90 Miles To Cuba on Armitage Avenue in West Bucktown for really good Cuban, plus it's BYOB and totally fun. Yep, they will serve up a pitcher of Mojitos sans the liquor. The enclosed heated patio is quite fun...diner beware, it can get pretty noisy on the weekend evenings. It is especially busy with holiday parties at the moment...must have been 8 separate birthday, Xmas, and bachelorette parties going on last Friday night. Weeknights and lunch daily is more subdued.
Most Thai restaurants on the north side are BYOB. For starters try Spoon Thai, Rosded or Sticky Rice on or near Western Avenue.
4608 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
4018 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60618
2308 W Leland Ave, Chicago, IL 60625
A fave is Semiramis -- Lebanese in Albany Park. Easy to get to from the 'burbs and parking is easy. Love it!
For a special occasion place, I can't recommend Bon Soiree enough. www.bon-soiree.com
Pick up a copy of BYOB Chicago at most liquor stores, it's a great resource.
Chicago, Chicago, IL
I'm not familiar with the suburbs, but these are my favorites in the northside. (Trying to keep it closer to you):
- Duck Walk - on Belmont in Lakeview; Thai; casual and small, but good
- Mixteco - Mexican, mole sauce is the best I've ever had
- Caro Mio - wonderful Italian in Ravenswood area
- Mytho's Tavern - on Montrose, not really sure what the neighborhood is called, get the Pastichio
- Addesso - on Broadway in Lakeview, Italian, also good for brunch
919 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657
I live in the northern suburbs and have found that on various days individual restaurants offer free corkage such as Carlos's Central Cafe in Highland Park on Tuesdays. Michael's Restaurant in Winnetka also had/has a free corkage day.
Other restaurants such as Stoney River in Deerfield offer really reasonable corkage fees - ten dollars. I normally call restaurants in advance to find out about their corkage policies and I find that many restaurants offer very reasonable corkage of $15 or less. Good luck.
These are all in the city. Two great BYO's that meet both of your criteria are Bill Kim's restaurants - Urban Belly and Belly Shack. Irazu is another good BYO - I beleive the food is Costa Rican. Two outside of your ethnic and soup constraints, but still very good are Terragusto (rustic italian) and Sweets & Savories (upscale American, for lack of a better categorization). Enjoy!
1851 W Addison St, Chicago, IL 60613
Sweets & Savories
1534 W Fullerton, Chicago, IL 60614
3053 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60618