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Chicago: New Place, Old Place

May 4, 2012

New Place: Big Star in Wicker Park, Saturday night

Unlike these patient patrons, we opted to leave our name with the hostess and chill out and play with a kitten named Oberon in a very nice apartment nearby. Big Star is nice enough to call you after two hours of waiting.

Obviously, Big Star is not new to Chicago. If anything, Big Star is the Mexican- New American player of Chicago, the boisterous Americanized younger brother to Rick Bayless’s Mexican restaurants.  Big Star is appealing to most and accessible to all if you’re willing to wait your turn. We waited two hours, possibly slightly longer. We also agreed to sit inside instead of outside. This might not have been as big a compromise considering the margarita vomit stories I was told as we waited – while I love exceptionally executed tacos as much as the next foodie, I wouldn’t want to be exposed to taco vomit. Why am I talking so much about vomit before I talk about the food?

My Blackberry does not have flash. Or Instagram.

Tacos are $3 each. A pitcher of margarita is $30. Both were very very very good, executed in such a completely awesome fashion that it’s hard for me to pick out anything in particular to say other than to definitely get 2-3 of the al Pastor. Sure, I got the Panza too because what carnivore can resist pork belly but really, the al Pastor is all you need. The Pescado was a nice mild-flavored counterpoint to the more strongly seasoned pork offerings but I thought the curtido was a bit too sour. I thought the house margarita could have been more sour but it was still very refreshing. Noise level was way up – completely expected and why some people will wait even longer in order to sit outside.

That’s what it’s all about.

Old Place: Harold’s Chicken Shack on 53rd St, last meal before leaving Chicago

Harold’s has a new menu which threw me off. They also got rid of my beloved dark meat special. And there are new fries which Adam says he prefers but I’m not so enamored with. Actually, I’m not sure if Harold’s is different or if I’m different, or both, but I did not enjoy this as much as I remember enjoying Harold’s and that left me feeling empty inside despite being full of fried chicken.

Now I am morose.

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