We love our BYOB spots here in Chicago, and there are generally two kinds. First is the casual bottle of wine BYOB, probably an Italian place with solid food. The second is everybody's favorite "Fill In The Blank Sushi Restaurant," where you should probably eat something in addition to consume the mass amounts of alcohol you bring. But it doesn't always have to be one or the other, and that's why you need to know about Shaman.
Shaman is a small plates Mexican BYOB spot from the same people who brought you Chilam Balam, and it's one of the better BYOB restaurants around. Looking to party? Good news: they have an unreal margarita mix to blend with the bottles(s) of tequila you should bring. Not looking to drink infinity margaritas? No problem, because Shaman isn't just a "come get drunk while pretending it's dinner" kind of a place. The food delivers too. The menu changes roughly every month or so to incorporate what's fresh and available, and they combine a lot of ingredients you aren't used to seeing together, like sea scallops with watermelon and mint salad.
The tables are big, clunky, and wooden, with stone walls adorned by pictures. The pictures on the walls look like those of our Mexican grandmother, or at least it's what we imagine the pictures on the walls would look like if we had a Mexican grandmother. The servers are also great. If you come in with a big group and can't decide on what to order, feel free to let the staff take the lead and just bring things out.
A traditional yet tasty and chunky guacamole served with homemade crispy tostadas.
Pork belly tacos with salsa negra, kiwi pico de gallo and chicharron, which is fried pork rinds. One of the best items we’ve ever had here, so any sort of taco is a good idea.
If you’re a goat cheese fan, these enchiladas are delicious. Otherwise, for sure not.
A solid amount of mahi mahi with tomatoes, habanero, cucumber, cilantro, and avocado. It comes with chips too and the habanero adds some nice heat.
Sounds like Memphis BBQ until you douse it in queso fresco and a tomatillo pico de gallo. After the pork belly tacos, this is probably our second favorite.
Grilled flank steak with roasted potato, crispy onion, and guajillo sauce. A pretty basic dish amped up with the guajillo. Good for someone who enjoys more familiar flavors.
Seared scallops served in a chile and cucumber sauce with zucchini mint salad and watermelon. Interesting flavors – we’re into it.