The adage “always leave them wanting more” is attributed to P.T. Barnum and Walt Disney. But neither of them had the chance to dine at the taco sensation known as Big Star in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.
Big Star’s, well, big star, shines in the night summoning all the hipsters the small, standalone taqueria can hold. Here are things I can promise you you’ll see:
- Pants so tight they make you uncomfortable
- Funky glasses that probably don’t even have a prescription
- Tattooed folk
- Chuck Taylors
- Vintage bicycles locked outside.
- If you’re lucky, maybe a Vespa with a helmet on the seat.
After a meeting in the city, I met mi amigo de tacos at Big Star. At this point in my life, everyone knows how I feel about Mexican food. I think about eating mas Mexican food WHILE eating Mexican food.
“Know what would be good with this?” I ask myself or whoever mistakenly decided to listen to me. “More tacos.”
My preference is burritos instead of tacos, but the gran estrella only serves tacos. I opted for an array of three tacos to get a taste of their different flavors: al pastor, de panza (pork belly) and de pescado (fish).
I started with al pastor, which is my preferred meat at taquerias. Their tacos are served on small, white corn tortillas and garnished with more authentic-leaning toppings than cheddar, sour cream and shredded lettuce. The al pastor was good, but I had better at several other spots.
I closed with the breaded fish taco with chipotle mayo. The fish was a good size for the tortillas and it was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Everything you look for in a fish taco.
The final two were the best of my trio, but here’s the thing. Each taco was $3. Each taco was also 3 bites. That equates to a dollar a bite. Thinking back, I keep envisioning myself eating a crumpled dollar. I’m frugal when it comes to food. The bang for the dólares is usually very high with Mexican cuisine. But for single-tortilla’d tacos at a buck a bite, it’s hard to justify the expense.
My gold standard (or aluminum foil) is Chipotle. You get a massive amount of food for a reasonable sum. The food IS good. The people watching is unrivaled. If you’re new to Chicago, or visiting, Wicker Park is a great area to wander around and get drinks. I saw one man eating out of a dog bowl at the corner of Damen and Milwaukee. I found it best not to ask.
Big Star is also cash only, so depending on your wad of cash, Big Star may leave you too wanting more.