Best BYOB Sushi Restaurants in Chicago (and Affordable Wine to Pair)

How I Roll: BYOB Sushi Picks & Wine Pairings

… Name a better couple. I’ll wait.

If there’s anything that makes easing back into reality a bit easier, it’s the end-of-the-summer seasonal weather we’re having in Chicago.

Outdoor dining party with Rueda wine

(Sorry, East Coasters. I know you’ve got some rain on the horizon; but don’t worry, we’ll be buried in snow in no time.)

One of the things I miss most about Europe (already) is dining alfresco – for, like, every meal. And the fact that it was perfectly acceptable to order a glass of wine or two with lunch.

… For, like, every meal.

Outdoor wine tasting idea

From Florence to Milan to Paris and even throughout Croatia, I’ve had has had quite the wine-fueled run these last six weeks (… but responsibly so, duh).

Being that summer is my favorite season, one of the ways I aim to prolong what’s left of it is to spend as much time outside as possible.

BYOB Wine to Friends Sushi in Chicago

I know. Duh, right?

… But is there anything better than dining en terrasse with a good bottle of wine?

Thankfully, what Chicago lacks in (actual) days of summer-worthy weather, it makes up for in BYOB abundance — and I’ve been continuing to take full advantage.

While there’s everything from Thai to Mediterranean and Italian, BYOB sushi is how I roll (ahem) personally.

Last night, that’s what I was craving: Sushi and a crisp white wine.


I hadn’t had either for the six weeks while I was overseas (six weeks!), so I invited my sister over for a little at-home BYOB catch-up session.

Outdoor wine tasting idea

Prior to my European travels, a lesser-known (to me) Spanish wine region — Rueda — sent me a few of their Verdejo white wines to try. Verdejo is a popular grape/vino varietal that’s long been grown in the Rueda region of Spain.

Outdoor dining party with Rueda wine

I learned a lot about wine overseas, so I now understand what it means when I say “Verdejo from Rueda is versatile and drinkable, but still complex in nature.”

Which, in other words, means “full-bodied, refreshing and crisp.” Or as I used to say when Sommeliers asked me how a wine tasted:

“Yes, it’s good. Very good.”

Outdoor wine tasting idea

Truth, though.

And a repeat offender for me over the summer (and into this warm-weathered September we’re having).


Admittedly, I never used to be much of a white wine drinker — but I can say that if you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, you’ll like Rueda’s Verdejo wines (and as a bonus, you can score a few of them on sale from, here — use the code RUEDA at checkout for 10% off).

It pairs well with just about any food or occasion – or is even easily enjoyed on its own as a patio-side aperitif.

BYOB Wine to Bufferfly Sushi in ChicagoOutdoor dining party with Rueda wine

Anywho, first on my agenda is getting my diet in-order (and my inbox, but that’ll take a while), so today I thought I’d share some of my tips for keeping your sushi order on the healthy side.

Lord knows I’ve got some work to do to make up for all of the pizza and pasta I indulged in across Italy. But that’s why God (Nordstrom, rather) made high-waisted leggings and chunky sweaters, right?

Outdoor dining party with Rueda wine

My sweater, while we’re at it, is by La Vie en Rebecca Taylor (her slightly less expensive line — slightly, but it’s so damn cute and comfortable), and while this version is sold out, Vineyard Vines makes a very similar style for less.

Here’s a few additional similar styles as well — another Rebecca Taylor style and two lesser-expensive styles: This cozy plus-size knit and J.Crew’s classic striped mock-neck style.

I’ve also linked similar sweaters via the image carousel below (just scroll and click on them to shop/browse):

Shit… Want them all, right?


*My picks:

BB Dakota sweater with side-slits, $95; Rolla’s navy striped turtleneck, $79
Demylee fuzzy knit sweater, $290; Chaser long-sleeve ribbed pullover, $86


Outdoor dining party with Rueda wine

Most of these I found on Nordstrom — they have a one of cozy fall sweaters at varying price points. My cart is full!

I pulled one of those insane online shopping sprees (as one does) and then just closed the browser actually checking out — haha. (It’s like online window shopping — and yes, often fueled by wine. I’m not the only one, am I? Need to narrow…)


Reeling it in:

To wrap up, I’ll share my favorite BYOB sushi restaurants in Chicago, too — and while most of these have sidewalk seating and secluded back patios, this tie-around I opted to take-out and eating al fresco at my own apartment (thus, still BYOB).

… It feels good to be home.

Prost! Saluti! Cheers! 

BYOB Wine to Friends Sushi in Chicago


  • Cafe Sushi (Old Town, 1342 N. Wells St.)

When I first moved to Chicago (approximately one million years ago), Cafe Sushi was the spot for my just-recently-graduated Craigslist roommates and I. It’s affordable, traditional and best of all — has an awesome outdoor patio space right on Wells Street. It’s great for lingering and people watching while you polish off that bottle of  Verdejo from Rueda.

  • Nori Sushi (Lincoln Park, 954 W. Diversey Pkwy.)

… Another of my used-to-be-a-regular-here BYOB spots. The main draw is the restaurant’s daily sushi specials, which make for a perfectly affordable date-night for you and your beau (or your baes).

  • Sushi O Sushi (Lincoln Park, 346 W. Armitage Ave.)

This is my favorite spot for sushi shenanigans – it’s perfect for big groups and a sake bomb or two to end the night. The menu has a lot of colorful, creative rolls, too. Try the Strawberry Delight (strawberry, eel, avocado, cream cheese and smoked salmon) for a little taste of summer (but stick to one cream-based roll to keep the calorie count on your meal down.)

  • Sushi Mon (Lincoln Park, 2441 N. Clark St.)

Have you ever had pressed sushi? It’s when the rice is pressed into cubes and each ingredient is stacked atop the next – kinda like a sushi cake (that’s cut and served in pieces). Think bite-size sushi (and how this might be a good date spot, as you won’t look like an asshole trying to take down that oversized sashimi in one bite.)

  • Sushi Para II (Lincoln Park, 2256 N. Clark St.)

Good for daily all-you-can-eat sushi specials for lunch and dinner. Couple that with the white wine you’ve got in-tow and you’ll really get some bang for your buck.

  • Toro Sushi (Lincoln Park, 2546 N. Clark St.)

Some of the freshest cuts of fish I’ve had in Chicago (and state-side, come to think of it) is at Toro. Yum!

  • Butterfly Sushi Bar (Bucktown, 1139 W Grand Ave.)

The best aspect of this sushi spot is that it has no Corkage fee — at either location. The girlfriends and I frequent this one.

BYOB Wine to Bufferfly Sushi in Chicago

*In this post:

Get the look: 

Striped sweater: Rebecca Taylor (love this fisherman sweater style)
Straw hat: L*Space “J’adore hat” (also comes in black)
*Leggings: Zella slim-fit live-in leggings (more colors here)
(*Not shown but comfort was the key factor that night)

Outdoor dining essentials:

Indigo stripe napkins: CB2
Indigo block print runner: CB2
Stainless steel wine coaster: CB2
Wood server: CB2
Stainless steel snack bowls: CB2
White platters: CB2


Iron & Honey Photography

Thanks to Verdejo from Rueda for partnering on this post (and for the wine!)

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