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Big Star Chicago

Drown your sorrows in Tacos and Whiskey: Big Star

I’m just as guilty as the next schlep for utilizing YELP to find my next food fix. But truthfully, I much prefer the stumble upon method. Walk, talk, and happen upon what could be the next memorable thing in your life. That is how some of the greatest restaurants came in to my life, like Cozy’s, C.B.A., DMK, and other places with acronyms for names. This little gem, like the others, came into my life in that very same way. It was fate. Killing time in the bustling neighborhood that is Wicker Park, we saw hoards of people drinking beers, downing tacos, and smiling ear to ear from what was apparently a very pleasurable experience. Not knowing anything except there were tacos on the menu, we stepped up, grabbed two stools at the bar and began our journey to yet another hour of culinary bliss.  

The place was Big Star. We only found this out by following a series of clues stemming from our own investigation. Not that it matters, this place is difficult to miss, in particular in the summer. This was a Sunday, around 3, and given the lack of an early bird special, it was shocking how many 35 and under folks were waiting for a highly coveted seat, basting in the sun. We opted for the bar, in the shade, wafts of taco scented air occasionally making it’s way past our bodies from the slew of fans operating from each corner of the very high ceilings. The bar was rectangular, run by 6 attractive scenesters attending to their designated section. I’m a proponent for normalcy; genuine human interaction. I despise role-playing, I’m the customer, you’re my server, let’s act accordingly. I prefer to joke, make a connection with my fellow human being, get their advice, and enjoy the experience collectively. Our guy seemed to be on the same page. He was unassuming, offered a great beer selection, provided their small but enticing menu and then let us be.


I’ll pass along now this place values their whiskey and their tequila. I’m not equipped to provide examples as I’m a beer drinker; good beer, no Coors light if I can help it, but beyond knowing my uncle drinks the disgusting piss-tasting poison that is Wild Turkey, I know nothing. Sure, I’ll down some margaritas and mojitos, but do I know what goes into them? No. I do not. Nor do I care. So, check out their site if this tickles your fancy and then pass it along to your alcoholic friends who give a shit. This girl does not. Apologies for the vitriol. I’m back. It’s been too long.


Ok, the grub. As I mentioned, it’s a short menu. I fricken love this. Some of the best places do a few things but they do them so damn well the variety does not matter. It’s a taco shack, with some additional Mexican treats peppered in there. I’m happy to report to my strict veggie friends there are some options for you, albeit never as interesting as what us animal homicide enthusiasts get to enjoy, but you probably won’t know the difference. The homemade guac is great, and it has Serrano pepper, which is my #1 pepper at the moment. Congrats to Serrano, and to all others, campaign harder next time. You must earn my vote, I don’t give freebies.


I ordered 1 taco al pastor and 1 fish taco. I’m such a damn sucker for fish tacos, I see it on a menu and it’s as if the Old Spice guy walked into a crowded room; no one else exists. Their pastor tacos have pineapple, so yeah, they’re my new favorite al pastor tacos in the city. Juicy, salty, warm, soft tortillas with the right accompaniment of onion, cilantro, lime and pineapple. When I eat I make faces like I’m receiving the best massage or some other form of intense pleasure. I’m often made fun of for this. It’s instinctual. I like it, my eyes are rolling, guttural sounds are emerging from my throat, hypothalamus sufficiently stimulated. Thanks, Big Star.


My brother is a grade-A fatty like me. Probably worse. Something in that ectomorph tells his appetite to give his heart and digestive system the challenge of its life. He orders the  Sonoran Dog. It’s a bacon wrapped hot dog, slathered in pinto beans, onions, lime, hot sauce and probably some secret, dirty ingredient no one dares to find out. It looks like death on a plate, delivered with a side of baby aspirin and a phone to dial 911 when your heart says fuck you and gives up. He ate it like a champ, and some bites of my tacos, greedy little ass.


So there you have it. 7 apps, 7 “entrees”, 1 dessert, a ridiculous amount of whiskey, tequila and a modest selection of beer. Get drunk and full on a Sunday, you’ll be released from the hospital by Monday. It’ll be worth it. Suck it up and eat.


Thanks for the support. Thanks to the 2 or 3 of you who read these articles consistently and waited patiently for me to get out of my funk and back onto the internet. I’m so grateful for infinite reasons right now. All good things. When in doubt, think of Love.