Chicago >Food & Dining > Big Star
1531 N Damen Ave, Chicago, IL | Directions 6062241.909301 -87.677188
Neighborhoods: West Side, Wicker Park
Always hopping, this place has great dish tacos and strong cocktails. Hit the takeout window to avoid the wait. Get the thick, chocolatey champurrado in the winter.
The best summer day is spent on the Big Star patio with awesome tacos, even better beer, and even better whiskey. And even better better people watching.
Excellent margaritas, tacos al pastor (add the green salsa for a kick), Four Roses neat. Come early for a seat- they're hard to get. Don't leave once you're there!
This place is in my hood. Great, inexpensive tacos and amazing hand crafted cocktails for the price. It is ALWAYS packed given all the press it gets due to its illustrious ties to the culinary world. That being said, this place will take your complaint and throw it out the door along with you. They have their own 'set of rules' (i.e. like how many people in a booth - it's like clowns in a car - and when your party starts to get smaller, they toss you out no matter how much money you have spent; where one can stand; how many people can sit at a table outside; cash only). They don't care if you leave pissed and/or if you never come back. There is always a line and they know that. Rudest joint in Chicago BY FAR but people keep pouring in.
I love this Place! – 3 dollar Bourbon, 3 dollar beers and 3 dollar taco's (the taco's are amazing). After a crappy day at work, I'll go here to cheer up, great food and drink and Extremly friendly bartenders!
pseudo Mexican food with pretense. – if you like mexican hotdogs, a trendy wanna be crowd and staff this is the place for you. no credit cards? what century are we in? been there many times for the whiskey though. fine selection of bourbon. but the crowd is as fake as the food. never again - life is too short.
Lightning in a Pitcher – In the universe of margarita, the difference between decency and excellence is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Big Star serves up lightning in a pitcher.
It all starts with good intentions. "Let's go out for a margarita" someone will propose. Calling the proposed "a margarita" is supposed to imply unary but is actually a bunch of optimistic bull-poopy. No afternoon starting with "A Margarita" ends there. Like those who watch a "little football" the notation is false before the activity begins. And as good as Big Star's drinks have been no one is going home with one.
And thus, all participants who that afternoon went out for a margarita, wound up with a pitcher down their collective and expanding belt. The few memories that remain are of sweet taste but grainy texture. It did not matter that people had BBQs to hit or birthdays to celebrate. Some had the wherewithal to take the train only to awake well beyond their stop. Others may as well have driven sideways. Still others felt like reversing digestion's course but could not remember if that had already been accomplished. For reasons obvious only in-the-moment, two porcelain prayers would have simply felt unclean.
The food at Big Star is not predictable. Neither is service - but not because the staff is anything other than hard-working. They just need 2x-3x during summertime because the crowd they squeeze into the outdoor area is simply too big a numerator for such a paltry denominator. But no matter. The margaritas join Matchbox/Silver Palm and The Ivy in Beverly Hills as some of the best this crew has ever had and they put it in a pitcher costing $30. At the Ivy, that'll buy you 1.79 drinks. With those prices, you won't be day-drinking and missing any birthday parties. Big Star, however, well...you've been warned.
excellent whiskey selection, great tacos – Very good tacos, sort of a gourmet taquieria that doesn't overcharge or mess with the program enough to make it pretentious or unsatisfying. Thankfully no attempts at haute fusion tacos or nouveau-mex.
The whiskey selection is impressive, they have a good focus on inexpensive souther american whiskies that are priced reasonably. The bartenders are often busy, but when free are good sources of non pushy information. The soundtrack is all classic country, and itsn't loud or assertive, but helps set some atmosphere as the space itself is sort of a "bleak chipotle" look.
The patio is opening now and seems to be busy on days where it isn't cold or windy. It will certainly help mitigate the eons long waits for the few tables there are inside. If you dont mind standing and drinking and grazing it is a good place, but if you insist on sitting and eating only, its probably not the place for you, unless you want to stand and drink for at least an hour or so beforehand when they are busy.
The food is good, the drinks are cheap and good, overall its hard not to recommend.
Citysearch Editorial Review – Celeb chef Paul Kahan is the big cooking guns behind this honky-tonk taqueria housed in one of the most coveted spaces in Wicker Park, the one-time auto shop that previously housed Pontiac Cafe. The rent might not be cheap, but the prices sure are. Plunk down a couple of bucks each for tacos stuffed with expertly braised birra (goat), sweet-zippy al pastor (pork) and … wait for it … pork belly. Wild mushroom tacos and fish tostadas give meat-shunners something to crave. The food is simple, but sourced from top-notch local producers. The minimal decor--concrete floor, a large bar in the round hung with exposed light bulbs and a handful of raw wooden booths for larger groups--fits with the soundtrack, provided by bartenders spinning country LPs behind the bar.
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