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
  • Bourbon & Rye
  • Bitters
  • Shiner Bock
  • Condiment Box
  • Queso Fundido, Vegetables En Escabeche, Chiles Torreados
  • Scooping Pickled Veggies
  • Big Star Bar
  • Big Star
  • Margarita
  • Taco Aftermath
  • 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