Avondale is a buzzing, up-and-coming neighborhood on Chicago’s northwest side.
Celebrated for its architecture, its skyline features towering smokestacks and dazzling cathedrals. Locals enjoy their neighborhood’s creative restaurants and businesses, fun bar scene, and low key vibe. Near the Kennedy Expressway and served by two Blue Line stations, easy accessibility has attracted many downtown commuters.
In the start of the 19th century, the area was prairie along a meandering Native American trail (which later became Milwaukee Avenue). European settlement began in 1853, and the small village of Avondale was incorporated in 1869. In these years, the community was mainly farmland, with a post office, train station, and a small school. As with neighboring villages of Bucktown and Wicker Park, Avondale was annexed by Chicago in 1889.
A hotbed of industry, Avondale’s earned its “neighborhood that built Chicago” nickname. The land near the Chicago River was its industrial center, home to Florsheim Shoes, Olson Rug and Dad’s Root Beer factories. Industrial jobs and improved transportation (including the now-CTA Blue Line) attracted thousands of working families to the area. With a large Polish population (over one-third of the nearly 50,000 residents in 1930), Avondale became part of Chicago’s “Polish Triangle”.
Today, along the river luxury townhomes, condominiums, and shopping malls have replaced the factories–giving the neighborhood a new identity while it retains much of its blue-collar character. The neighborhood has even begun to generate buzz, being named to many “best neighborhood’s lists”, with journalists pointing out the neighborhood’s vibrant businesses and unassuming beauty.
While bordering some of Chicago’s hottest neighborhoods (Bucktown/Wicker Park and Logan Square), Avondale residents don’t need to leave their backyard for a good time. In addition to long-standing community spots, the community now hosts some serious trendiness. Award-winning restaurants, creative bars, cultural hot spots, and renowned breweries now call Avondale home.
Where else but Avondale could one find a pierogi buffet, authentic Mexican, and a Michelin-starred Korean restaurant on the same block? The neighborhood’s diverse food scene has turned Avondale into a destination across Chicago. Some well-loved restaurants include Kuma’s Corner, a delectable burger spot, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, an extremely popular Southern spot (try the sides!), and La Nonna, a cozy Argentinian restaurant. The Michelin-star belongs to Parachute, an outstanding Korean-American fusion restaurant on Elston Avenue.
Along the commercial corridors (Elston and Belmont Avenues), national retailers form a nice blend with independent shops and boutiques. Some favorites include Record Breakers, a dog-friendly independent music store, and Olde Antiques, a huge used furniture outlet. The neighborhood even has some unique grocery stores, including Jong Boo Market, for fresh Korean and Pan-Asian groceries, and Kurowski Sausage Shop, with mouth-watering Polish offerings.
Like much of west town, Avondale has its fair share of bars, which often double as hip music venues. In addition to classic dives, top cocktail bars and even a killer brewery are available. Lost Lake is a local favorite, widely considered the go-to tiki bar in Chicago, offering a range of Cocktails from the accessible to the complex. Moe’s Tavern offers cheap beers and live music, including a popular open-mic. Revolution Brewing Tap Room might just be the neighborhood crown jewel, offering delicious beers brewed on-site.
And while Avondale has its fair share of hipster hotspots, it hasn’t yet lost connection to its roots. The neighborhoods’ stunning cathedrals, with institutions such as St. Hyacinth Basilica, and the stretch of Eastern European restaurants and shops on Milwaukee Avenue. Feeling adventurous? You can even attend Polish Polka night on Saturday’s at Podlasie.
While not home to one of Chicago’s largest parks, Avondale residents still have a fair share of recreation options. A local gem is Avondale Park, featuring an outdoor pool for summer days, a playground, a gym, and a youth gymnastics center. Perfect for bikers and joggers is the 312 RiverRun, a two-mile recreational path with the longest pedestrian bridge in Chicago. The area is home to many pocket parks, playgrounds, gyms, and workout centers.
Housing in the neighborhood ranges widely in price and type, though Avondale is generally more affordable than its hyper-trendy surrounding areas. Options include frame houses, modest brick bungalows, multi-units, two flats, and condominiums. Industrial spaces converted to apartments and condominiums are also available. With its multicultural heritage, creative businesses, and easy public transit accessibility, it’s no surprise that Avondale has been building some serious buzz in recent years!