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USA: Chicago Neighbourhoods

Exploring Chicago’s Avondale Neighbourhood

by Bob Glaze

Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood “just earned a spot as the 16th coolest neighborhood in the world for 2022, part of Time Out’s annual ranking of neighborhoods across six continents.”  It is a Northwest Side enclave known for its Polish and Latino populations, with a growing food scene and laid-back feel. There excellent restaurants, trendy bars and several micro-breweries and distileries.

My top recommendations include:

Leading the resurgence of the area has been Parachute at 3500 N. Elston. This is a hip, popular spot that features creative Korean-American cuisine plus wine and cocktails. It has received one Michelin Star and Chefs Beverly Kim and Johnny Clark won the 2019 James Beard Award for Best Chef Great Lakes.

Across the street is one of my favorite spots, Chief O’Neill’s Pub & Restaurant at 3471 N. Elston. Since 1999, this pub and restaurant features traditional Irish food and music. They have live music a few times a week, so make sure to check out their website. They also feature a buffet Sunday brunch. On my first visit, I enjoyed an evening where we had dinner at Parachute and enjoyed drinks and dessert at Chief O’Neill’s. I went back again and loved eating on the large outdoor patio

Loaf Lounge: At 2934 N. Milwaukee Ave., Loaf Lounge, a bakery and cafe, has been getting excellent reviews for it breakfast sandwiches, pastries and chocolate cake. I suggest going during the week as the lines can be very long on weekends. I went after reading the reviews and  enjoyed a tasty almond bear claw for a snack while exploring the neighborhood during Open House Chicago 2022.

I also went to Brew Brew Coffee & Tea is a contemporary Mexican coffee shop with locations in Avondale and Pilsen in Chicago.  They offer coffee and tea drinks along with cookies, pastries and food items. The latte was excellent. The owners and siblings moved to Chicago from Tijuana, Mexico in 2000. 3832 W. Diversey Ave.

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Brew Brew Coffee & Tea

Make sure to drive north to see St. Hyacinth Basilica, an historic Polish cathedral of baroque design that was completed in 1921 at 3636 W Wolfram St.

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St. Hyacinth Basilica

A highlight of Open House Chicago in 2022 was to be able to visit Avondale Bowl at 3118 N. Milwaukee Ave. This is a vintage, eight lane bowling alley and bar offering craft cocktails, premium spirits, beer and wine. One must be 21 and older to enter.  Minors may enter with their parents or guardians before 7:30pm. It is open daily.  I loved the vibe. It is the perfect spot for an event.

Eden opened in June, 2022 after a move from the West Loop. It sits along the Chicago River with outstanding decor  and nice outdoor patio. The menu features new American cuisine using seasonal, fresh and high-quality ingredients. They have their own greenhouse nearby where they grow plants, fruits, herbs and flowers to be used in the dishes. I really liked the atmosphere when I went for brunch.  They also have several dining rooms for private dining and events. 2734 W. Roscoe.

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Chicago River in Avondale

I highly recommend that you visit Rockwell on the River at3057 N. Rockwell St.  Located in former leather tannery, the historic buildings contain offices and event spaces along with four merchant tenants including Judson & Moore Distillery, Metropolitan Brewing, Metropolis Coffee Co. and  Soul & Smoke barbecue.  There is also a marina on the Chicago River for kayak rentals from Wateriders Kayaks and boat rentals from the Chicago Electric Boat Company.

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Rockwell on the River
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Rockwell on the River Marina

Based in Evanston, Soul & Smoke recently opened their first Chicago location here at Rockwell on the River has received great press as having some of the best barbecued brisket and pulled pork in the area along with great sides. I loved the pulled pork sliders and a side of creamy apple slaw. They have both indoor seating and outdoor seating on the deck overlooking the river.

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Soul & Smoke

Judson & Moore Distillery: This local distillery makes a bourbon whiskey, a rye whiskey, a red corn bourbon whiskey and a single malt whiskey. Tours and tastings are offered and there is a bar where you can have a cocktail made with their products. They offer live music several times a month.

