Sure, there's a time and a place for restaurants with infinitely elevated cocktail lists, but sometimes you just need a meal complemented by a six-pack you picked up from the liquor store across the street. Thanks to BYOBs, aside from saving some cash, you'll also get to control your own destiny. So find your nearest great restaurant with a Bring Your Own policy and keep it in mind for every group dinner you ever have.
This BYOB favorite has been slinging sushi to the hungry folks of Bucktown for well over a decade, and shows no sign of slowing. (Note: the South Loop and Evanston locations both have full bars).
Bring a six-pack of something great to this Latin-inspired resto sporting Day of the Dead decorations because life’s too short to drink crappy beer.
Arguably one of the finest barbecue establishments in Chicago, Smoque is a sure bet for a BYOB brisket fix in Irving Park.
Since Crisp is home to the finest Korean-style chicken wings in the city, you’d better bring some delicious potables to complement them.
Steps from the Wellington L-stop, this Thai favorite is an easily accessible BYO option for whenever a tom yum craving hits.
Grab some pals and some drinks and swing by this cozy, sustainability-driven spot for a Mexican shared plates feast. Mixers include Topo Chico, virgin sangria, house limeade, and more.
Chill vibe? Check. Braised pork shoulder and beer battered zucchini? Yup. BYO? You bet.
Where else in Chicago can you bring your own alcohol and score Peruvian fare?
This Boystown sushi destination has a BYOB (beer and wine only) policy so that you spend more where it counts: on the some of the neighborhood’s freshest sashimi.
Thai eats abound (including a “secret” menu) at this BYO on Sheridan Road.
This Argentine steakhouse sets the scene for a romantic night out; let a bottle of wine do the rest.
Spice some lychee soda or Thai iced tea and soak it up with robata-grilled meat at this inviting BYOB.
Few things go together like made-to-order burgers and beer. So when you go here, make sure you bring beer.
Pair a chicken shawarma sandwich, falafel, and sticky-sweet baklava with wine or beer at this hidden gem.
Bring some beer and your appetite and go H.A.M. on the Andouille-based Bayou Dog.
Bring up to one bottle of wine or one six-pack of beer per two guests at this Asian street food mecca.
A creative menu is the name of the game at Goosefoot at the avant-garde BYO concept.
Between bringing your own alcohol and the ridiculously cheap eats at this taco joint, you’ll have no excuse for not gorging yourself on al pastor and carne asada swaddled in flour tortillas.
Snag a spot on the colorful four-seasons patio and bring the booze necessary to complete a pitcher of mojitos or sangria, because this authentic Cuban eatery offers house-made mixes for both.
The only thing better than chef/owner Edward Kim’s truly exception dishes are said dishes paired with a really special bottle of wine... with no corkage fee.
Like sister resto Chilam Balam, this Mexican BYO offers mixers like virgin sangria and limeade.
From Laotian namtok and Peking duck buns to an unforgettable fried avocado stuffed with spicy tuna, house spicy mayo, and unagi sauce, this pan-Asian grill has the answer to all your pan-Asian food needs
While this spot has finally procured a liquor license, they still welcome guests to bring their own booze -- as long as said guests are willing to fork over a $3 corkage fee.
Set right in the heart of the neighborhood, this Old Town sushi café sports an extensive sushi selection prime for sharing with friends over a bottle of something potent.
Throw back a brewski or three while chowing on Szechwan and Mandarin eats, like steamed shrimp shui mai and General Lan’s chicken
Skyrocketing to fame courtesy of Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives, this cash-only joint now boasts outposts in Wicker Park and Lakeview (both of which are also BYOB), too. Team a burger and the iconic soft-shell crab po-boy with your favorite suds at all three locations.
Head to Chinatown for a chili fusion crab fix; wash it down with a bottle of suds plucked from your private stash.
This Asian fusion spot doesn’t technically have a corkage fee, but if you don’t bring your own glasses and/or aren’t willing drink from the bottle, you’ll be charged $2 per glass -- still, a small price to pay to enjoy your favorite red alongside foie gras pork dumplings and spicy miso-lacquered ribeye.
