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Lobster dumplings at Eater 38 restaurant S.K.Y.
Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

20 Outstanding BYOB Restaurants in Chicago

Diners can bring their own drinks to these standout spots

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Lobster dumplings at Eater 38 restaurant S.K.Y.
| Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

A BYOB policy can save restaurateurs dollars and the hassle of having to acquire a liquor license, and they can be just as big of a win for the customer. In addition to avoiding the upcharge on booze, diners can also break out special bottles — ones they may have been cellaring for ages and saving for the perfect occasion.

Chicago has numerous places where folks are welcome to bring their own alcohol and the following are 20 of the best. New additions to the list include renowned Michelin-starred restaurant Schwa, Korean barbecue at Cho Sun Ok, and Indian favorite Rangoli.

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Sun Wah BBQ

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This Uptown restaurant has been tackling Hong Kong-style barbecue for more than 30 years, and the team has maintained the same basic philosophy since day one — that “food is medicine.” Expect classics like roast pork and beef and broccoli at this James Beard Awards America’s Classic, but it’s the Beijing duck dinner that steals the show. Duck is carved tableside and incorporated into three courses: Bao sandwiches, fried rice, and a bone-based soup.

Sun Wah BBQ [Official Photo]

Goosefoot

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Choosing a bottle to bring to this Michelin-starred tasting menu go-to has never been easier, thanks to its neighboring wine shop and some serious service. The team emails diners the wine list in advance of their reservations to ensure they can find them the perfect pairing for that night’s menu, and they’ll then have the selection chilled (if need be) and ready to go upon arrival. It’s just the beginning of a memorable meal from chef Chris Nugent, whose refined, French-inspired approach is revealed in a series of courses.

Goosefoot [Official Photo]

Cho Sun Ok

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One of the best and busiest spots for Korean barbecue in Chicago is also BYOB. The no-frills Lincoln Square restaurant often has a line out the door but those who are willing to wait are rewarded with tasty meats, such as chadol-gui. This house specialty stars thinly-sliced beef brisket that’s cooked tableside in a stone pan. The leftovers are then used to make kimchi fried rice.

Tango Sur

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This Lakeview steakhouse has been serving up Argentine, asado-style fare for more than 20 years, and it continues to pack the house nightly. All cuts are butchered in house, a process resulting in favorites like filet mignon in a red wine-onion reduction and the parrillada, an Argentine family meal that’s brimming with meats like grilled short ribs, sweetbreads, and pork sausage. Malbec and other wines are available at its shop, Bodega Sur.

Tango Sur [Official Photo]

Smoque BBQ

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Barbecue enthusiasts will appreciate the menu at this Eater 38 meat mecca, where pitmaster Barry Sorkin and his team specialize in slow-smoked regional American ‘que. Texas-style brisket is smoked for 14 hours with natural hardwoods, and the St. Louis ribs are smoked for four hours with a dry rub before meeting a glaze of Memphis-style sauce. Terrific sides — mac and cheese, cornbread, and brisket chili — are all on offer too. 

smoque bbq Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Chilam Balam

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The team at this Lakeview Mexican eatery abides by a sustainably-driven, ingredient-first mentality and because of it, has earned a loyal following over the years. Small plates are the specialty — think mahi mahi ceviche, grilled pork ribs, and chili-marinated flank steak. Dessert includes hibiscus flan, chocolate-chili mousse, and peanut butter-filled empanadas.

Chilam Balam [Official Photo]

Tanuki Sushi & Grill

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This Lakeview restaurant serves a variety of contemporary Asian plates, such as Korean-style rib eye with shishito peppers, asparagus, and ginger sweet sauce; or escargot with sweet and spicy panang curry and garlic butter bread. Sushi is, of course, a staple as well. One highlight is the “Avenger,” a roll with salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo that’s wrapped with tempura before being topped with spicy tuna and fried shallots.

Tanuki Sushi [Official Photo]

Toro Sushi

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Getting a seat at this tiny Lincoln Park storefront is a challenge as owner Mitch Kim has gained a loyal following for his creative and affordable maki in a BYO setting. The “Oh My God” roll (tempura shrimp, unagi, kani salad, cream cheese, mango, cucumber, avocado, and more) is a crowd pleaser, while the volcano roll, served with a sparkler, is a visual spectacle.

