia (Mundial-Cocina Mestiza) and cousin Leo Garcia are behind this BYOB, which features Central and Southeastern Mexican–influenced cuisine (mussels in chipotle white wine butter sauce, ceviche, sautéed shrimp in green mole). Virgin sangria and margarita mixes are available. (Their liquor license may be in the works, so call ahead to make sure they're still BYOB.)
(773) 538-8200, Mon–Thurs 11–10, Fri–Sat 11–11, Sun 10–9 [Corkage fee]
$ / **
3047 N. Cicero (Barry), Northwest Side Cuban/Puerto Rican
Chef/owner Vicky Amira recreates the traditional Puerto Rican and Cuban recipes she grew up with at this casual neighborhood eatery. Try dishes such as ropa vieja (shredded marinated beef) from the Cuban side and jibarito (grilled steak and onions sandwiched between fried plantains, not bread) on the Puerto Rican. Nonalcoholic sangria mix is available.
(773) 205-6200, amirastriorestaurant.com, Sun–Tues 11–8, Wed closed, Thurs 11–8, Fri–Sat 11–10 [No corkage fee][Outdoor patio]
$$$ / **
3307 N. Clark (School), Lakeview Moroccan
This ethnic neighborhood place is the only BYOB in Lakeview to offer Moroccan cuisine. Choose from a variety of kebabs, tagines (slow-cooked stews), couscous entrées, and pastille, a Moroccan mix of garlic, cheese, spices, and vegetables or meat in phyllo dough. No more hookahs (due to smoking ban).
(773) 281-6885, andalous.com, Mon–Thurs 4–10, Fri 4–12, Sat 11–11, Sun 11–10, reservations recommended [No corkage fee][Outdoor patio]
$ / ***
909 W. Belmont (Clark), Lakeview Scandinavian/Brunch
The last few years represent a lot of change for this Scandinavian breakfast landmark: Alderman Tom Tunney now owns all four locations; the Belmont location no longer serves dinner; and after decades at its original location, it moved a few doors east to this new space (American Apparel now inhabits the old address). The original artist was flown in from Norway to recreate the hand-painted wall murals, and staff transplanted the original chandeliers, recreating the charm of the previous site with an updated feel. While the menu offers several American items, Ann Sather's still serves its famous cinnamon rolls and Swedish pancakes with lingonberries (to do otherwise would create an uprising). For brunch goers, there's nonalcoholic Bloody Mary mix, fresh strawberry/banana/orange juice, and other fresh juices to blend with your own vodka or Champagne.
(773) 348-2378, annsather.com, Mon–Fri 7–3, Sat–Sun 7–4 [No corkage fee] [Private party room] [Parking available]
ANN SATHER CAFÉ
$ / ***
3411 N. Broadway (Roscoe), Lakeview Scandinavian/Brunch
(773) 305-0024, Mon–Fri 7–3, Sat–Sun 7–4 [No corkage fee]
$ / ***
3416 N. Southport (Roscoe), Lakeview Scandinavian/Brunch
(773) 404-4475, 7–2 daily [No corkage fee] [Outdoor patio]
$ / ***
5207 N. Clark (Foster), Andersonville Scandinavian/Brunch
(773) 271-6677, Mon–Fri 7–2, Sat–Sun 7–4 [No corkage fee]
$ / **
2532 N. California (Altgeld), Logan Square Thai
The new owner opened Anong (named after his mother, and which translates to "beautiful lady" in Thai) on Obama's inauguration day as a tribute to the 44th prez. With all menu items under $10, this place could be considered part of Logan Square's stimulus package. So stock up on the lumpia petite rolls, crab Rangoon, papaya salad, curries, and panang noodles.
(773) 292-5007, anongthai.com, Mon–Thurs 11–9:30, Fri–Sat 11–10:30, Sun 11–9 [No corkage fee]
$$$ / **
5663 N. Clark (Hollywood), Edgewater Italian
Antica's 800-degree wood-burning oven produces light, crispy, yet chewy pizzas (choose from margherita, quattro formaggi, salame, and others). A classic selection of antipasti, salads, pastas, and entrées rounds out the menu. Decanters available on request.
(773) 944-1492, Mon–Thurs 5–10:30, Fri–Sat 5–11:30, Sun 5–9:30, reservations recommended on weekends [Corkage fee]
$ / *
4656 N. Damen (Leland), Ravenswood Thai
Aroy's 67-item menu carries the usual array of Thai apps, soups, salads, noodle and rice dishes, curries, and entrées found elsewhere in Chicago. However, the expanded choices of meat with each dish (tofu, chicken, pork, beef, boneless duck, crispy catfish, shrimp, or squid) easily separate Aroy Thai from the pack. A daily special menu is handwritten in Thai and posted next to the kitchen.
