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A bottle of High Life next to two cocktails.
Photograph: Courtesy Ludlow Liquors

The 15 best bars in Avondale

Discover craft cocktails, huge breweries and old-school dives on the Northwest Side.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Elizabeth Atkinson
&
Jeffy Mai
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Avondale is not only home to an incredible lineup of restaurants, but a great drinking scene as well. The neighborhood is packed with bars that cover every niche. Fancying an expertly stirred craft cocktail? Then head to Ludlow Liquors or Mother’s Ruin for a variety of creative concoctions. But maybe beer is more your style? Well, you’ll find brews with beautiful views at Metropolitan Brewing. There are plenty of dives and opportunities to show off those karaoke skills, too. And when the weather’s nice, sipping on a cold pint at a beer garden should definitely be on the bucket list. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try to hit a couple of the following spots all in one evening for the ultimate bar crawl. So check out our guide to the best bars in Avondale and get to drinking.

RECOMMENDED: Our complete guide to Avondale

The best bars in Avondale

  • Bars
  • Avondale

Whether it’s your first or last stop of the night, Ludlow Liquors is always the right move. This retro-chic spot is a refined version of the neighborhood dive so you can expect craft cocktails, like a pomegranate margarita, alongside “low life” beers and shots of Malört. The spacious backyard patio, decked out with picnic tables and stadium seating, is a must-visit in the summertime.

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Jeffy Mai
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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

This massive taproom has tables that extend forever and large glass windows to look into the brewery itself, as well as a long list of beer (most of it is brewed on site). You'll hear bartenders over the speakers announcing brewery tours and pizza deliveries for crowds wanting to supplement their drinks with a bit of food. Pick a table (near the shuffleboard table, please) and a brew and you'll be set for the night.

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  • Bars
  • Breweries
  • Avondale

Brews with views draw folks to this taproom along the North Branch of the Chicago River. Located in the Rockwell on the River complex, Metropolitan Brewing boasts floor-to-ceiling windows for unobstructed sights of the water, as well as a lovely outdoor patio that should be on every summer bucket list. Sample a host of German-style lagers and feel free to bring your own food or walk to nearby Soul & Smoke for some finger-lickin’ good barbecue.

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Jeffy Mai
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  • Bars
  • Avondale

After two years of anticipation, New York cocktail bar Mother’s Ruin finally made its way to Chicago in 2022. If the bustle of River North and Wicker Park don’t seem appealing, come here instead for a low-key evening full of craft libations, spiked slushies and elevated bar fare. Prefer to day drink? You’re in luck—Mother’s Ruin opens at 11am every day.

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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Avondale

Replacing Polish dive Mr. ZJ’s, Central Park Bar is from the same owners as The Owl and Estelle’s. The venue, which dates back to the ‘40s, has been completely remodeled yet retains its old school charm. When weather permits, you’ll want to hang outside on the spacious 3,500 square-foot patio outfitted with picnic tables, a fire pit, porch swings and an outdoor bar.

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  • Bars
  • Avondale

Boasting dozens of draft brews and an outdoor patio, Sleeping Village is Avondale’s preeminent beer garden. It also doubles as a concert venue and hosts musical acts most nights so if you’re in the mood to move your body, this is the place to check out.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

The group behind several Chicago watering holes, including Spilt Milk and Bucktown Pub, debuted a new concept in Avondale this year. Quality Time feels like a throwback in the best way, complete with wood paneling, vintage wallpaper and leather booths. Bring a group to down pitchers of beer or let loose with a frozen Vegas bomb—a Red Bull-based cocktail that’ll give you the energy to dance to DJ sets.

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  • Bars
  • Beer bars
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

The original Small Bar location (two satellites have shuttered) still stands out as a classy neighborhood joint in a sleepy residential block, with a gorgeous arched and mirrored wooden bar, gold-painted tin ceilings and an alt-rock-heavy jukebox. The beer selection is fantastic, and snacks like hand-dipped cheese curds and burgers round out the menu.

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  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

This long, wooden bar is helmed by a few middle-aged women who, on Sundays, mix huge batches of kamikazes and sell them for a few bucks a pop—but the real draw here is karaoke. If you get there and the door’s locked, don’t get discouraged. Just ring the bell over and over again (sometimes the bartenders can’t hear it over yet another version of “Don’t Stop Believin’”).

  • Shopping
  • Liquor stores
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

Hopheads make the pilgrimage to this craft beer store for its well-curated collection. You can stock up on rare releases or discover new favorites to take home. Having trouble deciding? Owner Chris Quinn is happy to help, or head over to the bar for a taste of something on tap. There are always new options to sample as they rotate daily.

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  • Bars
  • Cocktail bars
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

Rockabilly couples swing to live DJs while black-and-white movies and other oddities play on a projector at this violet-hued lounge. Avondale 'hoodies keep the place busy on weeknights, but the real action's on Saturdays, when the owners spin new-wave club classics till 5am as part of their long-running Planet Earth dance party.

  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Avondale

From weekly karaoke to open mic comedy night, there’s no shortage of activities to partake in at this kitschy dive. You can calm your nerves beforehand with a can of Hamm’s plus a shot of Old Crow for $4. There are also board games, bubble hockey and even live DJs to enjoy.

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Assistant Editor
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  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Avondale
  • price 1 of 4

Having just turned 50, Frank and Mary’s Tavern is one of the last of a dying breed. Even though the eponymous owners are no longer involved, regulars still drop by every afternoon for homemade comfort fare and cheap drinks. Darts enthusiasts can test their aim on the boards in the back.

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Jeffy Mai
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  • Bars
  • Pubs
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

When two Irish-born musicians open a pub, you’d better believe they’ll pay attention to the tunes. Aside from live Irish music, you can usually count on sipping your stout to bagpipe-driven sounds. In nice weather, the massive back patio doubles the capacity, with towering hedges muffling the sounds of Elston Avenue, while winter means a chance to warm by three fireplaces inside.

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  • Bars
  • Avondale
  • price 2 of 4

Sometimes you just want an unfussy neighborhood spot to have a beer and watch sports. Fortunately, that’s exactly what Avondale Tap offers. The menu features a variety of lagers, ales, sours, porters and more, and the bar opens early on weekends so you won’t have to miss a minute of football.

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Jeffy Mai
Assistant Editor
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