This north side classic recently relocated to the south side, and brought it’s BYO policy and hickory-smoked ‘cue with it.
You won’t find a corkage fee at this charming hideaway, but you’ll definitely find more than a few vegetarian-friendly menu items that are good enough to impress even the most devout carnivores.
Get whisked off to the Italian countryside by way of tagliatelle alla Bolognese and a heady Brunello at this neighborhood-y stunner.
Team rustic Italian fare with a bottle of your own wine for a $5 fee.
For hangover curing Reese’s pancakes and a little hair of the dog, nothing tops Whisk; they’ll provide the Bloody Mary mix, you bring the vodka.
Reasonably priced sushi and BYOB. Because they just go together.
Bring some Japanese beer (for a $5 fee) and throw caution to the wind with the omakase menu if you know what’s good for you.
The peking duck is outstanding so why not pair it with an amber ale? A $10 corkage fee applies.
White tablecloths and refined Mexican cuisine make this BYO feel more romantic than most.
Go for the no-fee-required BYOB, stay for the garlic naan and chicken tikka masala.
West Rogers Park
Get down and dirty with Cajun spiced seafood by the pound, and kick the heat with whatever will get you buzzing.
The recipe for a good time at Rub’s: equal parts piping hot smoked meat and ice-cold beer.
Wash a kefta kabob and some baba ghanouj down with a bottle of beer that traveled with you all the way from your fridge to the restaurant. Because you can.
With its playful tasting menu and BYO policy, this Michelin starred spot offers an anything-but-ordinary fine dining experience.
The only thing that makes this Michelin Guide-recommended sushi spot’s maki better is a frothy glass of your favorite local beer.
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Kailley Lindman is a contributing writer for Thrillist Chicago, as well as a food blogger, bacon enthusiast, and devout user of the Oxford comma. Follow her at @KailleysKitchen.
1. Coast Sushi Bar2045 N Damen Ave, Chicago
2. Estrella Negra2346 W Fullerton, Chicago
3. Smoque BBQ3800 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago
4. Crisp2940 N Broadway, Chicago
5. Andy's Thai Kitchen946 W Wellington Ave, Chicago
6. Chilam Balam3023 N Broadway, Chicago
7. HB Home Bistro3404 N Halsted St, Chicago
8. Machu Picchu3856 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
9. TAC Quick3930 N Sheridan Rd, Chicago
10. Tango Sur3763 N Southport Ave, Chicago
11. Butcher & The Burger1021 W Armitage Ave, Chicago
12. Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen1625 N Halsted St, Chicago
13. Franks 'N Dawgs1863 N Clybourn, Chicago
14. Rickshaw Republic2312 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
15. Goosefoot2656 W Lawrence Ave, Chicago
16. L'Patron Tacos3749 W Fullerton Ave, Chicago
17. 90 Miles Cuban Cafe3101 N Clybourn Ave, Chicago
18. Ruxbin Kitchen851 N Ashland, Chicago
19. Shaman1438 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
20. Anna's Asian Bistro813 W Lake St, Chicago
21. Shiso449 W North Ave, Chicago
22. BIG & little's860 N Orleans St, Chicago
23. Go 4 Food212 W 23rd St, Chicago
24. Han 202605 W 31st St, Chicago
25. Honey 1 BBQ2241 N Western Ave, Chicago
26. Bite Cafe1035 N Western Ave, Chicago
27. Briciola937 N Damen, Chicago
28. Trattoria Ultimo1953 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
29. Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill1751 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
30. Kai Zan2557 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
31. Sun Wah BBQ5039 N Broadway St, Chicago
32. La Ciudad4515 N Sheridan, Chicago
33. Hema's Kitchen2411 N Clark St, Chicago
34. The Angry Crab5665 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
35. Rub BBQ Company2407 W Lunt Ave, Chicago
36. Sultan's Market2057 W North Ave, Chicago
37. Schwa1466 N Ashland Ave, Chicago
38. Seadog1500 W Division, Chicago
39. Tanuki3006 N Sheffield Ave, Chicago
40. Cafe Sushi1342 N Wells St, Chicago
41. Lan's Old Town1507 N Sedgwick St, Chicago
42. WHISK2018 W Chicago Ave, Chicago
If anything, go for Coast's "Choco Sticks", which are basically heaven dipped in chocolate. If you're one of those... uh, normal... people who don't eat dessert first, their menu will not leave you awry. It's a standard sushi bar with lots of options. And duh, sake.
