We all have a love affair with BYO restaurants. But here’s the dirty little secret that no one acknowledges: Most of us don’t plan ahead. We stop at a liquor store on the way and grab something fast or look around the neighborhood near the restaurant, where we are at the mercy of a paltry selection of wines—few of which match the food we are about to eat. No more. Here, a handful of smart ideas for some of our favorite BYOs.*

Taste of Peru
6545 N. Clark St.; 773-381-4540
THE FARE Peruvian FAVORITE DISH Arroz con mariscos (seafood paella) PAIR IT WITH Gruet Blanc de Noirs Brut, NV, New Mexico; $12 TASTING NOTES A rich and creamy sparkler with supple fruit and toasty aromas

4748 N. Kedzie Ave.; 773-583-0999
THE FARE Lebanese, Mediterranean FAVORITE DISH Shawarma plate with rice and a parsley-cucumber relish PAIR IT WITH 2005 Massaya “Classic,” Bekaa Valley, Lebanon; $11 TASTING NOTES Bright and floral with raspberries, strawberries, and peppery spice

Joy Yee Noodles
2139-41 S. China Place; 312-328-0001 (also in University Village, Naperville, and Evanston; see joyyee.com)
THE FARE Pan-Asian FAVORITE DISH Singapore noodles with shrimp and pork sautéed in yellow curry PAIR IT WITH 2005 Balthasar Ress, Riesling Kabinett, Rheingau Hattenheimer Schützenhaus; $14 TASTING NOTES A nose of oil and almond; creamy peach and lemon on the palate

2301 W. Foster Ave.; 773-561-3780; $2 corkage
THE FARE Mexican FAVORITE DISH Grilled beef tenderloin with chipotle mashed potatoes and a porcini-chili sauce PAIR IT WITH 2005 Bodegas Nekeas “Vega Sindoa” Cabernet/Tempranillo, Navarra; $10 TASTING NOTES Red currant, cherry, and cassis with smooth tannins and earthy undertones

Shree Indian Restaurant
655 N. Cass Ave., Westmont; 630-655-1021
THE FARE Indian vegetarian  FAVORITE DISH Spinach kofta (mashed potatoes, spinach, and cottage cheese balls in mild onion-tomato-spinach curry) PAIR IT WITH 2005 Thierry Puzelat, Cheverny Rouge; $14 TASTING NOTES A blend of gamay and pinot noir, with dusty red fruit and leathery notes

*The wines cited above are generally available at Binny’s (binnys.com) and Wine Discount Center (winediscountcenter.com).


Photograph: Blackbox Studios, Inc.