Best BYOB’s Chicago

The fall equinox creeps closer every day. September 23. When I look at the calendar now, it reminds me of all the times my mom used to drive me passed middle school the summer after I turned twelve years old.

“Don’t look it at!” I’d scream before diving onto the floor mats, which were always caked with the mud I’d track in after soccer practice. “If you don’t see Emerson, it’s like it doesn’t exist. And if it doesn’t exist, I never have to go back and then summer will go on forever!”

This is me still. A decade and three years later, I avoid eye contact with anything and everything that symbolizes the end of summer. Except the knee-high boot section of Nordstrom’s fall catalog. Naturally.

It’s just so weird because yesterday I fell asleep upset after I dented my bumper when my car slid into the back of an F-150 during the polar vortex, and today I woke up and there were only 11 days left in August.

Obviously, I am dreaming.

And in this dream I must be having, my mind has somehow found a way to conjure up very seemingly real memories of twelve BYOB’s that I supposedly visited during this phantom summer that I’m expected to believe I already had.

This reminds me of something that’s bothered me for much of my adult life, which is how Romy and Michele’s high school reunion would have gone way better for them had Michele just remembered the freaking recipe for glue from her dream. I mean, hello? If you have a dream that tells you to, “raise the viscosity by adding a complex glucose derivative during the emulsification process,then you write that $#!* down! I just don’t get it.

So in case this is really only a dream and summer is still just around the corner, I’m writing down my personal list of the Best BYOB’s on Chicago’s North Side.

 90 Miles Cuban

Logan Square

2540 W. Armitage

Favorites: Mariquitas, Choripan, Ropa Vieja


Tango Sur

3763 N. Southport


Favorites: Provoleta, Pez


Enso Sushi & Bar

Bucktown/Wicker Park

1613 N. Damen

Favorites: Comiskey Park Maki, Crispy Spicy Tuna Maki



1865 N. Milwaukee


Favorites: Guacamole, El Tico, Pepito Sandwich


Dawali Mediterranean Kitchen

1625 N. Halsted

Lincoln Park

Favorites: Spicy hummus, Chicken and Beef Shawerma


Butcher and the Burger

1021 W. Armitage

Lincoln Park

Favorites: Anything with truffle mayo and an egg


Chilam Balam

3023 N. Broadway


Favorites: Corn Masa Memelas, Flautas


Athenian Room

807 W. Webster

Lincoln Park

Favorites: Gyros, Chicken Kalamata Style, Fries

(*Technically not a BYOB unless you count buying a drink next door at Glasscott’s and bringing that over – which I do).


Birchwood Kitchen

2211 W. North Ave.

Wicker Park

Favorites: Croque Madame


Lush Wine & Spirits

2232 W. Roscoe Street

Roscoe Village

Favorites: Meat & Cheese Platter


Kyoto Sushi

2534 N. Lincoln Ave.

Lincoln Park

Favorites: Miami Roll, Philadelphia Roll

Sultan’s Market

2057 W. North Ave

Wicker Park

Favorites: Falafel, Salad Bar

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