A veggie-friendly Mexican spot with killer goat cheese quesadillas and a BYOB option.
This Texas-style barbecue joint in Irving Park kicked off the smoked meat movement on the North Side in the mid-aughts, and it's been delivering great brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis ribs, and Rudy Mikeska sausage ever since. Smoque still has lines out the door because it's a must-stop on any eating tour of Chicago. FYI: it's BYOB so bring a frosty six-pack to fend off the inevitable meat sweats.
This Korean counter-serve in Lakeview serves up all sorts of Korean-American comfort food. The kimchee and bibimbap-like Buddha Bowls are just the setup for the main event: jumbo fried chicken lacquered in the restaurant's signature sweet-and-sticky Seoul Sassy sauce. The spot is BYOB, so be sure to bring some ice cold potables to wash down that damn good chicken.
It’s possible that Andy’s Thai Kitchen of Lakeview is BYOB because Chef Andy would rather you choose what potion you use to douse the Thai hot spice in your throat. Powerful flavors bathe Andy’s dishes, from the appetizers, salads, soups, entrees, curries, to, most of all, the slurp-worthy noodles. Speaking of noodles, hop the pad Thai fence and explore new noodle terrain, with the boat noodle, a dish complete with beef brisket, thin rice vermicellis, Chinese broccoli, bean sprouts, garlic, onions, pork skin, and cilantro.
Opening Thursday, this BYOB from a chef who cut his teeth at two noted grills (Frontera, Adobo) is doing farm-to-table Mexican in a cozy, brightly colored basement adorned with South-of-the-Border folk art.
HB is a hometown Lakeview spot with great grub, a BYOB option, and great service.
This is a Peruvian paradise, with delicious grub and a generous BYOB option.
Thai food should always be delicious, and Tac Quick is surpassing that standard. There's outdoor seating, good vibes, and even better eats. Oh, and there's a secret menu... hayyy.
This Argentinian restaurant offers an eclectic mix of a menu, serving everything from steak and pasta to empanadas. The place is BYOB, so you can go for the prime cuts without worrying about keeping the bill low. The restaurant is incredibly popular so expect a wait, but also know that it'll be well worth it.
B&TB is a 50% meat-monger & 50% 30-seat hamburger hawker outfitted with a custom zinc bar, a century-old farm table from the Allegheny mountains, and retro gear including a manually operated 1926 cuber designed for "minute steaks," and mid-19th century Dayton scales. Oh, and burgers (duh).
Despite the fact that this hidden gem is adjacent to the Steppenwolf Theatre, few people seem to know about it, which is good for you. The prices are great, it's BYO, and the food -- falafel included -- is excellent and always fresh.
Chef'd by a Blackbird/Sixteen alum, FND looks like an unassuming hot dog stand decked out in red, black, and steel and ornamented with photos of local graffiti (would also be American Graffiti, but shockingly Opie isn't anywhere).
RR is a modern Indonesian grub hub that is family-owned and operated. They're a pretty awesome family, and their food is just down-right delicious.
Don’t be fooled by Goosefoot’s BYOB policy: the 30-something-seat Lincoln Square restaurant is a true fine-dining destination. Rooted in France, the multi-course tasting menu gets a modern look from classically trained Chef Chris Nugent. If you’re at a loss for what to drink, next door is Goosefoot Food & Wine, with a wine selection (and cheese, chocolate, and other dry goods) to pair with that night's menu (the salesperson will point you in the right direction). The tasting menu changes seasonally, but always ends with a parting gift from the Goosefoot chocolate lab.
If you thought you could only get decent Mexican street food south of the border, think again – for Chicagoans, it’s as easy as a trip to Logan Square. The market-driven menu at L’Patron includes highlights like carne asada and the signature la gringa, a tortilla with al pastor, Chihuahua cheese, pineapple, and a side of rice and beans. While seating is available, this counter-service taqueria is a lunch hotspot, so get there early to snag a seat and chow down.