Rickshaw Republic

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Indonesian street food is the focus at this Lincoln Park restaurant, where the Setiawan family has spent the past six years recreating the country’s vibrant culture through food. Highlights include the beef rendang, a bowl of braised, caramelized beef curry (complete with more than 21 spices), as well as Indonesian spice-infused fish that’s wrapped in banana leaves before it hits the steamer and grill. For a group, reserve the rice table, a family-style meal of 15 to 21 dishes that range from shrimp crackers and yellow coconut rice to braised pork belly and grilled black tiger shrimp.

Rickshaw Republic [Official Photo]

Coast Sushi Bar

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Girls night out and couples on the town are a constant occurrence at this popular sushi spot, which is a favorite in the area for its fish delivered daily and BYOB policy. Customers often kick things off with a round or two of nigiri before delving into the signature rolls, such as the “Sunrise” (ginger-seared tuna, mint, mango) and the “White Dragon” (shrimp tempura, avocado, eel sauce, cream cheese). Choose wine wisely — management caps it at one bottle per couple.     

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Coasting

A post shared by Sarah Beth Schmitt (@sarahschmitty_) on

The Bento Box

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It’s all about big and bold flavors at this Bucktown spot, where chef Rick Spiros doles out plenty of adventurous takes on Asian cuisine via local ingredients and from-scratch sauces. They appear in plates like spicy pork cabbage rolls with housemade sweet and sour sauce, and green curry mussels with Thai basil garlic bread. Riesling is a good fit with the main event, a serving of red chili-marinated chicken thigh atop stir-fried egg noodles with curry powder, Thai basil, and scallions. 

90 Miles Cuban Cafe

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Owners Alberto and Christina Gonzalez have spent the past decade serving Chicagoans their take on traditional Cuban fare, as evidenced in plates like puerco rostizado (marinated roasted pork with prunes, bacon, guava, and ham), ropa vieja (slow roasted and shredded angus beef with peppers, and Creole sauce) and the beloved Cubano sandwich. Find them at at three locations — Roscoe Village, Logan Square, and Lincolnwood — though it’s the first two that operate on a BYOB basis (Logan Square also features mixers for making mojitos and sangria). A corkage fee is nominal ($5 for a bottle or six-pack), but avoid it entirely on Mondays or from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

Traditional Costa Rican cuisine has been served at this Bucktown gem since 1990. Customers bring bottles of wine and feast on empanadas, the classic pepito sandwich (steak or chicken, sautéed onions, cheese, beans, Lizano sauce), or casado — a plate of meat served with white rice, black beans, plantains, egg, and cabbage salad. The enclosed patio is popular during the summertime, as are the oatmeal shakes.

Rangoli

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Rangoli – one of the best Indian restaurants outside of Devon Avenue – ably executes the staples, such as samosas, butter chicken, and biryani. The Gobi Manchurian is also a popular Indo-Chinese dish featuring fried cauliflower tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Diners bring booze from outside to temper the spices.

Schwa Restaurant

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Michael Carlson’s eccentric restaurant is truly one of Chicago’s most unique experiences. The staff delivers fine-dining-quality courses, without pretense, in an intimate and rambunctious setting. Diners can bring their own booze, as well as alcoholic gifts for the kitchen, and expect delicacies like quail egg ravioli.

Alegrias Seafood Chicago

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Alegrias starts diners off with complimentary ceviche and tostadas before presenting them with an abundance of fresh catch. Prawns, langoustines, crab legs, and lobster are just a few of the choices and they can be prepared in different styles, such as breaded or with the house special Nayarit sauce.

Alegrias Seafood [Official Photo]

5 Rabanitos

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Nestled in the heart of Pilsen, owner Alfonso Sotelo offers homey Mexican cooking. Traditional dishes like chicken mole and carne en su jugo, are avaiable as well as some of the best tacos in town. Whichever folks prefer, they can also bring a bottle of wine or six-pack to complement the food.

5 Rabanitos [Official Photo]

Stephen Gillanders’s Eater 38 restaurant features elevated-but-approachable Asian-influenced dining at an affordable price point. The menu is littered with creative dishes alongside favorites like black truffle croquettes, lobster dumplings, and organic fried chicken over creamed corn. Diners can save by bringing their own beer or wine on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. A corkage fee is applied on Fridays and Saturdays.

Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Gio's Cafe and Deli

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This classic Italian-American spot on the South Side comforts diners with checkered tables and red sauce favorites. The menu is loaded with classics like arancini, chicken parm, mostaccioli, sausage and peppers, and more. On top of all that, the portions are generous, it’s BYOB, and folks can pick up groceries to take home.

