Big Star (Restaurant, Wicker Park)
Location: 1531 N. Damen Ave.
Looking for a little Honky Tonk, USA in Chicago? Then Big Star is your spot. This Wicker Park watering hole is the latest from Paul Kahan, along with other owners from Avec, Blackbird, and the Violet Hour. Stepping into this place takes you into a different era…with old Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline favorites playing on vinyl. The collection of whiskeys and tequilas here are as impressive as the beers and food. Although the menu at Big Star is limited, it’s is delicious and affordable. The pork belly tacos will delight and are reminiscent of Kahan’s Publican. Late night lovers and people in need of a fast meal will also love Big Star’s walk up window. The crowd is pretty interesting… of course you have your West Town hipsters who walked over or parked their fixed gears outside, preppy commuters from the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park, drive-ins from the suburbs, and a couple I would only expect to find on the Jersey Shore. I guess you can find a little bit of the Dirty Jerz anywhere you go. (That’s a theory I’d like to trademark here…consider this in writing.)
Warning: This place fills up fast and does not take reservations. When I was there it was so packed they were doing one in one out. Big Star is also cash only. There are sit down booths if you don’t want to eat like a cowboy at the bar, but you must have a party of 4 or more to get a booth. Don’t have four? While waiting for a late friend my party of 3 recruited a random couple on a date to get a place to sit. Invite the weirdest couple in the bar…it will be sure to make for an entertaining meal.