Open since 2009, the original Roscoe Village location of this local mini-chain serves some of the best Cuban food around in a funky quick-serve space (the other two outposts are full-service). 90 Miles serves an all-day menu of classic Cuban combo plates and sandwiches, including a stellar daily sandwich and fries deal. The restaurant is more of a roadside shack, and though there are only a few seats inside, there's an outdoor patio with plenty of umbrella-shaded tables. Oh, and it's BYOB.
Edward Kim’s Ruxbin is an eccentric ode to culinary dissonance. Not much about the New American restaurant makes conventional sense: interior walls are papered with torn out book pages, a square dining room has rounded edges, and there is perhaps a bit too much orange in the color palette. Then there’s the menu. Heirloom beets meet spiced yogurt, cured egg yolk, and pickled mussel; country fried celeriac is escorted by white bean “ranch,” rooftop greens, tomato confit, and brussel sprouts. But the dishes are most compelling because they are ephemeral; the roster rotates within the season, meaning you won’t see the same thing twice. But don’t get ahead of yourself’; with a no-reservations policy in place, you’ll be fortunate if you can even get seated a second time around.
From the Chilam Balam folks, Shaman turns out Mexican-influenced small plates like squash blossom quesadilla w/ molcajete & arugula salad, and grilled pork ribs w/ honey bbq, crema, queso fresco & tomatillo pico de gallo. BYOB(eer), is welcome.
From the Thailand-born gal (Anna!) and her kitchen-commanding mother who formerly helmed Thalia Spice, AAB's an elegant black & white eatery, with candle-lit shadowboxes recessed into the walls and a custom maple sushi bar providing a backdrop for the variety of Asian cuisines the mother picked up while moving all over the continent with her contractor husband, though pretty much anyone who travels there ends up doing some contracting.
A full sushi bar with other traditional Japanese entrees, as well as sake and great beers.
BIG & little's is Chicago's one-stop wonder for fish 'n chips. There are also po'boys, truffle fries, burgers, and.... need we keep going? Just get there.
Do we really need to convince you to go to a stellar Chinese/Asian-fusion restaurant IN Chinatown... ?
If you're on the hunt for Chinese, instead of hopping off the train at Chinatown, wait one stop further and opt for a more unique dining experience at Han 202 in Bridgeport, an understatedly chic restaurant with a four-course prix-fixe menu of beautiful, modern takes on traditional dishes. You can feast on plates like crispy quail, rack of lamb, or rib-eye steak in a spicy miso sauce -- all of which will force you to rethink your typical greasy Chinese food. A bonus? This tasteful spot is BYOB.
This no-nonsense barbecue joint has cafeteria-style seating and lean, juicy rib tips to kill for. Honey 1 offers a bounty of saucy, smoked meats and veggie-based (not to be mistaken for “low-calorie”) sides. Restaurant goers get a view of the glassed-in, hickory-burning smoker and can enjoy a full slab of fall-off-the-bone ribs. Their slogan is "Real Smoke...No Joke," and once you get within a block of this place you'll instantly realize why.
An updated rendition of the Empty Bottle's longtime BYOB neighbor, BC's received a wood-paneled makeover and a new chef, who's serving updated American comfort vittles like an all-beef meatball w/ tomato sauce & grilled bread. And not to worry -- that whole BYOB part is still in effect.
Helmed by the original chef from Bice, Briciola's taking over the former Jam space in Ukie Village, which now rocks martini-shaped light fixtures and B&W scenes from turn-of-the-century Milan. Expect basil-oil-kissed octopus carpaccio, house-ricotta-stuffed jumbo tortellini in brown butter w/ crunchy hazelnuts, and truffle oil'd salmon fillets encrusted in potato, which, knowing salmon's penchant for spawning, could just be a misplaced attempt to get Lays'd.
An ultra simple Italian joint serving up around a dozen dishes priced at under $12 each. The food rotates according to seasons, but expect 2.5hr-braised short ribs and tons of fresh pasta.
