Chicago – Tacos

I find it so boring when reading inflight magazines when the same line is repeated over and over again: “Here I am flying at 35,000 feet and …..” Don’t you think the author could have thought of something more creative than this. I mean how many times can you remember reading this line inflight? Wouldn’t it be so much more interesting if they wrote: ” here I am thinking about velociraptors, knowing full wellthat I should be thinking about how I’m about to tell you this story about the most amazing taco and bourbon bar in Chicago that I visited this past weekend. I like velociraptors because they hunt in three’s and use a sing-songy way of communicating. I should also disclose that I am not impartial to other dinosaurs either, less specifically, the swimming kind, the flying kinds, the Brontosaurus and the one that sneezes all over the girl in Jurassic Park (name is escaping me). There I said it. You’re thinking, get on with the taco part already!

BigStar outside

SO if you haven’t been to BigStar in Chicago then you must be a hermit. I haven’t had such an interesting experience with tacos since a trip to Napa Valley with my future wife Jess. We stumbled upon this hidden taco truck tucked between a community garden and a general store. Back to BigStar. Due to the Xmas season, BigStar’s front door is sort of hidden behind a slew of tightly wrapped nice looking Christmas trees. I don’t celebrate Xmas not because I’m not religious, but because I’m in with the blue and white crowd and I like my eight days of presents better. But what I do like about Xmas is the smell of freshly cut pine. SO walking through this aromatic corridor prepared my pallet and awakened my senses. As I stepped through the door I was greeted with two friendly hosts in casual attire. What caught my eye first were the two turntables atop aged oak wooden barrels.

Open air

The space is very open and airy, full of floor to ceiling windows and natural light pouring through several skylights, making the inside lighting virtually useless. The interior is poured concrete, with tan wooden tables and booths. The middle of the restaurant boasts a square wooden bar, with perfectly spaced  hooks for jackets or more importantly, your wife’s purse.

Bourbon Bar

In the center of the bar is an elevated rack. It is what’s on this rack that caught my attention for the better part of my time
there. The entire span of this 25 foot rack held over 30 bottles of bourbon. BigStar’s Menu is a short list of about 10 items, but don’t let their minimalism fool you. What they take away in choices they make up for in the most tantalizing concoctions of tacos you may have ever tasted. We started out with house made tortilla and salsas: red and green. Their chips are perfectly salted with a hint of lime. My first taco was served with 2 freshly made soft mini flour tacos (the size of soft corn tacos) with a small bowl of soup. It was called FRIJOLES CHARROS consisting of stewed pinto beans, bacon, poblano peppers, tomato, onion, cilantro, and queso fresco and was served as a soup.  You spoon what you can onto the taco, eat the tacos, then spoon feed yourself the rest of the soup. There’s no picture here because I was too busy eating. The flavors were exquisite. Think spicy, smoky and sweet. My second taco was served the way you would expect it to be, all the ingredients on the taco.

Taco goodness

It was called the TACO AL PASTOR with marinated, spit roasted pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, grilled onion, cilantro and amazingness. What does amazingness taste like? If you haven’t experienced amazingness you’re not getting out enough.

Drinks: BigStar’s Cocktails are inspired by their bourbon and tequila collection, but they also serve beer, mezcal and the typical well-spirits. I tried the Carroll County Collins which consisted of birch infused Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Boylan’s cream soda, and a slice of orange peel. It was strong yet sweet, but not overpoweringly so and the orange peel blended well with the bourbon flavor. The cream soda drew out some of the softer vanilla notes in the bourbon and mixed easily with the orange.

Servers and bar

I know I mentioned two things that drew my attention away from everything else, but one last thing was easily as appeasing as the
first two. The delivery of the tacos. I think we have all experienced that expecting feeling when we see our dishes coming to us from across the room and we’re ready for the surprise, the wow factor of how our food will entice us. Let me describe what it looks like at BigStar. There’s a food server coming towards you with an white saucer full of 4 to 10 tacos perfectly placed on the dish. Think sushi platter. This is how it looks coming across the room. Like little sample hors devours, but instead of sharing with others, they’re all yours (insert cynical laugh).

Overall, you must go to Chicago and check out BigStar. Try one taco or try seven. They are open until 2/3am during the week/end and there are DJ’s at night.

All amenities aside, you must go and do one thing. Enjoy yourself!!

Cheers!
Jesse

PS: Check out our Etsy page for gifts for yourself, family, friends and significant others. Jess has posted her jewelry as well so take a look:  Double J Stand