Did you know Chicago has over 6,000 byobs? Insert emoji with heart eyes here. So my goal besides exploring the 77 neighborhoods, sharing fun, random adventures is also to find the BEST byobs in the city and share them with you. Tough job but I’d be happy to do it. So next time you are at the grocery store grab an extra bottle of wine, champagne/prosecco/cava (seriously! it goes with everything) or a six pack of whatever for your next byob experience.

BienMeSabe cafe & restaurant • 1637 W Montrose Ave • rsvp required Fri & Sat nights • kid friendly • outside seating • byob • Sunday – Thursday 11am – 10pm — Friday – Saturday 11am – 11pm

BienMeSabe arepa bar • 29 E Adams • Monday – Friday 11am – 8pm — Saturday 11am – 7pm

Unassuming eatery featuring traditional Venezuelan grub, including empanadas, arepas & plantains.

I went to check out BienMeSabe in Ravenswood with some friends a couple of weeks ago and it was so good I had to come back. Plus, do you ever order and then when the food comes, wish you had ordered something else? I have that problem ALL THE TIME. Food envy? Yes, I have a bad case. Anyway, I came back for lunch this time to celebrate a friend’s birthday and I knew exactly what to order.

We had the ceviche for an appetizer which was light, flavorful & delicious. White fish

ceviche #bienmesabechicago

& shrimp marinated in citrus with avocado, tomatoes & onions served with crispy strips of plantain. Good choice. We also ordered the traditional empanadas. These were fried & stuffed with one of each: beef, cheese & chicken with some garlic mayo on the side. They were delicious as well, especially the slightly, sweet corn breading. The kid in the group described them as ‘tasty like a corn dog’. I’ll take his word for it since I have never had a corn dog. No really, I haven’t. Maybe I’ll plan a trip to the Illinois or Wisconsin State Fair this summer so I can try one? Kristie? More material for another post.

This time I had an arepa, which is a delicious, gluten-free, cornmeal flatbread stuffed with slices of tender steak, peppers and cheese. A nice, big, hunk of avocado and some garlic mayo is served on the side. These are the most popular items and I can see why. All 3 adults all ordered the steak arepa while the kid in the group had a build-your-own arepa.

We brought a bottle of red wine & some beer while last time we brought lots o’champagne. Seriously, try it, it really does go with everything. We saw another table with a ginormous bottle of premixed margaritas. Next time! And if you do not care to imbibe, it looked like they offered some delicious, fresh & fruity non-alcoholic drink options.

We didn’t have dessert last time but this time we got a delicious, gooey, brownie topped with more chocolate, vanilla ice cream & toffee pieces. Oh wait, there were also little pastries filled with more chocolate! Needless to say we devoured this in record time.

steak arepa #bienmesabechicago

On the first trip here we had lots of questions and one of them was what does Bien Me Sabe mean? Our server told us that this place is named after a Venezuelan dessert that roughly translates to “tastes good to me.” I couldn’t agree more.

delicious chocolate brownie #bienmesabechicago

I highly recommend BienMeSabe. It’s a bright, inviting space with great staff & food. It’s good for adults, kids, carnivores & vegetarians. I will come back, if Spring ever makes an appearance this year, to to check out the outside patio for sure. And if you forget to bring something alcoholic to drink, no worries, there is a liquor store about a block east of the restaurant.

As we were getting ready to leave the table next to us got 2 huge, platters piled with what looked like a combination of meats, cheeses, plantains, yucca and who knows what else. Next time I’ll have to make sure I’m with some hungry carnivores to tackle this ridiculous pile of goodness.

Don’t forget to check out the Wall of Fame in the back. It’s pretty cool. When Venezuelan baseball players come to play the White Sox or Cubs they make a stop here to eat & of course sign the wall.

*sigh* baseball. The Cubs home opener was postponed a day this year because of snow while the White Sox went ahead and played theirs in front of a crowd of 974 hearty fans.

Take me out to the ballgame? Can you blame me for not going to see a baseball game until at least June?

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