Yuzu Sushi & Robata Grill is a Japanese-inspired BYOB in Ukrainian Village. The izakaya-style joint serves original maki alongside robata-grilled dishes to a perpetually full 40-something seat restaurant (read: there is always a wait). The kitchen is open, adding to the authentic, artistic feel of the space: murals of Japanese comics don the walls, and the bar is comprised of 100-year-old wood. With over 40 rolls -- traditional and signature -- to choose from, robata items, and even Thai noodle bowls, Yuzu is worth the wait.
With precision and technique, brothers Melvin and Carlo Vizconde create non-traditional, neighborhood izakaya at Humboldt Park’s Kai Zan. The sophisticated Japanese-style dishes and marble countertops -- where you can watch the mesmerizing knife skills in action -- are antithetical to the restaurant’s unpretentious, inviting atmosphere. Kai Zan is a 22-seat space on West Chicago Ave., where the seats fill up fast, no small thanks to the playful, composed dishes -- like oyster and uni shooters served in ponzu sauce and topped with a quail egg and caviar -- and $50 omakase menu.
Nowhere on Uptown’s Sun Wah BBQ’s menu will you find its most sought-after dish, the three-course Beijing duck feast. The Chinese restaurant’s worst-kept secret, the duck is expertly carved, plated, and served to you by one of the chefs in a jazz-like rhythm of slicing and dicing as the bird’s tender, juicy meat falls off the bone and barely hangs onto its glistening, crunchy skin. The remainder of the duck is then syphoned off into duck fried rice and duck soup for subsequent courses. While you in no uncertain terms come to Sun Wah for the duck, there are other delectable options for those who duck meat altogether, like the Singapore noodles or black mushrooms with fried tofu.
A just-opened BYOB Mexican cafe from a guy who's been a longtime manager of other people's restos, La Ciudad (inspired by his birthplace of Mexico City) shows his nation's pride with black and white photos of MC scenes and bright red walls above green/white banquette seating, designed to mimic the flag, whose mom said just ignore them, and they'll lose interest eventually.
Hema's is a family owned and sustained Indian restaurant, with a stellar BYOB option.
This BYOB Cajun spot serves up some of the freshest seafood in the city (think giant, spice-encrusted crabs and plump shrimp immersed in garlic butter) ordered by the pound. Your food will be delivered via large plastic bag plopped down on your paper-covered table -- no plates or utensils necessary.
From a 'que loving couple who got their start doing festivals and catering, Rub's a snug 30-plus-seat BYOB 'que shack with green vinyl booths and vintage ad signs dotting barn board walls they snagged from the burbs, since Corey Feldman had already taken
Sultan's Market is the best on-the-go spot for falafel, babaganuj, curry basmati rice, and anything else Middle Eastern/Mediterranean. It's not too expensive, and you can BYOB. Score!
Schwa is an elusive, 24-seat prix fixe restaurant in Wicker Park, where the staff is notorious for rarely answering the phone (read: screening calls) to take reservations. If you somehow manage to lock one down (lucky you), you're invited to bring your own alcohol (and encouraged to bring some for the kitchen), and enjoy an ever-changing, nine-course menu with heavy metal playing in the background. The restaurant is run by a small team led by Chef Michael Carlson, each of whom cooks, serves, pours, and washes dishes. If they like you, they'll invite you into the kitchen for some of that liquor you so generously brought them.
This snug, BYOB sushi bar (helmed by the steady hand of a Coast vet) has ample ambiance what with its candlelit reams of wood and exposed brick, and hidden, garden-lined patio, but they also sport inventive maki like the soft shell crab, strawberry, mango & daikon Tango. It has proven to be an awesome pairing with the cash you'll have left over from the whole BYOB thing.
Tanuki is serving up inventive rolls and Robata BBQ in a simple and elegant setting. Try their dressed up nigiri options like the Salmon Aburi, a slice of salmon on top of rice with salmon caviar and honey mustard.
The perfect restaurant for a group sushi outing, Cafe Sushi has an extensive menu, plus it's BYOB.
With authentic Szechuan and Mandarin dishes, plus dim sum, it's no wonder Lan's Old Town is a Chicago favorite. Oh and did we mention it's BYOB?