Bring a bottle (or six) to one of Chicago's best Chinese BYOBs.
Sun Wah Bar-B-Q Restaurant If you thought Argyle Street was only a Vietnamese-food haven, consider this permission to follow that voice in your head telling you to eat the barbecued ducks you see hanging in the window at this Chinese standby. And the pigs, too. And while you’re at it, don’t skimp on the egg rolls. Or even the broccoli. (Trust us, you’ll thank us for the fiber in the vegetables later.) 1132–34 W Argyle St, 773-769-1254. Corkage fee $3 per bottle Best nearby liquor store Foremost Liquors (1040 W Argyle St, 773-989-0808)
Ed’s Potsticker House Not everything on the menu here is a winner, but stick with these choices and you’ll be just fine. Try the pork-stuffed, cigar-shaped pot stickers, the garlicky fried eggplant with mushrooms and chiles, or the panfried pork cake. Want to venture into the rest of the menu? Sorry, you’re on your own. 3139 S Halsted St, 312-326-6898. Corkage fee None Best nearby liquor store Lush Wine and Spirits (1257 S Halsted St, 312-738-1900)
Double Li Szechuan is the style here, and that means you’re going to sweat. Ample amounts of Szechuan peppercorns find their way into dishes such as fish with cabbage and mapo tofu, both of which set your tongue on fire. If you need a breather from all that spice, take the edge off with the sugar-cured bacon tossed with snow peas. 228 W Cermak Rd, 312-842-7818. Corkage fee None Best nearby wine store The Wine Consortium (110 E 23rd St, 312-791-9999) Best nearby beer store Sam’s Wines & Spirits (50 E Roosevelt Rd, 312-663-9463)—David Tamarkin
BEER Think of lagers inked with Asian lettering as similar to drunk girls inked with Asian lettering—avoid both, or you’ll regret it in the morning. You can get the same easy-drinking, snappy crispness you’re looking for, but with infinitely more flavor, from a kölsch, a light, simple, refreshing German ale. Küppers or Reissdorf are ideal old-world kölsch beers, while Goose Island’s Summertime is a solid domestic take on the style. If you want to think outside the box, try pairing Chinese with gueuze, a fizzy, complex, fiercely tart lambic. If your only exposure to lambics has been Lindemans Framboise, get those sweet, fruity thoughts out of your head: Boon Oude Geuze is a great example of the style, with Granny Smith tartness perfect for pork (king of most Chinese menus), enough effervescence to cut through sesame oil and a good dose of funk to complement exotic ingredients like wood-ear mushrooms and black-bean paste. —Heather Shouse
WINE There’s a reason a bottle of Riesling called Kung-Fu Girl is flying off the shelves—Riesling is to Chinese food as dick jokes are to Judd Apatow. There’s a good amount of sweetness in both Rieslings and Chinese food, making for a harmonious match. Plus, a good Riesling has great acidity, and acidity is the key to a food-friendly wine. (In that respect, a proper Riesling goes well with a lot of food, not just Chinese.) Other off-dry, nicely acidic wines work, too—stuff like Alsatian gewürztraminer (Trimbach is a good label that’s widely available). And though these sweet wines go fabulously with barbecued duck, so does good ole Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages—so take a bottle of both. —David Tamarkin