(773) 275-8360, 11–10 daily [No corkage fee]
$–$$$ / ***
1624 W. Belmont (Ashland), Lakeview Japanese/Thai
Sushi chef/owner Alan Julamoke spent several years honing his craft at Sushi Wabi before opening this exceptional Asian spot, where he also features his mother's Thai recipes. Fish is delivered here every other day for the hotategai (seared scallops with apple and plum puree), maki moni (the midori dragon and volcano are dramatic in presentation), and sushi entrées. Julamoke also runs Late Night Thai, just a few doors down, to satisfy the after-hours crowd.
(773) 549-2201, latenightthai.com, Mon closed, Tues–Sat 11:30–10, Sun 11:30–9 [No corkage fee]
ASIAN MIX CAFÉ
$ / *
3945 N. Broadway (Irving Park), Lakeview Pan-Asian
This tiny neighborhood takeout place serves an impressive mix of Thai, Chinese, and other Asian-influenced favorites. Though service is focused on carryout and delivery, there is a 16-seat dine-in area in which to BYOB. Choose from curries, lemongrass pork, Mongolian beef, pad Thai, fried rice, and several soups, salads, and appetizers.
(773) 857-0989, asianmixcafe.com, Mon–Fri 11:30–10, Sat 12–10, Sun 4–10 [No corkage fee]
$$ / **
3028 W. Armitage (Whipple), Logan Square Eclectic
Students hang out at this café during the day, tapping away at laptops and sipping bottomless cups of joe. But at night, musicians and appreciators come to hear the open mic on the first Tuesday of the month and live jazz on Wednesdays. The kitchen serves up a wide range of snacks and entrées, from bruschetta to Grecian salad to empanadas and kebabs.
(773) 227-0022, 11–10 daily [Corkage fee]
AY AY PICANTE
$$$ / **
4569 N. Elston (Kennicott), Mayfair Peruvian
Ceviche, jumbo shrimp, and seafood entrées dominate the menu at this lively Peruvian spot. Their location, which is across the street from a church, prohibits Ay Ay Picante from getting a liquor license. But if a recent remodeling job and a new, lush, 32-seat garden patio in the back are any indication, it looks like their BYOB status is working for them.
(773) 427-4239, ayaypicante.com, Sun–Thurs 11–10:30, Fri–Sat 11–11 [No corkage fee] [Outdoor patio]
$ / ***
960 W. Belmont (Sheffield), Lakeview Thai
With all of the sleek sushi/Thai combo spots popping up around town, there's something refreshing about a good ole neighborhood Thai joint. Azha's menu is filled with classic Thai recipes (save for the "Drunk Man's Special," a noodle dish that wins the best-named dish award). A skylight perks up the otherwise ho-hum interior, and they have surprisingly good beverage service (chilled beer mugs, pilsner and wine glasses).
(773) 525-0555, Mon–Thurs 11–10, Fri–Sat 11–11, Sun 4–9 [No corkage fee]
B AND Q AFRO ROOT CUISINE
$$ / *
4701 N. Kenmore (Leland), Uptown African
You may have seen B and Q's food trucks around the city. But if you haven't been to their restaurant lately, you're in for a pleasant surprise. They've moved to a new location and updated the decor with hardwood floors, soft drapes, white linen tablecloths, and leather chairs, transforming this business from drab carryout to destination BYOB.
(773) 878-7489, bqafrorootcuisine.com, Mon–Sat 11–10, Sun 12–10 [No corkage fee]
$ / **
2023 N. Damen (McLean), Bucktown Middle Eastern
Owners' plans to obtain a liquor license fell through, and the state's smoking ban took away their hookah service. But neither setback has deterred this casual Bucktown place from maintaining its popularity with the neighborhood. Most likely it's due to the excellent, made-to-order food, seasoned and marinated to perfection. This is quite possibly one of the best Middle Eastern spots in town.
(773) 342-7482, Mon–Sat 11–10, Sun 11–9 [No corkage fee] [Outdoor patio]
$$ / *
3107 N. Broadway (Briar), Lakeview Jewish/Brunch
Chicagoans know The Bagel (open since 1950) for its authentic Jewish breakfast and deli. But this place also serves more than a dozen dinner entrées, available à la carte or as four-course meals. Choose from broiled whitefish, liver and onions, brisket, and sides like kishke, potato pancakes, and noodle pudding.
(773) 477-0300, bagelrestaurant.com, Mon–Thurs 8–10, Fri–Sat 8–11, Sun 8–9 [No corkage fee] [Parking available]
$ / **
2321 W. Lawrence (Claremont), Lincoln Square Eastern European
New management took over this Old World–style eatery in 2008, but expect the same menu, which features cuisine from the former Yugoslavia. If you're not sure what to order, try the sarma (meat mixed with rice and cabbage), chevapi (beef sausages), or bureek (meat with cheese and spinach in a pastry dough). Crepes are served all day; order off the menu or build your own.
