This intimate Ukrainian Village restaurant offers a definite "dove si mangia bene" (where you eat good) atmosphere with homemade pasta and sausage plus lots of daily specials from risotto of the day to a sampling of the season's best cheese. Bring a bottle of white for the earthy linguine with a ragu of cod or red to accompany the expertly grilled lamb chops. There's fruit-flavored Italian soda to mix with your favorite spirits, too. The corkage fee is $5
451 W. 31st St.
Chicago, IL 60616
Buy your bottle before heading to Oliver's Cafe because you'll waste time searching for a liquor store in the vicinity and you'll want to spend as much time as possible savoring the fine dining food coming from Oliver Valenzuela's kitchen. He sharpened his skills in an impressive list of iconic restaurants from the Waldorf Astoria in New York to Chicago's Palmer House. Enjoy beautifully presented and voluptuous food like pan-seared dried jumbo sea scallops with salsify leek ragout, roasted red pepper sauce and port wine glaze, French rack of pork and pear cake with cream vanilla sauce. Add that this place is BYOB and you just died and went to culinary heaven.
884 S. Rand Road
Lake Zurich, IL 60047
Sushi is so darn expensive that many of us just go for the green tea or water so we can have just one more torpedo of lush sashimi to melt in our mouths. That would be to the contrary at Sake Sushi and Grill in northwest suburban Lake Zurich. The family-owned restaurant guarantees the highest sashimi-grade seafood in all of dishes. Go teriyaki, too - the sauce is made on the premises - and fin-atics will adore the seafood fried rice teeming with salmon, shrimp, whitefish, mussels, scallops and crab. Since it's BYOB, order another chef's specialty roll - you can afford it!
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1039 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
The menu might be all over the place (homemade kraut, breakfast poutine, duck confit, Challah French toast) but this is one hot mess you want to loll in for awhile. Hipster art, attached dive bar, daily specials like steak night or Friday fish fry plus BYOB without a corkage fee make Bite Cafe a must-try when you're in the neighborhood. The weekend brunch is stellar.
1438 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
So the Mars rover at one point discovered evidence of water on the now-barren planet. Big deal - you've discovered a Mexican small plates BYOB that supports local farmers. Expect a hat dance of recipes showcasing owner Soraya Rendon's hometown of Mexico City like grilled flank steak, oxtail tamales, gorditas created from smoked whitefish salad, chipotle mayo and salsa borracha and pork belly tacos. Desserts are a revelation too with chocolate chile mousse, spiced goat cheese, cajeta and cocoa nib marshmallow. Note: there's a limit of one 750ml bottle or one six-pack of beer for every party of two.
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