Saturday, August 10, 2013

Big Star

Location: 1531 N. Damen Ave., Chicago, IL 60622
Big Star on UrbanspoonBig Star on Foodio54
A Quick Word:
When I first moved to Chicago and was introduced to good Mexican food, I used to love coming out to this open air dining area.  Big Star was the place to get great tacos.  But, after being introduced to the Pilsen neighborhood, it was hard for me to come back to this restaurant.  I ordered a bunch of tacos for a friend and I... soon realizing why I loved the Pilsen area... the price.  It cost me nearly $20 for tacos that could have been purchased for half the cost in the south side neighborhood.  But looking past the cost, we both realized how tasty Big Star tacos were.  They keep them authentic with simple ingredients, but at the same time are very generous on their fillings.  The concept is a little difficult to grasp... no credit cards and no ordering via phone?  I mean... where is the convenience?  For these reasons, I stuck with a 3.5 mile rating.  I know it's just average, but there are better places for half the cost.

What We Ate:

Taco al Pastor

Al Pastor is without question my favorite type of taco.  This taco is made with a marinated pork shoulder with grilled pineapple, grilled onion, and cilantro.  The order came with two tacos served on corn tortillas.  There is a perfect balance between sweetness and saltiness of an al pastor taco that attracts my attention... and here it did the same.  The only problem was the smell.  After opening the taco, I was graced with an unappetizing smell.  Look past it, add a little of the salsa verde, and the taco is just as good as one in Pilsen.  The price is fair and they are generous with the meat on this item.

Taco de Panza

Who can ever pass up pork belly?  Well, I know my friend and I couldn't, so we ordered a couple.  The taco de panza is made with crispy pork belly, a tomato guajilo sauce, onion, cilantro and a sprinkle of queso fresco.  The pork belly is left in chunks and cooked in a spicier tomato based sauce.  It wasn't as crunchy as I was hoping... and a little fattier than expected.  But, what else do you expect with a pork belly taco.

Taco de Pescado

The fish taco is what everyone comes to Big Star for.  Everyone that came for pick up ordered at least two fish tacos for themselves.  This taco is made with a beer battered tilapia, chipotle mayo, chopped cabbage and the typical cilantro and lime.  All of this is served on corn tortillas.  The fish is very crispy and honestly the taco is made perfectly.  But, the price is outrageous when a similar taco can be eaten in the Pilsen neighborhood for half the cost.  That seems to be the only knock on many of their tacos.

The Walking Taco

Now this is the steal of the restaurant.  For two dollars, you get a walking taco... I mean, remember when you were a child?  A frito bag is filled with ground pastor, pinto bean dip, queso Chihuahua, chili sauce, and chopped green onions.  You need a fork and that is all.  This taco is made to be "to-go" and doesn't lack in flavor.  I see it more like a bag of nachos made easier to eat.  The pastor meat is similar to the al pastor taco, just not as generous.  The beans were delicious and after adding both red and green salsas, I was in heaven.  This American twist on a taco can't be found in Pilsen, therefore, I will be back for it and a beer or two.

Chips and Salsa

I figured chips and salsa would top of the meal.  Unfortunately, here, their chips are barely salted and their salsas are nothing special.  I wouldn't even waste the $2 on this... Free is ok... but two bucks?  Are they serious?

The DOs/DON'Ts:
DO:
- If you are ordering take out... just walk up to the window on the side of the restaurant, place your order, and wait.  It takes a few minutes, but you will soon be on your way.
- Remember... CASH ONLY.
- I also recommend coming when the weather isn't so hot or right after it rains, this way, the line isn't too long for you to wait.

DON'T:
- Don't try to call a food order for pick up.  They do not take phone orders.
- I would pass on the chips and salsa if you are ordering take out.  Definitely nothing special.

How far would I work for this food?




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