The Best BYOB Spots in Chicago Right Now
Get that wine pairing exactly right or just save a little cash at these BYOB Chicago restaurants.
We all love a good wine list, but there are countless upsides to the BYOB restaurant model—for instance, a chance to open all of those bottles you’ve been saving for a special night, while simultaneously enjoying one of the Windy City’s best meals. Plus you’ll be saving a little cash by avoiding that famous markup on booze. From South East Asian street food spots to multi-course molecular gastronomy temples, these Chicago restaurants are your best bets for BYOB right now.
Expect high energy and bold flavors at this Wicker Park destination, where two venues welcome diners—a front space offering casual South East Asian street food, and a coach house featuring a multi-course weekend menu. Either one boasts memorable, much-buzzed-about fare from chef Zubair Mohajir, who cooked at some of the world’s finest restaurants before returning to Chicago to pursue his own ventures. With options like the Kati Roll (house-made roti bread with scrambled egg and green chutney) and the THC Sando (tandoori-marinated fried chicken on brioche with gochujang aioli and spicy honey butter), we’re sure glad he did—especially when said flavors are heightened through the help of bottles like Riesling or Gamay.
What started as a restaurant offering traditional Chinese cuisine has evolved over the years into one incorporating modern French twists, as evidenced by orders like lobster with pickled red beet or pan-seared duck breast with Sichuan-style sauce. Elevate those flavors accordingly with any of the team’s beverage recs, including white wine, Champagne, and a medley of beers.
After cutting his teeth at fine dining restaurants throughout Chicago, Lawrence Letrero wanted a spot he could call his own. He and Raquel Quadreny opened this Ravenswood restaurant in an effort to honor their respective Filipino and Cuban heritages, which show up in specialties like Bayan Ko Lechon (crispy pork belly with fish sauce, garlic, and bay leaf) or Sisig Nigiri (street food-inspired nigiri of pork jowl, pork ears, and black vinegar). Wine-wise, it all pairs up well with clean, crisp whites—or medium-bodied reds for orders like ropa vieja or mojo-laced bistek.
Enjoy Michelin-starred cooking alongside low-key vibes at this Douglas Park restaurant, where chef-owner Phillip Foss offers a multi-course tasting menu that spotlights seasonality and innovative presentation philosophies alike (think the French Fries & Frosty: mashed potato ice cream atop leek soup inspired by his daughters' love of milkshake-dipped French fries). Bring a bottle of sparkling and light-bodied white or red—and spring for the good stuff in the company of these ingredients (i.e. foie gras, uni, and caviar).
Fans from across the city make the trek to this restaurant for its slow-smoked regional American barbecue. Opt for the Texas-style brisket (smoked for 14 hours) or the St. Louis ribs (smoked for four hours with a dry rub, then glazed with a Memphis-style BBQ sauce), and bring along some on-point pairings—dark lagers, amber ales, or your go-to Syrah. It only gets better al fresco—take advantage of their adjacent patio or covered outdoor seating in the back.
This longtime Lakeview fixture specializes in Argentine "asado" or grilled beef, with popular options like the "El Filet” (filet mignon in a red wine-onion reduction with spinach-mashed potatoes), NY strip and rib-eye, and special South American cuts like "vacio" (a thick sirloin flap steak). Order an Argentine-style family meal with the "Parrillada,” an array of cuts including grilled short-ribs, sweetbreads, and pork sausage, then open your favorite Malbec (or snag one from their neighboring bottle shop Bodega Sur).
The team behind this Mexican restaurant places an emphasis on sustainable practices and local sourcing, striving to put forth farm-fresh and house-made ingredients whenever possible. Those methods result in crowd-pleasing plates like watermelon salad with green salsa macha, shiitake mushroom empanadas with chihuahua cheese, and banana leaf steamed wahoo with mango and achiote marinade. Bring along a Tempranillo or Malbec for those spices, or keep things easy with any no-fuss lager.
Coast Sushi & Sashimi
Sushi fanatics flock to this Bucktown BYOB, which serves up flavor-packed rolls and composed dishes on the nightly. Kick things off with starters like steamed wasabi pork dumplings or beef tenderloin-wrapped asparagus, then move on to makimono like the unagi-white fish tempura Po Boy or the ever-popular White Dragon (with shrimp tempura, cream cheese, avocado, and wasabi dressing). Bring a bottle of sparkling, white, or sake to accompany your meal, and don’t miss dessert—a medley of mochi ice cream flavors awaits.
For equal parts fun and fine dining, make it a night at Schwa, the internationally acclaimed venture from chef Michael Carlson. With just 26 seats, the restaurant is intimate—so intimate that the chefs function as service team, too, bringing out course after course of show-stopping fare (quail egg and truffle ravioli; pretzel, chocolate, and mint “fun dip”). Keep up with a couple of special bottles, and whatever it is you’re drinking, save some—by night’s end you may want to share with your nearby tablemates and new friends.
90 Miles Cuban Cafe
Bring the rum and lime to keep the party going at this beloved BYOB, which features traditional Cuban cuisine and live entertainment weekly. Grab some ham croquetas, patatas bravas, and empanadas, and don’t skip out on dessert—several decadent finales await, from tres leches cake to coconut flan.