The Best Chicago BYOB’s – Photo by Afroswede on Flickr

The BYOB is one of the restaurant world’s greatest gifts to its fellow men.  The poor undergrad can suddenly afford a culinary night on the town with a few bottles of Two Buck Chuck in hand, and the avid foodie can over indulge on appetizers while still sipping the perfect Pinot Noir guilt free.  I must admit I have been on both ends of this spectrum, and my love for the BYOB has never wavered.  Here is a list of my favorite Chicago BYOB’s.

1)      Istanbul

 This Lakeview gem  opened a little over a year ago.  It has bright, open seating, and the staff is always willing to accommodate impromptu additional guests.  The food is classic Turkish fare, the portions are large, perfect for sharing, and moderately priced. The bread and oil that are brought out to the tables at the beginning of the meal are delicious and constantly replenished. The staff never rushes diners out, and is attentive to empty water and wine glasses.  There is no corkage fee, no limit to the number of bottles you can bring in, and they accept reservations.

2)      Fattoush

 This Lebanese restaurant is located in Lincoln Park.  The staff is exceptionally friendly without being overbearing, and the ambiance is great – the basement has Arabic floor seating.  The food is delicious, although priced on the higher end of moderate, and the hummus is probably the best you will find in Chicago. There is no corkage fee, no bottle limit, reservations are accepted, and as an added bonus, Fattoush provides free WiFi for all its’ diners.

3)      Tango Sur

 I never thought I would find a BYOB Argentinean Steak House, but Southport’s steak house proved me wrong. Tango Sur has outdoor patio seating in the summer, but even with the additional space, getting a table during prime hours is hard.  I suggest making reservations at least a week in advance.  The food is delicious and the portions are massive.  This restaurant can run a tad pricey, but there is no corkage fee and no bottle limit per table.

4)      New Tokyo

 I personally do not eat Sushi, but as luck would have it, 95% of my friends love it.  In an attempt to appease their love of the Roll, and my own love for eating out, I found this Lakeview Sushi House which also has a full menu of delicious fully cooked food.  The inside of the restaurant is a bit small, and they do not take reservations, so immediate seating is a hit or miss.  Although, in the summer they do offer outdoor seating which cuts down on wait times.  There is no bottle limit and no corkage fee, and while I personally cannot vouch for the sushi rolls, the Katsu Don is fanastic and I would never turn down the Tempura.

5)      Khan Zaman

This Lebanese restaurant is my favorite Chicago BYOB.  It’s located in Chicago’s River North neighborhood.  There are two seating options – standard American tables, and floor seating, where patrons have to remove their shoes and sit Indian style.  The most unique detail about Khan Zaman is the belly dancer that performs on Saturdays, at 9:00. She comes out and will dance around the tables, engaging other diners to join her.  The food is delicious, and if you have a party of four or more, I recommend asking the chef to bring out his favorites instead of trying to order from the menu.  The wait staff is attentive and extremely friendly. They do accept reservations, but I recommend making them at least a week in advance.  There is also a onetime per person corkage fee of $5. 

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