BYO (bring your own booze, beer or wine) is one of those restaurant qualities that I try to look for when dining out. It’s cheaper (usually), much more casual and a great place to dine with groups. Chicago has so many to choose from, so I have rounded up a list of my favorite spots throughout the city. If you have any favorites I should try, send suggestions my way!
I have been to all these places with my friends or with the family, they would make a great Valentine’s Day dinner. Most of them don’t take reservations, so I recommend going early! And check beforehand for the corkage fee.
We just carried out here recently and it is some of the best Thai food! In fact, they are Thai Select certified. You can read more about the certification program here.
Portions are huge and highly recommend the Pad Thai. It’s actually a little sweeter than most, but so good.
Located in Old Town, this place is one of those places that when you walk in, you feel at home right away. It almost feels like you’re in your grandma’s kitchen. I think they have some really great falafel and chicken shawarma. There is a corkage fee, but if you are hanging out for awhile, it’s definitely worth it!
Located in Lincoln Park, this BYO sushi restaurant has a wide variety of sushi rolls, sushi bowls, pressed sushi and an impressive list of veggie rolls. My personal favorites are the Godzilla, V6 and Sparking rolls (see all three below). They recently expanded from one tiny room to now a much bigger space. The service is friendly, prices are great and no corkage fee. Go check it out and tell them I sent you 🙂
I am going to be honest, I am slightly obsessed with this place. The owners are absolutely amazing, friendly and so inviting! Back story, we once went Mila was a baby and she would not stop crying! We were about to leave, when the owner’s grandmother (she makes the horchata), came to front and rocked her until she fell asleep. It was so touching. I will be a forever customer.
Is the food good? YES! It’s a Korean-Mexican fusion and everything from the tacos to the wings are so good. I love the sesame kalibi tacos, but the tinga pollo sandwich is a close second. It’s located in Old Town and great for families or small group.
This place is the cutest! And the owners are husband and wife and are so hospitable. They are great with Noah and Mila and we love the food! The meatballs, greek meatballs and pizza is great. They don’t take reservations and it’s pretty small, but we have never waited for a table. It would make a cute family Valentine’s Day spot for sure.
Probably the most casual places on this list, but one of my favorites! You know those places that you could just spend hours at? Well, this is that kind of place. Their TACOS are literally my favorite in the city, it’s BYO and now that they opened their patio, omg! GO! Below are the Diablo Shrimp tacos, one of my favorites to order.
My family has been coming to 90 Miles for years now for their traditional Cuban cuisine. We have celebrated graduations, anniversaries and birthdays here. In fact, we had Mila’s baptism here :).
It is huge, has an outdoor seating and the decor all make for a fun dining atmosphere. The empanadas and ropa vieja are not to be missed, some of the best I have ever had (sorry mother-in-law!)
The service is top-notch, especially since there are many large groups at time. They take reservations and it is definitely recommended. In addition to being BYOB, they have a sangria and mojito mix, so bring wine or rum they will make you a cocktail. There are a few locations in the city. To find out more location information, click here. They do take reservations, so if you are looking for Valentine’s Day, I would definitely see if they have any availability.
SOME OF THE BEST FALAFEL! This Lebanese restaurant is in Albany Park, is intimate, welcoming and the food is fantastic. I love the mixed grilled platter, falafel, and hummus are delicious. There is plenty of street parking, but it is located right off the Kedzie Brown Line stop (like literally right at the stop). There is a corkage fee and don’t take reservations, but so worth the wait. Promise.
La Chapparita Grocery
Ok, so there’s no website, but it’s located in Little Village. It’s actually a grocery store with a small restaurant inside. We saw it on Check Please and knew we had to try it. Absolutely everything we had from tacos to horchata to trip, were delicious. It’s casual and great for an easy night out with a small group (it’s not very big inside!)
For our very first Valentine’s Day (almost 11 years ago…), we came to the Italian BYO Caro Miro and have gone several times since. Located in Ravenswood, this cozy, neighborhood spot has homemade pastas with huge portions, big enough to share. The pesto filled gnocchi is the best and chicken parmesan is also another favori\e. There is not a corkage fee, but if you plan on sharing entrees, there is a sharing fee. They recently expanded their dining room and take parties to up to 80 people now. Reservations are taken for parties of 4 or more. Bring your appetite and a bottle or two for some delicious Italian food.
Until next time,