Bring a bottle (or six) to one of Chicago's top BYOB spots.
Andalous Though not exactly Middle Eastern, this Moroccan restaurant brags that Moroccan women make its food. You could see that as sexist. Or you could see it as a smart move. We don’t care who’s making the beautiful tagines or the addictive eggplant spread zaalook—we just don’t want them to stop. 3307 N Clark St, 773-281-6885. Corkage fee None Best nearby wine store Kafka Wine (3325 N Halsted St, 773-975-9463) Best nearby beer store 1000 Liquors (1000 W Belmont Ave, 773-935-1138)
Fattoush This Lebanese joint is known for its namesake salad (a lemony toss of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs and toasted pita chips), but also for its maza—small plates such as spinach pie, yogurt salad and tabouli. These dishes are designed to be appetizers, but here they’re so addictive you’ll order more and more until the only thing you have room for is a sweet cup of mint tea. 2652 N Halsted St, 773-327-2652. Corkage fee None Best nearby liquor store Binny’s Beverage Depot (3000 N Clark St, 773-935-9400)
Masouleh This year-old restaurant is teaching Chicago about Persian food with dishes like olovieh, a savory chickpea-and-potato spread, and gheimeh bademjan, an eggplant-and-steak stew. Juicy kebabs are no afterthought, but if you stick to the lesser-known fare, you’ll discover that getting schooled has never been so enjoyable. 6653 N Clark St, 773-262-2227. Corkage fee None Best nearby wine store Taste Food & Wine (1506 W Jarvis Ave, 773-761-3663) Best nearby beer store Rogers Park Fine Wine & Spirits (6733 N Clark St, 773-761-1906)—David Tamarkin
BEER If citrusy salads, falafel, lentil soup and hummus are in your plans, you want to keep your beer just as crisp and clean—qualities found in an American blond ale like New Belgium’s Skinny Dip or Bell’s Third Coast. But if kebabs are on the agenda, think about playing up the caramelized flavor in grilled meats and vegetables with the roasted malts in an English porter. Classic examples of this smooth operator are Fuller’s and Samuel Smith. —Heather Shouse
WINE With Middle Eastern food’s wide range of flavors and regional specialities, there are no hard-and-fast wine rules; to make a good pair, you have to know what you’re getting into. The sweeter flavors of Morocco, for example, call for a sweeter wine, something like an off-dry Vouvray from Domaine Pichot, whose notes of honey will work seamlessly with sugar-dusted, chicken-stuffed pastillas. If the bright flavor of tabouli and herbaceous spinach pies is more your thing, reach for a sprightly white like the Château Vignol, which is mostly sauvignon blanc. And if you’re going for kebabs, choose a bottle of Lebanon’s Château Musar Red. The wine changes significantly from year to year, but its ability to take on a well-grilled shish kebab remains constant. —David Tamarkin