Han 202

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There are plenty of Asian restaurants in Bridgeport but none are comparable to Han 202. The fusion spot only offers a $35 four-course prix fixe menu with BYOB pairings. The food blends modern technique and traditional flavors to create dishes like rack of lamb with bonito plum sauce; crispy quail with fresh lemon; and soft shell crab with sweet chili sauce.

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Sun Wah BBQ

This Uptown restaurant has been tackling Hong Kong-style barbecue for more than 30 years, and the team has maintained the same basic philosophy since day one — that “food is medicine.” Expect classics like roast pork and beef and broccoli at this James Beard Awards America’s Classic, but it’s the Beijing duck dinner that steals the show. Duck is carved tableside and incorporated into three courses: Bao sandwiches, fried rice, and a bone-based soup.

Sun Wah BBQ [Official Photo]

Goosefoot

Choosing a bottle to bring to this Michelin-starred tasting menu go-to has never been easier, thanks to its neighboring wine shop and some serious service. The team emails diners the wine list in advance of their reservations to ensure they can find them the perfect pairing for that night’s menu, and they’ll then have the selection chilled (if need be) and ready to go upon arrival. It’s just the beginning of a memorable meal from chef Chris Nugent, whose refined, French-inspired approach is revealed in a series of courses.

Goosefoot [Official Photo]

Cho Sun Ok

One of the best and busiest spots for Korean barbecue in Chicago is also BYOB. The no-frills Lincoln Square restaurant often has a line out the door but those who are willing to wait are rewarded with tasty meats, such as chadol-gui. This house specialty stars thinly-sliced beef brisket that’s cooked tableside in a stone pan. The leftovers are then used to make kimchi fried rice.

Tango Sur

This Lakeview steakhouse has been serving up Argentine, asado-style fare for more than 20 years, and it continues to pack the house nightly. All cuts are butchered in house, a process resulting in favorites like filet mignon in a red wine-onion reduction and the parrillada, an Argentine family meal that’s brimming with meats like grilled short ribs, sweetbreads, and pork sausage. Malbec and other wines are available at its shop, Bodega Sur.

Tango Sur [Official Photo]

Smoque BBQ

Barbecue enthusiasts will appreciate the menu at this Eater 38 meat mecca, where pitmaster Barry Sorkin and his team specialize in slow-smoked regional American ‘que. Texas-style brisket is smoked for 14 hours with natural hardwoods, and the St. Louis ribs are smoked for four hours with a dry rub before meeting a glaze of Memphis-style sauce. Terrific sides — mac and cheese, cornbread, and brisket chili — are all on offer too. 

smoque bbq Barry Brecheisen/Eater Chicago

Chilam Balam

The team at this Lakeview Mexican eatery abides by a sustainably-driven, ingredient-first mentality and because of it, has earned a loyal following over the years. Small plates are the specialty — think mahi mahi ceviche, grilled pork ribs, and chili-marinated flank steak. Dessert includes hibiscus flan, chocolate-chili mousse, and peanut butter-filled empanadas.

Chilam Balam [Official Photo]

Tanuki Sushi & Grill

This Lakeview restaurant serves a variety of contemporary Asian plates, such as Korean-style rib eye with shishito peppers, asparagus, and ginger sweet sauce; or escargot with sweet and spicy panang curry and garlic butter bread. Sushi is, of course, a staple as well. One highlight is the “Avenger,” a roll with salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo that’s wrapped with tempura before being topped with spicy tuna and fried shallots.

Tanuki Sushi [Official Photo]

Toro Sushi

Getting a seat at this tiny Lincoln Park storefront is a challenge as owner Mitch Kim has gained a loyal following for his creative and affordable maki in a BYO setting. The “Oh My God” roll (tempura shrimp, unagi, kani salad, cream cheese, mango, cucumber, avocado, and more) is a crowd pleaser, while the volcano roll, served with a sparkler, is a visual spectacle.

Rickshaw Republic

Indonesian street food is the focus at this Lincoln Park restaurant, where the Setiawan family has spent the past six years recreating the country’s vibrant culture through food. Highlights include the beef rendang, a bowl of braised, caramelized beef curry (complete with more than 21 spices), as well as Indonesian spice-infused fish that’s wrapped in banana leaves before it hits the steamer and grill. For a group, reserve the rice table, a family-style meal of 15 to 21 dishes that range from shrimp crackers and yellow coconut rice to braised pork belly and grilled black tiger shrimp.

