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May 6, 2009 08:30 AM

BYOB's on North Side & or near Grant Park

My better half & I will be in town for the Blues Festival. Our budget is tight this year. We're staying Rogers Park with friends. We love wine and great chow. She prefers Italian, French & American cuisine. I eat anything. Any suggestions for great BYOB's are sincerely appreciated. Any good diner recs are also appreciated. Thanks 'hounders.

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  1. Here are some BYOB discussions you should check:

    BYOB Restos -
    Best Chicago BYOB (Casual) -

    You can also see listings of BYOB restaurants, which you can filter by location and type of food, on Metromix at
    Note that some of those restaurants have full bar but are listed because they will also let you BYOB with corkage fees (that are sometimes exorbitant). I believe restaurants in Chicago can only charge corkage fees if they have a liquor license; those without a license cannot charge corkage.

    However, I think you may be missing out on a WHOLE LOT of great food places by concentrating only on BYOB places, and only on those specific cuisines. There are some non-BYOB places that can still be quite inexpensive. Furthermore, it sounds to me like you are trying to replicate the kinds of food you and your companion find at home, rather than enjoying what Chicago has to offer that you might not be familiar with. For example, Rogers Park is full of two kinds of inexpensive ethnic food. There are many Indian/Pakistani restaurants along Devon Avenue between Western (2400W) and Sacramento (3000W). And there are many inexpensive Mexican restaurants in and near Rogers Park; you can find recommendations at Some may be BYOB but many of the others are inexpensive too.

    And here are some non-BYOB but still fairly inexpensive recommendations for the types of food you mention.

    For Italian near Rogers Park, go to Campagnola ( ) in Evanston for a nicer but moderately-priced Italian, or to Panino's ( ) in Evanston for an inexpensive neighborhood type place. For Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in Rogers Park, you can get "stuffed" pizza at Giordano's ( ) on Sheridan, or "pizza in the pan" at Lou Malnati's ( ) in Evanston. For Italian near Grant Park, you can go to any of the three restaurants in Italian Village ( ), and you can get Chicago-style deep-dish pizza at Pizano's on Madison ( ).

    For French, there are relatively inexpensive French bistros at both places; note that they are less expensive for lunch than for dinner. Near Rogers Park, in Evanston are Jacky's Bistro ( ) and Jilly's Cafe ( ). Not too far from Grant Park are Brasserie Jo ( ) and La Sardine ( ), where all bottles of wine are half price on Mondays.

    For moderately-priced American near Rogers Park in Evanston, I recommend Prairie Moon ( ) or Lucky Platter ( ). Near Grant Park, I suggest Boston Blackie's ( ), either on East Grand or on the west side of the Loop, and Park Grill ( ) at the entrance to Millennium Park.

    1. Tango Sur (Southport & Grace). Go to "chicago restaurant menus" to see selections, prices, and hours. Graciously BYOB and no corkage fee.

      1. Bon Soiree is an all BYOB restaurant, with very creative tasting menus:
        The corkage fee is $5/bottle, and for that you get new wine glasses with each bottle, and very professional wine service.

        8 Replies
        1. re: masha

          Since your budget is tight, you should be aware that although Bon Soiree is BYOB, it is not inexpensive; in fact, it's one of the two most expensive BYOB-only restaurants in Chicago (along with Schwa). The 4-, 7-, and 13-course menus, as shown on Bon Soiree's website, are $45, $85, and $150.

          1. re: nsxtasy

            nsxtasy- you're a great 'hounder! thx for all your suggestions! You're correct, the prices at Bon Soiree are a tad high for us at the moment. Your earlier post mentioned lots of spots in Evanston-any suggestions going into the city near the redline? Also, Terragusto was excellent food last year. Haven't been since the new location opened-hope the quality stays consistent.

            1. re: schaf1

              I should have also given you the link to the recent discussion recommending moderately-priced places around the city:

              Among other things, it includes the following ethnic suggestions along the CTA Red Line:

              - Breakfast at Bongo Room, at the Roosevelt Road stop

              - Chinese food in Chinatown at either Lao Sze Chuan or Double Li, near the Cermak/Chinatown stop

              - Thai food at TAC Quick, at the Sheridan stop

              - Vietnamese food at one of the restaurants along Argyle Street near the Argyle stop

              - Chicago-style hot dogs and/or Italian beef sandwiches. Both Al's #1 Beef ( ) and Portillo's ( ) serve both, and both places have locations on Ontario near the Grand/State stop

              1. re: nsxtasy

                Thanks much. Have you been to Terragusto? What is your favorite place for Italian beef sandwiches?

                1. re: schaf1

                  I haven't been to Terragusto. And I'm not particularly fond of Italian beef sandwiches, so I don't have a favorite. But if you're looking for recommendations for Italian beef, check out these topics:


                  1. re: nsxtasy

                    nsxtasy, thanks much. You are an amazing chowhound! I've read some of your other posts & they are so well-written & interesting. As we're staying in Rogers Park(RP) & you posted about both Jesse's Mexican Grill and Mixteco about a year ago, where would you go now for Mexican in RP? I liked the BYOB aspect of Mixteco but it seems you preferred Jesse's. thanks

                    1. re: schaf1

                      I'm not nsxtasy but I can recommend Mixteco highly! It is one of my favorite restaurants in Chicago now. If you want the quality of Rick Bayless with out the price point attached, you must go there. It is much more than your standard enchiladas and tacos. The flavors are fresh and bold and really shine.

                      1. re: schaf1

                        Jesse's Mexican Grill and Mixteco Grill are really two very different places. Jesse's has a conventional Mexican menu, with low prices and ample portion sizes, like you'd find in many, many Mexican restaurants in any American city. It's also a storefront restaurant, not fancy at all (think of a lunch counter with tables) - the kind of place you would never even thinking of asking for a reservation. Obviously, I like it for what it is.

                        Mixteco Grill features more creative provincial Mexican cuisine, which is not very common in most of the United States. (You can see the menu at ). It's somewhat upscale and bistro-ish in decor (I haven't been there since its expansion), and they accept reservations. It's still moderately-priced, with entrees typically in the mid teens, although it's not in the "cheap eats" category the way Jesse's is. Mixteco Grill, too, is great for what it is.

                        Since you're visiting Chicago from another city, assuming you would like to try Mexican food unlike what you can probably get back home, Mixteco Grill is the place to go. Your friends living in Rogers Park would probably do well to try both places at some time or other.

                        Hope that makes sense.