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Big Star

Chicago IL (Wicker Park)

1531 n damen ave, chicago IL 60622
sun-fri 11:30am-2am, sat 11:30am-3am

Big Star Tacos (Chicago IL) - taco review

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Rating: 90
Price: $$$

Following my tremendous, outrageous, unequivocal success at La Perla, I drove the next day to Chicago where I met my business associate Clo. Clo was the genius behind one of the very first restaurants visited by tacosmog, and truly a master of the outdoor patio. During my aforementioned previous visit we were driven away from Big Star by the crowds. This time it was early, a Wednesday afternoon, and we trekked over there from Revolution Brewing as rapidly as possible. After waiting just long enough to order a couple margaritas (but not long enough to taste them) we were placed at a table on their badass outdoor patio, surrounded by young and attractive people such as ourselves. While described by another business associate (who shall remain unnamed) as a 'meat market,' I felt that the crowd at La Perla was neither overaggressive nor particularly desperate. Buoyed in spirit, we placed an order for some chips.

While I don't support the practice of paying for chips and salsa, at least at Big Star the salsa's free, and they provide a tremendous quantity of crunchy chips with big ol' salt crystals. Of the two salsa options, one is a very tart, limey green with a deceptive amount of spice (lurking behind the citrus). The other is a mildly smokey red which is easy to eat and quite tasty. Both were spicy enough that you kept wanting to switch to the other one to rest your tongue, and combined with the citric acid it really began to hurt the tongue.

Fortunately, just when I thought I couldn't take it any more, my tacos arrived! I ordered one al pastor and one huitlacoche (AKA corn truffles). Apparently in real life corn truffles look totally nasty (they're also called corn smut, which sounds nasty). After being cooked up with a bunch of corn kernels, though, the smut tasted pretty good. With a corn tortilla, corn kernels, and corn truffles, you wouldn't be surprised to find out that the dominant flavor was 'corny.' It was closest to a blend of sweet corn and popcorn flavor, with the cotija cheese giving just a bit of variety to the flavor. Have you ever eaten popcorn with salsa? Neither have I, and neither salsa was particularly well-matched to the taco de huitlacoche, though neither was unenjoyable either.

Next up was the al pastor. It was very strongly flavored with pineapple (big ol' chunks!) and just a bit spicy. Though I didn't realize it at the time, as I type this, it turns out that Big Star's 'thing' must be putting extra citrus into everything. There are definitely worse 'things' a restaurant could have, and this al pastor was quite good - just not up to the standards of La Perla the day before. Well, having finished the tacos, I dug back into the remaining chips, and before you knew it had a nice corny residue on my molars! The prices at Big Star were surprisingly reasonable for the hipness quotient of the establishment, and they have good deals on whiskey every night of the week, so I wouldn't rule out a return trip at some point.

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