Metropolitan Brewing: Metropolitan Brewing has a large a large taproom and riverside patio where you can try their beers which include lagers, pilsners, wheat beer and seasonal offerings.

You can also visit the roastery for Metropolis Coffee where you can buy and taste their products including cold brew.

On the edge of Avondale and Logan Square are two other places to try, Ravinia Brewing and Maplewood Brewing & Distillery.

Ravinia Brewing, with a taproom in Highland Park as well, is an award winning part of the Chicago craft beer scene since 2016. Here you can enjoy one of their pilsners, IPAs, lagers and pale ales. Their Diversey Station Juicy Session Pale Ale just won a major award. I really liked its fruity notes. It has a large outdoor patio and serves food including tacos and brunch items. Cocktails are also available. 2601 W. Diversey Ave.

Nearby is the taproom and cocktail bar for Maplewood Brewing & Distillery. They focus on rye and malt whiskeys along with gin. On the beer side, they make several pilsners, pale ales and stouts. 2717 N Maplewood Ave.

Irving Park

Irving Park is north of Avondale on the northwest side of Chicago. During the 1990s the neighborhood saw an influx of Serbian immigrants. Today there are many Serbian-owned cafe and restaurants along Irving Park Road. Today the number of Serbians living in the neighborhood is well over 3,000.

Beograd Cafe & Restaurant at 2933/39 W. Irving Park has featured Serbian and Regional Balkan cuisines since 1984.  They feature a number of salads, panini sandwiches, BBQ, burgers, pizza and pastas. They also have savory crepes and omelets.  But a specialty are their decadent desserts. I loved the chocolate, hazelnut cake which was excellent! There is market where you can buy Serbian specialties and desserts next door.

Across the street is Astoria Cafe & Bakery at 2954 W. Irving Park. They feature coffee drinks, pastries and cakes along with crepes and other dishes. I loved the colorful decor and the friendly staff.

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Astoria Cafe & Bakery

Nearby is Leader Bar , a neighborhood sports bar featuring a beer garden, craft brews, thin-crust pizza and other pub fare. 3000 W. Irving Park.

I recently went to a really wonderful immersive theater production at the Windy City Playhouse at 3014 W. Irving Park. I would make sure to check their upcoming productions and try to attend one if you can. With a flexible space, each production features a different seating arrangement.

Next time I want to try Shokran which I understand is excellent for  authentic Moroccan cuisine. My favorite spot closed a few years ago and I have been trying to find a replacement. 4027 W. Irving Park.

A fun new find in Chicago is Smoque BBQ at 3800 N. Pulaski. It is right off of the Kennedy Expressway at Irving Park and is therefore easy to reach for city dwellers and suburbanites as well.  It is a casual, locals spot where you order at the counter and then grab a seat. Just be prepared for some lines. They feature pulled pork which they smoke for over 12 hours, brisket with a 2-layer spice rub and a vinegar-based brisket BBQ sauce, chicken that has been smoked for over three hours and Texas sausage made in Taylor Texas for the restaurant. They offer sandwiches and platters along with a number of salads and sides. I really enjoyed the sliced brisket platter with slaw, BBQ beans and cornbread. I will definitely go back!! They also have a location in the Chicago Loop in the Revival Food Hall at 125 S. Clark. It is listed in the Chicago Michelin Guide as a Bib Gourmand.

Just a little northwest of Smoque is ERIS Brewery and Cider House at 4240 W. Irving Park. This is a wonderful new addition to the area which features their house-brewed cider and beer  and a menu of American comfort foods. They produce six different ciders including a tart cherry, strawberry rhubarb, blueberry cider. I liked the Pedestrian  crisp, dry apple cider. They make a number of pilsners, ales wheat beers and porters.  The menu features a numbers of appetizers, salads, burgers and entrees. I can’t wait to go back and try the mussels steamed in cider. The atmosphere and design are really spectacular.

I hope you enjoy exploring the neighborhood as much as I have.


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