(773) 878-7764, Mon–Sat 7–8, Sun 7–5 [No corkage fee] [Parking available]
$ / *
3203 N. Clark (Belmont), Lakeview Chinese
With the proliferation of Thai and sushi spots around Chicago, there are fewer and fewer traditional Chinese restaurants around, especially the dine-in variety. But six days a week (they're closed on Mondays), this clean, sparse place, with peach-colored walls, terra-cotta floors, and Chinese wall hangings, serves a wide variety of mostly Mandarin Chinese (egg foo yong, moo-shu pork), including a wide selection of vegetarian options.
(773) 281 -9000, Mon closed, Tues–Sun 11–11 [No corkage fee]
BARBERRY PAN ASIAN KITCHEN
$ / **
2819 N. Southport (Diversey), Lakeview Thai
New owners took over in 2008 but kept the focus on high-volume delivery and takeout service (thus no liquor license). There are only a few seats downstairs, but upstairs there's seating for an additional 14 (perfect for small private parties). As of press time, street parking was pay box–and permit-free, so enjoy the freebie while you can.
(773) 525-6695, 11–10 daily [No corkage fee]
BEN TRE CAFÉ & RESTAURANT
$$ / **
3146 W. Touhy (Kedzie), West Rogers Park Vietnamese
Located in a small shopping plaza in a dry precinct, Ben Tre is a casual Vietnamese eatery that offers an alternative to busier Argyle Street. With over 100 choices on the menu, you might want to browse your options online before you go.
(773) 465-3011, Sun–Tues 11–9:30, Wed closed, Thurs 11–9:30, Fri–Sat 11–10 [No corkage fee] [Parking available]
BEN'S NOODLES AND RICE
$ / **
1139 W. Bryn Mawr (Winthrop), Edgewater Thai
This charming diner offers classic Thai dishes to keep traditionalists happy (chicken satay, tom kha, pad Thai) and a few choices for the slightly more adventurous (basil roasted duck, stir-fry beef with mushrooms in oyster sauce, fried banana). There's also fried rice and teriyaki for diners who are less enamored with Thai food.
(773) 907-8936, bensnoodlesandrice.com, Mon–Tues 11–9, Wed closed, Thurs 11–9, Fri–Sat 11–10, Sun 12–9 [No corkage fee]
$$ / ****
6352 N. Oakley (Devon), West Rogers Park Indian/Pakistani
This celebrated BYOB has tripled in space since it opened nearly 10 years ago, no doubt due to the demand for Bhabi Syed's homestyle butter chicken, freshly baked breads (20 in all), and vegetable samosas (this author's favorite). Just about every type of glassware is available. The owners were looking for a new location at press time, so call ahead to confirm their address.
(773) 764-7007, Mon 1–10, Tues 5–10, Wed–Fri 1–10, Sat–Sun 12–10, reservations recommended [No corkage fee]
$ / *
3737D W. Lawrence (Ridgeway), Albany Park Vietnamese
Located in a no-frills shopping plaza, this is a spacious, modern spot for slurping huge bowls of pho (beef broth packed with herbs and various combinations of beef, seafood, chicken, and vegetables). For a real meat lover's special, go for the "big pho," a blend of meatballs, flank steak, brisket, and tripe.
(773) 478-8282, Mon–Sat 10–9, Sun closed [No corkage fee] [Parking available]
$ / *
2211 W. North (Leavitt), Wicker Park Eclectic/Brunch
Daniel Sirko and Judd Murphy (Pastoral) teamed up for this gourmet sandwich spot in the former Cold Comfort space, which they've completely remodeled. Barred from a liquor license because of the church next door, they serve sandwiches and salads made with seasonal ingredients and artisanal breads from the ubiquitous Red Hen Bakery.
(773) 276-2100, birchwoodkitchen.com, Mon closed, Tues–Fri 10:30–9, Sat–Sun 9–4 [No corkage fee] [Outdoor patio]
$ / **
1039 N. Western (Augusta), Ukrainian Village Eclectic/Brunch
With only one bathroom, Bite is ineligible for a liquor license. No problem; just walk through the adjoining door to music venue Empty Bottle, belly up to the fully stocked bar, and walk back to your table with a microbrew, a glass or bottle of wine, or your favorite cocktail. (See emptybottle.com/about.htm for hours and "booze" list.) Or, bring your own. The seasonal menu rotates every few months. There are also daily specials and a popular weekend brunch.
(773) 395-2483, emptybottle.com/bite.htm, bigbitesite.com, Sun–Thurs 8–10:30, Fri–Sat 8–11:30 [No corkage fee]
Excerpted from BYOB Chicago by Jean Iversen. Copyright © 2010 BYOB Chicago, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of BYOB Chicago, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
About This Guide,
375 BYOB Restaurants in Chicagoland — By Design or Default?,
BYOB Dining: Experiment, Sample, Share,
Wine & Spirits Stores,
BYOB Restaurants by Location,
BYOB Restaurants by Cuisine,
BYOB Restaurants by Feature,
BYOB ChicagoSM: Now it's everywhere you go.,
What People are Saying About This
A great resource that I turn to time and time again. (Alpana Singh, author, Alpana Pours: About Being a Woman, Loving Wine, and Having Great Relationships)