Big Star: Where hipsters and foodies go for lunch…

…supper and late night snack. If they served breakfast, we’d be there for that, too, because let’s face it — Big Star is awesome.

The drink menu is an edited selection of bourbons, ryes, and tequilas. There are craft beers and low-brow favorites like Shiner Bock and Schlitz, and the teetotalers can get a flavored soda or even a Fresca. Our bartender carefully constructed a perfectly balanced margarita, tasting it at the end to make sure he got it right. Whoo-whee, he did. Whatever you order, be assured it all cuts through the spicy, flavorful menu.

Like the drink menu, the food choices are limited but better for it. Table favorites included the Tacos Al Pastor — a marinated pork shoulder with grilled pineapple and the Tostada De Chorizo Con Papas — chorizo with crispy potatoes? Yes, please. My personal favorite was the Tacos De Rajas De Poblano. I don’t think I’ve ever loved roasted peppers more than I did in that first bite.

  • Tacos Al Pastor & Tacos De Rajas De Poblano

    Tacos Al Pastor & Tacos De Rajas De Poblano

  • Bourbon & Rye

    Bourbon & Rye

  • Bitters


  • Shiner Bock

    Shiner Bock

  • Condiment Box

    Condiment Box

  • Queso Fundido, Vegetables En Escabeche, Chiles Torreados

    Queso Fundido, Vegetables En Escabeche, Chiles Torreados

  • Scooping Pickled Veggies

    Scooping Pickled Veggies

  • Big Star Bar

    Big Star Bar

  • Big Star

    Big Star

  • Margarita


  • Taco Aftermath

    Taco Aftermath

  • Tostada De Chorizo Con Papas, Tostada de Pescado

    Tostada De Chorizo Con Papas, Tostada de Pescado

  • Turntable


On impulse, I ordered some grilled jalapeƱo peppers and the pickled vegetables. Grilled jalapeƱos are sweeter than expected and they made my eyeballs sweat. Very nice. The tostados were a little messy, so we ordered some house-made chips to clean our plates and finish off the caramelized cheese in the queso fundido.

The tacos and tostados are $3-$4 each, and bigger shareable items don’t break the $10 mark. To truly experience Big Star and stuff yourself silly, plan to spend a minimum of $20/person. Bring more than that though because you’ll want to sample the drink menu while you’re here. Big Star doesn’t take plastic, but if you forget, there’s an ATM just inside the door.

The final bit of cred? They rock the house with a turntable instead of an iPod. Look for it on the far end of the bar. No word on whether they’ll let you spin your own LP’s, but if you have some rockabilly they just might.

Big Star
1531 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 235-4039

  1. splendidasst left a comment on December 21, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    @ChicagoBites regarding Big Star the employees refer to the clientele as “The Shit Show” foodies? Hipsters?

  2. Pattie left a comment on December 21, 2010 at 11:48 am

    I enjoyed the tacos at Big Star. They were tasty with just the slightest bit of heat for my very delicate taste buds that can’t handle ANY heat. (Those who love hot will believe they are mild.) However, my craving for tacos was not satisfied. I still want tacos. Where else can someone in need of tacos go?

  3. Tammy left a comment on December 21, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    @splendidasst They may very well do that, but I’ve found them to be helpful and friendly whenever I’ve been in there. Perhaps someone was having a bad night…

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