Rickshaw Republic [Official Photo]

Coast Sushi Bar

Girls night out and couples on the town are a constant occurrence at this popular sushi spot, which is a favorite in the area for its fish delivered daily and BYOB policy. Customers often kick things off with a round or two of nigiri before delving into the signature rolls, such as the “Sunrise” (ginger-seared tuna, mint, mango) and the “White Dragon” (shrimp tempura, avocado, eel sauce, cream cheese). Choose wine wisely — management caps it at one bottle per couple.     

View this post on Instagram

Coasting

A post shared by Sarah Beth Schmitt (@sarahschmitty_) on

The Bento Box

It’s all about big and bold flavors at this Bucktown spot, where chef Rick Spiros doles out plenty of adventurous takes on Asian cuisine via local ingredients and from-scratch sauces. They appear in plates like spicy pork cabbage rolls with housemade sweet and sour sauce, and green curry mussels with Thai basil garlic bread. Riesling is a good fit with the main event, a serving of red chili-marinated chicken thigh atop stir-fried egg noodles with curry powder, Thai basil, and scallions. 

90 Miles Cuban Cafe

Owners Alberto and Christina Gonzalez have spent the past decade serving Chicagoans their take on traditional Cuban fare, as evidenced in plates like puerco rostizado (marinated roasted pork with prunes, bacon, guava, and ham), ropa vieja (slow roasted and shredded angus beef with peppers, and Creole sauce) and the beloved Cubano sandwich. Find them at at three locations — Roscoe Village, Logan Square, and Lincolnwood — though it’s the first two that operate on a BYOB basis (Logan Square also features mixers for making mojitos and sangria). A corkage fee is nominal ($5 for a bottle or six-pack), but avoid it entirely on Mondays or from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.

Irazu

Traditional Costa Rican cuisine has been served at this Bucktown gem since 1990. Customers bring bottles of wine and feast on empanadas, the classic pepito sandwich (steak or chicken, sautéed onions, cheese, beans, Lizano sauce), or casado — a plate of meat served with white rice, black beans, plantains, egg, and cabbage salad. The enclosed patio is popular during the summertime, as are the oatmeal shakes.

Rangoli

Rangoli – one of the best Indian restaurants outside of Devon Avenue – ably executes the staples, such as samosas, butter chicken, and biryani. The Gobi Manchurian is also a popular Indo-Chinese dish featuring fried cauliflower tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. Diners bring booze from outside to temper the spices.

Schwa Restaurant

Michael Carlson’s eccentric restaurant is truly one of Chicago’s most unique experiences. The staff delivers fine-dining-quality courses, without pretense, in an intimate and rambunctious setting. Diners can bring their own booze, as well as alcoholic gifts for the kitchen, and expect delicacies like quail egg ravioli.

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Alegrias Seafood Chicago

Alegrias starts diners off with complimentary ceviche and tostadas before presenting them with an abundance of fresh catch. Prawns, langoustines, crab legs, and lobster are just a few of the choices and they can be prepared in different styles, such as breaded or with the house special Nayarit sauce.

Alegrias Seafood [Official Photo]

5 Rabanitos

Nestled in the heart of Pilsen, owner Alfonso Sotelo offers homey Mexican cooking. Traditional dishes like chicken mole and carne en su jugo, are avaiable as well as some of the best tacos in town. Whichever folks prefer, they can also bring a bottle of wine or six-pack to complement the food.

5 Rabanitos [Official Photo]

S.K.Y.

Stephen Gillanders’s Eater 38 restaurant features elevated-but-approachable Asian-influenced dining at an affordable price point. The menu is littered with creative dishes alongside favorites like black truffle croquettes, lobster dumplings, and organic fried chicken over creamed corn. Diners can save by bringing their own beer or wine on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. A corkage fee is applied on Fridays and Saturdays.

Jeffy Mai/Eater Chicago

Gio's Cafe and Deli

This classic Italian-American spot on the South Side comforts diners with checkered tables and red sauce favorites. The menu is loaded with classics like arancini, chicken parm, mostaccioli, sausage and peppers, and more. On top of all that, the portions are generous, it’s BYOB, and folks can pick up groceries to take home.

Han 202

There are plenty of Asian restaurants in Bridgeport but none are comparable to Han 202. The fusion spot only offers a $35 four-course prix fixe menu with BYOB pairings. The food blends modern technique and traditional flavors to create dishes like rack of lamb with bonito plum sauce; crispy quail with fresh lemon; and soft shell crab with sweet chili sauce.

Related Maps