The best bars in Avondale
Lost Lake is widely considered the tiki bar to go to in Chicago, and for good reason. It opened in 2015 after Paul McGee left Three Dots and a Dash to work for Land and Sea Dept. McGee put together a list of cocktails that range from an approachable banana daiquiri to more complex cocktails that combine multiple rums, Scotches and sherries. The cocktails come in personal sizes and also large-format shareables, all with cups you can purchase to take some tiki magic home with you. Exhausted the main cocktail list? Ask for the whisper menu, built out with plenty of cocktails, including classic tiki recipes and new favorites. Whatever you drink at Lost Lake, you're sure to enjoy it—it is tiki, after all.
This massive tap room 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.
The original Small Bar location (two satellites have shiuttered) 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.
Crown Liquors comes from the teams behind the Rocking Horse and Dante's Pizzeria, offering up a regular $3 beer special and live music on Sundays and Tuesdays with no cover. The classic slashie sells a wide selection of craft beer and liquor on one side, while bartenders serve up affordable drinks on the other. If you're feeling lucky, ask for the $2 dice shot: Each roll of the dice corresponds to a different cheap liquor—pray that you don't get the schnapps.
This long, wooden bar is helmed by a few middle-aged women who, on Sundays, mix huge batches of kamikazes and sell them for $2 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’”).
When two Irish-born musicians open a pub, you’d better believe they’ll pay attention to the tunes. Aside from live Irish music on Sundays, 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.
From the music on the speakers (Nat King Cole et al.) to the rat-pack decor and carefully shaken martinis, this Avondale corner bar is surprising all the twentysomething post-hipsters flocking to it. It’s not just that the bar is a far cry from the dive that preceded it; really, it’s a far cry from anything that’s been built since 1940. With a tiki-esque vibe both inside and on the patio and a tagline that states it's "Avondale's swankiest bar and grill," you might just find yourself ordering a second cocktail.
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.
You won't find any Duff Beer, but Moe's Tavern seems like the kind of place where Homer Simpson would hang out. This neighborhood dive bar is stocked with cheap beer, bargain-priced shots and live music (including a weekly open mic night each Wednesday). If you're the kind of person who enjoys listening to Doors covers and funk riffs while you drink, there's a stool at the bar waiting for you.