Windy City Tacos and Donuts

big star truck copy
Everyone’s a big star @ BIGSTAR

Welcome dear readers to the Pot and Pan Handlers distracted blog pertaining to food and travel sometimes more, sometimes much, much, less. Today we are in the windy city and we’re talking about two things close to our hearts… tacos and donuts a pairing that could only be born in the diabolical minds of depraved travelers with no respect for tradition. Such a pair is we.

Us big star copy
The Pot and Pan Handler try desperately to appear appropriately trendy.

Big Star Tacos

We set out for Big Star Tacos in the trendy Wicker Park area of Chicago; we took a cab, as we knew from experience the walk is almost as long, as it is depressing. Once we arrived, we found the place was bumping, especially considering it’s only the afternoon. Big Star was filled with trendy hipster beards, indoor sunglasses and ironic T shirts, occupying appropriately, fashionably, veneered restaurant seating. The kind of people I imagine when not drinking in hipster taco bars, talking unnecessarily loud, in the middle of the afternoon are on laptops in coffee shops spelling words like flavor with a u, flavour… Seriously the only people, who can pull off acting European, are Europeans, Americans acting European seems rather sad.

veneered seating copy
Local flavour.

We kept from waiting in line by sitting at the bar and ordered a variety of tacos including Tacos De Pescado, Tacos De Panza, and Tacos El Pastor. Of course we also got the salsa sampler w/out the guac, because we’re cheap bitches. Frankly everything was good, textbook Tex-Mex, authentic, yet inspired and upscale enough that trendsters the city over will flock to it and pay cash as it’s a cash only joint.

Big Star menu copy
Even the menu’s a BIGSTAR.

The other tacos were good, but the fish tacos were freakin’ excellent, a mammoth portion of beer battered tilapia, hulks over the tortilla, like a determined German Fuhrer, furiously poised on the Polish border. No sign of the tiny subservient strips or chunks of battered fish, that often passes for fish tacos. Topped with chipotle mayo, cabbage, red onion, lime and cilantro, Big Star’s fish tacos have now raised my expectations regarding fish tacos found in the Midwest.

I would feel remiss if I didn’t mention: as good as the pastor tacos were at Big Star, I like the Midwestern take on Tex-Mex pork tacos around the corner @ antique tacos better. Why? Because, bacon. On every pork taco @ Antique Taco you’ll find a strip of bacon, Because Antique Tacos loves you.

Antique Taco copy
Mmmmmm bacon.


Once we finished, we were on the lookout for the Speak Easy, hot spot that has received a James Beard award for their cocktails. Locals and visitors alike had mentioned it to us. Said to be located across the street, but all we see there is a giant mural of an elderly man and a donut shop. As intriguing as a mural of an elderly man is to us, it offers us no opportunity to get fatter, so to the donut shop we went.

old man in the mural copy
Beautiful mural, low sodium, fat free and distressingly calorie free.

Simply named Stan’s Donuts, we step into the shockingly pink interior, which is otherwise unremarkable, similar to every donut shop everywhere. Multiple glass cases containing their colorful wares render any attempt at denying the guilty pleasure of a donut ineffective.

Stans copy
Is this picture worth 1,002 words?

We quickly acquired glaze donuts, as we are professed donut snobs. Stan’s didn’t disappoint, the glazers there, rival the best we’ve ever had coming in @ number three on our list of favorite glazed donuts in the nation. Numbers one and two are a matter of serious contention and depending whom you ask is either Sandy’s Donuts in West Fargo, ND or the Greenbush Bakery in Madison, WI. On the other hand Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts aren’t anywhere on this list, as they seem to think the number of locations in the nation is more important than the taste of the donuts received in said locations.

With our taco and donut cravings satiated, we went back to looking for the Speak Easy, which we eventually did find but that dear readers, is another blog post. Coming soon: The Pot and the Pan Handler’s shy town adventures continue, as we spend an evening in the dark, confines of a Speak Easy called the Violet hour. We hope to see you there -The Pot and Pan Handler



4 Comments on “Windy City Tacos and Donuts

  1. Ah, the fish taco… Long shunned by yours truly because I might miss the pork, beef or chicken. I have learned the error of my ways. Add it to the list of “Where have you been all my life?” foods.

    • I hear ya’ we have the same list… Saganaki cheese, I can’t believe how many years we went without eating cheese that had been on fire.

  2. The mural had me drawn in. Interesting. Was it of Stan by any chance? I can’t imagine the taco donut combination but I won’t knock it until I try it. Thanks for the always informative and fun food guide. 🙂

    • Thanks Beth! Glad you enjoyed. I’m not sure who Stan is unless ya’ mean Stan Lee, and then I still don’t know who it was… Aren’t Churros, essentially donuts? Nobody would bat an eye at that pairing!

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