Insider Tip: BYOB in Chicago
One of the most expensive parts of dining out is the alcohol. Whether you're ordering beer, wine, or spirits, you'll pay much more than if you'd bought it yourself. At several restaurants in Chicago you can buy it yourself and Bring Your Own Bottle, or BYOB.
What Can You Bring to a BYOB Restaurant?
If it's alcoholic you can bring it. You can bring beer, wine, and spirits. Some people also bring mixers so they can make their own cocktails, but unless it's something the restaurant doesn't offer it's not recommended. For example, if you want soda with your Jim Beam it's best to leave the Coke at home.
Is There a Charge for BYOB?
There is no charge for bringing your own alcohol to a BYOB restaurant. In fact, any charge is illegal if the restaurant does not have a liquor license. Restaurant employees are also not supposed to have any interaction with the alcohol you bring. That means they shouldn't be opening or pouring your bottle of wine, but some do in the interest of service. Since doing this can get them in trouble, don't be offended if they don't offer to pour your bottle of wine.
What Types of Restaurants are BYOB?
Any type of restaurant can be BYOB, but many of them are ethnic restaurants. Places that feature Mexican, Peruvian, and Cuban cuisine and those that focus on sushi are often BYOB. That being said, there are BYOB restaurants for any type of cuisine. The only exception is the typical American steakhouse. If steak is what you want, consider an Argentinian steakhouse.
Are BYOB Restaurants Any Good?
A misconception is that BYOB restaurants are not as good as those who have a liquor license. However, like any restaurant category the quality of food and service at BYOB restaurants varies widely. Some of the best restaurants in the city are BYOB.
Where Can I Find BYOB Restaurants?
You can find BYOB restaurants all over the city. There are fewer downtown and more are located in the many neighborhoods. You can also find directories online, and The Local Tourist has a comprehensive section of restaurants that let you bring your own bottle.
Bringing your own bottle of beer, wine, or liquor makes an evening out much more affordable. You can enjoy a great dinner and pair it with your favorite beverage for much less than if you visited an establishment with a liquor license.