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Best BYOB Restaurants In The Chicago Area

Getting the bill after a satisfying meal can be absolutely deflating when oftentimes the bar tab is higher than the cost of your food. What are your choices? Have a couple of sturdy cocktails before you go out to eat? The other choice is to dine at one of these BYOB eateries that offer memorable vittles and the knowledge that you're oh-so-smart for doing so.
Trattoria Ultimo
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Trattoria Ultimo
1953 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(312) 243-6343

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

Oliver's Cafe
451 W. 31st St.
Chicago, IL 60616
(312) 791-1230

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.

Sake Sushi and Grill
884 S. Rand Road
Lake Zurich, IL 60047
(847) 796-0515

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!

Related: Best French Restaurants In Chicago

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Bite Cafe
1039 N. Western Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 395-2483

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.

Shaman by Chilam Balam
1438 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642
(312) 226-4175

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.

Related: Best Restaurants With Handmade Pasta In Chicago

Jacky Runice has been a columnist with the Daily Herald Chicago since grunge music and flannel was the new black. Her fingers and gray matter have been busy as travel editor of Reunions Magazine; penning a column that was syndicated around the nation via Tribune Media Services. Her work can be found at

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