10 Jun Avondale Restaurant Crawl 2016–Sampling Culinary Delights and Live Entertainment
The first Wednesday of June every year, the Avondale Restaurant Crawl goes on, rain or shine. Early weather predictions for the 4th annual Crawl were discouraging (“severe thunderstorms”), but the rain blew over, and the evening was beautiful.
Buying one ticket gave you tastes at 12 restaurants in the Avondale neighborhood of Chicago, along Elston Ave. in the corridor between Addison Ave. and Belmont Ave. You could walk or take the free Travelin’ Trolley that ran up and down the route. buildOn students from Schurz High School, who provide community service, assisted Crawlers at trolley stops, helping them on and off and giving information about the restaurants and entertainment.
At 5:30 people began to gather at Brands Park to check in and get their map and tickets. Choreographer/dancer Ginger Jensen and friends blended with the Crawlers and improvised creative movement. Sit Means Sit, a dog training facility, provided canine entertainment.
Start the party! At 5:45 Four Star Brass Band (“there ain’t no party like a Four Star Party!”) began to play. When a crowd had gathered they led a parade up Elston St. along the Crawl route. Thus Crawlers began their evening of sampling culinary delights, while sampling free entertainment along the way.
The Crawl officially ended at 9:00 which was barely enough time for me to visit restaurants, see entertainment, and chat with people along the way.
Crawlers agreed the food was really good. Everyone had their favorites, of course. Personally I always enjoy ending with a vanilla ice cream cone at Burger King.
Some people had participated in the Crawl in previous years—a few proclaimed they’d come every year since it started—and said it was even better than before, while for others it was their first time. They all said they would be back to eat some of the restaurants they had tried. Besides enjoying great food and entertainment, some Crawlers were excited about exploring the neighborhood and seeing what it has to offer.
Beer Temple offered a beer tasting. Brew Brew had a table in Brands Park offering various cold teas and coffees (I quite enjoyed the stone fruit iced tea). Chief O’Neill’s welcomed Crawlers with tastes of three Irish specialties. At eSutras I enjoyed trying various finishing salts, and the espresso chocolate morsels had an outstanding flavor. The Thai noodle salad at Food First Chicago was a big hit. Fruit Paradise offered various exotic iced desserts; I can recommend the mango with shaved coconut. I heard many appreciative mentions of Honey Butter Fried Chicken’s chicken and grits with crunchies. Kuma’s Corner—a generous Crawl sponsor as well as a participating restaurant—offered their Pig Destroyer, a BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Parachute’s friendly servers talked to us about their smoked carrot with jaggery and peanuts.
I admit to a craving for the BBQ beef brisket taco at Pork Shoppe. Square Bar served a tasty mango BBQ pulled pork sandwich. Taqueria Traspasada served a barbacoa taco (yummy), chicken taco, potato flauta.
Entertainment. This year there was more entertainment than ever before, and it was up and down the Crawl route. Marianne and the Imaginary Band was back on the Travelin’ Trolley.
At the north end of the corridor, Prop Thtr opened its doors and welcomed visitors, giving informal tours of their beautiful space and providing live music from The Crooked Mouth band.
Chief O’Neill’s focused on Irish music with Noel Rice and the Academy of Irish Music, tenor Mark Piekarz, and Karen Cook Cannady (fiddle) and Patrick Cannady (uilleann pipes).
Urban Imaging hosted vocalist Kara Cavanaugh, Dale Tippett Jr. featuring Tin Lolita, and award-winning Stann Champion.
Burger King blocked off some parking spaces, cleared a small garden area, and put up a tent for entertainment, but the tent was blowing around, and it was such a beautiful evening they took it down. Northeastern Illinois University Mayo Tiano Jazz Ensemble, Ginger Jensen and friends, and musician Anthony Whitaker entertained.
Although not officially part of the Crawl, Bucket O’ Blood, a used books/vinyl records store at the south end of the corridor, wanted to participate. They recruited talented musician friends to play in the store during Crawl hours.
One Crawler summed up her experience as “the BOMB!”
We owe a HUGE thank you to our sponsors!